Reporter's Note: President Obama is attending Senator Kennedy’s funeral today, along with a great many other big names in American politics. Perhaps, I’ll write to some of them later, but for now I’ll continue with my letter each day to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
I feel as if I have been to a great many funerals in my life. Certainly more than one might expect. Not long after my wife and I met we somehow got onto the subject and she was quite surprised at how many I had attended. Back then they were mainly for quite old uncles, aunts, and family friends. Over the years more of the funerals have involved people whom I knew on a much more personal basis. They are always sad and always make me think a little about the passage of time.
At my first radio station, WAMI in Opp, Alabama, ( the “City of Opportunity!”) we included the obituaries every hour as part of our local newscast. It was a small enough town (still is) that we usually had only one or two to report. Sometimes, however, we would get swamped; six or seven funerals would come rolling at us on a Saturday morning and by the time a newscast was done you’d think we were reporting on an outbreak of plague.
One funeral that I announced on the air was for a great uncle of mine. He was being buried in a weekday afternoon service. So as soon as school was over, I dashed for my car, drove the 30 miles home, threw on a dark suit and ran to the small country church. I felt rushed in every way, since I knew that as soon as the final hymn was over I had to hurry right back to Opp for my shift at the radio station. Maybe that’s why in the scurry to get to the service I overlooked a detail. Sitting there, wedged into a pew in the packed church, I looked down and saw to my surprise that I had forgotten to change socks. A pair of screamingly exotic purple-and-yellow argyle ankles were practically glowing above my shoes. It was all I could do to keep from bursting out with laughter.
Now of course, I look back and wonder what I was doing with such socks in the first place, but suffice to say I was something of a fashion trendsetter. And my uncle, who always had a ready smile, I think would have appreciated the humor in it all.
And so would your friend, Senator Kennedy, I suspect. As he said in his famous speech at the 1980 Democratic Convention: “We have learned that it is important to take issues seriously, but never to take ourselves too seriously.” Not bad advice for anyone of any political bent. Safe travels back home. Call when you can.
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