Another Democratic Convention, Another Kennedy Rises to Rouse The Faithful

Joe Kennedy III leads opening night tribute to the late Ted Kennedy

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Joe Kennedy III, candidate for the House of Representatives from Massachusetts, addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—What would a Democratic convention be without a Kennedy at the podium?

As the Boston Globe noted today, "The last Democratic National Convention that gathered without a Kennedy in Congress was held in Chicago in 1944, only six weeks after the D-day invasion, at a time when typewriters, telephones, and teletypes were the gold standard of communication."

[PHOTOS: Protesters March at the Democratic National Convention.]

Now it is iPhones, blogs, memes and Buzzfeed. But still the resonant voice of a Massachusetts family whose name has been synonmous with American politics for more than 50 years poured forth on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention. Joe Kennedy III, son of former congressman Joe P. Kennedy II and grandson of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, led a video tribute to his great uncle, Ted Kennedy. Joe Kennedy is running for the congressional seat vacated by Rep. Barney Frank and is favored, meaning a Kennedy will be back in Congress again.

The tribute to Ted Kennedy brought back memories of Ted's valiant speech to the 2008 convention when, battling the brain cancer that would take his life not long after, the lion of the party famously said: "The torch has been passed..." in endorsing Obama. It was Ted Kennedy himself who lit up the 1980 Democratic convention with his call to arms after losing a bruising primary battle against a sitting but unpopular president, Jimmy Carter, who was seeking re-election.

[READ: What Barack Obama Needs to Do at the Democratic Convention.]

And Joe's grandfather, Bobby Kennedy, drew 12 minutes of uninterrupted applause at the 1964 convention after a tribute to his own brother, John F. Kennedy, who had been shot dead in Dallas less than a year before.

Several Kennedys are reportedly attending the Charlotte gathering and Caroline, daughter of JFK and Jackie, is scheduled to speak Thursday.

Expect more tears.

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  • Tim Smart is the Executive Editor of U.S. News & World Report. He can be reached by E-mail at