Kennedy's Body Taken From Home
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
The senior senator from Massachusetts made his final journey to Boston today. After a private family mass, Edward Kennedy's flag-draped casket was driven in a cortege from the family home on Cape Cod. On the outskirts of Hyannis Port, a crowd stood silently as the processional passed. Daniel Winterbottom(ph) of Seattle was visiting Cape Cod with his family.
Mr. DANIEL WINTERBOTTOM: In some sense, it's a passing of a generation of a legacy, I guess, and who'll take his place, I don't know. I hope Obama and the people (unintelligible) it's sad, sad, he meant a lot.
SIEGEL: From Hyannis Port, the Kennedy motorcade traveled 70 miles to Boston. On the way, it passed through the town of Hingham. Local, Susan Haley, was one of the people waiting to show her appreciation of the late senator.
Ms. SUSAN HALEY: He really was a senator for the ages. And I appreciate everything he's done. I think all his work has touched each American family in a positive fashion, whether they realize it or not.
BLOCK: Once the motorcade arrived in Boston, it took a slow deliberately circuitous route through the city, passing the JFK Federal Building and historic Faneuil Hall. The procession ended at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in the Dorchester section of Boston, where the senator's body will lie in repose.
NPR's Tovia Smith is at the library. She joins us now. And Tovia, tell us about the scene there, please.
TOVIA SMITH: Well, there are a slew of people lined up here, Melissa. I can't even see the end of the line from where I am. Just minutes ago, the hearse pulled up into the circular driveway at the library to a kind of sober applause. It was followed by four limos carrying immediate family members, including, of course, the senator's widow, their five children, the senator's last surviving sibling now, Jean, as well as his sister-in-law Ethel Kennedy. Many of them waved from their cars and as they went by, the senator's casket was then escorted by a military honor guard, and the family will now have private time inside and then the public will be allowed.
And you know, we've heard a lot about how Kennedy's family and, in fact, the senator himself has been planning all the details for a while now. I looked into the room earlier where the senator will lie in repose and saw crews arranging flowers around a casket. And I have to say, I was quite taken aback and then found out it was empty and it was just being used to figure out placement and lighting for later. And, boy, you know, it just does show you that they are minding the details here.
BLOCK: And the senator should be lying in repose there through 3 p.m. tomorrow, I believe. Have you been speaking with some of the people who've been waiting there to greet the senator's motorcade?
SMITH: It's an amazing sight. So many people signing a condolence book, so many with personal stories about how the senator helped them out. A woman from Nigeria who said that Kennedy helped get a daughter a visa. President - I'm sorry, parents of a slain soldier, who said Kennedy got them information about what happened to their son. And so many people here also have never met the senator, but felt - said that they felt profoundly touched by him.
I spoke to an African-American woman with her three-year-old daughter, who says the little girl will have a better life because of Ted Kennedy. That woman, Tomasina Minor(ph) was literally in tears as she had her daughter write her name in the book as well.
Ms. TOMASINA MINOR: She said, mommy, he died. I said, yes. Who was he? I said, he was a great man. His fight for all people - not just black people, but just all people. I love the Kennedys.
(Soundbite of crying)
SMITH: So, you can see a lot of emotion in that room and a lot more to come. The senator will lie in repose tonight and tomorrow. Then, private family memorial tomorrow night. A funeral mass at an inner city church on Saturday. And finally, the senator's final journey to Washington, where he will be buried on Saturday evening at Arlington National Cemetery.
BLOCK: NPR's Tovia Smith at the JFK Library in Boston. Thank you, Tovia.
SMITH: Thank you.