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If only ...
The Kerrville Daily Times ^ | Editorial Published May 23, 2007 | By Joseph Benham

Posted on 05/28/2007 12:13:57 PM PDT by Liberty Valance

There’s a common thread in recalling those greatly loved or respected, or both: “If only...” If only I had visited, called or written more, to say “I love you,” You’ve meant so much,” or simply, “Thank you.”

Parents; my favorite aunt, uncle and cousin; teachers, mentors, pastors, friends ... even persons whole I barely knew or know only through their writings, speeches, recordings and performances spark “If only” musings.

I met Harry Truman just once, but the more I learn of the feisty Missourian, the more I wish that I really had known him. Somewhere, he chuckles as he rises steadily in rankings of our presidents, while foes who sneered “To err is Truman” slip deeper into obscurity.

Saying, “Thank you, Mr. President” to end his news conference was a professional plum; I wish that I could say, “Thank you, Sir” as personal appreciation for NATO, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift and more.

I’d like to thank Lady Bird Johnson in person for her lofty example as First Lady and advocate of a more beautiful America. I think of her as I see wildflower-bordered roads. She dedicated Kerrville’s library building (more on that below), and we invited her to attend its 35th anniversary. Sadly, her health kept her away.

Our last conversation was typical on her part: apologizing for Lyndon’s outburst after a question angered him. After he threatened to complain to the AP and hung up, she called back to say, in her invariably gracious way, that I surely saw the pressure that LBJ was under and that he really thought highly of me (he didn’t, but that was nice of her). She earned sainthood long ago.

The obituary of Walter (Wally) Schirra reminded me of professional satisfaction and personal pleasure in covering the Mercury astronauts and scientists.

Those first seven were free spirits — former combat and test pilots impatient with what they saw as silly rules or requests. Example: when a medical researcher urged that they wear rectal thermometers throughout simulated space flights, they suggested alternate uses that couldn’t be put on the AP wire at the time or repeated in a family paper now.

As one of the group’s practical jokers, Schirra startled Mission Control by saying that he saw a UFO in a polar orbit, headed for Earth. Only as he chuckled and began playing a harmonica did those on the ground realize that his spacecraft was in Earth-bound polar orbit. Another early astronaut spirited a club and golf ball to the moon and claimed the record for the longest drive in outer space.

That was the era of Wernher von Braun, chief of those captured late in World War II and dubbed “Our German scientists” (as opposed to Soviet German scientists). Texas allowed liquor by the drink only in private clubs, and whenever von Braun & Co. came to town, they got guest cards for the Press Club. He liked to hold court on the banks of the San Antonio River — giving us good quotes as the security types looked on nervously.

If only I could thank Wally, Wernher, Gus Grissom and the others for all of the good copy and good times.

Here at home, I wish I could thank Mary Frances Sherlock for her friendship and for inspiring others with mobility problems. Despite being wheelchair bound, she always had a warm smile and an encouraging word for others with handicaps. Seeing friends on walkers and canes, she would insist that we come to her home to work out in her indoor pool, complete with underwater treadmill. At the time of her premature death, she was working to perfect an invention allowing physically handicapped persons to “pop in/pop out” of bathtubs.

Some residents will go to the National Cemetery and the Courthouse War Memorial next Monday, to honor those who gave their lives that you and I may live free in this great nation. I hope that you will be attending on Memorial Day.

This afternoon, it will be my privilege to bid farewell to Gordon Monroe and to thank him silently for his military and civic service (as mayor, he welcomed Mrs. Johnson to Kerrville and escorted her to the library dedication), church leadership, philanthropy, example as a devoted husband and especially, his friendship. As Gordon’s beloved Bible says, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and in the words of fellow Scot Rabbie Burns, “The heart benevolent and kind/the most resembles God.

TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Society
KEYWORDS: faith; gratitude; optimism

1 posted on 05/28/2007 12:13:59 PM PDT by Liberty Valance
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To: Liberty Valance

Regrets are difficult to deal with ... .

I KNOW this to be true ...


[4] And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

People can luagh at me and mock me ... I could care less ... I’ve expereinced Him on earth. I have no reason to NOT believe what He says about heaven.

2 posted on 05/28/2007 12:22:27 PM PDT by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God) .)
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To: nmh; sockmonkey; Brucifer

Thanks for the post. I’ve been in a reflective mood because my grandmother will turn 100 years old this Friday. That’s why this editorial caught my eye. My sister and I are making the trip down to the family farm on the border to celebrate the occasion. My grandmother ran that farm after my grandfather passed away up until she was about 80. She’s an amazing Texas lady and I don’t want to have to say “what if...” from 350 miles away on her birthday.

3 posted on 05/28/2007 12:47:39 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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