Nov. 27, 2013 — “Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
I have often reflected on those immortal words of John Donne, the great English poet, while trying to cope with the deaths of family members, friends and other persons important to me.
Traumatic memories from my college days came flooding back last week with the anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, one of my earliest heroes.
Now 50 years removed from those sad days in 1963, it marked the loss of innocence of my youth as I grimly faced the harsh reality of political assassination.
Like millions of other Americans, I was glued to the television for three days as I attempted to make sense of what even today remains senseless.
The live TV killing of accused shooter Lee Harvey Oswald at the Dallas police station only added to my fear and confusion at the time.
Regrettably, JFK was not the last of my heroes to be struck down, whether by an assassin’s bullet or a cruel disease or the infirmities of age.
Recent days brought the loss of two persons I deeply admired and respected.
In fact, I wrote about each of them in this space out of my concern that they would know how I felt while they were still with us.
Flowers for the living always has made sense to me, especially as I have grown older.
Gerta Antle, a relatively new but valued friend, ironically put me on her “bucket list” a few days before her death at the age of 79.
Alerted to the seriousness of her sudden illness, I offered words of encouragement by phone as she struggled to breathe while battling the inevitability of her medical situation.
I will never forget how I felt when she bravely said she was at peace and ready to accept the Lord’s will.
The other loss was Edwin Mundy, 93, a proud old soldier and the finest man I ever served with.
Like so many other World War II veterans, he was a patriot who never wavered in his love of family and country.
Newscaster/author Tom Brokaw was right in describing 1st Sgt. Mundy and his comrades as America’s greatest generation.
I didn’t have the opportunity to salute him one last time in this life.
That will happen soon when I visit my old “topkick” at his final resting place in East Carter Memory Gardens.