Friday, June 11, 2004

Grief and Pride

notes from watching the funeral

The prime Reverand Danforth seems uninspired and unfamiliar with his text.

The rabbi was great. "Where does such leadership come from?
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Sandra Day O'Connor read off the original 16something passage by Winthrop about the 'shining city on the hill.' Frankly, it sounded like a bunch of commie propaganda to me. I'll have to review it later.

Margaret Thatcher was there via a recording due to her health. This woman is a class act from head to toe.

Mrs. Thatcher said that while President Reagen was recovering from the assasination attempt, he told her: "Whatever time I have left belongs to the big feller upstairs." Mrs. Thatcher continued "and certainly his life seemed providential to us."

He brought down the Soviet Union "not only by not firing a shot, but by inviting enemies to come out of their fortress and to become friends."

and by his good-natured spirit he "made it possible for a man of good will to arise from the Soviet Union."

and finally:

"We have something that Ronad Reagan never had – we have his example."

PM Canada Brian Mulroney also spoke very kindly and with good humor. You will hear the 'two irishmen' story elsewhere, I'm sure.

This is a very rough remembrance of Mr. Mulroney's comments:

"It was a time when communism and democracy were considered equally valid; a time of moral equivalence. President Reagan saw communism's squalid underpinnings and predicted communism would fall swiftly, provided NATO and the industrialized world stood united. And they did."

He said Reagan inspired us to "dream big and exciting dreams."

Next up was Bush 41. I hadn't recalled him being such a dull speaker – not memorable, his delivery is conventional and . . . o god but he’s breaking down and almost crying. he was just trying to keep himself together . . .don't do this to me, President Bush . . Ok, under control again.

A story about Reagan in the hospital, he spilled some water and is cleaning up the floor so the nurse wouldn’t get in trouble.

President Bush said Reagan "never turned an adversary into an enemy" . . "was never mean-spirited." and finally closed with a verse from Psalm 37. I'm sorry, but I don't remember which one.

President Bush 43 was the only speaker to really refer to President Reagan's long illness:

"We have missed for a long time . . . his kindly presence. . . It has been 10 years since he said his own farewell . . . it is still sad and hard to let him go . . . he belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us."

"A great American story will close at sunset tonight." (President Reagan will be buried before sunset today.)

“He believed that the gentleman always does the kindest thing . .
America was not just a place in the world, but the hope of the world."

Reagan story, from his acting days. I don't know who the other speaker was:

"Have you ever considered becoming president?"

R: "Of what?"

"The US."

R: "What’s the matter? Don’t you like my acting either?"

Bush didn't pussyfoot around religion either:

Reagan had the "faith of a man who prayed for the man who shot him, before he prayed for himself. . . We look to that fine day when we will see him again . .when the sorrow of his parting is gone forever.’

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, played by the army band:

"As Christ died to make men holy, let us die to make men free."

(if a non-Christian president dies, what song will they sing?)

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works”

The Rev. Danforth does better at the end of the service, seeming a little more aware. He speaks of the Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world, a city set on the hill cannot be hid. . . . For him, America was the shining city on the hill. . . The Winthrop message became the Reagan message . . . if ever we have known a child of light, that child was Ronald Reagan. What you saw was what you got. . .not consumed by himself . . didn't need to be president to be a person . .We will always be grateful to Nancy for sharing him with us . . nothing petty or mean-spirited about him."

Amazing Grace, Roman Tsomebody, irish tenor
"Grace will lead me home . "

Ode to Joy
There is Nancy singing along . .
and Bush 43 and Laura and Colin Powell singing too.

Reading and response

"Dust thou art, and to dust you shall return."

Three military guys come up and turn the coffin around, to head Reagan's remains out the door. The pallbearers approach the coffin . . the candle bearers and cross leave the sanctuary.

O Nancy . . . it seems terribly unfair that it isn't possible to reach through the TV set and put your arm around that woman . .

Nancy is escorted to the car. You can see her lips say 'thank you' to her escort. (what does that marine say in return? 'you're welcome?' that seems so . . so . . )

It is raining again, which seems fitting.

The body is being flown to California today for burial before sunset tonight. Nancy Reagan has a long day ahead of her.

May God hold you in the palm of His hand, President Reagan. May God's love shield and strengthen Nancy Reagan and family in the coming days.

I have to clean my glasses. Tears have a lot of salt in them.

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