Memorial Service or Pep Rally? A Reflection on the Tone in Tuscon and What it Says of Our Culture

I must say that I am quite surprised by the tone of tonight’s memorial service. In fact, I as I write this, it is still going on. It seems more like a pep rally. Perhaps my expectations were wrong. Given that six have been killed, I am surprised to hear raucous applause, and wolf-whistling.

From the look on his face, it seems the President is a bit surprised too. I think his remarks were well prepared and of the right tone. It seems clear that he did not prepare to address a pep rally. In a way he had to restore a proper tone to the whole thing. As he said, “Our hearts are broken…yet they are full of confidence” I thought, this is to be the right tone.  Increasingly as the President spoke I think a more proper tone was restored.

To be sure, there is much to celebrate. It was proper for there to be applause when the President said, “Gabby opened her eyes.” There was heroism to celebrate, even some standing O’s to be granted.

But somehow the overall tone, especially early on,  seemed a bit off to me.

I wonder if this is another symptom of how unchurched we have become? Even at the conclusion of the readings from scripture and the liturgically proper declaration, “The Word of the Lord” there was applause and whistles. Very strange indeed.  I realize it was not a church service per se, but it was called a memorial service and some distinction exists in my mind between that and a pep rally.

Age may be a factor too. A lot of college students seem to have been in the audience and perhaps they are less schooled in demeanor in the face of tragic death.

What do you think? Is it just me? Am I becoming an old, stodgy man a bit too early (at 50)?  Is solemnity departing from our culture? Have we lost a shared sense of proper demeanor?

Remember that this is not a political blog per se. You may wish to opine on the political aspects of tonight’s service. But my main concern is the tone of the service and what this says about our culture and how it might reflect on the increasingly un-churched status of many.

Please understand my questions are real. They are not intended as rhetorical questions. Please let me know what you think. My own impressions may be very different from yours.

66 Replies to “Memorial Service or Pep Rally? A Reflection on the Tone in Tuscon and What it Says of Our Culture”

  1. Absolutely i got the same impression and a little older than you and get what your describing in church on sunday when different parts od=f th emass should be solemn and subdued too. i cast a vote for u onthis one wear elosing our church atmosphere

  2. “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America”, says pep rally, not “in memoriam.” But I thought the President did a nice job, despite the off tone.

    1. I agree with your assessment of the event’s title, and given that context – and location – I don’t find the tone to be off.

      Dollars to doughnuts says that 95% of the attendees were NOT personally acquainted with any of the victims. I don’t say this to minimize the attendees’ real distress at what happened in their community, but I suspect they showed up at Together We Thrive mainly to show solidarity, for reassurance that Things Would Be OK, and to show respect for the victims. That’s different from memorializing the victims, for one can’t remember what one never knew.

  3. The tone was definitley not one of a memorial service ive ever heard or have been to. Im still mulling this over in my mind but it doesnt sit well in my gut.

    1. Yes, there is something of a gut reaction in me too that has become more specific today. The closest thing to a minister or priest was the Native American. It was odd to have Govt officials read from the scriptures, rather than a minsiter or lay person. I wonder if a conservative would get away with this and what, if any reaction the usually reactive ACLU will manifest. And then too all the rest of things I mentioned.

  4. Disturbing. Finally had to change the channel. I do not understand the tone and would very much like to know who planned the event, which had been advertised in the local media. I would also like to know the reason for appearances by Napolitano and Holder. They both have made horrendous statements about the state and it’s people. How could they be greeted by such applause unless it was staged? Why were the Christian or Jewish faiths not represented? These were the faiths of the victims, I have read. Why was the Republican Mayor of Tucson not invited? Why was the audience packed with Democrat officials? Why were T-Shirts branded with the name of the event put on each chair? I, for one, will remember this as a staged political event, not a respectfull memorial to the victims.

    1. Yes,I think whoever planned the event was dense to any religious or even solemn sense. SOme of the commenters below point out that Obama T-Shirts and hats were given out prior to the event. THis would Change the mood. Another commenter below indicates that Tuscon is a very politically liberal area and this might explain the reception despite the hard things said of Arizona

  5. I felt the same way. I recall in Yankee Stadium after 9/11 there were representatives of the major faiths in attendance. Would not the presence of the pastors, rabbis or priests of the victims be an addition which might have given the event more gravitas? I missed their presence. And their words

  6. I agree with you. I thought the setting was more of a pep rally than a memorial service. I am over 50, and have gotten used to memorial services as being more somber events. I think the President did a good job of reminding the peppy kids that this was about those killed and injured. What was with the shouting and wolf whistles? Were these for the President? Didn’t this type of thing happen when he was running for president (young people treating him like a rock star?) Otherwise, Obama did a good job with his speech. Also, I never heard of clapping after reading scripture.

  7. Once again, I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like back in the days of the Roman Colosseum and thumbs up – thumbs down voting by the spectators on the valor of the gladiators fight. I have to agree, something definitely seems to be amiss.

  8. I did not watch this, except for the clip you provided, so I cannot comment on the speech itself, but I’ve been to many memorials and I’ve not once heard clapping and cheering and whistling as you mentioned. It is not proper at all. Even my children know this.

  9. Well, I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who thought it sounded more like a pep rally rather than a memorial service. I thought it was extremely odd when everyone was clapping at the very beginning for Obama. He even looked a bit uncomfortable. Will have to watch the re-run that will be coming on in a few minutes to see the whole things, as I had to leave before Obama talked.

    1. Yes, I think he was caught off gurad by the tone and did his best to call them back a bit. I note however that some of the commenters below are less inclined to agree with me on this.

  10. After reading the prepared text of the speech, posted at NRO before it was given, I had little desire to watch Obama give it. Unfortunately, he simply could not refrain from including several finger-wagging lecture passages, complete with use of the accusatory “we” (e.g. “at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do”).

    To make things worse, not only is such “we” ambiguous and relativistic, but too many people — those who have been most guilty of the mouth-foaming bile of the last several days — will take Obama’s “we” to mean, not themselves, but their political opponents. That is, they will simply use it as a weapon against them, e.g. “yeah Tea Partiers, stop being so hateful and divisive before you cause yet another killing.”

    Am I being unfair to Obama? Perhaps. Perhaps I have a knee-jerk reaction to presume the worst whenever he speaks. But maybe I would not do that if he would step up and take some personal responsibility once in a while for his own intemperate, contemptuous, and derisive remarks that he makes on a constant basis against his political opponents. Maybe if, instead of this accusatory “we,” Obama had said “me,” if he had admitted to and apologized for his own conduct, then it would be appropriate for him to lecture to the rest of us.

    (And besides, I don’t need some pep rally speech to tell me that I could do a better job being more charitable and nicer in my public remarks. I already know my imperfections quite well, thank you.)

    1. those who have been most guilty of the mouth-foaming bile of the last several days will take Obama’s “we” to mean, not themselves, but their political opponents. That is, they will simply use it as a weapon against them

      Sure enough, the New York Times, just to name one which has engaged in the most disgusting of demonization, uses Obama’s speech to bash Sarah Palin.

      1. At lease the NYT article is presented as Op/Ed. It’ll be interesting to see what Associated Press and others present as journalistic news in the morning……

    2. Yes, Bender I am inclined to agree with you that most political liberals who call for greater civility do not mean to include themselves in any way, it is a thinly veiled slap at the political right

  11. It was more like a campaign rally for 2012 than a memorial service. It was more like from his head than his heartfelt soul. Calculated and reserved.

  12. First of all, love your blog. It’s awesome. Second, I’m from Tucson so if I may, I’d like to give my thoughts.

    First of all, they held the memorial service at the McKale Center which is for basketball games on the campus of the University of Arizona. I’m guessing that the vast majority of those at the service were students which kinda skews things. Secondly, why they choose the University seems strange. We have a down town area with a large concert hall. And if the University, why not the concert hall there. You could say that there is more seating at McKale than the rest of the University, but again the down town concert hall is huge enough and more solemn than McKale.

    Secondly, the President is in town. He doesn’t come here very often especially since he’s a democrat and the state of Arizona is largely Republican.

    Thirdly, a number of large churches such as St. Odilia in Tucson are holding services for the victims tomorrow. So really this is all about the President coming to town and showing his support for the community. It’s really not a memorial service and the lack of clergy is explained since the clergy are holding their own services complete with people holding candles to light the path of the young girl’s family as the process into the church.

    So yes, you could say that this was a pep rally and not really a memorial service. And I’m really surprised that whoever decided to do this didn’t forsee that McKale is not really the place to hold a memorial service for the people who were shot or injured since all of that happened on the other side of Tucson and those people were older than your typical college student (or younger in the case of the 9 year old). I think that is the main problem here. They should have picked another venue.

    The only thing I think the lack of solemnity shows is that college students are rambunctious and yes, not pious or religious. I don’t think it shows how our culture, in general, is. Hope that helps.

    1. deltaflute, thanks for your insight into the goings on in Tucson. However, I respectfully disagree with your closing statement

      “The only thing I think the lack of solemnity shows is that college students are rambunctious and yes, not pious or religious. I don’t think it shows how our culture, in general, is.”

      While watching the memorial with my wife last night, the thought we brainstormed to explain our disbelief at the demeanor of those in attendance was “a bunch of university students must have gotten liquored up and gone to see the President.” I don’t think we should give college students a free pass on this one. I’m 25, not that far removed from college myself, and couldn’t imagine having acted with such callousness and rowdiness at a memorial service even if I didn’t know the victims personally. Is reverence dead amongst my generation? Forgive my rant, but it seems we’ve all turned into a bunch of narcissists whose relationships only go as deep as a text message or Facebook post. Those students should be ashamed of themselves, and I agree with Msgr., they need to get themselves to church.

  13. I wrote this on my facebook page tonight. Then I kept wondering if anyone else thought like I did, so I searched around and found YOUR page. I guess I was not alone, although you might not agree with what I wrote….

    I was disappointed in the Tucson memorial service. To me, it was a very disjointed presentation…more rally than memorial. More cheers than tears. I kept thinking the whole thing really needed a “producer” to get it on track. The music selections were inconsistent, some of the “heros” were hidden in the crowd, rather than upfront, (wondered where the little girl’s parents were) and for a memorial service, there was nothing from a pastor, minister or other clergy.

    Just thought it all was a bit odd and seemingly thrown together with mostly politicians “front and center.”

    Where was the brief moment where one of the little girl’s friends could speak?

    Where was the teacher who could briefly talk about what he or she saw in that little girl during her 9 short years?

    Where were the big projectors showing photo tributes of the people that died during the speeches?
    Just my thoughts after watching the memorial…Ok, there I said my piece.

    The broadcast kinda bugged me, but maybe if you were THERE, it would’ve seemed different.

  14. Msgr. Pope –

    I have yet to watch the memorial service. Once my wife and I get our two kids to bed, if we do turn the tv on, the the last thing we tune to are the major networks.

    That said, what I find interesting is the reactions through facebook of friends of mine. My DC based “political” – and predominantly Republican – friends’ comments are generally positive and think that the President did a good job. My snow bound mid thirties friends from the South had the same reaction as yours – noting that the “pep rally” atmosphere was disrepectful of the victims. And my non political friends from around here were either put off by the “pep rally” atmosphere or annoyed by the pre-emption of what ever show that they were trying to tune into.

    There has also been a comment stream, and one that I agree with, questioning why this tragedy is any more worthy of the President’s attention than others. After 12 full days of the new year, there have been 13 homicides in PG County and this doesn’t even register a blip among the political and chattering classes.

    Workplace violence, drug violence, and many other ills and evils, including a lack of respect for the culture of life result in tragedies every day – some with as many victims, but more often than not, with just one or two victims at a time. The only difference here was that this was an instance where the target of this obviously unstable individual happened to be a Member of Congress. If he had decided instead to target his community college instructor or someone else (as he apparently had made threats before), would this have received more than a couple of hours of coverage on the 24 hour news channels?

  15. Msgr.,

    I enjoyed reading this moving tribute of Judge Roll by Archbishop Chaput.

    “Sitting in the congregation that day was a woman named Maureen, an active and very committed Catholic, and a veteran of crisis pregnancy counseling with Tucson’s Catholic Charities. After the liturgy she moved on to the other tasks of her day, as I did mine. Except that Maureen apparently talked about the Red Mass with her spouse. And 10 months later, after the 2008 election, I got the first of several extraordinary letters from her husband—John Roll, chief judge of the federal District of Arizona; the same John Roll who died in the terrible Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson.

    It’s impossible to fully know a man from correspondence alone. But each of John Roll’s letters had the same four clear marks: generosity; intelligence, largeness of spirit and a sincere love for his Catholic faith. Two days after Roll’s murder, his law clerk, attorney Aaron Martin, described to me the kind of man he was.”

    Read on here:

  16. The President’s handlers put together a very liberal pep rally tonight.
    Unfortunately, they did so to make the evening about him…not the victims.

    1. WHen I first read your comment I was inclined to think it was not fair to blame POUTS. However, I have since heard that the White House did pass out Obama T-shirts and hats and intnetionally or not shifted the focus.

  17. If this memorial had taken place in my state or region of the country, I would have been embarrassed. The people who participated in the raucous behavior made themselves and those connected to them look bad. I have relatives who are not “churched” and they know better than to behave in that manner. The audience seemed to lack respect for the families of the victims.

  18. Never let a crisis go to waste as the brazen opportunists say. This event used the coffins of the slain as a platform for a politician.

    Ever since the Democrats have been clobbered by the people’s wrath, they started to repackage themselves and chant another mantra. Gone are the days of bulldozing the people’s will and sentiments. So, they put forth a charm offensive using muppets and melodrama.

    I say they should have more respect for the dead and their relatives and not leveraged a tragedy for profile and profit.

  19. This was the first time I have watched an entire speech by our current President, and yes, it did seem like a pep rally. I have to admit, I couldn’t figure where he was going with the scripture he quoted about Mount Zion and the City of God – my studies show that is Jerusalem – not Tucson, AZ. And he never seemed to include that reference in anything else he said, which seemed odd – almost like sticking a scripture in just the sake of it. At any rate, I agree with some of what he said (and believe me, there’s not much that I’ve ever agreed with him about) – we must stop looking for who or what to blame for this tragedy – other than the young man himself. When is this society going to realize we have to be accountable for what we ourselves do? Yes, in hindsight, there were a lot of indications this guy needed help and didn’t get it. But he is still responsible for his actions – not the right wing – not the left wing – not the media – not his parents – not his friends – not even the hateful rhetoric that we are constantly bombarded with. This man determined to perpetrate as much tragedy as possible – it is HIS fault.

    Oh, the comment about the applause after the scripture readings – we applaud in our church for scriprutre readings, prayers, etc. – if they touch us. I’m thankful God’s Word was read and heard by so many people, a lot of whom probably don’t read or hear it very often.

    1. YEs I am grateful it was read too the applause is not the usual but I too have expereinced applause when the word was very effectively proclaimed. I am also in agreement with your first points that we have to get back to assessing personal responsibility more seriously.

  20. Summarizing most of the comments above: (i) the physical environment was wrong – it should have been held in a church, or temple, black tie only or something. That would immediatey have set the right tone, especially for students. Not in a freaking sports’ center; (ii) the organizers i.e. team Obama, handed out t-shirts and flyers et cetera, and in so doing continued to set the wrong tone. Now, why that is? Well, the same reason we have a post-church, post-faith, liberal president. That’s the “elite” of the US today.

    1. Eddy – part ii of your comment is erroneous – at least on the outside – the university is reported as being the giver of those tee shirts.

    2. Were they Obama T-shirts? Also I think Debbie’s question is critical. However, whatever the subject of the shirts and hats, and whoever gave them, it remains true such things set the wrong tone at a memorial service.

  21. More of what Bill Bennet calls “The Coarsening of America”. It’s a problem broader than being unchurched, athough a visit to God’s house would help. Remember the old saying that the only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to stay silent. So let us all speak out bravely to deride that coarseness, wherever we see it, in our popular culture, our political discourse, in the dress and demeanor of our impressionable youth. Be an old fogey, if you must; you are from a more admirable time and culture.

  22. Msgr. Pope,

    I have been inclined to chime in about the shooting and events following, but felt it useless. But here, for you, because I read you often and appreciate your writings, I will give my opinion.

    I grew up in Tucson, left and lived many other places for years, then returned and retired from there. I recently left Tucson to live elswhere because Tucson has changed and not for the better.

    What you saw in that “Memorial” epitomizes the prevailing culture in Tucson.

    The Yaqui Indian/Mexican whos gave the “blessing” is pure Tucson. Most Yaquis and Mexicans have traditionally been Catholics in Tucson and South. They may honor their pagan roots with a respect for their heritage, but they revere Our Lady and worship the Triune God in the Catholic Church. This “professor” is representative of the new breed of ethnics in Tucson who are reverts and who are promoted and praised and given honors. They reject the Faith or fashion in their own image. It is part of a tendency in Tucson to “celebrate diversity” and in spite of the words recently about unity, tolerance is primarily or only shown for the liberal, the leftist, the reverts and the modern.

    There are few traditional conservatives of any type in Tucson. Even Republicans in Tucson tend left and the leadership in Tucson is almost entirely from the left.

    I had to leave a town which sits in one of the most beautiful settings on God’s earth, but which is so dominated by the left and which has a deteriorated infrastructure, streets full of tattoo parlors, used clothing stores, used everything stores, piercing parlors and murals reminiscent of the early Marxist ones. The dress in Tucson is appalling and the haircuts worse. There are Soltice parties and Yoga parlors and environmentalism run amok even in upper middle class neighborhoods.

    I could go on and on, but you can get the picture.

    Beyond the above, is the violence that is all over Tucson. Almost every day there are shootings and dead bodies in the town and in the desert. The statistics do not paint an accurate picture because they changed the reporting requirements a few years ago.

    Of course there are wonderful people and institutions, but they recede into the background these days, and what you saw on television is ascendantTucson.

    One beautiful thing came from this though and that is the public recognition of Judge Roll’s Catholicism. I can personally attest to the fact that twenty years ago I used to see him at daily Mass. Oremus.

    1. I live in Tucson and must respectfully disagree with your assessment. While there is a diverse celebration of culture, I would not say that there is anything wrong with including a person’s heritage. Tucson also has a Byzantine Catholic church, Our Lady of La Vang is largely Vietnamese, and St. Cyril’s holds Mass in Polish. To say that people reject the traditions of Catholicism is a bit off base. Catholicism includes cultural diversity while maintaining tradition. This is evident in San Xavier Mission.

      You refer to tattoo parlors and piercing parlors and the like as though this includes the whole of Tucson. These places are mostly in the central part of Tucson close to Campus which is liberal. The rest of Tucson does not look that way. I live in another part of Tucson where I have a choice of many churches and not very many tattoo parlors.

      Also I shop used clothing stores. I’m poor. And being for the preservation of the environment is a call to stewardship. Even the Vatican is the first state to be “green.”

      Yes, there’s violence. We’re close to the border. Most of it involves Mexican drug cartels, gangs, and Coyotes, who take advantage of those who try to cross the border in order to have a better life. Even Bishop Kicanas is very adamant about preserving the integrity of those who cross the border.

      You say that these institutions recede into the background. Perhaps, if I may suggest, it’s because the other things about Tucson bother you so much. I can’t imagine how you don’t notice that our diocese is awesome and that we have so much to offer the country in way of desert life and art. I’m sorry that you did not feel comfortable here. When I moved out here from the deep south where I was discriminated against for being Catholic, it was like coming home. A Catholic church on every corner where people welcome you like you’ve lived here forever makes this a great place to live.

  23. I couldn’t watch the Obama pep rally. That is what Democrats make every funeral into.
    Seems insulting to the deceased… certainly doesn’t benefit their souls.

  24. So, Msgr. Pope, when was the last time you preached about demeanor from your own pulpit?
    That doesn’t usually happen in most parishes. So, the young will have the manners their parents have taught them: nearly none.
    If the parents haven’t exposed the kids to proper decorum, they won’t learn it from the larger culture.
    If they never hear it from the pulpit, they won’t think God cares how they behave.
    Ball’s in your court.
    By the way, the whole point of being a living organism is that you will grow into maturity, not stay permanently arrested in adolescence. We do not ask our young to grow up into something very different from youth.
    Be the change you want to see.
    It’s o.k. to be older. Heck!! It’s o.k. to be old.
    Deal with it.

  25. While I do not support President Obama’s agenda, his speech last at the service was at times heartfelt. There were too many moments of wolf calling, cheering, and “pep rallyness” – but is it not important to remember that 90% of the crowd were college students. A generation that is really the “me” generation, without rules, without boundaries, without respect. Not all of those in this generation are so very self-centered, but way too many are. If their family member had been shot, do you honestly believe they would be hooting and shouting and cheering? This generation does not understand that there is a time and place for certain behavior, a memorial service was not the place for a “pep rally”. Did they see the heartbroken family of Christina Taylor Green, Gabby Gifford’s husband, Gabe Zimmerman’s family…..there was no hooting and hollering coming from them, their hearts were broken. May we all learn there is a time and place for all our actions. May we be ever mindful, that it could be us who is in pain and respond in love and compassion. It does not mean that we do not pull together as one, it means we do so with a quiet and gentle spirit of healing and love. “A quiet and gentle spirit that is of great worth to the Lord”.

  26. I watched the entire “memorial” service and was off put by it all.
    I didn’t understand the opening blessing by the professor. The cheering, hooting, and hollering were inappropriate. I didn’t get a sense of being comforted- perhaps if the students would’ve conducted themselves with some decorum? After this and the Wellstone Memorial, I am beginning to think this is how the left conducts memorials.

  27. I’ve lived in Tucson for over 30 years. I’ll start by saying that I wasn’t surprised by the shooting, and I wasn’t surprised by the reaction of the audience.

    The shooting didn’t surprise me because I know there are a lot of people here who suffer from mental disorders who either never seek help, or don’t take their meds. But that’s a whole other issue.

    It was most likely held at the U of A because that’s the largest venue. I say largest, because the over flow crowd used the football stadium, watching the large screens.

    I wasn’t surprised by the audience reaction. As stated before, mostly college students attended because they’re already there. There’s limited parking in the area.

    I can’t speak for everyone there, but I think it may have been a combination of excitement of seeing the president, wanting to feel some sense of unity, ignorance and bad manners, and wanting to celebrate the lives that the victims lead. Funerals are being held today, and surely those will be solemn occasions.

    Tucson is an odd, disjointed place. And casual. Still, it’s a shame what happened at the service. If college weren’t in session, and it was attended mainly by residents, I believe it would have turned out differently. Instead, it’s turned into one more reason for attacks – this time verbal.

    There were also republicans in attendance – Kyl, McCain, Brewer, Ms. O’Connor, and others – who were clapping, as well. So I’m a bit tired of reading that this was a Dem rally.

    Not only will nothing change, as far as finger pointing goes, but I sadly predict that it will escalate. This is sad, and quite frankly, beyond tiresome.

    1. I’m so glad that you’re saying what your saying. I agree wholeheartedly that this finger pointing is getting out of hand. Hindsight is twenty twenty and the point is totally missed that this was a public stage. Private services are entirely different. I mean Michael Jackson’s funeral could be construed as not being reverent enough. Why make Tucson and the UofA community as being horrible, disrespectful, people? It doesn’t solve anything.

  28. Awful behavior for a memorial service, though not surprising given that even Mass has, too often, become entertainment.

  29. Remember the rowdy, irreverant spectacle that Democrat Paul Wellstone’s memorial service became some years back?? Embarrassing, opportunistic, pathetic, and frightening to be completely honest. This Tuson rally, um..uh..excuse me, memorial service was extremely Wellstone-esque. The whole thing smacked of faux-sincerity and not-so-veiled political posturing, which in my humble opinion, is very disrespectful of those who died.

  30. The president could have easily and appropriately memorialized the victims of this tragedy from the Oval Office, instead of a pumped up sporting venue.

    National healing may have been secondary to some vague politically correct agenda. How many of our fellow citizens could relate to the Native American spiritualist? The victims’ families and the nation as a whole might have been better consoled by a succession of brief remarks from a rabbi, catholic priest, and baptist minister, for example. Broadly accepted religious leaders were strangely absent from the ticket.

    The president then chided some Americans for cynicism. This same president promised to close Guantanamo and has not done so. Who also told us government health care will be cheaper, better, and help balance the budget – claims which require a remarkable suspension of disbelief. Other examples could be cited. But let’s just note that the president – with at best a questionable record of promises and accuracy – then asked others to put aside cynicism and to embrace optimism regarding government. Explicit acknowledgment of deliberate breaches of trust would be a good first step towards re-establishing idealism. It will take much more than political posturing at a memorial service to foster trust.

    Finally, the president – who in the past has said that if political opponents “…bring a knife, then we bring a gun…”, and who’s told us to deal with fellow citizens who disagree as “enemies” to be “punished” – that president then used the occasion of this memorial to find fault with the tone of others’ discourse. Again, it would behoove President Obama to publicly recognize the tenor of his own part in the national dialog – if his intention is to promote healing.

    I found this to be a bewildering, strange and unfortunate address/memorial.

  31. Few memorial services I attended in the past were structured more like a social gathering. The only memorial service I thought was organized, ordered, and solemn was the one for my boss at the Arlington National Cemetery by the Army. He was Baptist. For Catholic, a vigil service or a wake still has specific order. Perhaps you can write a blog about proper Catholic funeral rites. I understand many Catholics, including me, do not know the proper procedures or etiquette. I cannot just want my favorite songs for my funeral, can I? What I also want is no achohol at the reception after my funeral. I was told, “Why do you care? You’ll be dead by then!” I really want to be able to understand what will be done for my funeral. It is good to know now than after. One time, I saw a family was furious with the celebrant for not having enough space for eulogy during funeral mass. Later, I learned to realize how right he was and how important it was for much prayers in those passing moments.

  32. This Memorial service was for all practical purposes a “kick-off” for the Obama campaign for re-election. While the President’s words seemed appropriately sincere re the occasion, this was obviously for his campaign staff ( from the tee shirts, to the hyped-up atmosphere of a college campus) a crisis to be taken advantage of
    and an opportunity not to be passed up. The loud cheering, the wolf-whistles, the numerous applause, all
    gave more the tone of a political rally than a somber Memorial service! You were getting the correct vibes, Monseignor! As were most of us in the listening audience!

    1. I agree. I also think that many Americans are un-churched and do not have a true understanding of what religious traditions mean anymore.

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