Washington, Aug 30: President Barack Obama led the mourning of Edward M Kennedy, "the greatest legislator of our time," by delivering an emotional and simple eulogy on Saturday, Aug 29.
Obama employed humour, his own experiences and timeless anecdotes to memorialize the senator, who died on Tuesday, Aug 25, at 77 after battling brain cancer for more than a year.
According to Obama, the country may have viewed him (Ted) as "heir to a weighty legacy" but he was playfully known by the youngest Kennedys less grandly: as the big cheese, "The Grand Fromage."
"Ted Kennedy's life's work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard, to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity, to make real the dream of our founding," CBS news quoted Obama, as saying.
Obama called Kennedy "the lion of the United States Senate" and said that "though it is Teddy's historic body of achievements that we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss."
"It's a string of events that would have broken a lesser man ... But that was not Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch, the restless dreamer who became its rock," the president said, embracing Vicki Kennedy and lightly patting the senator's casket as he returned to his seat.
Joining Obama and nearly 1,500 other invitees were former US Presidents George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, as well as 58 current members of the US Senate, 21 former members and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, once an aide to Kennedy.