Friday, March 2, 2007

In Memory

Today I received word of another of life's mileposts. My Uncle Hank, the last member of my mother's immediate family died today. He was a remarkable man from a remarkable family.

He and his brother, Pat, served in World War II. Hank was born in Dublin, Ireland and had the red hair to prove it. He looked as Irish as the auld sod itself, though Hal Prince once rejected him for a part on the grounds that he didn't look Irish enough! Hank could work a room among the best of them and could sing like few people on the planet. He made his living singing on the European opera stages through the fifties and early sixties then taught voice at the university level until he retired and turned to summer stock acting and performing Irish folk songs on the harp. His Danny Boy could bring tears to eyes of a wooden Indian, and, though I was only about 10, I remember the day we buried his mother and he sang Macushla for us at Pat's piano. There were no dry eyes that day.

He and Pat put their lives on the line for their country and were both understandably, though quietly, proud of their service, but neither would salute what we are doing in Iraq. Pat died several years ago, so he didn't have to see what we have sunk to. Hank understood the difference between patriotism and jingoism, and would never have supported the imperialistic waste of lives our president has led us to today.

So today, I ask you to join me in a silent moment to remember all those fine young men and women who understood the necessity of responding to a call from their country in the defense of freedom, rejected false patriotism and knew the difference between the two.

I'll miss you, Hank, and the world already sees a void where the kind of person you were used to stand. May we someday come to realize the depth we've lost and find our way back to the sensibilities of your generation.

Have a meaningful day.

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