When I was ten my parents dragged my sister and me to the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California to see Richard Nixon’s body. We waited for hours in order to walk by the casket. It was more about the experience than paying respects (whatever that meant to a ten-year-old).
So when the former President of Georgia, Eduard Shevarnadze, died a few weeks ago, and I learned that he would be lying in Tbilisi’s Sameba Cathedral, I knew that I had to go. Not because of some particular attachment to Shevarnadze, but for the experience, and to say that I had done it.
Thinking about my previous experience with viewing a former head of state, I was prepared to wait awhile to do a quick walk-by. I was, therefore, surprised to find that the cathedral was nearly empty. There were more tourists viewing the famous cathedral than Georgians paying their respects.
Of course, I took photos.
Shevarnadze’s body was covered by the Georgian flag that was adopted after he was ousted, and guarded by four men in traditional costume.