I would like to ask Michael Jackson's mourners to honor him in a special way.
According to Reuters, "Some 18,000 fans and friends will crowd into the Staples Center sports arena and a nearby, overflow theater for the two-hour ceremony memorializing pop star Jackson, who died June 25 after suffering cardiac arrest in his Los Angeles mansion."
It will be a moving ceremony, remembering a talented, conflicted artist who died before his time. "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Thriller". Few Americans can deny that somewhere in their lives is a moment of joy brought to them by Michael Jackson.
The size of the crowd, too, will be overwhelming: 18,000 people. As we watch it in awe, in person or on television, might we also honor Michael by noting that every single person in the Staples Center and overflow theater represents another death in the United States, a death of someone who, like Michael, dies of a medical condition before his time, but because he or she does not have health insurance.
I do not think that Jackson would mind his mourners symbolizing the estimated 18,000 unrecognized people in the United States who die each year because they do not have health insurance.
In his song "Heal the World," he sang:
"There are people dying
If you care enough
For the living
Make a better place
For you and for me"
Some fans claimed in a 2001 Internet chat that Michael said "Heal the World" was the song he is most proud to have created (allmichaeljackson.com).
Police estimate more than 250,000 people will cram onto the sidewalks outside the arena to pay their final respects to the "Thriller" singer and one-time member of Motown legends the Jackson 5, who was 50 years old when he died. [...] About 1.6 million people registered to be among the 8,750 who won two free tickets to Jackson's memorial.
To all of Michael's mourners, I would like to invite you to Washington D.C. on July 30th
to attend another gathering to help prevent talented people from dying before their time. It's a rally to provide Medicare for all Americans. When I think of health care, I hear Michael singing "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," so I invite you to come in his honor, so next year, we can do something to stop a whole arena's worth of unrecognized and preventable deaths.