Thursday, December 15, 2011

Michael Jackson's Eulogies: A Memorable Memorial

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Michael Jackson's Eulogies: A Memorable Memorial

On Tuesday, July 7, 2009, the funeral of Michael Jackson, dubbed the "king of pop", took place in Los Angeles, CA at Staples center. It is the place where the singer
had been rehearsing rigorously in preparation for a series of concerts in London in which he was scheduled to perform as part of what was to be an unprecedented revival and promotion of his popularity.

Jackson's intimate friends and family members gathered to bid him farewell in a private ceremony that took place earlier in Forest Lawn cemetery of Hollywood Hills. Unfortunately, the request for privacy on behalf of the family by Jermain Jackson was not respected. The paparazzi
made their un-welcomed presence known as did various television stations when their helicopters appeared in flight overhead.

Nevertheless, Michael Jackson's funeral contained elements that others may want to take as an example in planning memorial services for themselves or loved ones. What are some of these elements? First, one fan of the pop music star commented on how powerfully Jackson's 11 year
old daughter, Paris, affected the ceremony in her eulogy. Seldom do adults encourage the deliverance of eulogies by children, especially if they are having a difficult time with the loss of a loved one. However, if the child is old enough to understand what death is, they should not
automatically be denied the opportunity to say goodbye to their deceased relative or friend in their own special way. Paris' words revealed what no one else could say for her--that she considered Michael Jackson to be the best father anyone could imagine.

Although many have found it incredible to believe that the singer's three children are his biological offspring, they said it simply didn't matter after hearing Paris' eulogy.

Another unique feature of Michael Jackson's funeral is that it actually took place twice-- a "private" memorial service for close family and friends, and another for the adoring public. Again, this is something that can be implemented in funerals for non-celebrities, allowing the family and chosen friends a final time to be together before their loved one's burial and the final goodbye.

Stevie Wonder, expressed the wishes of so many when he said, "This is a moment I wish I'd never lived to see." He gave tribute to Michael Jackson in his singing of the theme song, "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer."

Jackson's fans, whether they could attend his funeral or not, were not left out when it came to giving tribute to the star. The web site,, gave his followers the opportunity to give their eulogies in cyber space. The element that made this type of homage unique is that some fans addressed Jackson personally in statements such as, "I will always love you Michael. Your music will live forever." It was impossible to allow every fan, friend, and family member the opportunity to eulogize Jackson at his funeral. However, the Internet has made it possible for every admirer of his to not only offer their tribute, but also to have it heard and read by others who identify with their words.
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Winston Churchill's Eulogy for King George VI

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Winston Churchill's Eulogy for King George VI

When the death of the King was announced to us yesterday morning there struck a deep and solemn note in our lives which, as it resounded far and wide, stilled the clatter and traffic of twentieth-century life in many lands, and made countless millions of human beings pause and look around them. A new sense of values took, for the time being, possession of human minds, and mortal existence presented itself to so many at the same moment in its serenity and in its sorrow, in its splendour and in its pain, in its fortitude and in its suffering.

The King was greatly loved by all his peoples. He was respected as a man and as a prince far beyond the many realms over which he reigned. The simple dignity of his life, his manly virtues, his sense of duty - alike as a ruler and a servant of the vast spheres and communities for which he bore responsibility - his gay charm and happy nature, his example as a husband and a father in his own family circle, his courage in peace or war - all these were aspects of his character which won the glint of admiration, now here, now there, from the innumerable eyes whose gaze falls upon the Throne.

We thought of him as a young naval lieutenant in the great Battle of Jutland. We thought of him when calmly, without ambition, or want of self-confidence, he assumed the heavy burden of the Crown and succeeded his brother whom he loved and to whom he had rendered perfect loyalty. We thought of him, so faithful in his study and discharge of State affairs; so strong in his devotion to the enduring honour of our country; so self-restrained in his judgments of men and affairs; so uplifted above the clash of party politics, yet so attentive to them; so wise and shrewd in judging between what matters and what does not.

All this we saw and admired. His conduct on the Throne may well be a model and a guide to constitutional sovereigns throughout the world today and also in future generations. The last few months of King George's life, with all the pain and physical stresses that he endured - his life hanging by a thread from day to day, and he all the time cheerful and undaunted, stricken in body but quite undisturbed and even unaffected in spirit - these have made a profound and an enduring impression and should be a help to all.

He was sustained not only by his natural buoyancy, but by the sincerity of his Christian faith. During these last months the King walked with death as if death were a companion, an acquaintance whom he recognized and did not fear. In the end death came as a friend, and after a happy day of sunshine and sport, and after "good night" to those who loved him best, he fell asleep as every man or woman who strives to fear God and nothing else in the world may hope to do.

The nearer one stood to him the more these facts were apparent. But the newspapers and photographs of modern times have made vast numbers of his subjects able to watch with emotion the last months of his pilgrimage. We all saw him approach his journey's end. In this period of mourning and meditation, amid our cares and toils, every home in all the realms joined together under the Crown may draw comfort for tonight and strength for the future from his bearing and his fortitude.

There was another tie between King George and his people. It was not only sorrow and affliction that they shared. Dear to the hearts and the homes of the people is the joy and pride of a united family. With this all the troubles of the world can be borne and all its ordeals at least confronted. No family in these tumultuous years was happier or loved one another more than the Royal Family around the King.

No Minister saw so much of the King during the war as I did. I made certain he was kept informed of every secret matter, and the care and thoroughness with which he mastered the immense daily flow of State papers made a deep mark on my mind.

Let me tell you another fact. On one of the days when Buckingham Palace was bombed the King had just returned from Windsor. One side of the courtyard was struck, and if the windows opposite out of which he and the Queen were looking had not been, by the mercy of God, open, they would both have been blinded by the broken glass instead of being only hurled back by the explosion. Amid all that was then going on, although I saw the King so often, I never heard of this episode till a long time after. Their Majesties never mentioned it or thought it of more significance than a soldier in their armies would of a shell bursting near him. This seems to me to be a revealing trait in the royal character.

There is no doubt that of all the institutions which have grown up among us over the centuries, or sprung into being in our lifetime, the constitutional monarchy is the most deeply founded and dearly cherished by the whole association of our peoples. In the present generation it has acquired a meaning incomparably more powerful than anyone had dreamed possible in former times. The Crown has become the mysterious link, indeed I may say the magic link, which unites our loosely bound, but strongly interwoven Commonwealth of nations, states, and races....

For fifteen years George VI was King. Never at any moment in all the perplexities at home and abroad, in public or in private, did he fail in his duties. Well does he deserve the farewell salute of all his governments and peoples.

It is at this time that our compassion and sympathy go out to his consort and widow. Their marriage was a love match with no idea of regal pomp or splendour. Indeed, there seemed to be before them only the arduous life of royal personages, denied so many of the activities of ordinary folk and having to give so much in ceremonial public service. May I say - speaking with all freedom - that our hearts go out tonight to that valiant woman, with famous blood of Scotland in her veins, who sustained King George through all his toils and problems, and brought up with their charm and beauty the two daughters who mourn their father today. May she be granted strength to bear her sorrow.

To Queen Mary, his mother, another of whose sons is dead - the Duke of Kent having been killed on active service - there belongs the consolation of seeing how well he did his duty and fulfilled her hopes, and of knowing how much he cared for her.

Now I must leave the treasures of the past and turn to the future. Famous have been the reigns of our queens. Some of the greatest periods in our history have unfolded under their sceptre. Now that we have the second Queen Elizabeth, also ascending the Throne in her twenty-sixth year, our thoughts are carried back nearly four hundred years to the magnificent figure who presided over and, in many ways, embodied and inspired the grandeur and genius of the Elizabethan age.

Queen Elizabeth II, like her predecessor, did not pass her childhood in any certain expectation of the Crown. But already we know her well, and we understand why her gifts, and those of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, have stirred the only part of the Commonwealth she has yet been able to visit. She has already been acclaimed as Queen of Canada.

We make our claim too, and others will come forward also, and tomorrow the proclamation of her sovereignty will command the loyalty of her native land and of all other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire. I, whose youth was passed in the august, unchallenged and tranquil glories of the Victorian era, may well feel a thrill in invoking once more the prayer and the anthem, "God save the Queen!"
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bill Clinton's Eulogy for Richard Nixon

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Bill Clinton's Eulogy for Richard Nixon

President Nixon opened his memoirs with a simple sentence: "I was born in a house my father built." Today we can look back at this little house and still imagine a young boy sitting by the window of the attic he shared with his three brothers, looking out to a world he could then himself only imagine. From those humble roots, as from so many humble beginnings in this country, grew the force of a driving dream. A dream that led to the remarkable journey that ends here today, where it all began beside the same tiny home, mail-ordered from back East, near this towering pepper tree, which back then was a mere seedling.

President Nixon's journey across the American landscapes mirrored that of his entire nation in this remarkable century. His life was bound up with the striving of our whole people, with our crises and our triumphs.

When he became President, he took on challenges here at home on matters from cancer research to environmental protection, putting the power of the Federal Government where Republicans and Democrats had neglected to put it in the past, and in foreign policy. He came to the Presidency at a time in our history when Americans were tempted to say we had had enough of the world. Instead, he knew we had to reach out to old friends and old enemies alike. He would not allow America to quit the world.

Remarkably, he wrote nine of his ten books after he left the Presidency, working his way back into the arena he so loved by writing and thinking and engaging us in his dialogue. For the past year, even in the final weeks of his life, he gave me his wise counsel, especially with regard to Russia. One thing in particular left a profound impression on me. Though this man was in his ninth decade, he had an incredibly sharp and vigorous and rigorous mind. As a public man, he always seemed to believe the greatest sin was remaining passive in the face of challenges, and he never stopped living by that creed. He gave of himself with intelligence and energy and devotion to duty, and his entire country owes him a debt of gratitude for that service.

Oh, yes, he knew great controversy amid defeat as well as victory. He made mistakes, and they, like his accomplishments, are a part of his life and record. But the enduring lesson of Richard Nixon is that he never gave up being part of the action and passion of his times. He said many times that unless a person has a goal, a new mountain to climb, his spirit will die. Well, based on our last phone conversation and the letter he wrote me just a month ago, I can say that his spirit was very much alive to the very end.

That is a great tribute to him, to his wonderful wife, Pat, to his children and to his grandchildren, whose love he so depended on and whose love he returned in full measure. Today is a day for his family, his friends, and his nation to remember President Nixon's life in totality. To them, let us say: may the day of judging President Nixon on anything less than his entire life and career come to a close.

May we heed his call to maintain the will and the wisdom to build on America's greatest gift, its freedom, and to lead a world full of difficulty to the just and lasting peace he dreamed of.

As it is written in the words of a hymn I heard in my church last Sunday, "Grant that I may realize that the trifling of life creates differences, but that in the higher things we are all one." In the twilight of his life, President Nixon knew that lesson well. It is, I feel, certainly a fate he would want us all to keep.

And so, on behalf of all four former Presidents who are here - President Ford, President Carter, President Reagan, President Bush - and on behalf of a grateful nation, we bid farewell to Richard Milhous Nixon.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Charles Spencer's Funeral Speech for Diana

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Charles Spencer's Funeral Speech for Diana

The Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales occurred at Westminster Abbey on Saturday the 6th of September 1997 at 11.00 a.m. Her brother Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer delivered the following Tribute for his sister Diana.

I stand before you today the representative of a family in grief, in a country in mourning before a world in shock.

We are all united not only in our desire to pay our respects to Diana but rather in our need to do so. For such was her extraordinary appeal that the tens of millions of people taking part in this service all over the world via television and radio who never actually met her, feel that they too lost someone close to them in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is a more remarkable tribute to Diana than I can ever hope to offer her today.

Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty.

All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard-bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.

Today is our chance to say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life. We will all feel cheated always that you were taken from us so young and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now that you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are now without, and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult. We have all despaired at your loss over the past week and only the strength of the message you gave us through your years of giving has afforded us the strength to move forward.

There is a temptation to rush to canonise your memory; there is no need to do so. You stand tall enough as a human being of unique qualities not to need to be seen as a saint. Indeed, to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humour with a laugh that bent you double. Your joy for life transmitted wherever you took your smile and the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes. Your boundless energy which you could barely contain.

But your greatest gift was your intuition, and it was a gift you used wisely. This is what underpinned all your other wonderful attributes and if we look to analyse what it was about you that had such a wide appeal we find it in your instinctive feel for what was really important in all our lives. Without your God-given sensitivity we would be immersed in greater ignorance at the anguish of AIDS and HIV sufferers, the plight of the homeless, the isolation of lepers, the random destruction of landmines. Diana explained to me once that it was her innermost feelings of suffering that made it possible for her to connect with her constituency of the rejected. And here we come to another truth about her. For all the status, the glamour, the applause, Diana remained throughout a very insecure person at heart, almost childlike in her desire to do good for others so she could release herself from deep feelings of unworthiness of which her eating disorders were merely a symptom. The world sensed this part of her character and cherished her for her vulnerability whilst admiring her for her honesty.
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Oprah Winfrey's Eulogy for Rosa Parks

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Oprah Winfrey's Eulogy for Rosa Parks

"...God uses good people to do great things."

Reverend Braxton, family, friends, admirers, and this amazing choir:

I -- I feel it an honor to be here to come and say a final goodbye. I grew up in the South, and Rosa Parks was a hero to me long before I recognized and understood the power and impact that her life embodied. I remember my father telling me about this colored woman who had refused to give up her seat. And in my child's mind, I thought, "She must be really big." I thought she must be at least a hundred feet tall. I imagined her being stalwart and strong and carrying a shield to hold back the white folks. And then I grew up and had the esteemed honor of meeting her. And wasn't that a surprise. Here was this petite, almost delicate lady who was the personification of grace and goodness. And I thanked her then. I said, "Thank you," for myself and for every colored girl, every colored boy, who didn't have heroes who were celebrated. I thanked her then.

And after our first meeting I realized that God uses good people to do great things. And I'm here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman who used your life to serve, to serve us all. That day that you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you, Sister Rosa, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that, and I honor that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not -- we shall not be moved.

So I thank you again, Sister Rosa, for not only confronting the one white man who[se] seat you took, not only confronting the bus driver, not only for confronting the law, but for confronting history, a history that for 400 years said that you were not even worthy of a glance, certainly no consideration. I thank you for not moving.

And in that moment when you resolved to stay in that seat, you reclaimed your humanity and you gave us all back a piece of our own. I thank you for that. I thank you for acting without concern. I often thought about what that took, knowing the climate of the times and what could have happened to you, what it took to stay seated. You acted without concern for yourself and made life better for us all. We shall not be moved. I marvel at your will. I celebrate your strength to this day. And I am forever grateful, Sister Rosa, for your courage, your conviction. I owe you to succeed. I will not be moved.
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Eulogy - Funeral Poem

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Eulogy - Funeral Poem

How Can I Manage, Now That She's Gone?

Grandma was there when I needed an ally -
If I wanted to talk - or felt like a cry.
When no one else seemed to understand -
She was there - with a helping hand.
How can I manage now that she's gone?
Without her advice I can't carry on!
She was wise and witty and one-of-a-kind;
I feel so lost since she left me behind.
I know she told me she wanted to go -
Her body was tired and hurt her so...
Maybe now is the time for me to resume -
Carry on her tradition and break this gloom -
To impart her wisdom to family and friends,
And face life with a smile while my heart slowly mends.
Grandma, I miss you. You'll always be near -
In my thoughts, in my heart - I have you right here.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The perfect eulogy: Short, sweet and honest

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The perfect eulogy: Short, sweet and honest

When hundreds gather for Christopher Reeve's memorial service at The Juilliard School in New York on Friday, eloquent, moving eulogies no doubt will be delivered. As they should. He was an amazing human being who showed that being a superhero in the movies was a minor role compared to being a superhero in real life.

But eulogies can be a tricky business. They're either so beautiful and elegant they show that death can be a marvelous passage, or they're so pompous and untrue — and lengthy — you're glad the person isn't around to sit through the damn thing.

I've given only one eulogy in my life. It was for my friend Vicki, who died a few years ago.

In her case, I took a gamble and told the truth. As someone once said, nothing astounds people more. For me, it paid off.

The second I saw her daughter and father laughing from their front-row seats, I knew I had made the right decision. I was pretty sure I could hear Vicki laughing, too.

With Halloween only a few days away, it seemed a good time to take a look at the art of eulogies. At least that's what Cyrus Copeland hinted in an e-mail the other day. No big surprise there. He edited the new Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of Our Time.

I know it sounds ghoulish, but it's a great read. John F. Kennedy on Robert Frost. Madonna on Gianni Versace. Phil Donahue on Erma Bombeck.

Listen to Charlie Matthau eulogize his father, actor Walter Matthau, in August 2000:

"My father taught me to have a sense of humor about everything, no matter how sad — not to take life too seriously because none of us is getting out of here alive, and little of what we do is going to matter in a few years. I remember him telling me about the funeral where everyone hated the deceased and nobody knew what to say, so the eulogist got up there and said, 'Well ... his brother was worse.' It's the opposite of the situation we have today."

I didn't give the eulogy at my dad's funeral. I couldn't rise to the occasion, no matter how much I wanted to. I saw no purpose in standing up there and blubbering away, making everyone uncomfortable, so I let the minister do the honors while I sat in silence, thinking of everything I should have been saying. I regret that decision now, but I still believe it was the right one at the time.

After the funeral, I was going through my father's wallet and found a scrap of paper folded between his driver's license and credit cards. It was a small note written by me years ago, a note I stuck into a Father's Day card. I had no idea he had carried it around in his back pocket for 30 years.
"Dad — When I succeeded you stood back and took no credit, and when I failed you were by my side. What more could a son ask? Love, Craig."
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Techniques for Writing a Great Eulogy

Techniques for Writing a Great Eulogy
By John Morris

Before you start to write a eulogy, think about the person and his or her life. You might want to include a memorable event you shared or mention his or her passions in life - or not. It is up to you. No matter how you choose to write the eulogy, remember to paint a picture of the dearly departed in a positive light rather than a negative one.

1. Where Should You Start?

In order to write a good eulogy, you should start by thinking about what it is that you want to say. Chances are, if you have been tasked with writing the eulogy, you were very close to the deceased and know him or her very well. You should think about what that person held as important in life, what they chose as their profession, and how they affected the world around them.

2. Decide On a Theme

In the end, it will not matter what theme you choose, so long as it you select one in good taste. The most common themes include a narrative story, a comical outlook upon the life of the deceased, or even a collection of memories and poems.

3. Get Involved

One of the most overlooked aspects of writing a eulogy is making sure that it remains pertinent to not just you, but the audience. For example, recounting a great time just the two of you had together will not have as much impact as one that included more people. For this reason, mentioning events in the person's life that were experienced by more people will have greater effect than mentioning an experience that only you and the departed had together. Your audience will get more involved this way.

4. Pace Your Speech Appropriately

Unless you are writing a narrative type of eulogy that goes over the life of the individual chronologically (something that most people are advised not to do anyways, because those kinds of eulogies can become quite dull and are often seen as unemotional) you should stick to a series of points or stories connected in logical fashion. Be sure to have a first draft of your eulogy proofread by a friend or family member before you move on to writing your final draft.

5. Make Sure It Is Perfect

Finally, be sure that your eulogy, like any public speech, has points connected in a logical order; because it is not just what you say, but how you say it. For this reason, you should practice several times beforehand. Some people feel that memorizing a eulogy is necessary, but this is not the case. You are free to bring a flash card along to help you remember what you want to say.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eulogies for Malcolm X

Eulogies for Malcolm X
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The following eulogy was delivered by Ossie Davis at the funeral of Malcolm X on 27 February 1965 at the Faith Temple Church Of God

Here—at this final hour, in this quiet place—Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes—extinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought—his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are—and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again—in Harlem—to share these last moments with him.

For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought for her and have defended her honor even to the death. It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us—unconquered still.

I say the word again, as he would want me to: Afro-American—Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men.

Malcolm had stopped being a "Negro" years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American, and he wanted—so desperately—that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans, too.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times.

Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man; for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them:

Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did, you would know him. And if you knew him, you would know why we must honor him: Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood!

This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: "My journey," he says, "is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States."

"I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our human rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a united front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other."

However we may have differed with him—or with each other about him and his value as a man—let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.

Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man—but a seed—which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us.

And we will know him then for what he was and is—a prince—our own black shining prince!—who didn't hesitate to die, because he loved us so.
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