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Updated: 9:16 a.m.Sen. Edward Kennedy died late Tuesday night at his family’s home in Hyannis Port, Mass. He was 77 and had been battling brain cancer for more than a year.”We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” the Massachusetts Democrat’s family said in a statement. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) issued a statement early Wednesday saying: “It was the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy. He was a friend, the model of public service and an American icon.”Reid added: “Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country. … The liberal lion’s mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.”President Barack Obama also released a statement praising a man whose endorsement in the 2008 presidential race gave the then-junior Senator from Illinois a huge boost.”Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy,” Obama said. “For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I’ve profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.”Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Kennedy “one of the giants of American political life, a longtime Senate colleague, and a friend.—“No one could have known the man without admiring the passion and vigor he poured into a truly momentous life,” McConnell said in a statement Wednesday.”We send our deepest expressions of sympathy to Vicki, his children, and the entire Kennedy family.—Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

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