I went to John F. Kennedy’s funeral parade. My father was a lawyer and had an workplace that appeared out onto the route. We arrived early within the morning and my mom put a rug on the carpet for us to sit down on. My sister and I ate fried egg sandwiches wrapped in white paper from the nook deli the place the person knew my father’s identify. Hey Artwork, he mentioned, is that this your loved ones?
I had by no means had a breakfast sandwich, by no means had an indoor picnic, had solely been to my father’s workplace possibly twice earlier than. I used to be excited. I anticipated a marching band and majorettes. Did I’ve day without work from college? I believe.
As we appeared out the window, individuals started to line the road. Many, many individuals, all ages, all ethnicities. I bear in mind a black woman my age dressed up for church, leaping up and right down to preserve heat. It was winter in Washington, DC. Everybody was gathered, and I see it in my reminiscence as a black and white picture: darkish overcoats, hats and scarves and gloves, all in shades of grey and black. Applicable.
In fact, there have been no majorettes. This was not presupposed to be a parade of flag-waving and sweets. As a substitute, my mom known as it a procession, a funeral procession. There have been bands; I do not know what music they performed. I bear in mind the wagon with the casket coated with an American flag. I bear in mind the saddled and riderless horse with the massive black boots caught behind within the stirrups. I bear in mind my mom crying and my father together with his arm round her.
As we left to go residence, the elevator operator, a black man not a lot taller than me, cried too. And after we acquired residence, our neighbor, Mr. Turner, a staunch Republican conservative, outdoors on his entrance steps, shaking his head. I knew—after listening to my dad and mom—that he did not vote for Kennedy, however that day all of America mourned.
I grew up proud to be an American. In fact there have been issues. My dad and mom complained about so much. Simply three months earlier than Kennedy’s funeral, we went to the March on Washington and listened to Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality. Offended discussions across the dinner desk—about civil rights, ladies’s rights, jobs, well being care—occurred each night time.
However I would not wish to be in some other nation. My father fought in World Conflict II. We stood up in opposition to authoritarianism and I assumed we had made America a spot for each form of individual, faith, background. As a younger girl, I used to be sure that this nation would at all times be the shining metropolis on a hill – a biblical reference utilized by Kennedy, Reagan and Obama, a beacon to the remainder of the world.
Sixty years later, the shining metropolis is tarnished. The sunshine is diminished, strained by way of hatred and division and worry. We expertise little in widespread, other than the demise of cooperation, compromise and any hope of shared values. As former first woman Rosalynn Carter entered hospice care, the Republican presidential candidate mocked her husband, President Jimmy Carter. Rosalynn will likely be buried on Wednesday, after a memorial service, a funeral and hours mendacity “at relaxation” on the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Her casket will comply with a public route from Atlanta to Plains, Ga. I can not cease interested by who will likely be lining the streets and roads. I fear; it looks as if a wonderful alternative for a mass taking pictures.
Our democracy is failing. I see it taking place. Now I mourn with my youngsters, not for one man or one girl, however for our entire nation.
Diana Wagman, a contributing author to Opinion, is the creator of six novels.