Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown Students Join D.C. Mourners for Last Farewell to Kennedy at Capitol

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Mourners paid their respects to the late Massachusetts senator on the steps of the Capitol on last Saturday.

Standing outside the Capitol in a crowd of thousands, Chris Dodge (SFS ’10) did not expect to see much.

He was waiting for the hearse carrying the body of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to pass through on its way to Arlington National Cemetery, the senator’s final resting place. A good view of the motorcade was not the reason Dodge was there, after all; he was there to pay his respects to his longtime political hero and home-state icon.

“It was pretty moving just being surrounded by other people who were willing to wait two hours in hot D.C. weather [not to] get a glimpse of anything but the car,” said Dodge, who has two posters of Kennedy taped to his bedroom wall.

The procession, which rolled through the plaza on the east front of the Capitol more than an hour later than scheduled, took place on Saturday. Spectators filled the east lawn across from the Senate steps – once known as the “Senate Swamp” – and gathered along Constitution Avenue.

“Every now and then we would hear applause,” recalled Matthew Hardin (COL ’10), who joined Dodge in watching the procession. “But we weren’t really close enough to hear what was going on.”

Hardin, like Dodge, added that seeing the procession was hardly the objective of their trip to the Capitol.

“There were a lot of people like us that wanted . to pay their respects just because of the impact [Kennedy] has had on American politics in the last half-century,” Hardin said.

Kennedy, often called “the Lion of the Senate” in honor of his 46 years of service as one of the nation’s most prolific and influential lawmakers, died on Aug. 25 following a 15-month battle with brain cancer. He was buried on Saturday next to his older brothers, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy, near the latter’s eternal flame tribute. The burial itself was closed to the public, but hundreds of mourners queued on Sunday to visit Kennedy’s grave.

Hardin recalled spotting California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ahead of the crowd during the procession’s stop at the Capitol, though countless other politicians and dignitaries paid their respects earlier that day during the special Mass celebrated in Boston before the body was transported to Washington, D.C.

With little time before sunset, Rev. Daniel Coughlin, the chaplain of the House of Representatives, led a brief prayer before the opening lyric of “America the Beautiful” echoed through the crowd.

The night after the senator’s death, a vigil – hurriedly organized by the progressive political activist group – was held in Dupont Circle. About 150 mourners attended the candlelit ceremony, according to The Atlantic.

In 1980, Kennedy delivered a notable foreign policy speech at Georgetown as part of his unsuccessful effort to win the Democratic nomination for president.

Politico estimated the crowd in front of the Capitol on Saturday to number 5,000, in addition to the hundreds of former staffers who had worked for Kennedy who stood on the Capitol’s steps. According to the politics-centered newspaper, more than one spectator held a sign proclaiming, “We Love You, Ted.”

“It was mostly about being there with other people,” said Dodge, reflecting on Saturday’s events.”

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