Once you lose your fear, you’re free
John Lewis, a truly and true American icon was given the final honors due a man of his legendary reputation as someone who championed not only Civil Rights but Human Rights, as well. In addition to the countless dignitaries who attended, 3 former Presidents, Bush, Clinton, and Obama, spoke with the grace and dignity befitting both their former office and the quality of the man they were there to honor. A fourth, Jimmy Carter, sent a heartfelt letter of condolence.
Although all spoke with reverence and eloquence, it was former President Barack Obama, who, when delivering the eulogy, perhaps captured the spirit of the man best, challenging ALL Americans to continue Mr. Lewis’s legacy by resisting the current administration’s apparent attempt to suppress voting rights. Reminding people that Lewis often risked death and was arrested 45 times to demonstrate his belief that the power of the people rests with our RIGHT AND OBLIGATION TO VOTE, the former President added that the only wasted votes are the ones we don’t use.
Conspicuously absent from today’s celebration was our current President, Donald J. Trump. Many found fault in this and with good reason. However, I did not. In fact, I was glad that he was not there. In my opinion it would have been a hollow gesture. John Lewis did not approve of Mr. Trump (“like” is irrelevant in this case) because, in his eyes, this President represents everything that he spent his life fighting against — exclusion, bigotry, racism, vanity, excess. So, in a sense, the President DID honor him by NOT attending. At least it was an honest response — for a change!
However, I can’t help but think that Mr. Trump’s additional refusal to attend came from his need for self-preservation and obvious narcissism. How could a man who, especially lately, has had tremendous difficulty stringing two coherent sentences together possibly hope to compete with the stirring oration of the likes of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama? Clinton is a noted public speaker and Obama often speaks sublimely of concepts like the dignity of man — while Mr. Trump rambles on about dishwashers.
As Mr. Lewis reminded us in his final correspondence, to be published on the day of his funeral, 7/30/2020, inspired as ALWAYS by love, the job is not done:
I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.
We will truly honor him and those who came before by living up to the creed.