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Two Iconic Figures By Cheryll Boswell

There is something about viewing the formality of a government official’s military funeral procedure that completely mesmerizes me. The precision in which the different branches of the military wearing white gloves, carrying a casket, and removing and folding the flag that drapes a casket makes me stand at attention. It is one of those things that makes you proud to see our military in action. Watching the nationally televised funeral of Ruth Bader Ginsburg this past September, and George Floyd’s funeral four months ago had me thinking how far and yet not far enough progress this country has made with recognizing different cultures in this country. While there was a juxtaposition in how Ginsburg and Floyd were funeralized, these two vastly different individuals in every way imaginable captured the attention of people around the world.

Justice Ginsburg, a petite, not five feet tall in stature Jewish woman, memorial observance was brief. It began with her casket being carried up the steps to the Supreme Court building. There may have been a little pause in the pallbearer’s march as they carried her body into the building and under the words inscribed “justice and liberty” on the entrance. Her memorial service was filled with law clerks and those that had worked with her over the years. George Floyd, an African American male, known as a gentle giant, stood almost two feet taller than Ginsburg. Floyd’s funeral lasted a couple of hours. It displayed the African American culture with song and worship. At his funeral were families of those who had loved ones killed by the police.

What will stand the test of time, both Ginsburg and Floyd helped show the inequalities still existing in this country. Both gave voice to the rights of people through the justice system. One with intentions, the other with unintended knowledge. Bader Ginsburg spent her life working on women’s rights all the way to the supreme court, where she worked for 27 years. She opened doors for many women, including writing dissents and opinions that gave women equal pay rights. George Floyd’s life was on display through a smartphone. We witnessed his life taken from him with the knee and hands of a police officer while in police custody. His death touched off a world protest on racism and police brutality, acknowledging black lives matter. In June of 2020, a George Floyd civil rights and police reform bill was drafted and introduced to combat police misconduct, racial bias, and excessive force while policing. This legislative bill was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. It is now waiting on approval from the current Republican Congress.

Appointed to the supreme court by then-President Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman to lie in state. Lying in state is reserved for government officials. Even though Rosa Parks was considered as lying in state, in 2005, when she passed, her tribute was technically “lying in honor.” The words “Lying in State” are used interchangeably. Government and military figures lie in state while private citizens lie in honor. The phrase lying in state is often used to describe similar ceremonies at state capitols and other government buildings. Both pay final tribute to distinguished government officials’ military officers, and private citizens.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and George Floyd have forever left an impact on this country. Whether you were a person that agreed with Women’s Rights or Black Lives Matters issues, these two figures will forever be remembered as those who moved the justice envelope for both causes.