Kennedy funeral offers rare glimpse of storied political familyBy Lee-Anne Goodman (CP) – 4 hours agoIn a nation that views the Kennedy family as American royalty, Sen.
Ted Kennedy's funeral on Saturday provided an unfettered glimpse of the storied clan reunited, once again, in grief.From his troubled ex-wife, Joan Kennedy, to a slew of young grandchildren, nieces
and nephews, the service at a Boston basilica also offered something rare for a Kennedy funeral: the family gathered to remember a man whose life was not cut short.Kennedy lived a long and full life,
the only son of Rose and Joseph Kennedy to survive past the age of 50.
In his 77 years, he watched two siblings die before his 16th birthday, buried two brothers felled by the bullets of assassins and grieved the deaths of three young nephews.Kennedy died last week
after a year-long battle with brain cancer.His funeral represented a visual feast for those who partake in Kennedy-watching, a longtime pastime in the United States where the family's five decades of
triumphs and tragedies have been followed with fascination."My father was not perfect, but he believed in redemption," his son, Ted Kennedy Jr., told the mourners."Although it hasn't been easy at
times to live with this name, I have never been more proud of it than I am today."The youngest children of the Kennedy clan paid tribute to the senator during the funeral, invoking some of his
causes, including universal health care.They included Jack Schlossberg, the son of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, a tall 16-year-old bearing a striking resemblance to his late uncle, John F.
Kennedy, Jr.Kennedy's first wife of 25 years, Joan Kennedy, made a rare appearance after a lifetime of battling alcohol problems so severe she was found passed out on a Boston sidewalk four years
ago.Joan Kennedy's children intervened in her affairs after the incident, obtaining a court-ordered guardianship that put Ted Kennedy, Jr.
in charge of his mother's care.Still sporting her trademark shock of flowing blond hair, she was escorted into Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica by her youngest son, Patrick, and soon seen chatting
with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Kennedy is being remembered as one of the most effective senators in U.S.
history after overcoming personal tragedy and political scandal surrounding the infamous events of Chappaquiddick Island, Mass.
- a car accident that resulted in the drowning death of his female companion, Mary Jo Kopechne, in 1969."He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not," President Barack Obama said in his
eulogy to Kennedy, remembering him as a "kind and tender hero" who became the family's beloved patriarch.The large clan was joined at the funeral by a cast of political stars - friends and foes
alike.Bill and Hillary Clinton sat chatting with George and Laura Bush before the service began.Vice-President Joe Biden, a close friend of Kennedy's, hobnobbed with former vice-president Al Gore,
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, Jesse Jackson and California Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the husband of Kennedy niece Maria Shriver.There were also 58 current members of the U.S.
Senate in attendance, 21 former members and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, once an aide to Kennedy.Hollywood star power was provided by actor Jack Nicholson, who strode into the church to
attend the services, as did one-time screen siren Lauren Bacall.
Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell was also in attendance.Tenor Placido Domingo sang at the funeral, accompanied by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.In Washington, strangers who also considered Kennedy a beloved
family member were out in full force for the funeral procession in the U.S.
capital."I feel like I've lost an extended family member, yes I do," Barbara Willis-Johnson, 69, said as she awaited the arrival of Kennedy's motorcade at the Capitol building."He was like the
country's Uncle Teddy, and I have always loved him for what he did for civil rights in this country.
I was spit on as a girl.
I was called 'nigger.' The Kennedys, especially Teddy, worked so hard to end that kind of prejudice.
They may have been rich men but they always stood up for the poor and for African-Americans."Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press.
All rights reserved.