Sen. Kennedy's body moved to brother's presidential library

Friday, August 28, 2009
Family members follow an honor guard carrying the casket of Sen. Edward Kennedy as it arrives Thursday at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. (Charles Dharapak ~ Associated Press)

BOSTON -- The body of Sen. Edward Kennedy traveled by motorcade Thursday from the family compound where he spent his last days, past the building where he opened his first office to the presidential library named for his slain brother.

Thousands of mourners assembled along the 70-mile route that was dotted with landmarks named for the Kennedys. The crowds gathered to bid farewell to the last of the family's brothers and mark the end of a national political chapter that was equal parts triumph and tragedy.

For many, it was hard to untangle Kennedy's larger-than-life role as statesman from his role as neighbor and local celebrity, whether he was taking a turn conducting the Boston Pops or throwing out the first pitch for the Red Sox.

"It was Teddy's home team. It just seemed appropriate to leave him the cap," said James Jenner, 28, placing a Sox cap he was wearing near the entrance to the library. "It symbolizes everything that he loved about his home state and everything he was outside the Senate."

The motorcade started its trip in Hyannis Port, at the Cape Cod home where Kennedy's family held a private Mass. Eighty-five Kennedy relatives traveled with the senator's body to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, where the Senate's third-longest-serving member will lie in repose.

Among those accompanying Kennedy were nieces Caroline, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, and Maria Shriver, daughter of his late sister Eunice; and his son Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island congressman.

After leaving the church, the motorcade traveled across the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway created by the Big Dig highway project, which Kennedy helped shepherd through the Senate. The park occupies the same stretch of land once dominated by an elevated expressway named after John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, Rose's father and a patriarch of the Kennedy-Fitzgerald clan.

Kennedy's motorcade then paused at Faneuil Hall, where the historic bell rang 47 times -- once for each of Kennedy's years in the Senate.

From there the motorcade passed the Massachusetts Statehouse with its life-size statue of John F. Kennedy, which was accessible to tourists Thursday for the first time since just after the Sept. 11 attacks.

After passing by the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in the city's Government Center complex, the motorcade headed to the library, where Kennedy's body will remain until his Saturday funeral.

Just before arriving at the museum, the motorcade passed the JFK stop on the city's subway system.

By Thursday evening, thousands of people were waiting in line to pay their respects at Kennedy's public viewing. Officials allowed mourners to enter in groups of 35 to 40 to file past Kennedy's closed casket.

Scott Howe, 46, and his 15-year-old son, Austin, from Laurel, Md., were among those gathering outside the library.

"He seemed to really care about his constituents," Scott Howe said. "The Kennedy family -- despite the money they had, had a big streak of altruism."

The family planned an invitation-only private memorial service for Friday evening at the library.

All the living presidents were expected to attend the funeral Mass on Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica -- commonly known as the Mission Church -- in Boston's working-class Mission Hill neighborhood. President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the eulogy.

Shortly before the Mass, 44 sitting senators and 10 former senators will be among a group of about 100 dignitaries who will pay their respects to Kennedy at the library before making their way to the church.

Included in the group is former senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, who pulled Kennedy from the wreckage of a small plane that crashed near Springfield, Mass., in June 1964. The pilot and a legislative aide were killed, and Kennedy suffered a broken back that caused him pain the rest of his life.

"The Impossible Dream," Kennedy's favorite song, from the musical "Man of La Mancha," will be played at one of the services, according to the person familiar with the arrangements.

The city may soon have one more Kennedy landmark. Planning is already under way for a building to house a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate.

Kennedy will be buried Saturday evening near his assassinated brothers -- former President Kennedy and former senator Robert F. Kennedy -- at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.

Associated Press writers Ray Henry in Hyannis Port and Denise Lavoie, Jeannie Nuss and Russell Contreras in Boston contributed to this report.

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