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updated 7/27/2004 8:20:59 PM ET 2004-07-28T00:20:59
COMMENTARY

“For all those whose cause was our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Twenty-four years ago, Sen. Edward Kennedy ended his speech to the 1980 National Democratic Convention with those words.  I stood with tears in my eyes – a 24-year-old floor manager of the Texas and Utah delegations at my first convention.

Ted Kennedy didn’t know it, but by running for president he had changed my life – changed it in ways I could never have imagined.

I left everything. I left college, left my dream of being an aeronautical engineer, left my books, and my belongings and drove my old, beat up Ford Pinto to Des Moines, Iowa the day after Senator Kennedy entered the race.

I learned politics Kennedy-style, worked my heart out as a $15-a-day organizer in state after state after state.  I learned that the cause and what you believe in are everything – and that night in Madison Square Garden so many years ago – Ted Kennedy spoke to the nation and all I heard was “don’t give up.”

So tonight, in a strange twist of fate, Sen. Kennedy, the man who inspired me to carryon 24 years ago will speak at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on the same night that Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the man who inspired me to try one more time to make a difference, will speak.

Howard Dean may not know it yet – but there are 24-year-olds on the floor of this convention, and thousands more young people across the country whose life’s have been changed forever because of his courageous run for president.

I know one thing for certain now: Sen. Kennedy was right. The cause does endure, the hope does live – and the dream will not die. And a new generation has been inspired by Howard Dean to carry on the fight.

And on this night as I watch the coincidence of what will probably be the two bookends of my Presidential political career, speaking on the same night, all I can say is, thank you. Thank you  Senator Kennedy, and thank you Governor Dean.  

Joe Trippi is an MSNBC contributor and part of Chris Matthews' all-star panel on . He's also a blogger on Hardball's new weblog, and author of "The Revolution Will Not be Televised: Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything."

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