Kennedy memorialized in emotional Boston service

Sen. Edward Kennedy was memorialized Saturday in the Boston church where he privately prayed, in death drawing together his storied family, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaReport: FCC chair to push for complete repeal of net neutrality Right way and wrong way Keystone XL pipeline clears major hurdle despite recent leak MORE and a long list of dignitaries who remembered a senator, a father and a friend.

The 77-year-old senator who died Tuesday after a 15-month-long battle with brain cancer received a two-and-a-half-hour service at Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston. After the service, his body was flown to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. From there it was to be driven to Arlington National Cemetery for burial. More than 50,000 people had visited his body as it laid in repose at the JFK Presidential Library since Thursday afternoon, and hundreds more gathered on the route to its final resting place.

An emotional speech by Kennedy’s eldest son, Edward Jr., punctuated the service. The younger Kennedy lost his right leg to bone cancer as a 12-year-old. He remembered how his father later urged him to go sledding down a steep driveway one winter while he was still recovering from the surgery. When he faltered and struggled to get up the hill, Kennedy said his father took him up in his arms.

"He said, ‘We’re going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day,’" Ted Kennedy recalled. "My father taught me that even our most profound losses are survivable, and it is what we do with that loss, our ability to transform it into a positive event — that is one of my father’s greatest lessons."

Kennedy’s son said the senator remained most proud of his respect among Senate Republicans, citing a survey conducted by The Hill this spring that found Kennedy to be the Democrat with whom Republicans most enjoyed working with on legislation.

Saturday’s service was set in a massive church with stained-glass windows cracked open and fans humming to stave off the summer heat. Secret Service bodyguards with earpieces lining the walls, reflecting the prominence of the audience in attendance that included three for the four former presidents still living.

Kennedy’s wife, Victoria, sat in a front pew near the senator’s children Edward, Patrick and Kara and his first wife Joan Bennett. Across the aisle sat President Obama, former President Bill ClintonBill ClintonBill Clinton distributes relief supplies in Puerto Rico In Washington and Hollywood, principle is sad matter of timing Mika Brzezinski: Bill Clinton needs to apologize or stop talking MORE, Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE and former President George W. Bush. President Carter, who won a bitter presidential primary fight with Edward Kennedy in 1980, also attended.

The only living former president who was absent was Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush. Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenObama tweets birthday message to Biden: 'The best vice president anybody could have' The Hill's 12:30 Report Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny MORE and former vice presidents Al GoreAl GoreOvernight Energy: Trump officials defend fossil fuels, nuclear at UN climate summit | Dems commit to Paris goals | Ex-EPA lawyers slam 'sue and settle' policy Al Gore: A new president in 2020 could keep US in Paris agreement Ron Klain: ‘It’s not even going to be that close’ MORE and Dan Quayle also attended.

The service was at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston, where Kennedy prayed for his daughter Kara as she was battling lung cancer in 2003.

The service also included several musical performances, which Ted Kennedy Jr. said his father would have appreciated given his love of music.Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and opera singer Placido Domingo both performed.

Other notable attendees included from Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and former Gov. Michael Dukakis (D). Illustrating that Kennedy’s relationships extended across the aisle, Republicans such as Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchProminent conservative passes on Utah Senate bid Republicans offer this impossible choice: Tax cuts or senior care Senate GOP running out of options to stop Moore MORE of Utah, 2008 presidential nominee Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump's dangerous Guantánamo fixation will fuel fire for terrorists Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Ad encourages GOP senator to vote 'no' on tax bill MORE of Arizona, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE of Kentucky also came to pay their respects to their former colleague.

Other attendees included broadcaster Tom Brokaw, John F. Kennedy’s speechwriter Ted Sorensen, and historians David McCullough and Michael Beschloss. Celebrities Jack Nicholson, Tony Bennett and Lauren Bacall, civil rights activists Jesse Jackson Sr. and Martin Luther King III, and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who once worked for Kennedy, also attended the service.

Obama delivered the eulogy — a 15-minute address that quoted William Wordsworth, illustrated Kennedy’s sense of humor, and praised the senator’s "historic body of achievements."

"Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections.  It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding," Obama said.

"He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow. We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers’ rights or civil rights.

"The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy’s shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became. We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office. We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy – not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved."

The service ended with a choral rendition of "America The Beautiful."