It was a eulogy for so many deceased human beings. It was a eulogy for so many deceased human beings whose names we don’t know. It was a eulogy for so many deceased human beings who we can’t say exactly when and where they died. It was a eulogy for so many deceased human beings who did not have to die. A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.
This funeral was unique. The place was the steps of the Alabama State House. The time was Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. The names of the deceased were unknown. It was a unique eulogy at a unique funeral, a mock funeral. However, it was dead serious. The funeral dramatized the deaths of up to 1,800 Alabamians over the last three years. The entire funeral was a protest led by SOS (the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy). It was a mock funeral, but the deaths were real. It was a mock funeral, but the emotions of the moment were real. A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.
I was asked to do the eulogy. I am not sure what I said because I was moving in the spirit. I want to share with you what I said or tried to say or wanted to say. “We have come today to ensure that these dead did not die in vain. Their lives had meaning while they lived. Their deaths had meaning to those who knew and loved them. We have come today to infuse their deaths with the highest meaning to insure that others will not have to die for no good reason. A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.
“We are the family of the deceased. We do not know their names, but we are their family. We do not know whether they died at home or in the hospital or in hospice care or somewhere else, but we are their family. We do not know the particular circumstances of their deaths, but we are their family. We are their family because they were human beings and we are all part of the human family.” A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.
“There is so much we don’t know about the lives of the deceased. There is so much we don’t know about their deaths. But we do know why they died. They died for lack of health care that was ready and waiting. They died because they did not have health insurance to pay for the health care. They died because those in positions to insure health insurance to pay for health care did not care. And if they did care, they did not have the courage of their caring convictions.” A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.
“There is always pain for the living when human beings die. However, the pain is far greater for the living when the dead did not have to die; when they died before their time. These dead, as many as 1,800 during the last three years, did not have to die. They would have lived if Governor Robert Bentley had just made a stroke with his pen. All he had to do was sign his name on the document to expand Medicaid. Just a stroke of his pen and we would not be here mourning these many deceased human beings.” A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.
“We all have to die. But these dead did not have to die when they died. They could have lived a longer life. We don’t know how much longer, but we do know they could have lived longer than they did. Their loved ones could have continued to touch their lives and be touched in return. All that was needed was health insurance so they could pay for health care. All that was required was a little caring and a little courage by the highest elected official in the state of Alabama. It’s terrible when hundreds of human beings die because one person refuses to make a stroke of the pen to insure that they continue to live.” A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.
“At this very moment we are upstairs in the Alabama Legislature trying to muster up $70 million to match federal dollars for Medicaid when we could have had $700 million over these last three years. If we had expanded Medicaid when the opportunity arose three years ago, we would not be here today. In addition to saving lives, expansion of Medicaid would have provided the following: 30,000 jobs; health insurance coverage for 250,000 working poor; a desperately needed safety net for financially struggling rural hospitals; and $250 million in annual revenue for our cash strapped state coffers. All with just a stroke of the pen.” A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.
“Our deceased family members must not die in vain. We are here today on the steps of the Alabama State House to make certain they do not die in vain. We are lifting the spirits of these deceased human beings whose names we do not know to prevent others from dying needlessly. We will be back here and in other places as the occasion demands to insure their deaths were not in vain. We are here witnessing with our very bodies to protect future lives. There is a force greater than those who allowed the many deaths we mourn today. With our prayers, our thoughts, our words and our deeds, we call upon that Greater Force. We pledge our very being as instruments to be used by that Greater Force to insure that additional Alabamians will not die for no good reason. A eulogy, a eulogy, a eulogy.”
EPILOGUE – Sometimes a mock activity becomes all too real. That’s what happened during the mock eulogy at the mock funeral. The deaths were real, so the moment was infused with real feelings. I felt their lives and their deaths as I lifted their spirits.