EDGARTOWN -- He spent long hours in its hallways and on the Senate floor, making impassioned speeches and negotiating with fellow lawmakers. On the grassy area across the street, Senator Edward M. Kennedy would run his dogs, hitting balls with a tennis racket for them to chase.
And on Saturday, the late senator will make one more visit to the US Capitol he so loved, as current and former staffers gather to say good-bye to the lawmaker.
"Senator Kennedy served 47 years in the United States Senate, and loved each and every day he spent there, especially the people who are its heart and soul,'' the senator's office said in a statement.
The Kennedy family is inviting staffers and the public to gather at 4 p.m. on the Senate steps, on the East side of the building, to bid farewell to Kennedy.
"The Senatorís motorcade will stop briefly at the Senate steps so that current and former staff, those with whom the Senator worked and the public can bid a final farewell to the Senator,'' the statement said. The bottom two steps are to be set aside for current personal and committee staff.
Kennedy was a powerful and boisterous presence in the Capitol, and was commonly seen bringing his dogs, Splash and Sunny, with him as he walked from his office in the Russell Senate Office Building to the Capitol itself. While the trip between the two buildings provides a rare moment alone for many senators, Kennedy was almost never by himself; a staffer was constantly next to him, briefing him on an issue.
Kennedy also had a memento-filled "hideaway'' on the third floor of the Capitol, where he negotiated with fellow senators and hosted sessions with many dignitaries. Once, Kennedy was seen shuffling between his hideaway office and that of his friend, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, as the two sought to bring together players in the Irish peace process who were in the two separate offices. "Shuttle diplomacy,'' Kennedy joked at the time, as he made his way between the two offices.
After Kennedy's illness made it difficult for him to walk, his hideaway was moved to the second floor. There, Kennedy hosted a strategy session on health care reform with members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.