The right to an obituary

The right to an obituary

: Ronald Reagan is eulogized and memoralized and buried. And some around the world don’t understand how we do this here. Some don’t understand why we — his political friends and foes — can remember only the good at a time like this and nevermind the “buts.”

But that is how we do it in America. We believe in a right to an obituary that pays tribute and remembers the good and says a fond farwell. So that is what we gave Ronald Reagan, (almost) all of us.

That is what I want. I always said when I worked on newspapers that the only fringe benefit I will ever get for having worked there is a nice obit. When I go, I expect obits to run wherever I worked: in Chicago and San Francisco and New York and Detroit and even Burlington, Iowa (perhaps that’s why I worked so many places, to get so many obits). I hope for the courtesy of an obit in even The Times. And I expect that when they briefly run through my checkered career, they leave out the black squares and omit the customary word “troubled” before the phrase “launch of Entertainment Weekly,” for example. I wish for a few nice words from family and friend.

That is how we say good-bye in America. I’m shocked when I read British obits that rehash the nasty bits in a life. I’m surprised when people expect us to dredge a life as we say farewell. That’s how others do it. That’s not how we do it.

Farewell, Mr. President, and rest in peace. Thank you for your service.