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Edward M. Kennedy Institute Dedication Ceremony Honors Life and Legacy

Remember that time…

The Press check-in tent at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute dedication last week was mobbed beyond capacity. For an industry whose leaders believe that today’s journalists will never earn a decent living, there were clearly enough people in attendance who must have found reliable work somewhere.

The Institute was designed and built in honor of Kennedy’s senate legacy, the zenith of his vision to educate young people about Congress. Inside, projectors cast figures, graphs and faces onto slate grey walls. Visitors receive a tablet computer for personal use during their tour as part of the immersion. The exhibits are underscored by authentic replicas of Ted Kennedy’s office and the Senate chamber, modeled in complete detail to echo the originals in Washington.

Who was there? Current senators and former house majority leaders as well as Emmanuel’s own Dr. Marie Natoli and Sr. Janet Eisner! The guest list and podium personalities also included Elizabeth Warren, John McCain, Vice President Biden and the Obamas.

Somehow, whether an act of God or perhaps clerical error, The Hub student newspaper was (legitimately) there to see it all too.

Why hello, Congressman Patrick Kennedy! My my, how *are* you doing?

Why hello, Congressman Patrick Kennedy! My my, how *are* you doing?

It probably helped that Dr. Jean F. MacCormack, President of the Institute, is an Emmanuel alumnae. We were sure to note her significance on our respective applications for media credentials; she is, of course, a person of great interest to us. You know, as an alumnae.

Our editor-in-chief Monica Busch and I received e-mails instructing us to arrive days ahead so we could obtain our press passes. I raced to Colombia Point from JFK Station to get mine the first chance I had. (Turns out, all media credentials were unavailable until the morning of the dedication. Where was the memo?)

Elated, on Monday, March 30th we rode by bus to the University Archives building and were served crumbly muffins with a Box O’ Joe from Dunkin’ Donuts.

This is most certainly getting real.

The first checkpoint. (This is getting real.)

We got there eventually once we were screened and our belongings processed. CSPAN had dibs outside, even if they were in the back. The reporters and radio broadcasters were (banished) provided space next door in the overflow tent to watch from closed circuit TV and conduct interviews. We had fresh boxed lunches and juice. Sorry, mom: no exclusive sit-down interview with Barack.

Get a photo of the motorcade, Kathy!

Get a photo of the motorcade, Kathy!

(If The Hub ever goes to a White House Press Conference – anything is possible, now – I’m sure we’ll all be on a first name basis.)

The Media Overflow Tent was lovely.

The Media Overflow Tent was lovely.

The afternoon was heralded by pervading thoughts about the legacy of Senator Kennedy. All remarks of his character and bipartisan (if uncompromisingly left-leaning) work ethic were, of course, earnest and sincere. “All of you are a part of his life,” said a boisterous Patrick Kennedy who matched his father’s tenacity and spirit.

With her signature pathos, Elizabeth Warren fondly recalled his immense dedication to bettering the lives of working people, regardless of what it meant for his career.

Joe Biden made exceptionally tender commentary about Kennedy’s gregarious knack for welcoming others, saying Kennedy lead him into the senate chamber gymnasium to acquaint him with their mutual colleagues. They met comfortably naked famous people in government, and Biden said he “felt guilty for being fully clothed” as Kennedy strung him along, introducing him.

Most noted of President Obama’s later address was the sympathy he extended to the family of Boston police officer John Moynihan, who was shot in the face during a traffic stop on March 27th. Officer Moynihan is expected to fully recover.

On Edward Kennedy, Obama said “He was my friend. I owe him a lot… His ideology said ‘you should help people.”

If we were allowed to be outside, we could have heard him speaking into the microphone.

If we were allowed to be outside, we could have heard him speaking into the microphone.

The Institute’s replica senate chamber will come to life when students fill the seats and debate, filibuster and pass referendums, modulate changes to articles and bills; it’s vocational democracy. Just as pivotal is the work of sculptor Emily Bedard, who mirrored the embellishments found in the original chamber.

When they decided to build the replica of the senate chamber, they hired a company to do all the interior decoration like the moldings and the sculptures. They hired me as the sculptor to do all of those things,” she told The Hub. Bedard created pieces for the ceiling and walls, as well as a clock with eagles roosting by the hours of three and nine. 

According to Bedard, no one is allowed to take photos of the chamber in the Capitol Building. “Before Ted Kennedy had died, he hired a team of people to go into the chamber and 3-D scan the whole room, and he took photos of all the ornaments and the reliefs,” she said.

Ted must have acted in private, a little discretion for the greater good.

“I had to work from those photographs,” said Bedard, who had also visited the chamber years before. “I still had a sense of the spirit of the room.” 

Bedard hadn’t seen the new chamber in person when we spoke to her. She was honored to have been commissioned.

“Art is such an important symbol of the country,” she said. “The art can speak to us in a way that words can’t. When people see those pieces I just hope it instills in them a feeling of nationalism and hope and courage.” 

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute is open for visiting hours Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m to 5 p.m, and Sunday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m.

Paul Rowley ’16 is a Staff writer and Columnist for The Hub. E-mail him Follow him on Twitter @everettrowley

Posted by on April 10, 2015. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.