They stood a dozen deep. Young and old, they lined the streets behind the flag-draped barricades. The rain began to fall almost as if the sky itself mourned the loss of a leader. Inside the cathedral, the music began as guests arrived and were seated.
From around the world they came to pay tribute to the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Baroness Margaret Thatcher. They were slow to seat themselves as they shared their common reverence for two now departed among them: Lady Thatcher and President Reagan.
It was my distinct honor to be among them and offer my respects to a woman who became a transformational world leader.
She grew up as the grocer's daughter and lost two races before her constituency chose her to represent them in the House of Commons.
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Her rise to Prime Minister was not without it's hardships, but it was done with great grace. In fact, grace might be the watchword of her life's journey.
She led, she fought, she nurtured, and she inspired all with that stern womanly grace now synonymous with "the Iron Lady."
Baroness Thatcher is for me one of those great conservative leaders. She, along with President Reagan, believed and acted on the principle that one who agreed with 80% of your fight was your ally, not your enemy.
She held true to her conservative principles in the face of overwhelming public opinion. Her determination in freedom and freedom's cause truly changed the world. She was a noble leader for noble causes.
As heads of state began to arrive, I wondered what Lady Thatcher would have thought of it all. The service was reverent and beautifully delivered, as she would have wanted.
Perhaps the most poignant moment came as Queen Elizabeth II walked up the steps and to her seat without assistance.
It was one strong woman saluting another.
It was dignity personified.
As the final blessing was pronounced, the sun broke through the clouds, brightening the glass windows, and bathing the cathedral in light.
It was a homecoming for a daughter of faith.
As I head back home, I know I'll keep her legacy close as we continue the conservative fight she championed.
Rep. Blackburn is a Republican serving Tennessee's 7th district.