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August 29, 2009

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Thousands still arrive to mourn Kennedy

MOURNING for United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy continued for a second day yesterday, with thousands arriving to pay their final respects.

The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum where Kennedy's body is lying in repose was scheduled to open at 8am yesterday, but hundreds had lined up well before then.

More than 21,000 people filed past Kennedy's casket on Thursday.

A private memorial for family and invited friends was due at the library last night.

United States Vice President Joe Biden as well as Senators John McCain, Orrin Hatch and Christopher Dodd are expected to speak.

A funeral Mass is scheduled for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston today where President Barack Obama is expected to deliver the eulogy.

Many of the people who took time out to pay their respects to Kennedy on Thursday said they did so because he had made time for them at some point during his 47 years in office.

As mourners stood in line for as long as 2 1/2 hours, members of the Kennedy family, including some grandchildren, came out and thanked them for coming.

For 38-year-old Ellen Freed of Brookline, visiting JFK Library and Museum for the viewing was a way to thank the late senator. She has epilepsy and credits Kennedy for her federal housing. "If it wasn't for Ted Kennedy, I would be homeless," she said.

The public event followed a private Mass on Thursday at the family compound in Hyannis Port, where the senator died of brain cancer at age 77. The family watched as the casket was loaded into a hearse for the Boston trip.

The late senator's loved ones -- including niece Caroline, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, and son Patrick, a Rhode Island congressman -- joined in the private Mass.

As the motorcade pulled away, Patrick Kennedy sat near tears in the passenger seat of the hearse.

The procession passed many landmarks that were significant to the senator and his family. They included St Stephen's -- where his mother, Rose, was baptized and her funeral Mass celebrated -- and the building where he opened his first office as an assistant district attorney.

All living presidents are expected to attend the funeral.

Forty-four sitting senators and 10 former senators are expected to be among a group of dignitaries who will pay their respects at the library.

Kennedy will be buried Saturday evening near his slain brothers, John and Robert, at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.


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