Sunday, December 30, 2007

December 29, 2007

     At the end of a year, this columnist likes to look back at some of those we lost during the year.  There's never enough room to list all the valuable dead, but here are some we mourned in 2007.
     First, Benazir Bhutto, a charismatic, controversial leader who came back to the Pakistan she'd fled to try and turn it from terror to democracy.  She was murdered;  her country's future remains in doubt.  We lost Boris Yeltsin, who was criticized for many things but who will be remembered for standing on a tank, putting down a coup and announcing the birth of post-Soviet Russia, a truly memorable achievement.
      We lost Jack Valenti, a powerful White House aide to President Lyndon Johnson, and we lost Johnson's wife Lady Bird, who was powerful but also full of light and grace.  We lost Tom Eagleton, a senator who was briefly George McGovern's running-mate in 1972, forced off the ticket after it was learned he'd had electric shock treatments for depression.  And E. Howard Hunt, a spy, who was part of the Watergate scandal.
     We lost Luciano Pavarotti, a gifted tenor, and Max Roach, a wonderful jazz drummer, who started back when bop was king and played for years.  Sports lost two gifted Yankees--Hank Bauer, who hit home runs without taking pills, and Phil Rizzuto, a legend at shortstop and then a Yankee broadcaster for many years.  He called people "huckleberries."  I've never been sure why.
     We lost novelist Norman Mailer whose first book, "The Naked and the Dead," was probably his biggest hit.  Journalism lost some of its finest:  Art Buchwald, whose columns made us laugh for thirty years or so;  Molly Ivins, a wonderful Texan writer with a gift of humor (she was the one who dubbed this president "Shrub");  and David Halberstam, one of our best and brightest, among the first to see the Vietnam War for the tragic waste it was.
     Lost Ingmar Bergman, who proved that movies could make you think as well as laugh and cry.  Lost Marcel Marceau, a mime like no other I have ever seen.  Lost televangelist Jerry Falwell and astronaut Wally Schirra.
     And finally, we lost Paul Tibbets, a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot during World War Two, who on August 6th, 1945, dropped the first atomic bomb ever used in war on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and thereby changed warfare and the world forever. 

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