The ranks opened covertly to avoid the corpse. The invulnerable dead man forced a way for himself. The youth looked keenly at the ashen face. The wind raised the tawny beard. It moved as if a hand were stroking it. He vaguely desired to walk around and around the body and stare; the impulse of the living to try to read in dead eyes the answer to the Question.
The president is the high priest of what sociologist Robert Bellah calls the 'American civil religion.' The president must invoke the name of God (though not Jesus), glorify America's heroes and history, quote its sacred texts (the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution), and perform the transubstantiation of pluribus unum.