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Funeral became a political rally, one which demeaned the dead by demeaning another man, and in turn dishonored the country for which the first man had fought.

The McCain Funeral Procession, Disgraced By the Media and Political Class

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By —— Bio and Archives September 3, 2018

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The McCain Funeral Procession, Disgraced By the Media and Political Class
What is a eulogy? Strictly speaking, it’s “a speech or piece of writing that praises someone, typically someone who has just died.” The root of the word is “eulogia” from the Greek, which means “a good speech” or “to speak well of.” More specifically, it’s a funeral speech delivered in memory of the deceased. One would expect to hear a lively testimony in contrast to the dead lying in casket or bier before the living. The purpose of the speech is to restore to life, to bring greater meaning to a life which has departed.

With this foundation, one could assess the extended John McCain funeral, and the eulogies which commemorated his life, as a grand failure, a disturbing disregard for the man and the legacy which his funeral should have borne. An over-long Resistance parade, another media-hyped opportunity to bash President Trump, the McCain funeral procession, from his death to his burial, disgusted many Americans, and for good reason.

The liberal mainstream media deserve much of the blame. Before McCain’s body even lay in state, the newscasters repeatedly brought up the contentious relationship between President Trump and US Senator McCain. On The Today Show, they insisted on discussing the hyped-up controversy over the raising and lowering of the flag. To his credit, US Senator Lindsey Graham refused to argue about Trump or his issues with Senator McCain, but respectfully redirected everything back to his colleague from Arizona. “John showed ‘It’s not about you. Country first.’”

On CCN, the interview between Alisyn Camerota and Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu went from touching to tense. Sununu dismissed a negative report—and the reporting—over Trump’s failure to issue a formal statement about McCain’s death. Not only did CNN want to focus on Trump, but Camerota arrogantly took offense when Sununu called them out. “Well, I’m here to talk about my friend John McCain. You appear to be here to talk about something that you think you can exploit. And I find that rather unpleasant.”

Then came the eulogies at the Washington National Cathedral, suffused with bad things directed at Trump. Former presidents, their wives, the extended family and friends of the McCains, all mourned the Trump Administration more than the passing of a father, friend, and freedom fighter (to his supporters). Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush indirectly jabbed at President Trump, too. Such sleights were the height of distaste. Such unseemly behavior at high-profile funerals has become commonplace among America’s political class and community leaders. Speakers demeaned Trump during Aretha Franklin’s funeral the day before. Speakers shamed President George W. Bush at Coretta Scott King’s funeral in 2006‚—while Bush was present!

There’s something more about funerals which requires further recognition. Attendees want to recognize the good of those who have passed on. Funeral processions for a nation’s statesmen, whether good or for bad, should also honor the county they served. The most famous funeral speech, at least in the Western Canon of literature, belongs to the Ancient Greek (more particularly, Athenian) general Pericles. As recorded in Thucydides’ famed classic The Peloponnesian War, Pericles outlined the longstanding tradition of Athenian funeral speeches. He then paid tribute to Athens’ war dead, then explained why Athens was great in comparison with their mortal enemy Sparta. Beyond diminishing authoritarian militarism, Pericles honored the Athenian soldiers’ achievements to ensure that their sacrifice would endure beyond memory but into action, preserving the legacy of the stable and free Athenian democracy. In stark, sad contrast, the eulogies meant for John McCain spent more time not just attacking Trump, but attacking his policies, which have reasserted American individualism, constitutionalism, and exceptionalism. Aren’t those the values which our proud American military fight for?

At some points in her eulogy, the daughter of the deceased did honor her father. Meghan spoke of his determination, not just for himself, but also for his children to have a better life than he. In the most moving moment in her eulogy, Meghan related the story when she fell off a horse, bruised her collar bone, then recovered. As soon as she was fit again, her father told her to get back on the horse and ride again. At first angry with her father’s insistence, she looked back on that time and praised her father for his gutsy insistence: “I was furious at him as a child, but how I love him for it now… and see the pride and love in his eyes as he said ‘Nothing is going to break you.’”

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Those endearing moments should have defined John McCain and his funeral. From that memorable event Meghan could have encouraged millions to carry that spirit forward in their lives, with their children, through their service to this great country. That moment should have received thunderous applause from the congregation. Instead, they clapped when Meghan said: “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”

That was a blunt attack on President Trump, nothing more, a statement which diminished what could have been an august memorial for an aged veteran. Spiteful remarks like that one ruined what could have been a well-spoken remembrance for an American citizen, prisoner of war, and elected official in our great country. Whatever one’s disagreements with McCain; however embittered that former Congressman and incumbent US Senator had become towards Trump and his very different foreign and domestic agenda; no matter how great our disappointment with McCain, who had promised yet failed to deliver on his promises or undermined those promises: even he deserved a decent eulogy, especially from his own family.

Instead, his funeral became a political rally, one which demeaned the dead by demeaning another man, and in turn dishonored the country for which the first man had fought. Perhaps for future funerals, American statesmen and politicians alike should hope for as little coverage as possible from the media. At least then they can rest assured that their final moments will be well-spoken of.

Arthur Christopher Schaper -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.