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Washington, D.C. — The memorial service, held at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, brought together prayer, music, and euologies. It was a much more solemn gathering than the Minnesota memorial at Williams Arena, which drew criticism for its sharp partisan tones.
Rabbi Bruce Lustig began with a prayer.
"Let us spread over each other the blanket of peace, that we might aid each other in our healing. In this house of worship at this hour, may we be privileged to find memory, to find comfort and to find healing, and in our reaching out one to another, may we find you, Oh God," Lustig said.
Wellstone's sons, Mark and David, spoke about their loss before the nearly 1,000 people who attended the service. Mark talked about his sister Marcia and a letter he found earlier in the day from Marcia to her father. Wellstone's sons had been cleaning out their parents' Washington area apartment.
"It said, 'Dear dad, I want to think you for being not only the greatest dad in the world, but one of the greatest human beings in the world. I want to thank you for making a difference in people's lives. I want to thank you for making me so proud of you, and for Dave and Mark to be so proud of you,'" Mark read from the letter.
David Wellstone read a poem he had written in memory of his father.
"Dad, your life was an example of what is good and just and real. Like the seasons, your integrity was powerful and easy to predict, never missing as you traveled through life. Like the sun, your passion burned bright, and brought and still brings warmth to all that you've touched. And like the stars, your dreams and beliefs were never ever limited. Because with you, dad, anything was possible," said David Wellstone.
The head of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, talked about Sheila and Paul Wellstone's close connection. Edelman praised Sheila for her work in the area of domestic abuse.
"Many people don't hear or see -- or want to hear and see --these children's cries for help. But Sheila Wellstone did, and she did something about it. She worked tirelessly to educate us, to make us see, to make us respond," said Edelman. "'I find it intolerable,' she said, 'to think that a woman's home can be the most violent, most dangerous and often times the most deadly place she can be. And if she is a mother than means that her children are growing up in the same home.'"
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle called Wellstone a man of moral courage. Daschle said it was a joy and an honor to have Wellstone and his wife Sheila in what he called the Senate family.
"He said that he came here to rattle some cages, and sometimes he rattled mine. He always told the truth. He always remembered who it was he was speaking for. He was the sole of our caucus, and I would suggest, of the Senate."
Wellstone's chief of staff, Colin McGinnis, thanked everyone for their support. McGinnis talked about a candle that's burned on Wellstone's desk since the day of the plane crash. And he talked about how Wellstone supporters should carry on his legacy.
"How has Paul called you, and how will his warmth and love and legacy become a part of your own history? In the days ahead, think on these things. Ponder them in your hearts. Let it be your own small tribute, the final benediction for Paul and his extraordinary life," said McGinnis.
Although the Washington memorial was decidedly non-partisan, there were calls to pass Wellstone's mental health parity bill, which would make the cost of mental health services more affordable.