Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
12:09 p.m. - Speechmaking over, the family is now heading outside to toss dirt.
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12:04 p.m. - Vicki Kennedy asked the whole family to join her on stage, and standing right in front, in brilliant red, is the senator's first wife, Joan.
Vicki Kennedy said she wants the center to be exciting and dynamic, and cutting-edge, because her late husband was all three.
Among the two dozen family members is Amy Petigout, who recently became engaged to former Representative Patrick Kennedy, the senator's youngest child.
She leaned against her fiance.
11:59 a.m. - Meade just introduced Vicki Kennedy, who he termed "the guiding light" for the institute.
11:56 a.m. - Noticeably absent has been the state's senior senator, Democrat John Kerry, who is in Washington.
About 20 minutes ago, his staff sent out an email reading, "In a few moments, Senator Kerry will be speaking on the floor of the US Senate on the current budget negotiations in Washington."
11:51 a.m. - Paul Kirk said despite a very full life, his greatest honor was to succeed Kennedy in the Senate.
"Ted Kennedy was a politician, and proud of it," said Kirk.
He said the Senate was his chosen venue, recalling a sentiment Kennedy wrote in his memoir, "True Compass."
In it, Kennedy said he still could not see the Capitol "without the hair on my arms sticking up."
Kirk said when the history of the first 250 years of the country is written, it will not find a better senator "that Edward Moore Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts."
The crowd gave him a standing ovation.
11:49 a.m. - Paul G. Kirk Jr., who serves as executor of Kennedy's estate and replaced him temporarily in the US Senate, is addressing the crowd.
11:43 a.m. - Senator Scott Brown just spoke, telling Vicki Kennedy, "I told you I'd come." As the crowd started to chuckle, he added, "A little surprise to everybody, isn't it?"
He recalled how he keeps a photo of Kennedy on his office in Washington to remind him that when the senator sat in there, he worked with people of all kinds to achieve the country's goals.
Turning tart, though, Brown noted he had to leave early to return to Washington, calling out Governor Deval Patrick by name as he said people of all political persuasions can do the people's business.
11:35 a.m. - Governor Deval Patrick delivered the most partisan speech yet, saying the institute and its educational component were needed now more than ever, as the country stood on the brink of a government shutdown.
He blamed the "poisonous" atmosphere created by the "so-called conservative movement" that he said was sapping the country of its optimism.
11:27 a.m. - Governor Deval Patrick is now being introduced.
11:22 a.m. - In that speech, just months after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated, Kennedy urged the Senate to pass the Civil Rights Act in recognition of his brother's support for its ideals.
11:21 a.m. - The student reading Kennedy's excerpt just noted that he is graduating and looking for a job.
11:17 a.m. - Three UMass-Boston students are doing a reading from Kennedy's maiden Senate speech, delivered 47 years ago tomorrow, on the topic of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as speeches on the subject by Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Republican Everett Dirksen.
11:12 a.m. - UMass-Boston Chancellor Keith Motley is speaking. Besides being a neighbor to the institute, the school is floating its construction bond.
Meade introduced Motley by recalling his nephew describing the chancellor as "way cool."
Motley joked as he took the mic that his kids, who see him in his 1980s gym trunks, might not agree.
Motley went on the deliver a stirring address, full of energy, not only talking about his school and the institute, but Kennedy's involvement in the Civil Rights movement.
11:09 a.m. - US Representative Edward J. Markey is still speaking.
11:02 a.m. - US Representative Edward J. Markey just sparked a standing ovation for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, for passing President Obama's health care bill.
He also called her, along with the late Tip O'Neill, the greatest speaker in the country's history.
Can you imagine being Senator Scott Brown, sitting at this event? The Republican is showing some guts and respect.
10:54 a.m. - President Obama's voice just came on the video, sending a chill through the crowd. He is singing the praises of the coming institute.
Vicki Kennedy is now narrating a tour of the building as part of the video.
10:53 a.m. - Kara Kennedy is introducing a film she and a friend made about the senator. She also thanked her children, Grace and Max, for missing two days of school to attend, forcing them to complete extra homework on their return to Washington.
10:46 a.m. - Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo just made remarks, with Murray reading a resolution passed by her chamber and signed by all 40 senators, Democrats and Republicans alike. The House also passed a similar resolution.
Virtually everyone has been remarking on the glorious day, which several have attributed to Kennedy's heavenly intervention. Every minute or so, a plane roars overhead on approach to Logan International Airport.
UMass President Jack Wilson is now talking about the partnership between UMass-Boston and the institute.
10:38 a.m. - Meade introduced other guests including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former US Representative Marty Meehan, now chancellor of UMass-Lowell. Senator Scott Brown, who replaced Kennedy in the Senate, is also on hand.
10:36 a.m. - Meade just triggered wave of applause by announcing, "The building will be built entirely with union labor."
10:33 a.m. - Kennedy Institute leader Peter Meade just asked, "Bill Delahunt, could you sit down, please?" He is trying to start the program on time.
10:30 a.m. - More faces: former Kennedy chief of staff Gerry Kavanaugh, who is mulling a challenge to Senator Scott Brown; former US Representative William Delahunt; Attorney General Martha Coakley; former Kennedy aide Nick Littlefield; and Caroline Kennedy.
10:25 a.m. - Labor has shown up, including local AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes and International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger.
10:20 a.m. - Vicki Kennedy just arrived, as did Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray and Senate President Therese Murray.
Also spotted: RFK grandson Joseph P. Kennedy III; former Partners HealthCare COO Tom Glynn; Jim Brett of the New England Council; former Kennedy communications director Stephanie Cutter; and former Senator Paul Kirk, who took an interim appointment to serve after Kennedy's death.
Kirk said he was proud to attend, adding, "This is the inauguration of the perpetuation of the greatest legacy in the United States Senate, in my opinion."
9:59 a.m. - Spotted in the crowd: the senator's niece, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; former Governor Michael Dukakis and his wife, Kitty; Democratic strategist John Sasso; gubernatorial Chief of Staff William "Mo" Cowan; and former Kennedy aide Melissa Wagoner.
9:30 a.m. - The crowd is assembling on Columbia Point under perfect early spring weather, and among it are one of Senator Edward M. Kennedy's closest former aides, Melody Miller, and project architect Rafael Vinoly.
The ceremony is taking place under a white tent set up on a gravel UMass-Boston parking lot. Between it and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is a vacant lot where a pile of dirt and a series of shovels have been set up for the ceremonial dirt-toss at the ceremony's conclusion.
In front of the tent is a scale mockup of the 40,000-square-foot institute, centered around a replica of the US Senate Chamber. It was originally envisioned as an exact replica, then re-branded as a "representation" of the chamber allowing visitors to wander amid the 100 desks and participate in a video interactive experience at each desktop.
The model looks pretty much like an exact replica, and Vinoly told me it is one of the driving forces behind his design.
"It is difficult to imagine, both volumetrically and with all the cost implications of doing that, ... it makes it quite central to the whole organization of the building," he said.
The architect also confessed influence designing a building standing so close to the presidential library, itself designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei.
"It's a very difficult thing in a situation like this, so close to both in terms of imagery and relationship," he said. "It's impossible to avoid the sibling relationship between the president and the senator, so, in my mind, it's been difficult to avoid any echoing of some of the architectural principles."
Vinoly added: "We thought any an approach different from that would be interpreted differently from what this project is all about: the relationship between the presidency and the legislative branch."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.