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Thousands Gather in Washington to Say Goodbye to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

Thousands of Kennedy admirers stood outside Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston while family, colleagues and friends filled the church to say final goodbyes to the senator.

Wynn said she remembers how beautiful the scene was: the black horse, the throngs of people, the sound of portable transistor radios and TVs broadcasting the funeral. The sidewalks were narrower back then, and in 1960s Washington, people were more polite, Wynn said. Those who came to watch the Kennedy services wore their Sunday best, prepared to wait hours to mourn and see history being made.

"It was just different," Wynn said. "To have their lives cut short so early. There was so much promise before then."

Five years later, again with her mother and, this time, her oldest daughter, Wynn saw Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's coffin leave Union Station. It was a warm June evening. She was studying fashion at Prince George's Community College. She remembers thinking how good a president Bobby would have been.

"We just couldn't believe we were there again," Wynn said.

On Saturday, Wynn was alone. Her mother and eldest daughter are dead. Wynn, 67, of Springdale in Prince George's, is retired after years of making jewelry for her small business. She wanted to pay tribute to Teddy, a man she said did remarkable things as a senator even as he juggled personal tragedy with professional duty.

Others also had vivid memories of the Kennedy assassinations or had heard about those sad days from their parents.

"It was the first time I saw my mother cry," Susan Orochena, 53, of Potomac said of President Kennedy's death as she waited outside the Capitol on Saturday.

Once over the Memorial Bridge, the motorcade entered the cemetery through its massive black-and-gold gates, passed along Sheridan Drive and stopped just beyond the ancient oak tree that stands before President Kennedy's grave. The senator's grave is 100 feet south of Robert Kennedy's and 200 feet south of the president's.

The Kennedy graves were closed for the ceremony Saturday but are to reopen Sunday.

Theresa Colette Helbert was among those who came to cemetery anyway.

"I have come to pray at his grave site," said Helbert. The 50-year-old writer from Maryland grew up one of nine children in a Catholic family in Joplin, Mo. They all adored the Kennedys. "They represented the hope that God's plan would come to pass," Helbert said. "Each tragedy made us stronger."

A straw hat shaded her from the rising afternoon heat as she walked past row after row of clean, white gravestones.

The path to graves blocked, she walked deeper into the cemetery, picked a spot and said: "Time to pray."

Staff writers Derek Kravitz, Yamiche Alcindor, Annie Gowen, J. Freedom du Lac, Michael Allison Chandler and Hamil R. Harris contributed to this report.


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