Tonight, along with many other twenty-year-olds across the nation, I witnessed my first Presidential funeral procession. The whole ordeal had quite a sobering effect. The last procession occurred in 1973, six years before I was born.

My mother called and told me to turn on the television. I wasn't sure what she wanted me to see, but she insisted so I obeyed. "This is something all my children need to watch," she said. "History is unfolding before your eyes." My mother sometimes doesn't understand the impact that she has on her children. Often she isn't given the credit she is due, simply for teaching us the most important lessons of life. This was a history lesson I will never forget. The event unfolded just as she said it would.

The caravan to the caisson, the riderless horse, the F10 planes and their missing man formation, the trip up the steps to the Rotunda, where the fragile yet strong hand of Nancy Reagan reached out to touch her husband one last time. I have never seen so many service men and women in one location. I imagine it could be both the safest and most dangerous place to be at that moment in time.

Everything was just so, everyone in the proper place. Each movement timed with the perfection only a soldier can learn. I could not seem to take my eyes away as the men made precise movements to secure the coffin bearing the burden and the joy of our world draped upon it's shoulders. The skittish horse that seemed hesitant to venture down the path of glory one last time, boots placed in the stirrups backwards for one final ride.

Yet one thing was out of place the entire time. Where was our fearless President Bush? Far away in Georgia at his G8 summit, of course. Would it have been so difficult for him to return to the White House for such short a time as to escort Nancy Reagan to the Rotunda? I can't imagine it would take more than an hour on that fancy plane of his, and I'm sure the world leaders at his little powwow would have understood the situation whole-heartedly. Am I the only one who ended up embarrassed that leaders from across the globe found their way to pay respect, yet our own Commander-in-Chief couldn't find the time to step away from his duties for a moment?

I think often we lose sight of what it is to be a great leader, or a great person for that matter. Compassion, caring, kindness, honor, and respect are qualities that made President Reagan the incredible man we remember him to be. Mr. President, if the sides were reversed, there is no doubt in my mind that President Reagan would have had your wife on his arm, with you lying peacefully at his side. He would have done so not out of obligation or duty, but because it is common human decency. He might have stood there with tears in his eyes, truly touched by a single soul as so few people can experience.

Your absence spoke volumes to the American people this evening, for I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed. If there was ever a reason for you to gain my vote, it has been lost tonight for sure.


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