By Roxana Tiron and Ian Swanson - 08/26/09 05:42 PM EDT
President Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy Saturday at the funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who will be buried later that day alongside his brothers at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Kennedy family announced his funeral will be held in Boston at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. Both the funeral and burial service will be closed to the public.
The last surviving Kennedy brother, who died Tuesday at the age of 77 after a battle with terminal brain cancer, will be buried about 95 feet from the grave of his brother Robert F. Kennedy, the former attorney general assassinated in 1968.
Former President John F. Kennedy’s grave, marked by an eternal flame, lies a short distance away and is visited by tens of thousands every year, as Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most heavily visited tourist attractions in the Washington area.
Obama signed a proclamation Wednesday that flags at the White House and all U.S. public buildings, grounds and military posts will fly at half-staff until sunset Sunday as an honor to Kennedy.
Democrats said Wednesday that the legendary senator’s passing is even more reason for them to pass healthcare reform in his honor, a point echoed by outside interest groups like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
In a sign of respect, some Republicans and opponents of the legislation took a break from the debate.
Tributes to Kennedy flowed in throughout the day from lawmakers, former presidents, business groups, labor unions and international leaders.
In Washington, a steady stream of visitors and flowers flowed throughout Wednesday into Kennedy’s Senate office suite.
By mid-afternoon, a half-dozen bouquets of flowers were sent to the suite in the Russell Senate Office Building from around the country, and a logbook at the office’s front desk recorded 60 names of visitors from the D.C. area, surrounding states and even some from more distant states like Wisconsin.
A pair of U.S. Capitol Police officers were stationed in the hallway outside Kennedy’s office, where a receptionist said the flow of visitors has been steady. While some of the visitors were former staffers, others were tourists who had been planning to visit the office anyway. Some were even unaware of Kennedy’s passing.
Visitors to the office included Rocco Marino, a psychologist from Sturbridge, Mass., with his wife, Sheila Botti, a nurse, and Nicung Liam, their adopted son from Myanmar. Marino said he and his wife were ardent admirers of Kennedy.
“You can’t help but identify him with John and Robert and the whole idea of American politics and the good it can do,” Marino said. “A lot of people don’t like the power and money the family had, but they used a lot of it very well, to help improve people’s lives.”
Kennedy qualifies for burial at Arlington because he was a sitting senator at the time of his death. He also served in the Army during the Korean War.
The rest of Kennedy’s family is buried in Massachusetts.
The outpouring of sympathy that greeted Kennedy’s death prompted his staff to announce locations where the public could pay their respects to the late senator: the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston; the JFK Museum in Hyannis, Mass.; and Kennedy’s Washington office, 317 Russell Senate Building.
The staff passed along the family’s request that in lieu of flowers, those who wish to can send donations to educational programming at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
They have also invited the public to share their thoughts and memories about the senator at www.tedkennedy.org .
J. Taylor Rushing contributed to this story.
This story was posted at 3:10 p.m. and updated at 5:42.