Like Meghan, I shared my dad with America – and my grief

Analysis


Patti Davis. Photo: Getty
Patti Davis. Photo: Getty

Days after the services for my father, Ronald Reagan, concluded – so similar to what we saw for Senator John McCain, this week – a woman I didn’t know came up to me and said: “We needed this grief. Our country needed to stop and grieve right now. Your father’s passing gave that to us.”

Of all the things that people said, that has stuck with me throughout the years. I thought of it again this week as I watched McCain’s flag-draped coffin and had moments of déjà vu as the solemn procession of family members followed the stalwart service members entrusted with carrying his body.

My father died in 2004. The country was still broken and trying to heal from 9/11. We had invaded Iraq in 2003, and war still hung over us. The abuses at Abu Ghraib had been revealed a few months before my father died, bringing us shame at the unabashed cruelty. We needed the balm of grief. We needed a week to pause, and weep, and just be quiet.

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