I joined more than 5,000 people at the East Plaza of the U.S. Capitol Aug. 29. It was the only opportunity for members of the general public here in Washington to pay respects to Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in a political dynasty and one of the most influential and longest serving senators in American history. He died Aug. 25 at his Hyannis Port home after a 15 month-long struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.
Where did they hide their tears? I wondered as I watched his family members assemble for a brief prayer outside the Senate chamber. They were so stoic. It was, after all, their hurt, their loss, their father, their uncle whose remains were at the front of that long, long cortege.
Dozens in the crowd who knew him only by reputation, wiped away tears or sobbed silently. How did his family members retain their composure? Where were their tears? Had they cried themselves out in private?
The sun dipped behind the Capitol Building before his body arrived. There were periods of sun, then the buttermilk sky looked like it might rain. Onlookers reminded one another that rain at a funeral was a good sign, from Heaven. Continue reading