This, too, is what Democracy looks like

The sun shone brightly through the beautiful stained glass windows. The light passed through intricate woodworking to create ornate shadows. Members of the Retired Men’s Association with their thinning white hair and blue or gray blazers slowly filled the pews. Members of the Democratic Town Committee showed up as did folks from numerous other groups.

It is Lincoln’s Birthday, 2005 at Christ Church Greenwich. We don’t celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday much anymore and it isn’t a typical day to be in church, but is an important day to be there.

The prelude starts with the Largo Theme for Dvorak’s New World Symphony. When I was in fifth grade and just starting to learn the clarinet, our band played a piece arranged based on this theme and whenever I hear it my mind goes back to those simple days of elementary school. The ability of a simple sensory perception to bring back a flood of memories causes my mind to leap to when I first read Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. Yes, I am using the English title. I read it in English, not in French.

The next part of the prelude was from Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. “This is, the symphony, that Schubert wrote and never finished.” Those are words that I heard put to the theme and I cannot hear it without remembering those words or my music theory class years ago where I learned that.

My mind has been wandering to pleasant memories. Is this okay? I rationalize it in my mind. We are here for a memorial service. The first hymn comes along. “Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!” It is a great old hymn. Unfortunately, too many people don’t remember it. It was played at FDR’s funeral, and the Navy Band played it when JFK’s body was carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to lie in state. It is an appropriate hymn to start the service for Ben Bacon.

Ben served in the Navy after college. He later went on to serve as the U.S. State Department’s Vice-Consul in the former Belgian Congo. He worked for big business in New York City, banks, oil companies. He was also very interested in politics and ran for U.S. Congress in 1970.

Many of my angrier younger political friends are not likely to hang out with people that worked for banks or oil companies. In doing so, they miss opportunities to meet wonderful people like Ben. They also miss another important lesson, this too, is what democracy looks like.

It was through politics that Kim and I met Ben. He was a great guy and will be missed. As one person mentioned, there aren’t a lot of Democrats in Greenwich and anytime a Democrat dies or moves, they are missed.

For the final hymn, we sang, “O beautiful for spacious skies,” When we got to the second verse, which again, is too rarely sung, we sang together, “America! America!, God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.”

It was great to sing a patriotic song that has such a comment about the blind patriotism that too often sweeps our country. There are some blind patriots that say, “America, love it or leave it” Or say, “Either you are with me or you are against me.” I will stand with the patriots that sing this beautiful hymn and seek to help God mend the flaws of our country.

It is sad that Ben won’t be on the phones calling voters during the next election. Yet as a friend said when Kim’s grandfather died, God must have something important for Ben to be doing up in heaven now. I hope and suspect it has something to do with mending our countries flaws.

That is a very powerful post

Aldon That is so well writte