UPDATE at 12:30 pm- The prepared remarks of President Barack Obama are now below the fold.

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NPR is liveblogging this morning here.

An open thread this morning, to bear witness to the funeral of Senator Kennedy, pay final respects and remember a great leader.

Live video coverage here on NECN, via Boston.com and without  time delay.

It is a rainy day in Boston; buses have been bringing in politicians, celebrities, family and friends to Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Basilica. Earlier they gathered at the JFK Library one last time:


In the drumbeat of constant of rain, the family of Senator Edward M. Kennedy joined at least 80 current and former members of Congress for brief prayer service this morning at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum.

In small groups, they walked under black umbrellas and into the library, where the senator’s body remains in repose in a flag-draped casket. The senator’s wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, stood near husband’s body, greeting, hugging, and shaking hands.

The mourner took seats around the senator’s casket, the dreary rain visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Dorchester Bay. A few of the people visible in the crowd: Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa; Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri; Former Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia; Senator Roland W. Burris, Democrat of Illinois; Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York; Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky; and many, many more.

The hearse is still parked outside the library. The casket is now coming out of the JFK library and being loaded in by an honor guard.

Security is incredibly tight; everyone is getting the wand sweep- even Yo-Yo Ma and his equipment were thoroughly examined. He and 4 others are currently playing, as people slowly come in.

Eight buses of Congressional members and others were just dropped off outside the Basilica; all of those people are now waiting in the cold rain under a sea of umbrellas, waiting to be swept by security.

I will be updating this post below the fold.(10:07) How very appropriate that it was a beautiful and perfect sunny day as Ted left Hyannisport and the Cape for the last time and it is a very rainy, cold day today.

For those who haven’t seen it, here is a clip of the procession as Senator Kennedy was moved from the Cape to Boston on Thursday:

The hearse is now leaving the library and heading to the church.

(10:15)For those who were not able to join us last night, we had an open thread in part celebrating Teddy’s life.

If I can, I’ll try to find links to clips of the televised celebration of Kennedy’s life; it was well done and some of the stories were hilarious.

(10:20) President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama have been seated; they are flanked by former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.

Behind them, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is speaking past former President George W. Bush to Laura Bush. Dubya is in the middle, looking away and trying to be invisible as the women chat.

Cardinal Sean of the Archdiocese of Boston is greeting the first few row of dignitaries.

(10:43) The hearse has arrived at the church. It is being reported that despite the cold and rainy weather, it is quite warm and muggy inside the non-airconditioned church.

(11:00) While former president George H W and former First Lady Barbara Bush are not attending today, the Basilica is full.

Senator Kennedy’s casket has been brought into the Basilica, also known as the Mission Church, and the Mass is now beginning.

Via the Cape Cod Times, a list of the dignitaries and others attending the funeral.


Dignitaries

Honorable Gerry Adams

The Honorable James Blanchard

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

VP Al Gore

VP Dan Quayle

Martin McGuiness

Honorable Stephen Breyer

Sarah Brown

President George W. Bush

President Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn

President Bill Clinton

Mayor Richard Daley

Hon. Chet Culver

Amb. Michael Collins

Gov. Jon Corzine

Yo-Yo Ma

Hon. Kathleen Sebelius

Hon. Hilda Solis

Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Massachusetts

Mayor Tom Menino

Rob Consalvo

Hon. Paul Cellucci

Hon. Bill Bulger

Larry Lucchino

Gov. and Mrs. Michael Dukakis

Senate President Therese Murray

Dr. Drew Faust

Gov and Mrs. Deval Patrick

Congressional

Sen. and Mrs. John Kerry

Sen. Akaka

Sen. Barrosso

Sen. Maria Cantwell

Honorable Michael Capuano

Sen. Ben Cardin

Hon. William Delahunt

Hon. Rosa DeLauro

Hon. Christopher Dodd

Sen. Byron Dorgan

Rep. Jane Harmon

Sen. Orrin Hatch

Hon. Wyche Fowler

Hon. Barney Frank

Sen. Dan Inouye

Rep. John Tierney

Rep. Niki Tsongas

Sen. Mark Udall

Sen. Tom Udall

Sen. Mark Warner

Rep. Henry Waxman

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Sen. Herb Kohl

Sen. Mary Landrieu

Rep. Jim Langevin

Sen. Pat Leahy

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. John Lewis

Rep. Ed Markey

Sen. Mitch McConnell

Hon. Nancy Pelosi

Sen. Arlen Specter

Rep. Richie Neal

Sen. Bill Nelson

Rep. David Obey

Hon. Anna Eshoo

Sen. Jack Reed

Former Members

Sen. John Warner

Sen. John Tunney

Sen. John Culver

Sen. Pete Domenici (wife, Nancy)

Sen. Birch Bayh

Sen. Tom Daschle

Sen. Don Riegle

Sen. Paul Sarbanes

Media

Tom Brokaw

Al Hunt and Judy Woodruff

David Gregory

David McCullough

Maureen Orth and Luke Russert

Entertainers/Athletes

Lauren Bacall

Tony Bennett

Placido Domingo

Jack Nicholson

Brian Stokes Mitchell

Bill Russell

Misc.

Michael Bechloss

Mr. Ken Feinberg

Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Martin Luther King, III

Mrs. Claiborne Pell

Ted Sorenson

John Sweeney, President AFL-CIO

His grandchildren, nieces and nephews rose as a group and delivered the following “Prayers of the Faithful”:


(introduced by daughter-in-law Kiki Kennedy)

Granddaughter Kiley Kennedy:For the work of his life is our prayer for our country and our world.

Granddaughter Grace Allen:  For his commitment and persistence, not to outworn values, but to old values that will never wear out. That the poor may be out of political fashion but they are never without human need. That circumstances may change but the work of compassion must continue. That we will not, in our nation, measure human beings by what they cannot do, but instead value them for what they can do.

Grandson Max Allen: For what my granpa called the Cause of his life, as he said so often, in every part of this land, that every American will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

Nephew Jack Kennedy Schlossberg: For a new season  of hope, as my uncle Teddy envisioned,  where we rise to our best ideals, to close the book on the old politics of race and gender, group against group, straight against gay.

Niece: For my Uncle Teddy’s call to keep the promise that all men and women who live here, even strangers and newcomers can rise, no matter what their color, no matter what their place of birth. For workers out of work, students without tuition for college, and families without the chance to own a home. For all Americans seeking a better life in a better land, for all those left out or left behind.

Niece:For my uncle’s stand against violence hate and war and his belief that peace can be kept from the triumph justice and the truest justice can come only from the works of peace.

Nephew: As my Uncle Teddy once told thousands and millions, may it be said of us, in dark passages and bright days, and the words of Tennyson, that my brothers (Bobby and Jack)  quoted and loved, and that have a special meaning for us now:


I am part of all that I have met

Though much is taken, much abides

That which we are, we are

One equal temper of heroic hearts

Stong in will, to strive, to seek, to find

and not to yield.

Rory Kennedy: For the joy of my Uncle Teddy’s laughter, the light of his presence, his rare and noble contributions to the human spirit, his faith that in heaven, his father and his mother, his brothers and sisters, and all who went before him will welcome him home….and for all the times to come when the rest of us will think of him. Cuddling affectionately on the boat, surrounded by family, as we sailed the

Nantucket sound.

Teddy M  Kennedy III: For my grandfather’s brave promise last summer that The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.

(h/t Orion45 for transcription)

(12:30 pm) President Barack Obama is now delivering the eulogy for Senator Kennedy.

Here are his released prepared remarks (h/t Pam):

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

Eulogy for Edward Kennedy

Boston, MA

Mrs. Kennedy, Kara, Edward, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, members of the Kennedy family, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Today we say goodbye to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy.  The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate – a man whose name graces nearly one thousand laws, and who penned more than three hundred himself.

But those of us who loved him, and ache with his passing, know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held:  Father.  Brother.  Husband.  Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, “The Grand Fromage,” or “The Big Cheese.”  I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, a friend.

Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock.  He was the sunny, joyful child, who bore the brunt of his brothers’ teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off.  When they tossed him off a boat because he didn’t know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail.  When a photographer asked the newly-elected Bobby to step back at a press conference because he was casting a shadow on his younger brother, Teddy quipped, “It’ll be the same in Washington.”

This spirit of resilience and good humor would see Ted Kennedy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know.  He lost two siblings by the age of sixteen.  He saw two more taken violently from the country that loved them.  He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his own life.  He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.

It is a string of events that would have broken a lesser man.  And it would have been easy for Teddy to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet.  No one would have blamed him for that.

But that was not Ted Kennedy.  As he told us, “…[I]ndividual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in – and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves.”  Indeed, Ted was the “Happy Warrior” that the poet William Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote:

As tempted more; more able to endure,

As more exposed to suffering and distress;

Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.

Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and suffering of others – the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier sent to battle without armor; the citizen denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from.  The landmark laws that he championed — the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children’s health care, the Family and Medical Leave Act -all have a running thread.  Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections.  It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding.  He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.  

We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers’ rights or civil rights.  And yet, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did.  While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that is not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw him.  He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect – a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.  

And that’s how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time.  He did it by hewing to principle, but also by seeking compromise and common cause – not through deal-making and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humor.  There was the time he courted Orrin Hatch’s support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program by having his Chief of Staff serenade the Senator with a song Orrin had written himself; the time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague; and the famous story of how he won the support of a Texas Committee Chairman on an immigration bill.  Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manila envelope, and showed only the Chairman that it was filled with the Texan’s favorite cigars.  When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the Chairman.  When they weren’t, he would pull it back.  Before long, the deal was done.

It was only a few years ago, on St. Patrick’s Day, when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support on a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for vote.  I gave him my pledge, but expressed my skepticism that it would pass.  But when the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes it needed, and then some.  I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked how he had pulled it off.  He just patted me on the back, and said “Luck of the Irish!”

Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy’s legislative success, and he knew that.  A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time.  Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, “What did Webster do?”

But though it is Ted Kennedy’s historic body of achievements we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss.  It was the friend and colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I hope you feel better,” or “What can I do to help?”  It was the boss who was so adored by his staff that over five hundred spanning five decades showed up for his 75th birthday party.  It was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank you notes and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. Senator would take the time to think about someone like them.  I have one of those paintings in my private study – a Cape Cod seascape that was a gift to a freshman legislator who happened to admire it when Ted Kennedy welcomed him into his office the first week he arrived in Washington; by the way, that’s my second favorite gift from Teddy and Vicki after our dog Bo.  And it seems like everyone has one of those stories – the ones that often start with “You wouldn’t believe who called me today.”

Ted Kennedy was the father who looked after not only his own three children, but John’s and Bobby’s as well.  He took them camping and taught them to sail.  He laughed and danced with them at birthdays and weddings; cried and mourned with them through hardship and tragedy; and passed on that same sense of service and selflessness that his parents had instilled in him.  Shortly after Ted walked Caroline down the aisle and gave her away at the altar, he received a note from Jackie that read, “On you the carefree youngest brother fell a burden a hero would have begged to be spared.  We are all going to make it because you were always there with your love.”

Not only did the Kennedy family make it because of Ted’s love – he made it because of theirs; and especially because of the love and the life he found in Vicki.  After so much loss and so much sorrow, it could not have been easy for Ted Kennedy to risk his heart again.  That he did is a testament to how deeply he loved this remarkable woman from Louisiana.  And she didn’t just love him back.  As Ted would often acknowledge, Vicki saved him.  She gave him strength and purpose; joy and friendship; and stood by him always, especially in those last, hardest days.

We cannot know for certain how long we have here.  We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way.  We cannot know God’s plan for us.

What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and love, and joy.  We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves.  We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures.  And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of other human beings.

This is how Ted Kennedy lived.  This is his legacy.  He once said of his brother Bobby that he need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, and I imagine he would say the same about himself.  The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy’s shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became.  We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office.  We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy – not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved.

In the days after September 11th, Teddy made it a point to personally call each one of the 177 families of this state who lost a loved one in the attack.  But he didn’t stop there.  He kept calling and checking up on them.  He fought through red tape to get them assistance and grief counseling.  He invited them sailing, played with their children, and would write each family a letter whenever the anniversary of that terrible day came along.  To one widow, he wrote the following:

“As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved one would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us.”

We carry on.

Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those he has loved and lost.  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, and 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.  May God Bless Ted Kennedy, and may he rest in eternal peace.

1:00 pm The funeral has concluded. It is now pouring rain outside the Basilica.

Now onward to Arlington National Cemetery, where Senator Kennedy will be laid to rest this evening.

(8:00 pm) The family has gathered at the graveside in Arlington, after a moving stop at the Capital, where thousands waited to say goodbye and show their gratitude. It is now evening and the sun has gone down.

The Eternal Flame is shining brightly in the dark, as a final prayer is being said.

Within the prayer is a full reading of the letter Senator Kennedy sent to the Pope via President Obama. It is a beautiful and moving letter, showing devout faith and humility, a letter that shows how deeply devoted Senator Kennedy was to being a champion of the people he represented and all in the nation. Some excerpts:

I know that I have been an imperfect human being but with the help of my faith, I have tried to right my path.

I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings. I continue to pray for God’s blessings on you and our Church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me.

I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, and although I continue treatment the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old, and preparing for the next passage of life.

I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I’ve worked to welcome the immigrant, fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war.

Now the reply of the Pope is being read as well. One hopes it brought comfort to the senator in his final days:


The Vatican reply came two weeks later: “His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God our merciful Father.”

It is so dark there now (8:10pm) and one can barely see anything other than the white stripes of the flag, still covering the casket of the senator, and the simple white crosses of the cemetery.

(8:15 pm) Now the flag, the same one that flew over the Capital on the last day that Senator Kennedy was there and cast his final votes, has been lifted and is being folded, to be presented to his widow Vicky.

A 21 gun salute is going off, and a lone bugler is  playing “Taps”.

The Washington Monument gleams a beautiful pure white in the distance. There appears to be multiple lightning strikes approaching. MSNBC is cutting away as to give the family privacy- a move utterly correct and appropriate.

Rest in peace, Senator, and thank you.

 

Louise1

Louise1

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