(Globe file photo)
President Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy at US Senator Edward M. Kennedy's funeral Mass on Saturday, a White House official has told the Globe.
Kennedy's funeral will be held at a time yet to be determined Saturday morning at The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Mission Hill section of Boston. Commonly known as the Mission Church, the 1,450-seat basilica on Tremont Street was built in the 1870s. Kennedy prayed there in 2003 while his daughter, Kara, was being treated for lung cancer.
Obama was a political kindred spirit with Kennedy and the two became particularly close after Kennedy endorsed him for president before the Super Tuesday primaries. In a dramatic moment at the Democratic National Convention in August, the ailing Kennedy electrified the crowd with a speech that seemed intended to pass the Kennedy family torch to Obama.
Obama paid tribute this morning to Kennedy, appearing before the cameras to call him an "extraordinary leader" and "one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy."
"Over the past several years, I've had the honor to call Teddy a colleague, a counselor, and a friend," he said. "For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was a defender of a dream."
Ceremonies honoring Kennedy, who died Tuesday night after a long battle with brain cancer, will begin Thursday with a motorcade from the family compound in Hyannis Port to the JFK Library in the Columbia Point section of Dorchester. At a time yet to be announced, a public wake will begin in the library's Smith Center, a maple-paneled room with a striking view of the Boston skyline. The wake on Thursday is expected to stretch into the evening.
The public viewing will continue on Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The library will then close to the public, and an invitation-only celebration of his life and memorial service will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
On Saturday, entrance to the funeral at The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help will also be by invitation only. A motorcade will then proceed to Logan International Airport and the funeral party will fly to Washington, D.C.
At 5 p.m. Saturday, Kennedy will be buried next to John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery. The service will be a private, family-only affair at the national shrine, located just across the Potomac River on a bluff overlooking the capital city.
Tribute areas to honor the senator have been set up at the JFK Library and City Hall in Boston, the JFK Museum in Hyannis, and at his office in Washington D.C., at number 317 in the Russell Senate Building.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to educational programming at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. A website has been set up in memory of Kennedy where people can post their memories.
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