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Thousands Expected To Pay Respects To Kennedy

Above: The casket with Sen. Edward Kennedy is carried by a military escort to a hearse at the Kennedy Compound, to begin a motorcade procession to Boston August 27, 2009 in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. Merrily Lunsford/Cape Cod Times-Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Edward Kennedy's flag-draped casket was placed inside a black hearse by a military guard at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., on Thursday as his family — young and old — looked on, many wiping away tears.

The motorcade carrying the late senator departed for Boston after the family had a private Mass at the seaside home.

Kennedy, who died Tuesday at age 77 after a more than yearlong battle with brain cancer, will be buried Saturday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery near his brothers, slain more than four decades ago.

The motorcade will wend its way past sites that figured in the life of the prominent senator as it makes the two-hour journey to his brother John's presidential library in Boston.

In downtown Hyannis, flags, flowers and personal notes were placed at the base of a flagpole outside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where about two dozen people had gathered Thursday.

Someone had placed an old Kennedy campaign sign with a new inscription: "God bless Ted, the last was first," referring to his ascension in politics after the untimely deaths of his two older brothers.

Meanwhile, members of the Kennedy family began arriving shortly before noon for the special Mass, including the late senator's nieces Caroline, daughter of former President Kennedy, and Maria Shriver, daughter of his late sister, Eunice.

Mourners were gathering at both ends of the 70-mile route to the JFK Library. There, the late senator will lie in repose for public visitation through Friday.

Austin Howe, 15, a high school student from Laurel, Md., and his 46-year-old father, Scott Howe, joined about 20 others at the JFK Library before it opened Thursday morning.

"He is someone who made a difference," Austin Howe said. "This is a person who served the people of Massachusetts and served the people of the United States."

Trudy Murray, 86, a native of Ireland who later lived in England, said Kennedy helped her and her family get visas when they moved to the United States in 1969.

"I loved Ted Kennedy. I cried yesterday when I put on the TV and saw that he had passed away," said Murray, a retired nurse who now lives in Brockton.

The Kennedy motorcade will pass St. Stephen's Church, where the late senator's mother, Rose, was baptized and her funeral Mass celebrated. It will then cross the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, a Boston park that he helped create in honor of his mother.

The motorcade will then pass historic Faneuil Hall, where a bell will be rung 47 times for each year Kennedy served in the Senate. It will then move past the site of Kennedy's first office as an assistant district attorney.

At the JFK Library, a military honor guard will join members of Kennedy's family, friends and current and former staff members to stand vigil around the clock as thousands are expected to file past the closed casket beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Photographs chronicling the senator's life will be on display. An invitation-only memorial service will be held at the library Friday evening.

On Saturday, President Obama will speak at a private funeral Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, commonly known as the Mission Church, in Boston's Mission Hill neighborhood. It is the church where in 2003, Kennedy prayed for his daughter, Kara, who was successfully treated for lung cancer at a nearby hospital.

A church official said former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush also are expected to attend the Mass.

On Saturday evening, Kennedy will be buried near his slain brothers at Arlington. Other Kennedy family members buried on the famous hillside include former first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and the former president's son, Patrick, who died two days after his birth.

Remembering Sen. Kennedy

Kennedy Remembered As Civil Rights Champion

American Experience: The Kennedys

Republicans Join Democrats In Mourning Kennedy

Edward Kennedy, Senate's Liberal Lion, Dies

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