DEARBORN — Mourning her husband, John Dingell Jr.’s death, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell waited tearfully on Monday as his flag-draped casket received thousands of mourners who came to pay tribute to the veteran hailed as a “true warrior” for the people.
The mourners lined up for the visitation at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, including friends, politicians, veterans, religious figures and community members of all ethnicities and from all over southeast Michigan.
Dingell was the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history. He died at the age of 92, after a battle with cancer.
Many Arab Americans waited for hours to pay their respects to the congressman who became a true friend to the community. Present at the visitation was Judge Mariam Saad Bazzi.
“I wanted to make sure that I came to show my respect for an American icon and his family,” Bazzi told The AANews. “John Dingell embodied the characteristics and traits that all public servants should posses, it was an honor to know him.”
“John D. Dingell represented all that’s good in the American democratic system,” said Wayne County Airport Authority Board Chairman Nabih Ayad. “He signified the true meaning of public service to our country as a democratic nation. I’ve been blessed to have known Mr. Dingell for years, I’m honored to have had him as my congressman. Right from the civil rights act, he has paved the way with true leadership.”
“When you think of Wayne County you always think of John Dingell,” said Ali Jawad, a Dearborn business and community leader, who is also president of Armada Oil and Gas Company and founder of the Lebanese American Heritage Club (LAHC). “He served us for 59 years. Waiting in line for two hours was nothing. His body’s gone, but his legacy will live forever with us, God bless his soul.”
Muslim leaders from the Islamic Center of America also paid their respects, including Sheikh Ibrahim Kazerooni and Sheikh Ahmad Hammoud.
“We are part of this community, and the least we can do is appreciate Dingell’s legacy and pay our respects to a leader who has served the community and the country for 59 years,” Hammoud said.
The Dearborn statesman died peacefully at home, surrounded by his wife and extended family.
The entrance of the arts center displayed a row of large printed photographs showing Dingell shaking hands with former Presidents George Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, the late President George H.W. Bush and the late President Ronald Reagan, as well as former Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson among many other national leaders.
The center’s lobby, where people waited in line, contained dozens of floral displays and cards offering sympathy and support, including one from Martha F. Ford and the Detroit Lions.
Visitation, which started at 11 a.m., is expected to continue until 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11, at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center at 15801 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48126. The event is open to the public.
On Tuesday, February 12, at 11 am, a funeral mass will be held at the Church of The Divine Child, 1055 North Silvery Lane, Dearborn, MI 48128. The event is open to the public as well.
On Tuesday, February 12, a motorcade carrying Dingell’s casket will be driven past the United States Capitol on the East Plaza; at 3:30 p.m. E.T. The public is welcome to view the motorcade from the east lawn of the Capitol.
On Thursday, February 14, at 10:30 am, a funeral mass will be held at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 3513 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. This event is open to the public. A reception at Georgetown University will follow the service with further details to come.
The former congressman, a WWII-era veteran of the Army, will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.