Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that he came to Washington to fight Ted Kennedy. Little did he know that 33 years later, he would have a "reverance" and admiration for the man that he described as one his best friends.
He fondly recalled how Kennedy would blow cigar smoke at his during arguments-- his way of riling up the Mormon politician.
"I miss fighting in public and joking with him in the background," he said.
Vice President Joe Biden talked about the role that Kennedy played in his early career, offering guidance and encouragement in Washington. More personally, he spoke of the comfort Kennedy offered when the young senator lost his wife and daughter in an automobile accident.
Later, he convinced him to stay in the senate and continue his political career.
The night was punctuated with music, including one of Kennedy's favorite songs, "The Impossible Dream" from the show "The Man of La Mancha" sung by Tony award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Later in the program the Boston Community Chorus sang a powerful rendition of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."
Other notable figures in attendance included "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, Maria Shriver, Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.
On Saturday, Kennedy's body will be moved to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica for a funeral mass, where President Obama, a friend and onetime acolyte, will deliver a eulogy.
From there, his casket will be flown to Arlington National Cemetery, where he will be buried steps from his brothers.
Tens of thousands of citizens came to pay their respects to the eight-term senator who died from brain cancer at his Hyannis Port, Mass. home late Tuesday night. He was 77.
The crowds were so large that the Kennedy family kept the library open into the wee hours of Friday morning and extended viewing hours. Some people waited two, sometimes three hours to say a personal goodbye.
"Just our whole family is deeply grateful for this outpouring of love," Kennedy's wife Vicki told ABC News. "That is why I wanted to come out here and thank as many people as I could."
For the Kennedy family, the sharing of emotion and grief has been a source of comfort. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., told ABC News that his uncle "would have loved this."
"There would have been nobody as moved as Teddy," he said. "One of the blessings of his terminal illness -- he got to take a kind of victory lap. He spent so many years taking hits for his beliefs. It was a kind of revelation to see this outpouring."
During the three-hour procession from Hyannis Port to Boston Thursday, thousands of mourners lined the streets and crowded highway overpasses. Boston residents applauded as the cortege wound its way through the center of the city.
All through the night, a military and civilian honor guard -- composed of friends, family and colleagues -- kept vigil over the body, in keeping with a Kennedy family tradition.