That was sort of a surprise until it occurred to me that I have been listening to her wonderful music for a long time. I watched quite a bit of the television programming that honored her. I have a short list of songs that are special to me, and “Respect” is on that list.
I have it playing as I work on this column. I learned quite a bit about Aretha since her passing, and it’s easy for me to understand why so many people loved and admired her. Then we learned about the death of Sen. John McCain, and there was lots of television coverage about him.
It really got to me when I learned that he and I were in the military at the same time. Our duties were different, of course, as he was a prisoner of war for more than six years. I was scheduled to enlist into the Army National Guard Nov. 23, 1963, but with President John F. Kennedy being assassinated the day before, my enlistment was pushed back four days. Many businesses were closed, and the military and law enforcement were on red alert.
I remember watching all the news and later the funeral coverage on our television. I can still close my eyes and see the image of Kennedy’s wife, children and family. John F. Kennedy Jr. – almost 3 at the time – saluting his father’s casket is something I won’t forget.
This was my first experience at watching a televised funeral procession. I was a member of the Guard for six years. It seems impossible that McCain was a POW for the same amount of time that I was enlisted.
On Saturday morning I was watching the local morning news when the network broke in and aired McCain’s funeral. My plan was to watch for a short while and then get busy with some chores ... but I couldn’t stop watching. All of the speakers and musicians were amazing. Near the end of the service I noticed some people setting up some chairs and music stands.
Several musicians took their seats and Renee Fleming stepped up and started singing McCain’s favorite song, “Danny Boy,” which is also one of my favorites. Anytime I listen to it I recall special things about my father. My father and I share the middle name of Daniel. He and my mom used their first and middle names all through their lives.
My dad was known to some people as “Floyd.” He was called “Danny” by others. Because of his red hair, he was known to many others as “Red.” My mother was “Mary” to many of her friends and “Elizabeth” to most of her family. She also was “Betty” to lots of folks.
I was totally confused when I was young. Between the passing of these two special people and listening to their funerals, I often needed to grab a Kleenex. After McCain’s funeral was over I visited with a good friend/neighbor who had also watched the funeral.
I told him that I had emptied a Kleenex box while viewing the funeral. He responded that he had used paper towels. “They lasted longer” was his explanation.