In March, my lifelong buddy Todd Kutyla provided his first VM guest-blog, about life in Washington, DC. Here’s the next one, which might seem slightly dated, but that’s because he e-mailed it over while I was traveling through California last week. I’ll try to post this stuff more timelily (okay, “in more timely fashion”), and he’ll try to write more often.
Washington DC shuts down for any number of reasons: weather, congressional budget impasses, federal holidays . . . This week it’s the memorial services for Ronald Reagan, our 40th president.
Yesterday, helicopters patrolled the skies and fighter-jets flew the missing man formation as tens of thousands of people lined Constitution Ave. to view the procession to Capitol Hill. I wasn’t among the crowd, though I did see the jets and helicopters. I watched the whole thing on the news last night. Not being a fan of Ronald Reagan, I have to say it is something awesome to behold the death of a leader who is so much a part of the modern American experience.
I guess I’m one of those odd cynics who is still sincerely moved by ceremony. I am touched by the pomp and circumstance of an Easter Mass as much as I am by the sight of a flag-draped coffin making its way down Constitution Ave. on a horse-drawn carriage. If I’m still living in this city when our 39th or 42nd President passes, I’m sure I’ll be among the mourners on the sidewalk.
I will not, however, clap as the funeral procession passes before me. That’s just not right. But, that is exactly what happened as Reagan’s body passed before the crowd yesterday–people clapped. It was odd, to say the least. At what should have been a solemn moment of reflection, people gave a standing ovation to a dead man.
That’s what we do, I guess, when we don’t know what else to do.
Silence is far too awkward. Besides, so much of everyday life has become performance that these memorials might just be a sort of awards ceremony. Not much difference, I suppose, between honoring the memory of famous person and celebrating a superior acting job. I don’t think Ronal Reagan ever won and Oscar. Without making too much of the actor-turned-president thing, I have to admit, the man who sat in the White House through so many of my formative years sure did give us one hell of a performance. As for the rest of the drama? I wasn’t too crazy about the plot but I do think some of the characters were interesting.
The current sequel has little of the subtlety or finesse of the original though, and the main character just isn’t as convincing.