In death, as in life, Justice Scalia was appreciated even by those whose thinking differed from his own
The body of Justice Antonin Scalia lay in state for public viewing on Feb. 20 from 10:30 to 8 at night. By evening rush hour, the line stretched some four city blocks along East Capitol, sometimes three to five persons thick.
Washington DC residents tend to try to be disaffected by the presence of monuments or people with power, but on that cold Friday night, they came.
The crowd reflected the diversity of people influenced by his three decades of work on the Supreme Court. Whole families with young children stood together as the father explained the symbolism of the flag at half-mast. Young college students clustered and took pictures of the crowd and the Capital. Nathan Hartman, a student at American University, summed up what many of them expressed. He came, “not because I agree with him, but because I respect him as a jurist and wanted to pay my respects here.”
Some came for more personal reasons. J. Lee, a student from South Korea in his first year at George Washington, wanted to send a letter back to his high school global teacher, who was a big fan. Two lawyers who graduated from Notre Dame, Marie Meszaros and Annalee Seath, stood in line because they saw in Justice Scalia, by both his public and personal witness, “an example of a lived Christian life.” They recounted the now viral story of Scalia being fully present to the woman with sores on her hands and face.
Debbie and Ira Stanley got up extra early to get in a full day’s work before driving from Richmond to stand in line outside the Supreme Court for more than an hour to get a glimpse. They loved that Scalia held his “convictions without apologies” for three decades of service. They’d have a two-hour drive home afterward.
Parishioners from Fr. Paul Scalia’s parish in McLean, Virginia, came to show support as well. Dave McFaddin, an attorney in DC, said the justice had always been his role model, and talked about how he’d seen Scalia at daily Mass sometimes at Saint Mary Mother of God on Fifth Street. He said the justice even came to the Church hall for coffee and donuts on occasion.
Why did people line up to stand in line in the cold for over two hours at the Supreme Court? To say thank you to a man who loved God and his country and served both with a full heart.
Sherry Antonetti is a former special educator and currently a freelance writer and mother of 10. She writes at Catholicmom.com and her blog, Chocolate for Your Brain. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.