The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., is the length of almost two football fields. Construction began on the cathedral in 1907, the same year Cottage City became Oak Bluffs. The construction lasted until 1990 and the ecumenical religious facility is often used for “celebrations of and in Thanksgiving” for the lives of legislators whose lasting legacies are worthy of acknowledgement. On Tuesday, March 10, the life of our very own senator, Edward William Brooke 3rd, was celebrated there. Senator Brooke was born on Oct. 16, 1919 and died on Jan. 3, 2015.

The National Cathedral, it is said, can seat 4,000 — almost the entire population of Oak Bluffs. At Tuesday’s service there were many in attendance from Martha’s Vineyard, and Oak Bluffs in particular.

Senator Brooke was much loved on the Vineyard, where he could often be found playing tennis.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed an extensive list of Massachusetts elected officials, among them Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Deval Patrick, along with a host of congressmen. Mr. Kerry remarked upon the many similarities between he and Ed Brooke. Both served the armed forces right out of school, after which both pursued law degrees and entered politics, and then both became the junior senator from Massachusetts to another popular U.S. senator, a humorous reference to the late Ted Kennedy. Speaking about how much his many conversations over the years with Senator Brooke meant to him, Mr. Kerry said that even with all of Brooke’s charisma, when speaking with him it “seemed he was only talking to you — and hadn’t thought about anyone else except you in weeks.” This description delighted the crowd, who evidently had the same experience.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, a longtime friend of Senator Brooke and appropriately enough, the congresswoman from the District of Columbia where Senator Brooke was born, raised and educated, also offered tribute to the man described by all as a medal-winning war hero, an advocate of the people, a courageous man with decency, dignity and honor, and whose activities led the way for so many others. Senator Brooke was known for his work supporting minorities, women and fair housing.

His fraternity brother Milton C. Davis, president of America’s longest-running black academic fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) told the salt and pepper audience that Senator Brooke had personally inducted Martin Luther King Jr. into the fraternity.

Rear Admiral Barry C. Black, the African American chaplain of the United States Senate, told a story of when, in 1967, hailing from Pennsylvania and attending school in Alabama, he had gone door to door seeking funds to continue college. The experience was so harsh, he said, that it made him think that his first name began “not with the B for Barry but with an N.” But then that evening, after knocking on so many harsh doors, he heard that Edward William Brooke 3rd had been elected the new senator from Massachusetts.

Beginning with the song Lift Every Voice and Sing and ending with the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the poignant and warm service was a fitting tribute to a popular man, a great leader and a friend and mentor to many who was buried with honors at Arlington Cemetery beneath the tears of raindrops.