“During my service in the United States Senate, I have often been called a Liberal, and it usually was not meant as a compliment. But I remember what my brother said about liberalism shortly before he was elected president. He said: ‘If by a Liberal, they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind… Someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions… Someone who cares about the welfare of the people—their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties…Someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and the suspicion that grips us… If that is what they mean by a Liberal… Then I am proud to say I am a Liberal.’
“As I said in Denver last summer, for me, this is a season of hope.
“Since I was a boy, I have known the joy of sailing the waters off Cape Cod. And for all my years in public life, I have believed that America must sail toward the shores of liberty and justice for all. There is no end to that journey, only the next great voyage. We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make.
“In that spirit, I thank Harvard for this great honor—and I thank Massachusetts for the privilege of serving its people and its principles.
“I have lived a blessed time. Now, with you, I look forward to a new time of aspiration and high achievement for our nation and the world.”
Words spoken by Senator Edward M. Kennedy upon receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws from Harvard University, December 1, 2008.