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Known as the “Lion of the Senate,” Democrat Ted Kennedy was a staunch liberal who was elected to Congress 9 times, spearheading many legislative reforms.
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In 1946, Ted entered Milton Academy, an exclusive college prep boarding school eight miles south of Boston. At Milton, Ted immersed himself in athletics, drama, debate, and the glee club. While he performed well, he failed to be a standout student when compared to his over-achieving brothers. His father rode him relentlessly about his grades as well as his weight, and encouraged his son to push himself harder. Ted graduated in 1950,
and followed his brothers to Harvard University.
The youngest Kennedy immediately immersed himself in Harvard's football team, but that Spring he discovered he was failing his Spanish class. In order to stay on the team, he would have to pass his final Spanish exam. Ted was expelled when, in desperation, he had another student take a Spanish exam in his place. The school would allow the boys to return in two years if they demonstrated good behavior. As a result, Kennedy enlisted for a two-year term in the Army and, through his father's influence, received an assignment as a guard at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Command in Paris, France.
In 1952, Kennedy enrolled again at Harvard and was accepted. He returned to his football career, where his performance attracted the interest of the Green Bay Packers, who tried to recruit Ted in 1955. Kennedy declined the offer, saying he was flattered but wanted to go to law school and enter another contact sport—politics. After Harvard, he studied for a brief time at the International Law School (The Hague) and then entered Virginia Law School, where he received his law degree in 1959.
Kennedy campaigned for his brother, John, in the 1960 presidential race. In 1962, shortly after his brother's victory, Ted was elected to John's former U.S. Senate seat. At the age of 30, he became a representative for the state of Massachusetts.
But tragedy was to plague the Kennedy family yet again. In 1963, his brother, then President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. A year later, Ted was in a plane crash and spent weeks in the hospital recovering from a back injury and internal bleeding. The injuries resulted in chronic pain, from which he would suffer throughout his life. Although he was unable to campaign actively for reelection for a full term in 1964, he was swept back into office by a landslide vote.
By 1967, Ted Kennedy began to speak out against the Vietnam War, which the United States had become deeply involved in during his brother John's administration. The United States government set a policy of containing communist expansion worldwide, and it felt Vietnam was the first line of defense. The U.S. government supported the protection of the fledgling democratic government in South Vietnam from the communist government in North Vietnam.
Kennedy, like many Democratic "cold warriors," initially supported the war. However, as revelations of poor military planning on the part of the United States and political corruption in South Vietnam arose, Kennedy grew critical of America's involvement.
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There's no such thing as royalty in the United States, but if anyone has ever come close to that level, it's the Kennedy family. For 64 years, Washington had at least one Kennedy in public office. Descended from Irish Catholics who fled the potato famine, the family has a strong tradition in the Democratic party, the most prominent member being President John F. Kennedy. In addition to fame and political power, the Kennedy clan has had more than its fair share of tragedy—several members of the family have died in accidents and assassinations, in what's been called the "Kennedy curse."
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