LILEKS ON NANCY REAGAN

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James Lileks (website) writes about yesterday’s procession carrying the casket of Ronald Reagan to the Capitol Building in Washington. I love the way this man writes although I don’t always agree with his opinion. This quote shows his style and captures the moment perfectly, like a photograph.

“If there’s anything I will remember from this day it’s the procession to the rotunda. It was solemn, not sad. Confident and dignified. A rare American moment that makes theater and movies look noisy and empty – no matter what the wizards of Hollywood can contrive, it stands abashed in the face of forty score men in dress uniform impassively bearing a flag-shrouded box to the dome of the Republic.

I watched the Marine who accompanied Mrs. Reagan. Not a muscle on his face moved. His name was perfect: Jackson. She had composure and strength as well, and I say that as someone who never felt much warmth towards the woman. There was something insular about the Reagans’ marriage that kept us all at arm’s length. I think that people understood that Reagan madly loved his wife, but they didn’t quite know why. She was brittle and steely; whatever personal warmth she had didn’t come across on camera. She wasn’t a Hollywood knockout. But he was nuts about her, and he had his reasons. She repaid him with the long twilight vigil. She endured sadness you can only hope you never know, and in the end she wasn’t hanging on the arm of a Marine like wet crepe. She looked as if she could have helped Jackson to his feet if he’d wilted in the heat.”