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Senator Kennedy eulogized by his sons and President Obama

“My father taught me even our most profound losses are survivable. He taught me nothing was impossible.”

By David T. CookStaff writer / August 29, 2009

Edward Kennedy, Jr. kisses the casket of his late father Senator Edward Kennedy during his funeral in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston, Saturday.

Jason Reed/Reuters

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Washington

As rain pelted Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in a working class Boston neighborhood, the 1,500 invited guests at Senator Edward Kennedy’s funeral Saturday heard the veteran legislator eulogized by President Obama and by the Senators’ two sons.

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In his 16 minute message at the end of the two hour Catholic service, President Obama called Kennedy “the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate.”

Obama, whose presidential campaign benefited enormously from Kennedy’s timely endorsement, spoke in highly personal terms saying he was among those who “loved him and ache with his passing.” Later the president added, “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.”

Emotional moments

The most powerful emotional moments came during remembrances by Kennedy’s two sons -- Ted Kennedy, Jr. and U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Ted drew the first laugh of the day when he quoted his father as saying, “I do not mind not being President, I just mind that somebody else is.” In a reference to Kennedy’s sometimes larger than life appetites, Ted said his father was a “lover of all things French -- cheese, wine, and women.” At that point, the network TV feed switched to the senator’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, smiling.

Senator Kennedy’s love of sailing and other vigorous forms of activity meant that family vacations “left us all injured and exhausted,” son Ted said.

Most movingly, Ted talked about losing a leg to disease as a young person and how he struggled to climb a snowy driveway during a storm in Washington with an artificial limb. He fell and began to cry. “I know you can do it, there is nothing you can’t do,” Ted quoted his father as saying during the episode. The Senator added he would help him climb the hill “even if it takes all day.” As he told the story, Ted dissolved in tears adding “my father taught me even our most profound losses are survivable,” adding “he taught me nothing was impossible.”

Laughter too

Ted got a laugh from the bipartisan audience at the funeral when he said his father “taught me some of life’s harder lessons such as how to love Republicans.” In his final line, Ted became emotional as he said, “I love you dad, I always will, and I miss you already.”