This has been an extraordinary week. It began with the very dangerous but successful brain surgery for Ted Kennedy, who battles for his health as he battles for our dreams. Then Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJudge orders Georgia officials to provide backup paper poll books ahead of election Supreme Court fight should drive Democrats and help Biden Michelle Obama says even former first families can get on each other's nerves during quarantine MORE became the first African-American in the history of America to become the effective nominee of a great party to be leader of the free world. Now, we remember Robert Kennedy, 40 years after he was taken from us decades too soon.

Whatever our differences as Democrats, there are values we stand for, dreams we share, and causes that endure that bring us together yesterday, today and tomorrow. This week we remember the best of our past while we dedicate ourselves to our hope for the future.

This post tracks a column I wrote for The Hill newspaper this past Tuesday, titled “The conscience of the Senate,” about Ted Kennedy and the legacy he carries on in the tradition of his older brothers Jack and Bobby.

It is touching, and moving, and historically important to watch the passing of the torch that Ted Kennedy offers for Barack Obama. Washington over many years has witnessed many who would stake their claim to be "the new Kennedy,” some with more merit than others, none with the enthusiasm endorsed by Edward Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, among others.

This is different; this is important; this is historic; this is our legacy, too.

The Kennedys are a moveable feast in the way that Hemingway wrote of Paris for the young. Experience Paris when you are young, he said, and you will take it with you forever.

In their youth, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy were the young generation within the Great Generation. In The Kennedys At War, Edward Renehan writes about how the young Kennedys rallied to the cause for which Americans were in it together.

The millworker and mailman fought alongside the mogul and movie star. The men fought in combat while the women served courageously as Army nurses and rolled up their sleeves in the factories for the arsenal of democracy.

When that war ended, the young men and women who mobilized to win the war then mobilized to rebuild the world. Never before in history had a nation so victorious in war been so generous in victory. These were the lessons learned by young John, Robert and Edward Kennedy.

When Berliners dreamed of freedom, Jack Kennedy was there. When Latin Americans dreamed of democracy, it was Jack Kennedy's picture on their wall.

When Martin Luther King looked to the mountaintop, when Cesar Chavez staged a hunger strike for hope, Bobby was their friend.

When Poles dreamed of ending communism they greeted Bobby with waving arms and standing ovations. When South Africans dreamed of ending apartheid, Robert Kennedy told them of stones thrown in water sending out timeless ripples of hope.

Ted Kennedy embodies this ethic of dreaming big dreams, realized through hard work. He is the conscience of the Senate, in ways reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson's rules for conducting Senate business.

Today the moguls have high-powered lobbyists and big money to protect their interests. The poor, the hungry, the hurting, the homeless, the despairing, and the destitute have Ted Kennedy.

It is an even match.

In the Great Generation spirit, Ted Kennedy knows that what matters is having an impact, making a difference, getting things done. He continues to build a massive body of work that touches virtually every aspect of American life.

The conscience of the Senate is about attitude, not party. Working with Republicans, building friendships across the aisle, treating friends with loyalty and adversaries with goodwill, this is the conscience of the Senate, too.

The conscience of the Senate can be found in Sen. Sam Brownback's (R-Kan.) prayers, in Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) wise counsel, in Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) faithful friendship, and the great senators memorialized in Profiles in Courage.

The conscience of the Senate can be found in Bob Dole and George McGovern, war heroes of their generation, war horses of their political parties, still joining together to promote great causes they share.

The conscience of the Senate can be found in the former Kennedy aide who is now a Supreme Court justice, and the young aides today, who learn the lessons that Kennedy teaches, and will someday reach for greatness themselves.

Now Kennedy battles on for himself, for his causes that endure, for the candidate he dreams will inherit the torch, for the Senate he loves, for his hopes for tomorrow.

Kennedy has always been willing to sail against the wind, when necessary, and now, with the wind at the back of change for America, it is incredibly moving and historically important to watch his enthusiasm and passion for Barack to carry the torch forward.

Now, with a million prayers at his back, with a thousand dreams to inspire his spirit, Ted Kennedy, the conscience of the Senate, the moveable feast of hope, still seeks a newer world, as we do, with him.

Today is a day to remember Bobby, pray for Ted, and build a better future.