Monday, August 31, 2009
Edward Kennedy's Last Quorum Call
Where did they hide their tears? I wondered as I watched Senator Edward Moore Kennedy's family members assemble for a brief prayer outside the Senate chamber Aug. 29. It was to be his last Quorum Call at the place. He joined the ancestors on Aug. 25.
His family seemed so stoic now at the departure of the patriarch of one of America's most iconic political dynasties. 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 audience 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.
Like his martyred older brothers—President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy—Edward Kennedy earned a reputation as a champion of liberal and progressive causes, a defender of the downtrodden, a fierce advocate of Civil Rights legislation, and a supporter of universal health care for American citizens for more than 40 of his 46 years in the Senate. He was buried near his brothers in Arlington National Cemetery.