The funeral for Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings took place in his hometown of Baltimore Friday morning.
“Elijah Cummings came from good soil,” former President Barack Obama said in his eulogy. “A leader who once said he’d die for his people even as he lived every minute for them. His life validates the things we tell ourselves about what’s possible in this country — not guaranteed, but possible.”
Obama went on to say that while hearing Cummings’ daughters speak at the funeral, “I was thinking I’d want my daughters to know how much I love them, but I’d also want them to know that being a strong man also means being kind, that there’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There’s nothing weak about looking out for others. There’s nothing weak about being honorable. You’re not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.”
As those who were close to him also shared, Obama said Cummings treated people with the same respect whether it was in the public eye or in private life.
“Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to office. There’s a difference. There’s a difference if you are honorable and treated others honorably outside the limelight,” he said.
Speakers at the New Psalmist Baptist Church included former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Former President Bill Clinton remembered the kindness and selfless character that Cummings left with him and the people of Baltimore.
“Elijah Cummings spend his whole life saying, ‘Send me,'” he said. “Everybody could see he was the real deal. … No matter how hard he fought and how hard he argued, he treated everybody how he wanted to be treated.”
Looking at Cummings’ casket, Clinton pointed down and said, “I love this man. I love every minute I ever spent with him, every conversation we ever had, I love his booming voice, but we should hear him now in the quiet times at night and in the morning when we need courage.”
Referring to the Prophet Elijah hearing God’s “still, small voice,” as the story is recounted in the Bible, Clinton continued, “When we get discouraged and don’t know if we can believe anymore, we should hear him. Let our Elijah be, for us, what he himself heard: the still, small voice that keeps us going, keeps us grateful, keeps us happy, and keeps us moving.”
The ceremony began with Bishop Walter S. Thomas Jr. of New Psalmist having a moment of silence as a military honor guard unfolded an American flag across Cummings’ casket. Pictures of Cummings throughout his career hung on a sprawling stage behind the speaker’s podium.
Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren delivered readings from the Old Testament as one of the first politicians invited to speak at the ceremony.