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Kennedy laid to rest; Obama eulogizes senator and `the dream he kept alive'.

Byline: John J. Monahan

BOSTON - "We carry on."

With those three words, President Barack Obama yesterday gave voice to the hope and pledges of many who have mourned Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's passing, at the same time reflecting the void they shared on the day he was being laid to rest.

"Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those he has loved and lost," said the president, who himself owes part of his political success and his future to the youngest son of Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy.

"At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good he did, the dream he kept alive," Mr. Obama said as he eulogized Mr. Kennedy in a church nestled in a working-class Boston neighborhood, packed with the powerful and famous and the generations of the Kennedy family that survive Mr. Kennedy.

In the end, Mr. Obama told them, they are left with "a single, enduring image - the image of a man on a boat; white mane tousled; smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for what storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon."

The Obamas, and Bidens, Carters, Clintons and Bushes, supreme court justices, 58 former and current colleagues from the U.S. Senate, more than a dozen congressmen, Govs. Deval L. Patrick and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the mayors of Boston and New York City, hundreds of the state and the national political luminaries, famous movie stars, artists and entertainers attended the High Mass of Resurrection funeral service at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica.

The ornate historic church is also known as Mission Church. It is where Mr. Kennedy prayed for his daughter, Kara, when she was being treated for cancer and it is a short walk from his parents Rose and Joseph's former modest two-story colonial in Brookline, where his brother John was born.

Inside delegations from Ireland and England, stars including Tony Bennett, Jack Nicholson and Lauren Bacall, former Boston Celtic Bill Russell, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III were joined by some of Mr. Kennedy's constituents and many friends who talked in recent days of how they were comforted by Mr. Kennedy when they faced great losses and tragedies.

Outside a policeman had saluted as the hearse arrived at the church. Neighborhood residents stood in a driving rain to applaud softly and tip their caps. Some held handmade posters with simple messages of "Thanks" and "Kennedy" and "the dream will never die."

A legion of Kennedy family members stood side by side under umbrellas on the steps of the church as his coffin was carried inside amid steady rainfall.

His grandchildren led prayers remembering Mr. Kennedy's hope for universal health care, racial equality, opportunities for decent housing and education, his stands against violence and war and hopes for peace for the nation and the world.

Throughout, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, whom Mr. Obama described as "this remarkable woman from Louisiana" and whom, he said, Mr. Kennedy told many had saved him with their marriage, her strength of purpose, joy and friendship, sat solemnly, listening intently to the speakers and reciting the words of the Mass with her husband's casket covered in white at her side.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said as she left her seat to grasp both of Mr. Obama's hands as he leaned and kissed her cheek at the casket during the traditional moment in the Mass for an expression of peace. She hugged Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, touched the hands of the gathered former presidents - Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - and walking to President Jimmy Carter to hold his hands and leaning to kiss his wife, Rosalyn, on the cheek.

While closing her eyes at times in deep thought or weariness during the service, she smiled easily hearing U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island describe his father as "a magical figure" who doted over him as a child when the younger Kennedy suffered from asthma, and was noticeably cheered by Mr. Obama's words.

The senator's other son, Edward M. Kennedy Jr., said beyond his role as a statesman, and master of the legislative process, his father was a storyteller, practical joker, navigator, lover of "all things French, including cheese, wine and women," a skipper, dog lover and all around adventurer.

He choked up recalling after he lost one leg to bone cancer at age 12 he was struggling to climb an icy driveway to sled, while learning to use his new artificial leg. After falling and starting to cry, he recalled he told his dad, "I'll never be able to climb up that hill."

"He lifted me up in his strong gentle arms and said something I will never forget. He said `I know you can do it. There is nothing that you can't do. We are going to climb that hill together even if it takes us all day.'"

He talked about the many ways his father taught him lessons and values of life, the importance of perseverance, the need to care for working people and how his dad took charge of family vacations that he said often left the family exhausted and sometimes injured.

He said his father loved the artists, philosophers, history and people of the Bay State. "He thought that Massachusetts was the greatest place on Earth," he said. "The hope still lives and the dream will never die. I love you dad, and I always will. I miss you dad, already."

After the service ended, thousands stood in drenching downpours, holding American flags and umbrellas along the route of a motorcade taking Mr. Kennedy's body to Hanscom Air Force base, where it was flown to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

A motorcade left there and proceeded to the East plaza of the U.S. Capitol building and past the Senate Chamber steps before moving along Constitution Avenue to Arlington National Cemetery for the burial services.

There, Mr. Kennedy was laid to rest alongside his two brothers, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, where Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is also buried.

Before the funeral motorcade brought Mr. Kennedy's body to the church, Victoria Kennedy wiped occasional tears from her eyes and wrapped her arms around her husband's best friends from Washington, family members and dignitaries including U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, as they gathered again at the JFK Library before boarding buses and black limousines to get to the church.

Mr. McGovern, who cut short a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan to attend the services, said he and his wife, Lisa, told Vicki Kennedy how much they loved her and her husband.

"I think Vicki displayed this incredible grace and dignity and class during this very difficult and painful time for her and her family. I am just in awe of her and her whole family. The world is going to miss Ted Kennedy. I already do," Mr. McGovern said.

While having dinner with troops in Afghanistan last week, he said, "All they wanted to know about was Ted Kennedy."

Mr. McGovern called Friday night's celebration of Mr. Kennedy's life "spectacular" and the funeral service "beautiful and inspiring." "When I heard Placido Domingo sing, I thought I was in heaven," Mr. McGovern said of the mood inside the church.

Mr. McGovern said Mr. Kennedy "was not only the most incredible legislator who ever served in Congress, but he was an incredible man," and a "champion for civil rights and the poor."

The final day of ceremony and tributes, prayers, blessings and receiving lines followed several days of emotional outpourings from the people of Massachusetts and the Kennedys' closest friends and allies.

Thousands lined the streets of Boston to clap and wave as Mr. Kennedy's hearse moved through the narrow streets of the North End and Beacon Hill en route to the wake at the library on Thursday.

About 50,000 people streamed past Mr. Kennedy's flag covered coffin at the JFK Library during the two-day wake there, with many whose lives were touched by Mr. Kennedy taking shifts in a vigil alongside a military honor guard inside the library's high glass walls facing Dorchester Bay.

Among them was the family of Molly Bish, the teenage girl from Warren who disappeared in the summer of 2003. Her mother, Magdelan Bish, said it was a privilege to return the support Mr. Kennedy showed her and her family in their most difficult times, calling the family when she first disappeared, when her remains were found, and when her husband, John Bish, suffered a stroke.

Families of some of the state's victims of 9-11 and wars gone by, and ongoing, also sat in vigil throughout the wake.

Somber words of praise and inspiration, personal stories, songs and laughter celebrated Mr. Kennedy's life as well as his family and closest friends recounted their favorite memories late into Friday night during the memorial celebration.

Vice President Joe Biden said, "He crept into my heart and before I knew it he owned a piece of it."

Mr. Patrick called his friend "the master of the Senate" and "a giant" of American politics. At the memorial celebration, Mr. Patrick brought a smile and laughter to Vicki Kennedy's face recalling a long night of singing with Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy after dinner at their home in the Berkshires on a past summer evening.

One of Mr. Kennedy's many friends, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said the "Liberal Lion," who was said to have 10,000 best friends, was an inspiration to America. JFK, Mr. Dodd said, inspired America, RFK challenged America, "and our Teddy changed America." He said his friend was "an incredible American story, a man who made so many other American stories possible."

Contact John J. Monahan by e-mail at


CUTLINE: (1) The casket carrying the body of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is taken down the aisle during yesterday's funeral Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston. (2) People watch the funeral procession of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy yesterday in the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (3) At right, President Barack Obama lays his hand on the casket as he embraces Kennedy's widow, Vicky, after giving the eulogy at yesterday's funeral Mass.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 30, 2009
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