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April 5, 2007


Why is this man getting a state funeral?

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Jim: The Bell Tolls

Rough rocks and trees
Once skinned his knees,
When he’d been a boy.

Under somber skies, the mourners arrived.

Deep love and pride
Swelled from inside,
His teen years were a joy.

The mourners took their seats and the eulogies began.

With honor and nerve
He swore to serve.
He was known as tough yet mild.

Barely stifled sobs rocked the field of mourners.

On foreign ground,
He’d taken a round,
That was meant for a child.

Seven carbines each barked three times while the bugle pealed.

His curtailed life
Held pleasure and strife,
And he had died a man.

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David: Declassified In 2034

“I’m afraid I can’t talk about that. National security.”

“Are you kidding me?” the reporter huffed.

“Suffice it to say this nation—heck, the world—owes that man a debt we can never repay.”

“Then why have I never heard of him?”

He looked indulgently at the reporter. “Exactly.”

The reporter turned off her recorder. “Okay, you win. Now, off the record: what’s the deal here? According to my research, he was nothing more than a shopkeeper from Indiana.”

The general checked for eavesdroppers, then leaned in. She sidled up next to him, the better to hear him.

“National security.”

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Jeff R.: Kings of Clubs

Another of the Four American Kings is always dead. Or rather, not quite dead but sleeping, under a hill, like Arthur or Charlemange, ready to return to save the nation during its time of greatest need.

They are buried, secretly, with ceremonies more reverent and elaborate than any public funeral, and wait. Grant's Tomb was so questionably occupied because Ulysses slept, waiting to return to Ithica. Walt Disney, frozen, waited for a world in need of solace in a new depression.

The current King Beneath the Mountain is Andy Kaufman, still waiting for the right moment to deliver the punchline.

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Dave: Hero

He died a hero, they said. Served in the Marines -- saved his platoon and a dozen innocent hostages. Ran for office when he got out, eventually got elected to the House, finally the Senate. Became the VP twelve years later, after his Independence Day speech saved the election for the man who became President.

And, of course, there was that final, fateful day, when he took a bullet for the Pope.

He died a hero.

But none of that’s the real reason he got the state funeral. Only three people know why, and none of them were mentioned above.

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