Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s body will travel more than 70 miles from his Cape Cod home to Boston to lie in repose in a presidential library he helped develop in tribute to one of his slain brothers.
Family members will attend a private Mass at Kennedy’s Hyannis Port compound at noon Thursday, 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 John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where his body will lie in repose until Friday, a Senate office statement said.
The motorcade will 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 he helped create and is named after his mother; pass historic Faneuil Hall, where Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will repeatedly ring the bell; 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 thousands are expected to file past the closed casket to pay their respects. The library will remain open until the last person comes through. Several large photographs will be in the room, showing the senator at different stages of his life.
An invitation-only memorial service will be held at the library Friday evening. On Saturday, President Barack Obama will speak at a private funeral mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica — commonly known as the Mission Church — in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood.
A church official said former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush also are expected to attend the Mass at the cavernous basilica built in 1878.
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.
Kennedy will be buried Saturday evening near his slain brothers — former President Kennedy and former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy — at the Arlington National Cemetery, in 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.