When Bobby Rankin, a close friend of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, decided not to shake Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hand at a memorial service honoring the iconic leader, the snub immediately went viral, leaving many on social media shook.
Rankin’s name, as well as the hashtag #thehandshakethatneverwas quickly spread online, with many applauding Rankin’s actions, stating they would have done the same thing.
However, for Rankin, a longtime friend of Cummings who acted as a pallbearer during Cummings’ memorial service on Thursday at the Capitol, the reason for the snub was personal, directly related to his family—more specifically, his brother, Jerry.
Jerry, who was a Marine, died last October after exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Rankin revealed that Jerry never got the veterans’ benefits he had earned prior to his death, something for which Rankin believed McConnell was partly to blame.
“Elijah Cummings reached across party lines trying to help my brother get his military benefits, and Mitch McConnell was one of the persons he reached out to,” Rankin said.
Rankin did not disclose why Jerry never got his benefits, nor what role McConnell had in the issue. However, one thing was clear to him.
“I could not put my hands in the man’s hand who refused to help somebody who served his country,” Rankin said. “I couldn’t do it, because I was thinking about my brother.”