It was a remarkable life, a remarkable career and a remarkable era in American politics.
And with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's death on Wednesday at age 77, it's all come to an end.
Congress has lost one of its longest-serving and most prolific lawmakers; the nation's unwanted and underserved have lost a lifelong crusader; and, for the first time in more than half a century, there isn't a Kennedy in the U.S. Senate or the White House.
He was a liberal's liberal, to be sure. And while that rankled many, he never apologized for it. But he also never let his personal philosophy and politics prevent him from forging friendships and alliances with colleagues across the aisle.
Never miss a local story.
And with his passing, comments from colleagues, whether on the left or the right, bear testimony to the esteem with which he was held.
Kennedy, known first as Teddy and later in life as Ted, started his career in the shadow of his famous brothers. When he was first elected to the Senate in 1962 at age 30, brother John was in the White House and Robert was attorney general.
But in the end, as our sister paper, The Miami Herald, noted, it was Ted, the youngest of those three, who would leave the strongest mark on American history.
During his long and distinguished career, he authored more than 2,500 bills, with several hundred becoming law. The causes closest to his heart always involved the underdog — the discouraged, the downtrodden and the disenfranchised.
Kennedy's first major role came in 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act — and he led the passage of virtually every major piece of civil rights legislation since.
That same year he shepherded the major immigration overhaul that eliminated the "national origins" system that favored immigrants from northern Europe — and he led every immigration reform effort since.
In 1965 he also championed the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act that created a federal/state partnership and funding for the neediest students and schools. With his leadership, it has been reauthorized eight times.
And Kennedy gave his first speech calling for health insurance for all Americans in 1969, and introduced legislation — and he championed that cause ever since.
Kennedy and his family suffered more than any family's fair share of tragedies, from the assassinations of his brothers to the untimely death of his nephew John Jr. to a host of other calamities that would haunt the Kennedy clan.
And his own failings at times threatened to overshadow his accomplishments. His character flaws — from his well-publicized drinking and womanizing to his disgraceful role in the Chappaquiddick drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne in the late 1960s — would cause him great public humiliation and eventually prevent him from attaining higher office.
Nevertheless, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to his country and his career, and his ability to work with others — regardless of party — made him one of the most effective lawmakers in modern history.
Whether or not you agreed with his politics or his personal life, Ted Kennedy was a patriot. And that deserves our gratitude and our respect.