Memorializing George H.W. Bush

George H. W. Bush

George H.W. Bush. (John Moore/Getty Images)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Watching yesterday’s coverage of the arrival of the late President George H.W. Bush’s casket at the Capitol reminded me of something, and at first I couldn’t quite place what it was.

The elaborate details of that somber ceremony exceeded those of any presidential inauguration. But as formal as the event was in many ways, there was a distinctly personal touch to it, both in the presence of the family and the outpouring of warm remembrances by those observing it.

And there was a heightened emphasis on the history of it all, the lying in state in a historic place, the military rituals.

The services for a president are different and special. As House Speaker Paul Ryan put it: “As Americans, we have no more solemn duty than in laying a great patriot to rest.”

Finally, it hit me what the closest comparison might be--a royal wedding in England.

Don’t laugh.

The over-the-top pomp of those weddings is much more about the culture of that country, its pride in its historical roots, and its insistence on the continuity of all of that, than it is about the couple being married.

It’s the same with a presidential funeral.

These are about much more than honoring the deceased, or the office of the presidency. And they’re definitely not about royalty.

We’re Americans.

We don’t do royalty.

Instead, we like to pull out all the stops to mark the passing of a symbol of a time in our history, someone we might have loved or hated in their day but now recognize to be a permanent part of who we were, and are.

Because while presidents--and all people--come and go, we’d like to think our country and what it represents at its best will live on forever.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. Listen to his previous podcasts on iHeartRadio. 

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

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