July 01, 2010

An evening's stroll

The top story in West Virginia, and a big one nationally, is coverage of memorial tributes to Senator Robert C. Byrd. Thursday night brought thousands of West Virginians to come together and walk behind his funeral carriage or watch the solemn procession. Byrd was particularly appreciated by the working people of the state, as this banner at the offices of the United Mine Workers union attests.

The procession began at the Robert C. Byrd Courthouse and continued down Kanawha Boulevard along the river.

It was an old school funeral procession for an old school senator,

complete with the traditional symbolism of the riderless horse.

This picture gives a little idea of the size of the crowd.

On reaching the state capitol, there was a pause for prayer and music before his casket was taken inside where his body would lie in state overnight while thousands of people lined up to pay their final respects.

I had several conversations about his life and work along the way, especially about how Byrd kept growing and changing to the very end. One friend put it this way, "He grew into his stature."

On the return walk, I had a nice talk with the retired Methodist bishop of West Virginia who will give the invocation at the state memorial service Friday. Looking back at Byrd's life, he said "It's a story of redemption...a gospel story."

That was the late Senator's favorite kind of story.

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