First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, and Victoria Reggie Kennedy congratulate Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts as he waves to crowd and acknowledges his receipt of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on March 8, 2009 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC.

Background

In 1956, John F. Kennedy wrote a book about the grace and courage of eight United States Senators who risked their careers to stand up for American ideals. Profiles in Courage foretold the extraordinary grace and courage of another United States Senator, Edward M. Kennedy, whose perseverance on behalf of the vulnerable and the voiceless has, for 47 years, weathered every storm.

The political valor of Edward Moore Kennedy exceeds what can be told in a single volume. When principle demanded that he stand alone, he stood alone. When the public interest called for compromise, he compromised. When hope and human dignity could be advanced by reaching across the aisle, he extended his hand. He carried the nation on his shoulders through the most important struggles of our time – for justice, for equality, for opportunity, for freedom.

For all of these reasons, the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award was presented to Edward M. Kennedy on March 8, 2009, in recognition of his distinguished public service, and the example he has set of political courage in American public life.