Senator Edward Kennedy, Good Night, Sweet Prince

Senator Edward Kennedy, Good Night, Sweet Prince

by Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa

In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving

I join millions of my fellow Americans in mourning the death of the great Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. I think that few people in American history will have accomplished as much for the country as Sen. Kennedy did, and I am truly grateful for all his work on behalf of working Americans.

I have personally benefited from his long list of legislative accomplishments. His work on immigration allowed my parents to come to this country and pursue a better life for them and my brother, sisters, and me. His work on education helped me get the best public education possible, which has allowed me to benefit and become a physician. I have been blessed to be a beneficiary of Sen. Kennedy’s efforts, and I am forever grateful to him.

Yet, perhaps more than anything else, I am forever grateful for his work on passing the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. This act has singularly helped me and my family make our lives much, much easier.

As you know, our late daughter was disabled by Ataxia-Telangiectasia. She could not walk from about the age of 10 until her death this past June. Soon after she was diagnosed, we had to get a disabled placard for our car, to help us a little whenever we went out with our daughter. Yet, more than just being able to park a little closer to the door, the ADA has made the public sphere much more hospitable and accessible to people with disabilities, and this was a major blessing for our family.

We took it for granted that every public building and private institution will have a ramp for people with wheelchairs (or strollers, like our daughter). If there was no ramp, then there would be an automatic door that would open for people in assistive devices, something which my daughter would always love to operate on her own. In fact, when we traveled to other countries (such as Egypt), we realized how blessed we where living in America, where everything was equipped for those with disabilities. Even when we traveled to Niagara Falls, Canada, there was not the same level of accessibility as there was in America.

All thanks to the ADA; all thanks to Sen. Edward Kennedy. I owe so much to you, Senator. And my thoughts and prayers go out to your family during this most difficult time. If I could be there in Boston to personally pay my respects, I would do so, sir. But, I can’t, and I so I say to you, Good Night, Sweet Prince. And may you rest in peace always.

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