Sen. Edward Kennedy was laid to rest Saturday evening near his slain brothers John and Robert at Arlington National Cemetery and celebrated for “the dream he kept alive” for four decades after they were killed.
Crowds lined the streets of two cities on a day that marked the end of an American political era – outside Kennedy's funeral in rainy Boston where he was eulogized by President Obama, and later in the day in Washington.
With flags over the Capitol at half-staff, Kennedy's hearse stopped outside the Senate, where he'd served for 47 years. His widow, Victoria, embraced former staff members in the crowd.
Later, at a graveside enveloped in deepening darkness, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick offered sympathies to Kennedy relatives and “an extended family that must probably include most of America.”
A squad of seven riflemen fired three volleys, and a bugler sounded taps. Lightning flickered across the sky.
Hours earlier, Obama delivered the eulogy in Boston's Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, which was packed with mourners – including former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
“He was given a gift of time that his brothers were not. And he used that time to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow,” Obama said in remarks that also gently made mention of Kennedy's “personal failings and setbacks.”
Those left behind to mourn “grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good he did, the dream he kept alive,” Obama said.
One of Kennedy's sons, Patrick, wept quietly as another, Teddy Jr., spoke from the pulpit. Teddy Jr. recalled the day years ago, shortly after losing a leg to cancer, that he slipped walking up an icy driveway as he headed out to go sledding. “I started to cry and I said, ‘I'll never be able to climb up that hill.'
“And 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.'”
Kennedy's gravesite was on a gently sloping hillside, flanked by a pair of maple trees. His brother Robert, killed in 1968, lies 100 feet away. It is another 100 feet to the eternal flame that has burned since 1963 for John F. Kennedy.
The youngest brother died Tuesday at 77, more than a year after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The two-hour Mass in Boston was filled with references to Kennedy's political accomplishments and personal recollections of his private life. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and tenor Placido Domingo provided musical grace notes.
Victoria Kennedy joined his sole surviving sibling, Jean, and Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel, to arrange the cloth funeral pall atop the coffin.
Like others, Teddy Jr., touched on his father's legacy.
“He answered Uncle Joe's call to patriotism, Uncle Jack's call to public service and Bobby's determination to seek a newer world. Unlike them, he lived to be a grandfather,” he said.