Who will replace the great ones?

Published 1:25 pm Sunday, March 10, 2013

To the editor:

I have fond memories of Van Cliburn … his Tchaikovsky Competition triumph that cracked the ice of the Cold War . . . when his first recording came out, I found it on the music rack of my piano when I got home from work; my dear Fran had ordered it and had UPS deliver it that day.

Later on, in Arlington Texas, Van Cliburn played a solo recital for us. When he came on stage, he strode straight to the piano and played our National Anthem, so we had to quit applauding and get to our feet; never saw anyone else do that.

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Then when we went to a performance of the Fort Worth opera, I became aware of someone standing close to my aisle seat. First I saw those long shoes pointing ’way ahead of the trousers, that went up and up as my gaze finally arrived at the face of Van Cliburn . . . he had stopped to greet a friend.  I resisted an impulse to tug on his britches and say, “Hi, I know you!” Van Cliburn was a fine Christian who most certainly leaves the world a better place for his having lived among us.

We also lost another Doolittle Raider, retired Maj. Thomas C. Griffin . . . only four left. I called Sgt. Thatcher last year and had a nice chat with him for 20 minutes or so. I gave him several openings to hang up but he continued our conversation . . . one ol’ Sarge to another, y’know.

Who is going to replace all the great ones that are going to their reward every day?  And who even remembers them? We just enjoy the world they helped to make possible for us. May they rest in peace.

– Garland Goodwin, Columbus