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Mission Hill Proud To Host Kennedy Funeral

This article is more than 10 years old.
  Boston police officers from Special Operations stand across from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, where the funeral of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy will take place Saturday. (AP)
Boston police officers from Special Operations stand across from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, where the funeral of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy will take place Saturday. (AP)

Residents and shop owners in Boston's Mission Hill neighborhood were busy Friday preparing for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's funeral.

Workers hurried to plant flowers along the sidewalk across from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. "We're kind of beautifying the neighborhood in honor of the Kennedy family," said Joe Walsh.

Walsh doesn't live in the neighborhood but maintains property there. He said he feels lucky to be part of this historic event.

"Just to give thanks for all that they've done for us and show them that we appreciate it," Walsh said. "In a sense, I guess I would say this is our way of being here when most people won't be able to."

Phil Quartier, who has lived in Mission Hill for almost 20 years, said the Kennedy family's choice of the neighborhood for the senator's funeral is a ringing endorsement.

"I've never seen our neighborhood so spiffy," Quartier said. "It is no longer perceived in the way it used to be perceived. People used to be afraid. 'Oh, you live in Mission Hill? Isn't that dangerous?' It's become very diversified. Much, much safer."

Mission Hill used to be mostly Irish Catholic. Then immigrants from other parts moved to the neighborhood. In recent years, it's become a destination for college students and young professionals.

The Mission Church now serves many Haitians, Nigerians and Latin Americans. Kennedy sought comfort there when his daughter, Kara, was fighting lung cancer at a nearby hospital. The senator returned to the church during his own cancer battle.

Fifteen-year-old Victoria Suarez attends the church every week. "It just feels great that my church that I actually go to is actually being known all over the city of Boston, and all over the states," Suarez said. "It's a good feeling."

Suarez didn't know much about Kennedy before this week. Now, she and her summer camp friends are painting a storefront in his honor.

Suarez chose these words to paint on the window facing the church: "Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I've seen it. I've lived it and we can do it again."

"That's a quote from Teddy Kennedy," Suarez said.

Suarez hopes visitors and the Kennedy family will remember the Americans who celebrated the senator on Mission Hill.

This program aired on August 28, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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