Elijah Cummings' funeral was an inspiring celebration of idealism and decency

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Former President Barack Obama speaks during Rep. Elijah Cummings' funeral service at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore.

Posted: Oct 26, 2019 9:10 AM
Updated: Oct 26, 2019 9:10 AM

With the death of Elijah Cummings, the United States lost a great statesman. At his funeral in Baltimore on Friday morning, great statesmanship — something that feels so distant in the age of Trump — was again on display. It was a fitting farewell for a man of such integrity and achievement.

Cummings died at 68, far too young, a fate that is far too common among African-American men. He is the first African-American congressman to lie in state in the Capitol, and his funeral was attended by American political titans. Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave eulogies that highlighted Cummings' humble beginnings, his dedication to public service, and his empathy with those in need.

Obama told the story of how Cummings' father, a sharecropper, had taken him as a boy to a nearby airport to watch the planes take off, telling his young son that while he had never flown in one, he knew Elijah one day would.

And Elijah soared.

The eulogies emphasized how a decent man like Cummings attracted decency to him in turn — and stood up to wrongdoing wherever he saw it. Listening to the sober, stately addresses from the Clintons, Obama and Cummings' wife, Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings, was jarring, accustomed as we are to the rambling, incoherent outbursts from our current president.

The former leaders and Cummings' widow were lucid and eloquent, and made their words about Cummings, not about themselves. They summoned his memory so they could honor it, with a touching empathy and attention to others that our narcissistic president has repeatedly proven himself incapable of.

Seeing the past two Democratic presidents at the podium and hearing them pay tribute to a thoroughly decent and hard-working man, brought into sharp relief just how far America has fallen since the disastrous 2016 election. Not long ago, Trump derided Cummings' Baltimore district as a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" — something it's hard to picture Cummings ever saying about any corner of America.

Our current president spends time settling petty scores on Twitter and claiming that Congress investigating bald-faced corruption and his own admissions of wrongdoing amounts to a "witch hunt." Our current president sits in the Oval Office to serve one person: Donald Trump.

Elijah Cummings served his constituents. He served the American people, and he did so with dignity and grace.

Whatever you think of former President Obama, it's impossible to watch him speak and not make a mental comparison with Trump — and then lament how buffoonish and embarrassing America now looks to the rest of the world. Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, it's impossible to watch her speak and not consider the other scenario in which we could have found ourselves, had the winner of the popular vote been awarded the presidency.

Cummings spent much of the past year defending democracy and warning us about everything we stand to lose if we don't cling to a vision of honesty, decency and transparency in government. In his death, he brought together many of our deeply imperfect past leaders, whose eulogies nonetheless demonstrated how much we have already lost in the Trump era and, as Cummings cautioned, how much further we might still slide.

But they also reminded us of our potential, and of what Cummings did with his career — of what's possible when we expect politicians to lead with integrity, to stand up for the vulnerable and to work for all of us.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 250869

Reported Deaths: 5481
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17010171
Hinds16091318
Harrison13250193
Rankin10629208
Jackson10216182
Lee8759141
Madison8186161
Jones6222109
Forrest5917118
Lauderdale5808180
Lowndes5309111
Lafayette491192
Lamar480465
Washington4770123
Bolivar3955106
Oktibbeha390380
Panola365076
Pontotoc361152
Monroe3521104
Warren344597
Union341458
Marshall339165
Neshoba3357152
Pearl River323295
Leflore2992105
Lincoln295685
Sunflower280469
Tate269560
Alcorn262653
Itawamba261159
Hancock260458
Pike259977
Scott244745
Prentiss244052
Yazoo242654
Tippah239749
Copiah239149
Simpson233967
Leake229564
Coahoma228554
Grenada217070
Covington210471
Marion208371
Adams203270
Winston199464
Wayne198730
George197938
Attala193158
Newton189142
Chickasaw182944
Tishomingo182159
Holmes168167
Jasper167735
Clay158233
Stone141520
Tallahatchie139234
Clarke137460
Calhoun135121
Smith119423
Yalobusha116134
Walthall111736
Noxubee110222
Greene109129
Montgomery109134
Carroll104121
Lawrence102117
Perry100531
Amite96825
Webster91924
Tunica86021
Claiborne85525
Jefferson Davis84025
Humphreys82624
Benton81023
Kemper76620
Quitman6838
Franklin65815
Choctaw60013
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53419
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 420681

Reported Deaths: 6119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61755921
Mobile30058548
Madison26852186
Tuscaloosa20652266
Montgomery18876305
Shelby18421114
Baldwin16176182
Lee12393101
Morgan12175113
Etowah11687168
Calhoun11078200
Marshall10158107
Houston8556148
Cullman7999105
Limestone796274
Elmore7783101
DeKalb767197
Lauderdale752883
St. Clair7502120
Talladega6145108
Walker5880174
Jackson578841
Colbert529873
Blount529283
Autauga515455
Coffee438156
Dale394381
Franklin365248
Chilton335365
Covington326968
Russell326810
Escambia316142
Dallas302896
Chambers281869
Clarke279633
Tallapoosa2607107
Pike247629
Marion244650
Lawrence242547
Winston225535
Bibb214447
Geneva199535
Marengo197829
Pickens196231
Hale175442
Barbour172336
Butler168458
Fayette167126
Cherokee160030
Henry152721
Monroe145017
Randolph138835
Washington137026
Clay126145
Crenshaw118644
Lamar117519
Cleburne117223
Macon114335
Lowndes109535
Wilcox102621
Bullock98728
Perry96919
Conecuh94220
Sumter88826
Greene75723
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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