Two days of public viewing began this evening as the late Sen. Edward Kennedy lies in repose at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.
Sen. Kennedy's body was transported from Hyannis, where the Kennedy family has centered itself for decades, to Boston, where Kennedy roots run deep; John and Edward Kennedy's grandfather was once mayor.
Thousands lined the procession route to pay their respects to Sen. Kennedy and thousands more lined up to file past his casket, pay their respects, and sign a book of condolence. Each has a story and only now are we learning how many lives Sen. Kennedy changed - how much he did for people when there were no cameras around.
As the procession drove past St. Stephen Church in Boston's North End, Betty Fuller just couldn't hold it together any more.
"Bless you. God bless you. God bless you Senator Kennedy," she said.
A campaign volunteer in five elections, she came clutching her favorite picture. "He seemed like such a wonderful, warm, gracious person," Fuller said. "Not perfect, but good."
John Barnett, an Irish immigrant, awaited the procession on an overpass in Milton, Mass. "All I can do is stand here and tip my hat and wave a flag. It's my way of saying I respect him and I'm paying homage to him and his family," Barnett said.
Down the street from the statehouse in Boston, Melinda and Carlos Arredondo waited.
"We personally as a family have been impacted by Senator Kennedy so many ways," Melinda said. Their son Alex, a marine, died in Iraq. When Sen. Kennedy met with them, Carlos mentioned his application for citizenship - tied up in red tape.
"I spoke to … Sen. Kennedy about it. Two months later I had my citizenship through him," Carlos said.
When the Arredondos started a scholarship fund to honor Alex they got a letter from Kennedy wishing them well - and a check for the fund.
"I look at all the causes I'm involved in through a human face," Kennedy once said, "and I think that is what has been enduring and continuing and inspiring."
At the Brookside Community Health Center today, a few miles from the JFK library, they remembered a man who saw the promise of community health centers in Massachusetts, and later, in the mid-1960s, sponsored legislation that established them all over the country.
"There are 52 across Massachusetts serving one in every nine people," said James Hunt, CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health. "Community health centers have grown to serve 17 million people through 3,000 … centers" nationwide.
That includes people like Linda Montanez and her baby Julian. Montanez has been coming to Brookside all of her life.
"I'm very grateful," she said.
Kennedy also cared deeply about education - from expanding Head Start to providing bilingual programs to spearheading No Child Left Behind.
But Kennedy was committed in a more personal way. For nine years he was involved in the program Everybody Wins, reading to D.C. elementary school students every week.
Larenai Swann was his last reading buddy. When he could no longer come every Tuesday, he sent her a letter.
And then there was Sept. 11. After that horrible day, the senator called each of the 177 families in Massachusetts who had lost a loved one. He sent a letter each family every year on the anniversary.
For Cindy McGinty, whose husband Mike died in the World Trade Center that day, Kennedy's support meant everything.
"He was my guardian angel," McGinty said. "And actually what he did for me was show me how to put one foot in front of the other after Sept. 11."
And while Ted Kennedy was one of 23 senators to vote against authorizing the war in Iraq, he never forgot the men and women who are fighting it.
Private First Class John Hart was killed in Iraq in 2003.
"John called us the week before he was killed and actually was whispering into the phone, so that he wouldn't be overheard, that they were desperate for any kind of armor, " recalled the soldier's father, Brian Hart.
So Brian Hart and his wife Alma, lifelong Republicans, joined forces with their senior senator to provide better uniforms and equipment to protect the troops.
Kennedy invoked the Harts' plea on the Senate floor.
"I just hope that Sen. Kennedy will get credit for the thousands of lives he saved," Brian Hart said. "He loved his country. He really, truly loved it. He was there for us in our worst hour and now we're here for his."
Kennedy came to John Hart's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Now, like the young private from Bedford, Mass., he will be buried there as well.