A Motionless Nation
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IN many parts of the United States on the day of President McKinley's funeral, aside from the cessation from labor, in obedience to the proclamation of President Roosevelt, there were the few moments of as near silence and inactivity as is possible to mortals. Electric wires were still, telephones were silent, elevated and surface street cars and railroad trains stood dead on the track. The throngs on the streets of the city stopped and were motionless, human voices were hushed that the voice of the Absolute might be more distinctly heard, and the people thought, and wept, and prayed, and here and there feelings too deep for repression found relief in the song " Nearer, My God, to Thee." Nothing like this ever before occurred in our national history. There a legend that at the birth of Jesus Christ everything stopped still. That night-birds flying in mid-air became motionless, that the shepherd reaching his crook toward the sheep held it still ; that people eating a meal held their hands midway between the dish and the mouth, and that everyone awake had a sudden inclination to be still. Historically, this legend is very far from the truth, for there was almost nothing that the world thought less about, and paid less attention to, than the Babe that was born in Bethlehem, and yet in a deeper sense the fiction was fact. The world did stop still at the birth of the Babe and began its thoughts and acts anew from the impulse of His life and love. And whatever it has of goodness or greatness today, it has derived from Him.
It was largely because William McKinley took this Babe of Bethlehem as his model, his Master, and his Saviour; because he was Christlike in his spirit and his life, that the people of America stopped still to think and to mourn, when he was laid in the tomb.