Boston: Loved ones of Sen Edward M Kennedy have begun arriving for a private Mass at the family compound on Cape Cod.
Among the mourners arriving Thursday was the late senator's niece, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F Kennedy. Also there was Maria Shriver, daughter of his sister Eunice.
After the private Mass, Kennedy's body will be carried 70 miles in a motorcade to the John F Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.
His body will lie in repose there for two days with several hours of public visitation scheduled.
He is to be buried Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Earlier mourners had lined up on Thursday morning outside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, where Sen. Edward M Kennedy's body will lie in repose after traveling more than 70 miles from his Cape Cod home.
Austin Howe, 15, a high school student from Laurel, Md., came with his father to see the museum and joined about 20 others before it opened its doors Thursday morning. Father and son planned to pay their respects to Kennedy after the statesman's body arrived in the afternoon.
"He is someone who made a difference," Howe said. "This is a person who served the people of Massachusetts and served the people of the United States."
His father, Scott Howe, 46, said he admired how Kennedy related to the people he served.
"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."
Family members will attend a private Mass at Kennedy's Hyannis Port compound at noon, and the motorcade is scheduled to leave around an hour later. It will pass sites that were significant to the senator on the way to the library, which he helped develop, and his body will lie in repose there until Friday, a Senate office statement said.
Plans are being finalized for a private memorial service at the presidential library Friday evening and for the funeral Mass on Saturday morning at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica — commonly known as the Mission Church — in Boston's Mission Hill neighborhood. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the funeral.
All of the living former presidents will also attend the funeral, said a person familiar with the arrangements who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details.
Shortly before the Mass, 44 sitting senators and 10 former senators will be among a group of approximately 100 dignitaries who will pay their respects to Kennedy at the library before making their way to the cavernous basilica, built in 1878.
Included in the group is former US Sen. 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.
Kennedy's favorite song, "The Impossible Dream" from the musical "Man of La Mancha," will be played at one of the services, according to the person familiar with the arrangements.
Kennedy prayed at the basilica every day in 2003 as his daughter, Kara, was successfully treated for lung cancer at a nearby hospital. The church eventually became a place of hope and optimism for the senator, especially during his yearlong battle with brain cancer before he died Tuesday at age 77.
Thursday's motorcade is expected to go by St. Stephen's Church, where his mother, Rose, was baptized and her funeral Mass celebrated; cross the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, the Boston park that he helped create and that is named after his mother; pass historic Faneuil Hall, where Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will ring the bell 47 times, once for each year Kennedy served in the Senate; and then move by the site of Kennedy's first office as an assistant district attorney.
A military honor guard will join members of his family, friends and current and former staff to stand vigil around the clock as anticipated thousands file past the closed casket to pay their respects, beginning at 6 pm Thursday. Several large photographs will be in the room, showing the senator at different stages of his life.
Kennedy will be buried Saturday evening near his slain brothers — former President Kennedy and former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy — at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia. Other family members buried on the famous hillside include former first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and the former president's baby son, Patrick, who died after two days.
Kennedy is eligible for burial at Arlington because of his service in Congress, as well as his two years in the Army from 1951 to 1953. He was a private first class and served in the military police at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, located at that time in Paris.
On Wednesday night, the Lightship Nantucket — the vessel that marked limits of the dangerous Nantucket Shoals in Massachusetts for more than 150 years — pulled up outside the Kennedy compound as dusk fell and illuminated the late senator's schooner as a tribute.
First Published: Thursday, August 27, 2009, 23:23