Americans were saddened while viewing the funeral of President George H. W. Bush, but I have to admit, I felt joy when I realized no one showed up in yoga pants and a T-shirt. Dignity, proper behavior and class were on display and America once again looked like a country of real grown-ups.
Finally, political differences were put aside and there wasn’t a dry eye in the country when former Senator Bob Dole struggled to stand from his wheelchair in order to salute his friend.
The crowd looked appropriately somber with some of the clothes looking new and expensive while others probably pulled out the best they already owned. No one standing in the long public lines for the viewing in the Capitol Rotunda appeared to munch a snack or wear a baseball cap.
In a time when there is an abundance of pajama pants and no one stops talking when the flag processes by at a parade, it was refreshing to see respect and dignity at a formal ceremony.
No matter what the hoi polloi screams, proper etiquette is craved by humans because the unspoken rules remind us that no matter how crazy, wild, rude and ugly this world gets, beneath it all, we love order. That’s why we follow the traffic rules or beam with pride when our children use good manners. We want everyone to be nice. Good people value kindness and understand peace flows from order.
That’s why I tend to prefer a more formal church service where I can feel real reverence. It’s one time of the week I can sit still in peace and know what to expect so I can focus on the beauty and message of spiritual issues.
I visited a church recently where the theme wasn’t ‘bring your best to God” but rather “God loves me just as I am without one plea,” — which I feel are both correct on some level. The pastor wore jeans and an untucked wrinkled shirt, which made me think he didn’t realize it was Sunday until about 9 o’clock that morning. When he waved his arms around in praise and/or worship, we caught a glimpse of his hairy belly, highlighted in the spotlight. Score one for a good sport coat, suit, or even better, a long black robe. A belt would have been a miracle that caused hundreds to fall to their knees in tearful thanks. As it was, I tossed back a handful of Altoids to combat an overwhelming acidic choke.
Ruffles and Flourishes, the national anthem and remorseful hymns at the President’s funeral were accepted by the congregation as beautiful touches and no one flubbed up the words. As far as I could tell, no one propped their feet up on the pew and no one pulled out their cell phone to text, “Hey! You ain’t gonna believe where I am!” I didn’t see a selfie taken with the casket or anyone smacking gum.
We said goodbye to a President and Americans from all walks of life and both political parties were well behaved and civil. If only everyday could be like that, without the sadness of death. Maybe it all begins by leaving the pajama pants at home. And really now, would a sport coat or simple dress every now and then kill us?
This story first appeared online at AL.com HERE and in the Mobile Press Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.