The political odyssey of health care reform in many ways is the story of Ted Kennedy, and as President Obama signed the historic bill into law Tuesday, Kennedy's gravesite was a place of quiet celebration and poignant reflection.
The late senator's widow, Vicki Reggie Kennedy, spent hours on Sunday at the simple white cross at Arlington National Cemetery marking where her husband was laid to rest only seven months ago. Ted Kennedy's youngest son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), visited on Monday morning and left a hand-written note that read: "Dad, the unfinished business is done."
And on a dreary Tuesday morning, dozens of school children and health care advocates paused at Kennedy's tombstone to commemorate the man who for decades made overhauling the nation's health-care system his life's mission.
Kennedy's legacy was not lost on anyone who filled the East Room of the White House for Obama's bill-signing ceremony. Members of Congress wore blue "TedStrong" wristbands in his honor and posed for pictures with Patrick Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy, the senator's niece, sat in the front row, with other members of the storied family. Vicki Kennedy walked into the room with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
Obama received a thunderous applause when he evoked the ghost of Ted Kennedy near the climax of his speech.
"I remember seeing Ted walk through that door in a summit in this room a year ago, one of his last public appearances, and it was hard for him to make it, but he was confident that we would do the right thing," Obama said.
When Obama sat to sign the bill, Patrick and Vicki Kennedy stood behind him. Finally, Ted Kennedy's dream became the law of the land.