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Visitors Line Up To Pay Respects At Kennedy Grave

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Visitors Line Up To Pay Respects At Kennedy Grave


Visitors Line Up To Pay Respects At Kennedy Grave

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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GUY RAZ, host:

They came by the hundreds today to pay their respects to Senator Edward Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery. On the morning after his funeral, people stood in line to visit his gravesite.

NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

ALLISON KEYES: When the cemetery opened this morning, there was already a line of people outside, and a steady stream of them continued to arrive, many saying they came specifically to visit the senator's final resting place.

Ms. SHERRY ADAMS: It's like we're part of history.

KEYES: Sherry Adams was here with two co-workers, in Washington from Dickerson, North Dakota for a public health conference. Adams has already seen the eternal flame at the grave of Senator Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy, but she says being here today is important to her.

Ms. ADAMS: I was in kindergarten when Robert Kennedy - or no - John F. Kennedy got assassinated. So, that's always been very part of my, you know, historical background. And so, the whole family history has always been something, I think, we have all been raised with.

Ms. ZAHREE RASTAGAR: This family is really is good for this country.

KEYES: Zahree Rastagar and her husband arrived at Arlington on a black tandem bicycle. She's originally from Iran and admires the late senator's work on immigration. She's followed the family's triumphs and tragedies and has been watching the news coverage since the senator's death.

Ms. RASTAGAR: Three days, I'm stuck home and watch TV and sometimes I'll cry.

KEYES: Those same feelings of sorrow and admiration seem to run like a thread through the mourners, regardless of age, race or nationality. There's been a line waiting to visit the grave, averaging between 50 and 100 people, standing quietly for 10 or 15 minutes, waiting their turn.

Ms. LOUANN PHILADELPHO (Tour Guide): People are very solemn. They're very quiet. They're approaching his grave very reverently. And then, they're walking up, taking a picture. Some of them looks like they're saying a prayer.

KEYES: Washington tour guide, LouAnn Philadelpho, said she's come to pay homage to a man she respected very much. She says Senator Kennedy always came to meet with her tour groups from his home state, Massachusetts.

Ms. PHILADELPHO: I had met Senator Kennedy many times, and I found him to be a very warm, interested person. And I was very sad to see that he had died.

Ms. STEPHANIE BETTINELLI: He did so many incredible things for the state of Massachusetts and for our country.

KEYES: Stephanie Bettinelli's family decided to take the trip from Chelmsford, Mass on Thursday and spent three hours standing outside at the U.S. Capitol to see the senator's funeral procession yesterday. She admired his civil rights and wanted her sons, ages one, eight and 12, to learn about a man she believes was important.

Ms. BETTINELLI: I want them just to see and hear who he was and all the amazing things he did and what he fought for and hopefully what will continue to happen as a result of what he's done.

KEYES: The senator's grave is already covered with grass, and it's marked with a wooden cross and a marble foot marker. Cemetery officials say in the future, something more substantial will probably be built.

Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.

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