I was wondering what I should blog about this week when I decided to jump on the treadmill and do some cardio. As usual, I turned on CNN to find out what was going on in the world and started watching Senator Ted Kennedy’s memorial at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Dorchester, MA.
The tributes were quite moving, all of them celebrating Senator Kennedy’s life, his accomplishments, his role as the patriarch of the Kennedy clan after his three older brothers died and the over 300 bills he wrote which were enacted into law. His causes were health insurance, civil rights, mental health benefits, children’s health insurance, education and immigration reform among many others. I listened to Senator Biden, Senator Dodd, Caroline Kennedy, Senator Kerry and Senator McCain. All mentioned Ted Kennedy’s sympathy, optimism, empathy for others, his sense of humor, his reliability and deep friendship.
What struck me most is when Senator McCain finished speaking, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Senator Kennedy’s wife, stood up and walked towards him. Mrs. Kennedy had done that after each person spoke about her husband. McCain, however, did not even acknowledge her presence and walked off the stage looking straight ahead.
How rude, I thought. This woman lost her husband a few days ago, has been standing all day greeting people honoring her husband’s life and this man just walks away. You could tell she was very surprised; she walked back to her seat and whispered something to the person sitting next to her. You assume people of power such as senators, presidents and other influential people are civilized and know what to do in all circumstances. Apparently McCain either did not want to shake Mrs. Kennedy’s hand or hug her or he is absolutely clueless about protocol, mindfulness, civility and just plain etiquette. I’d rather think the latter than the former.
For me it was a reminder that we all need to mind our etiquette. Often, you don’t notice etiquette until it’s lacking. And it’s unfortunate that McCain, who was criticized during the election for not making eye contact with Barack Obama and appearing to snub his handshake, hasn’t learned that when the world is watching, you need to be on your best form!
Have you ever been witness to bad etiquette at a funeral or memorial? Please share in the comments section.