Sometimes a life means more in the context of history when it ends. Need I mention one such example that occurred over 2,000 years ago? In no way do I mean to suggest that John McCain was like Jesus of Nazareth, but there was something about that historic funeral yesterday that seemed to me something more than words can express and possibly a turning point in the nightmare we call Trump. The moment came during his daughter’s emotional speech when she talked about America “always being great” and was interrupted by a thunderous applause that seemed to last for minutes. This kind of response to a sermon or eulogy never happens in the Washington National Cathedral.
We were watching on national television a direct, though subtle, verbal assault on a sitting president in a packed cathedral of both Republican and Democrats, the leaders of our nation. What was this all about? What were these flawed leaders trying to tell us by applauding spontaneously—these people from both parties who have on the whole failed our country by not standing up to a wannabe tyrant and dictator and not addressing our nation’s fundamental problems, by pulling us apart rather than bringing us together? Were they trying to tell us that they get it?
Lieberman, George W. and Obama all came next and added their two cents worth reminding the mourners of the traditional American values that John McCain stood for—inclusiveness, country over party, equal opportunity, civil discourse, and fairness. All the speakers pointed out that in the past, most of the time, the big fights in Congress were not over basic American values but rather the best way to achieve them. Sure, there were big exceptions like slavery and the Civil War, and the civil rights movement, but still we Americans are for the most part grounded in universal values that most of us accept and aspire to. But certainly not all of us and seemingly not today.
Trump was asked not to attend the funeral. He used the free time to tweet nasty comments about Canada, Mueller, Hillary, and Sessions before heading out to his usual Saturday golf game. But Jared and Ivanka were there and so were a handful from his Cabinet. Will they get the message? Were they applauding? Will that moment in Meghan’s eulogy last in the minds of leaders on both sides of the aisle? Will this mean that they realize it is now time for things to change? Did the message from a weeping, 33 year-old, bereaved daughter get through to them? Did they see this, as I did, as a watershed moment?
Shortly after the service when driving out to Mt. Rainier, Maryland, to out daughter’s house, a perfect rainbow appeared in the distance right in front of our car. All the colors were there, and the arc seemed to reach from one side of the earth all the way to the other. The most amazing thing about this rainbow was that that it suddenly appeared with blue sky all around it. What was that all about?
Could this mark the beginning of the end, or perhaps better said, the beginning of a new beginning?
I know. Don’t hold my breath. I won’t, but I can still hope.