Outside the entrance to Saint Clement Danes Church in London, England, hundreds of us gathered and quietly waited for the hearse carrying Margaret Thatcher's flag-draped coffin. We greeted its arrival with the sort of unbidden, hushed applause that sometimes arises at transcendent moments.
The coffin was removed from the hearse, carried through the church to the other side, and placed on a caisson. Meanwhile, I walked to Fleet Street where I knew the funeral procession would pass. Onlookers packed both sidewalks.
Church bells rang into the silence.
The procession began. A military band, with its mournful music, and soldiers led followed by six gleaming black horses drawing the caisson up Fleet Street toward Saint Paul's Cathedral where the funeral service would take place. Another black horse, saddled but riderless, walked alongside.
Margaret Thatcher, a grocer's daughter from Grantham, had rescued Great Britain from the sordid fate of socialist decline and for that had been hated by some.
Scorn for this real freedom fighter never completely faded away and was present even now. A woman held aloft a protest sign. No one reacted. If we had, we would have debased the occasion and ourselves.
As the procession passed, we applauded as before and were left to wonder: would a living Margaret Thatcher pass our way again on either side of the Atlantic, and if so, would we possess the wisdom to grant her power?
Scott Varland is an American lawyer residing in London, England.