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Gore, Kennedy clan at Tenn. funeral for press icon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former Vice President Al Gore and members of the Kennedy family joined hundreds of other mourners Monday for the funeral of renowned journalist and press freedom champion John Seigenthaler, whose career spanned the civil rights struggle in the South and contemporary battles for media openness in the digital age. "We lost a giant," said Gore following the Mass in Nashville, which was attended by more than 600 people from the worlds of politics, media, humanitarian groups and entertainment. The funeral reflected the wide reach of Seigenthaler's career, which included leading the newspapers The Tennessean and USA Today and working as a civil rights adviser during the administration of John F. Kennedy. Seigenthaler also was part of Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign and a pallbearer at Kennedy's funeral after his assassination in 1968. Seigenthaler later directed a center at Vanderbilt University dedicated to media freedoms and First Amendment rights for established news outlets as well as the evolving landscape of online journalism. He died Friday at his home in Nashville. Charles Strobel, the founder of a homeless outreach group in Nashville, described Seigenthaler as a "deeply spiritual" man guided by the principles of equality and fairness. Gore, a former Tennessee senator, recounted how Seigenthaler offered him a job after Gore returned home from Vietnam. Gore was hired at a reporter on The Tennessean at $95 a week. "He was one of my most important role models and mentors," Gore said. Seigenthaler's long association with the Kennedy family drew mourners who included former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, current U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III and RFK's widow, Ethel. Emmylou Harris sang "We Shall Overcome," a protest song by the late Pete Seeger that become linked with the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

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