September 15: Memorial Service for President McKinley (1901)

On September 6, 1901, William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, was shot on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. He was shaking hands with the public when Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, shot him twice in the abdomen. McKinley died eight days later on September 14 of gangrene caused by the gunshot wounds. Private services took place before the body was moved to Buffalo City Hall for the start of five days of national mourning. McKinley’s body was ceremoniously taken from Buffalo to Washington, and then to Canton, Ohio. On the day of the funeral, September 19, as McKinley was taken from his home on North Market Street for the last time, all activity ceased in the nation for five minutes. Trains came to a halt, telephone and telegraph service was stopped. The people bowed in homage to the President who was gone.

Services at Epiphany on Sunday, September 15, 1901 became a memorial to President McKinley. Rector Randolph McKim’s sermon was entitled, “The Meaning of Our National Bereavement.” In describing what the purposes of God might be in this affliction, McKim stated, “He means to rebuke us for our materialism, for our absorption in the pursuit of wealth, for our excessive love of the pleasures of sense, and to remind us that in all the pride of our greatness we are dependent on His bounty and His protection.” McKim spoke of McKinley’s legacy. “Today the American people stand with tearful eyes and sorrowing hearts by the bier of their chief. They are girding themselves to the solemn duties of their national calling this day, with hearts more chastened, more earnest, more sincere, more unselfish, than before. The character of their murdered chief will inspire them. His uprightness and honesty and devotion to the interests of the whole country will long be a beacon to shed light on their path.”

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