Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday August 29, 2009

Obama to deliver eulogy at Kennedy funeral

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will eulogize Senator Edward Kennedy on Saturday, the final day of memorials for a towering figure in U.S. politics whose death has been treated like the passing of royalty.

Members of the Kennedy family kneel by the side of the casket of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy as he lies in repose at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, August 28, 2009. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Since he died late on Tuesday of brain cancer, Americans have staged a series of tributes to the last of the Kennedy brothers, who played a key role in major social and political changes in the United States in the last half century.

Kennedy will be taken to Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington on Saturday evening to be buried close to his brothers, former President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy, who were both assassinated in the 1960s.

Edward Kennedy's early career was overshadowed by the lives and deaths of John and Robert but he went on to serve nearly 47 years in the senate, where he became a champion of liberals and was both reviled and respected by conservatives.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will play and opera star Placido Domingo will sing at the funeral at a Roman Catholic basilica in a working class section of Boston.

Kennedy, who was 77, chose Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica because it was where he prayed daily while his daughter Kara -- now 49 -- was at nearby hospital battling lung cancer in 2003.

Many members of Congress and other leading U.S. political figures, including former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, are expected to attend the service.

After the funeral, Kennedy's coffin will be flown to Washington and taken by motorcade through the capital to Arlington.

On Friday, dignitaries from both sides of the political aisle attended an invitation-only memorial service at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum after a public viewing that drew more than 30,000 mourners -- so many that security had to turn people away.

Kennedy's flag-draped coffin was displayed before picture windows showing sweeping views of Boston Harbor and the Boston skyline, and the memorial was punctuated by teary remembrances, funny anecdotes and song.

(Additional reporting by Scott Malone and Ross Kerber)

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