Eulogized by a president, mourned by the powerful and buried among the nation's fallen heroes, Sen. Ted Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery this evening following a day of pomp and pageantry befitting the last prince of America's most prominent political family.
His sundown burial in Arlington, 100 feet from where his slain brothers President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy are interred, followed three days of official mourning after his death from brain cancer late Tuesday night. His body was transported from his seaside home in Hyannis Port to Boston Thursday.
A funeral was held Boston this morning, before an honor guard accompanied Kennedy's body back to Washington for a final visit to the Capitol and burial at Arlington.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Roxbury, Mass., was filled Saturday morning with the scent of incense and pew upon pew of politicians and dignitaries -- including President Obama, three former presidents and dozens of lawmakers -- who came to pay their respects to a man who spent his life in public service and whose name became synonymous with liberalism for an entire generation.
A military honor guard carried a flag-draped coffin into the church as steady rain fell. As his sons Ted Kennedy Jr. and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., remembered their father, Kennedy's wife Vicki sat stoically, though choking back tears.
Ted Kennedy Jr. spoke from the pulpit about a day shortly after losing a leg to cancer when he was 12 years old, when he slipped walking up an icy driveway as he headed out to go sledding. "I started to cry and I said, 'I'll never be able to climb up that hill,'" he said.
"And he lifted me up in his strong, gentle arms and said something I will never forget. He said, 'I know you can do it. There is nothing that you can't do.'"
In his eulogy, Obama hailed Kennedy as a staunch liberal, "the lion of the U.S. Senate -- a man whose name graces nearly 1,000 laws, and who penned more than 300 himself," and praised him for political acumen and willingness to cross the aisle.
He said it was the senator's "own suffering" -- the assassinations of his brothers, the cancer battles of two children and the deaths of three nephews whom he helped raise -- that made Kennedy "more alive to the plight and suffering of others."
Obama's speech was at turns political and personal as he remembered a friend whose endorsement helped boost last year's presidential campaign.
"The landmark laws that he championed -- the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children's health care, the Family and Medical Leave Act -- all have a running thread. Ted Kennedy's life's work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections," Obama's said.
Recalling Kennedy's own words at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, the speech that ended his presidential ambitions and fomented his fate as a lifelong legislator, Obama said: "Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good he did, the dream he kept alive."
Also in attendance were Vice President Joe Biden, former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, and Kennedy's closest colleagues, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
More than 85 members of the Kennedy family attended, including wife Vicki and his five children, niece Maria Shriver and her husband, Republican Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The sea of dark suits and somber faces also included actor Jack Nicholson and singer Tony Bennet.
Following the funeral Kennedy was flown to Washington for burial.
Much the way mourners lined the streets for his arrival by hearse in Boston on Wednesday, thousands of people stood outside the Capitol, where hundreds of legislators and Congressional staffers crowded the steps outside the Senate to cheer as Kennedy's casket stopped.
His journey from the Capitol to Arlington followed the same route of President Kennedy's 1963 funeral procession.
At Arlington, his casket was accompanied by a "joint casket team," an honor guard composed of members of all the branches of the armed forces. An Army firing party fired 21 shots, and a bugler played "Taps."
Kennedy's grave site will be marked by Sunday morning with a "very modest" walkway leading to it. It will feature a wooden cross and a footstone until a "more substantial" memorial can be placed, said John Metzler, the cemetery's superintendent.