Clinton, 10,000 Attend Tribute for Missouri Gov
By Stateline Staff
More than ten thousand mourners joined President Clintonand other dignitaries Friday to celebrate the life of Missouri's late Gov. MelCarnahan.
The Democrat, his son Roger Carnahan and campaign adviser Chris Sifford died Monday evening when their small plane crashed just south of St. Louis whiled headed to a campaign stop in southern Missouri. Carnahan was in a tight race for the U.S. Senate with GOP incumbent John Ashcroft.
Standing in front of a 20-foot statue of Thomas Jefferson on the grounds of Missouri's state capitol, on Friday Clinton told the crowd he "was crazyabout (Carnahan).
"We are profoundly honored to be here," he said. "We came out of respect for the work that Mel Carnahan did for Missouri and the friendshiphe showed us."
Clinton was joined by Vice President Al Gore and many members of Congress to pay tribute to Missouri's late governor.
Former Democratic Sen. Thomas Eagleton, D-Mo., repeatedly compared Carnahan to President Harry Truman, another longtime politician from Missouri. Eagleton said that Carnahan, like Truman, had a rare combination of integrity and political success.
"We lost a man whose qualities are rare in public life," he said. "In King Lear, Shakespeare called politics a `scurvy.' Shakespeare neverknew Mel Caranahan."
A black caisson carried the governor's U.S. flag-drapedcasket from the governor's mansion to the capitol grounds. In accordance with tradition, the caisson was followed by a riderless, black quarterhorse.
Carnahan's daughter, Robin, fought back tears as she addressed the assembled mourners.
"After almost eight years, I still don't know how to answer when people ask me what it's like to be the governor's daughter," she said. "Tome, he was just dad."
Carnahan's cherry colored coffin was displayed in front of the podium where his daughter spoke.
Gov. Roger Wilson, Missouri's lieutenant governor prior to Carnahan's death, said everyone, not just those who knew Carnahan, was in great pain.
The service ended with a rendition of `Taps' and a 19-gun-salute. F-15 fighter jets from the Missouri Air National Guard flew the missing man formation,where four planes fly in a tight formation before one abruptly peels away.