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Eulogies

Published: August 22, 2016 by Jimmie Hughes

Many times I have been asked why we do certain things in the funeral or memorial process.

While some parts of the funeral ritual may be seen as just tradition or “We have always just

done it that way”, there are some powerful reasons why we do what we do.

The eulogy is one those rituals that many question. Some will say in slight jest that this is

where we just tell lies about how good the person was, forgetting about their many faults.

Others have asked how is it possible to sum up such an impressive life in just a short 5

minute speech or written account.

Those who are tasked with delivering or writing a eulogy may find themselves overwhelmed.

I would like to share a portion of an article I recently read about Eulogies and how they can in

one speech inspire, unite and comfort us.

The following are examples from an article written by Jacob Terranova:

Inspire us

Steve Irwin’s Eulogy: When Steve Irwin passed away in 2006, his daughter Bindi delivered

the eulogy. It was short, simple, sweet—and very moving. Bindi spoke to the world about her

father’s important work in preserving wildlife and what her father meant to her personally. “My

daddy was my hero,” she said.

Rosa Park’s Eulogy: The eulogy for Rosa Parks was delivered by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah’s

stirring speech told of how she grew up idolizing Rosa Parks for her unwavering courage

during the Civil Rights era. When looking back on Rosa Park’s life, Oprah said, “here was this

petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness.”

Unite us

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Eulogy: The speech was given by Robert Kennedy shortly after the

assassination of MLK. RFK gave the speech out of a flatbed truck in Indianapolis and the

speech wasn’t planned or even recommended. The police and staff warned RFK that there

might be violence after hearing about the assassination and couldn’t provide adequate

protection. But after RFK delivered the news of MLK’s death, the crowd in Indianapolis was

the only city where riots didn’t occur that night.

Gandhi’s Eulogy: Gandhi’s life was ended by violence, the very thing he advocated against.

After his assassination, his eulogy was delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister

of India. It was delivered without any planning and inspired India to come together in the face

of tragedy. Nehru explained the importance Gandhi had in shaping the country, “for the light

that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for

these many years will illumine this country for many more years.”

 

Comfort us

Challenger Crew Eulogy: When the space shuttle crashed in 1986, Ronald Reagan canceled

the previously planned State of the Union address in order to address the nation about the

death of the seven crew members. The eulogy talked about the courage of the crew members

and the noble efforts of everyone working in NASA and space exploration. Reagan’s address

was able to comfort the nation, as well as inspire. “The future doesn’t belong to the

fainthearted; it belongs to the brave!”

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