The memorial service in remembrance of Sen. Paul Wellstone Tuesday night on the University of Minnesota campus was a beautiful tribute and farewell to an unapologetic liberal who tirelessly worked for people and unabashedly stuck to his principles.
Wednesday some Republicans cried foul. They grouched that what was billed as a memorial service was nothing more than a political rally.
How else does one memorialize a man who was a political force? Do you deny or ignore his selfless dedication to public service?
Or do you use your freedom of expression to celebrate his life -- a life defined by his dedication as a Minnesota senator.
The memorial service, which was both uplifting and inspiring, served as a vehicle for thousands of Minnesotans to grieve. It gave his supporters an opportunity to cheer and to cry, to reflect on his accomplishments and to dream about what can be done to carry on his work.
Wellstone's closest friends and family are struggling with this tragic loss. It is not surprising, and it should not have been unexpected, that their comments drifted toward calling Minnesotans to action. His closest friends and family, joined by thousands of supporters statewide, feel a need to carry on the Wellstone legacy.
During his remarks Tuesday, Mark Wellstone had a message for his father, "Dad, we're OK. Dave and I are OK. ... We will carry on. We will see this legacy carry on."
Can one really criticize a son for loving his father so much as to will his legacy to carry on?
Democratic officials defended the tone of the event. "I think one would have expected such a rally cry, in such an important election," said party chairman Mike Erlandson. "They spoke passionately for their friend, for their father."
In a race that had wallowed in negative advertising, it is sad that Republicans jumped back on the bandwagon to criticize Wellstone supporters for not grieving in a manner acceptable to them.
People mourn in different ways. Efforts to curb drinking and driving or to find a cure for cancer have been mobilized by survivors who feel lost, helpless or frustrated by a loved one's death. So too, those who Wellstone left behind feel a need to carry on his efforts.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who was the final speaker Tuesday, said, "Paul was a hopeful man. Green was his color. The color of springtime. The color of hope. And the color of that bus he climbed aboard 12 years ago as he set out on his way to a better America. But Paul never meant it to be a solo voyage. He wanted us all on board. Now we must continue Paul's journey for justice.
"So tonight I ask you: Will you stand up and join together and board that bus? ... Let's get on that green bus together. Let's keep moving to a better America. Let's stand up and keep fighting, and keep saying yes. For justice.
"For hope. For life.
Can you really criticize Harkin, Wellstone or his supporters for sharing from the heart?
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