Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Hero I Never Met

My uncle (who died 20 years before I was born) was president and valedictorian of his class at Dartmouth, as well as captain of the football team and basketball team (including a basketball team that lost in the NCAA Championship game in 1942). He then joined the Navy.

Here is what I know about his valedictorian speech:

Charles 'Stubbie' Pearson '42, served as his class's valedictorian, and later as a Navy dive-bomber pilot in the Pacific. In his valedictory address, he said 'this is a war for the future. Man must replace the importance of material gain. We must humanize ourselves. Man is man and that is all that is important...Do not feel sorry for us. We are not sorry for ourselves. Today we are happy. We have a duty to perform and we are proud to perform it.'

My uncle never returned from the Pacific, and his body was never found. Tom Brokaw later did a lengthy piece on my uncle and he interviewed my Dad extensively as part of his "Greatest Generation" series on NBC Nightly News. Boy, that was emotional to watch.

I inherited neither the intelllectual gifts nor the athletic ability of my uncle. But 60 years later, I want to pay my respects to him on Pearl Harbor Day.

(For cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)