Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friends and family prepared for a memorial service at the JFK Presidential Library on Friday as mourners from all walks of life continued their own personal farewells.
Numerous political heavyweights are expected to speak at the “celebration of life” service, including Vice President Joe Biden, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, Arizona Sen. John McCain, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Caroline Kennedy and former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy will also address the private evening memorial, which organizers are calling “a way to celebrate [Kennedy’s] life: with his love of music, laughter and stories.” Kennedy died Tuesday night in Hyannisport after a 15-month battle with brain cancer. He was 77 and had represented Massachusetts in the Senate since 1962. A motorcade carrying the senator’s body arrived at the library from the family’s Hyannisport compound on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Thursday afternoon. Before arriving, the cortege took a brief detour past several historic Boston sites of importance to the Kennedy family. It crossed the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, a park named for the senator’s mother and one-time family matriarch. It also passed applauding crowds of onlookers at historic Faneuil Hall, where Kennedy launched his ill-fated 1980 presidential campaign, the Massachusetts State House and the home that President Kennedy lived in when he first ran for Congress in 1946.
A Celebration of Life
CNN covers the life and death of Sen. Ted Kennedy, including the memorial Friday night and the funeral Saturday.
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A bell at Faneuil Hall was rung 47 times, once for each of Kennedy’s 47 years in the U.S. Senate. An estimated 25,000 people filed past the senator’s flag-draped casket at the library Thursday, according to organizers. Thousands more are expected to pay their final respects Friday. At least 40 of Kennedy’s fellow senators and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are slated to attend Saturday’s funeral at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston’s Mission Hill section, a short distance from the library. President Obama, who called Kennedy an “extraordinary leader” Wednesday, will deliver a eulogy at the funeral, according to several sources. Prime Minister Brian Cowen of Ireland, the famous clan’s ancestral homeland, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are also expected to attend, a family spokesman said. Learn more about Kennedy funeral plans » Kennedy will be buried Saturday evening at Arlington National Cemetery, outside Washington. Kennedy is eligible for burial at Arlington because of his congressional service and his tenure in the Army from 1951 to 1953.
The proposed gravesite is 95 feet south of the grave of Sen. Robert Kennedy, which is in turn just steps away from John Kennedy’s burial site. Bad weather could affect Saturday’s ceremonies. Tropical Storm Danny, now churning east of the Bahamas, is expected to brush the East Coast and be near Cape Cod by Saturday evening.