KENNEDY, BYRD FALL ILL AT LUNCHEON…. Watching the inauguration festivities on television, special attention was paid to Ted Kennedy, who joined his Senate colleagues on the stage, appeared healthy, and was walking unaided. It was very encouraging.

Regrettably, it did not last. This afternoon, both Kennedy and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) experienced medical emergencies during a congressional luncheon with Barack Obama.

During a talk to members of Congress and others, Obama called attention to Kennedy, saying “I know that while I was out of the room, concerned was expressed about Teddy.”

Obama said that Kennedy “was there when the voting rights act passed, along with John Lewis, was a warrior for justice.”

“And so I would be lying to you if I did not say that right now a part of me is with him,” Obama added. “And I think that’s true for all of us. This is a joyous time. But it’s also a sobering time. And my prayers are with him and his family and (Kennedy’s wife) Vicki.”

Details are scarce, though the networks are saying that Kennedy had a seizure. Byrd has only been described as having “fallen ill.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.