Watched a good chunk of the Reagan funeral procession yesterday evening. I thought it was nicely done. Nancy Reagan looked wonderful, especially given the non-stop whirl of activity she's been through since Saturday.
Sweltering day down in DC, but there were tens of thousands of people watching the cortege as it wound its way to the Capitol. The flag-draped casket on the caisson, the riderless horse with Reagan's own boots turned backwards in the stirrups, the slow and dignified transfer of the coffin to the catafalque that once bore the remains of Abraham Lincoln in the Rotunda.
The politicans seem to be managing to stay non-partisan during this whole thing. Which is right and correct. History has been a kinder judge of Reagan's accomplishments than his political foes were at the time. Even if people didn't agree with all of his policies or actions then, it's pretty easy to look back and see that much of what he did worked for the betterment of our country and for dozens of countries around the world. Some missteps, yes, but to use Reagan's own words as he left office:
"All in all, not bad, not bad at all."
I think part of the reason that Americans are showing such a wave of emotion and feeling about Reagan's passing - and its formal trappings and customs - is because it makes us feel good. That sounds strange, perhaps, but this occasion allows us to throw political views and differences away for a while and come together as a whole country. It feels much better to be an American than it does to be either a Democrat or a Republican.
Of course not everyone is playing nice in the sandbox. Bill Clinton is stamping his feet over not being invited to speak at the funeral on Friday. As Will Collier says:
"For God's sake, would somebody please remind Bill Clinton that it's not always about him?"
As I look over what I just wrote, I'm struck by my casual use of some words that I don't believe I've ever had reason to use before:
Caisson (other than the song involving rolling ones).
How do I know them? I mean, even though my folks had me reading at an early age, and encouraged it in wonderful ways, these are not words that find their way into everyday parlance. Hmmmm.
And speaking of which, here's a nice quiz to see how arcane your vocabulary knowledge is. (Via A Small Victory) I scored 161 out of 200. I would feel worse about that if not for the large number of words I had never even heard of before. I was filled with dubiety.
[John K . . . paging John K . . .]
Quote du jour:
"By hard, honest labor I've dug all the large words out of my vocabulary and shaved it down till the average is three and a half. . . . I never write 'metropolis' for seven cents, because I can get the same money for 'city.' "
-- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910) US novelist, journalist, river pilot
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