January 30, 2002: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility. Our address: Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You were so right to print those remembrances (November 7, cover story) so that we could share to a small extent, at least, the grief and the love of those Princeton men and women. Grief is the price of love. That was in a message from Queen Elizabeth at the memorial service for the British who died in the World Trade Center. In my war World War II we hardly ever had a chance to grieve because death of friends and new-found comrades was an everyday occurrence and we just went on with what we had to do. The grieving for those guys came years later as we got older and thought more often about what they had missed and how much we miss them. Thanks for deciding to do this and for doing it just right.
Ward Chamberlin 43
Reading the tender and loving tributes to the 13 alumni whose lives were sacrificed in the slaughter of September 11 was indeed touching. The friends and relatives who wrote of their memories were all so expressive and compassionate. I was particularly touched by the tribute to Christopher D. Mello 98, written by his classmate and beloved friend, Chris Halpin 98. In reading it, I almost felt as if I had known Chris Mello, but in the life of a dear friend of mine from the past. Such close friends as these two young men were is indeed a privilege that does not happen very often in a lifetime.
To have lost a treasured friend at such a young age in a mindless tragedy is impossible to comprehend. But Halpins memory of Mello is a tearful, and yet totally loving tribute. As he wrote, it is one thing to lose the talents and potential of a friend, but what is harder but more important to understand is what it means to have lost his personality. That certainly can never be measured like you can measure accomplishments, reputation, awards, and careers. Chris Mello must have been a very special human being.
I wish to acknowledge those who wrote so lovingly of the memories of their beloved ones in the article, and thank them for letting us share such intimate and lasting relationships.
Larry Ackard 41
Thank you for bringing the richness of these lives to our attention and thank you to the correspondents whose words and thoughts were the result of such remarkable love and friendship. Well done.
Terry Smith 64
Thank you for bringing us insight into the lives of these 13 men and women, through the written words of their best friends. Your issue offers an enduring memory of those who died, and is a statement of endurance for those who lived. We are all in the nations service now.
Lee McGuire 98
I never write letters to alumni magazines, but I feel compelled to make an exception in response to the compassionate, thoughtful letter from Robert B. Comizzoli *67 p92 (November 7) to the families of those who died on September 11. Ive sent copies to friends and former colleagues who were working in the World Financial Center across the street from Ground Zero, many of whom lost friends or neighbors. I even sent it to a close friend in Virginia who lost her husband earlier this year and is now raising two young boys alone.
I am grateful to Mr. Comizzoli for sharing his feelings and experiences stemming from the loss of his own father many years ago. In particular, I want to thank him for his moving words in the closing paragraph, where he correctly identifies the love of ones children as being the one thing that keeps a surviving parent going. It is people like Mr. Comizzoli and his mother, whose love for her son shines through every line of his letter who keep our optimism and faith in humanity alive.
Lisa M. Skoog de Lamas *85
Edward Tiryakian 52 was dismayed that Bishop Frederick Borsch 57 in his invocation at President Tilghmans installation failed to utter God but chose instead O Creative Spirit! (Letters, December 5). Tiryakians apparent source of dismay is that Princeton may then go from Dei sub numine viget to ingenii sub numine viget.
Tiryakian, and all of us in these troubled times who worry that God might not be around if we dont invoke Gods name, might want to consider Carl Jung, who scribbled this over the entrance to his home: Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit Invoked or not invoked, God is present.
Leng Leroy Lim 90
Since Edward Tiryakian 52 expressed concerns about the prayer of invocation at the installation of President Tilghman, I thought you might like to have, at least for your records, the prayer itself. Readers might appreciate seeing it for their reflection and judgment. In any case, it is good that we are again having some theological discussion in PAW.
F. H. Borsch 57
Editors note: The text of the prayer is on PAW Online at www.princeton.edu/paw/plus.
We now have a lady president and a lady second-in-command. I also noticed that all of the staff on PAW have first names that would lead one to believe that they are members of the same sex.
To save time, I recommend that the trustees promptly convert Princeton to a single-sex, female university and be done with it.
It is unlikely that you will print the above, but I, and many others, hope you will.
Hugh M. F. Lewis 41
When I saw in the December 19 issue (Notebook) that Frank Gehry was to design the new science library, I was absolutely thrilled!
As I perused the recent Guggenheim exhibit of Mr. Gehrys work and beheld what miracles he had wrought for, among other institutions, M.I.T., Bard College, and an L.A.area law school, in addition to the more well-known non-education-related edifices, I thought to myself, Why cant we have some of his wondrous architecture at Princeton, instead of repeated dabbling with ho-hum buildings? Mr. Gehry is a true revolutionary in his field. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, different, and customized to the function of the structure, his work symbolizes the innovation for which Princeton is clearly striving, including advances in the financing of student education and in the educational and personal diversity of the universitys senior leadership. Yet again, I am proud of Old Nassau. A loud locomotive to Mr. Rawson 66 and the rest of the trustees for a job well done!
Seth Katz 89
While I support the construction of a library, I regret that Princeton selected a design that is immediately identifiable as a Gehry rather than a Princeton building. In recent years it seems that architects draw monuments mainly to themselves, and institutional clients stampede like lemmings to their doors. Some of Gehrys recent work looks as if someone has turned over a bowl of titanium Fritos. These self-referential structures unfortunately market the architect more than they serve the client. While sculpture is interesting in its own right, a smaller version as an exhibit in an architectural museum might be less expensive. Where is Yales Tom Wolfe (From Bauhaus to Our House) when we need him?
Marshall Long 65
How could Princeton choose Frank Gehry of all people to design and construct a new science library? I have seen one after another of Gehrys so-called creations erected here and there throughout the country and the world, and I cant for the life of me see any socially or esthetically redeeming features in any of them. Please, before it is too late, build something that has at least some reasonable resemblance to the other buildings on or near the campus. I know its way beyond anyones hope to see something in the Gothic mold, but in the name of common sense and decency, please discard the Gehry model.
James F. Lotspeich 44
I doubt the accuracy of Marvin Zim 57s statement in his profile of Donald Rumsfeld 54 in the November 21 issue, that when Rumsfeld became director of the Office of Economic Opportunity in early 1969, Parts of the OEO, the Community Action Programs in particular, had become highly politicized; posters of Che Guevara hung in some offices.
As assistant director for operations and, later, deputy director of Community Action, I participated in the recruitment, screening, and interviewing of nearly every one hired by CAP from its inception until September 1966. Although there were changes due to turnover in the two-plus years between my departure and Rumsfelds appointment, the general temper, character, and competence of the staff were much as they had been in the fall of 1966.
I know of no one among them inclined toward radical politics or even the militant activism common during that period. Che Guevara posters allegedly found in some CAP offices were more likely to be expressions of antic humor than of support for Ches ideology of revolution.
Rumsfelds mission was clearly to effect an orderly termination of Community Action and OEO, an outcome dictated by the loss of public support resulting from activist demonstrations but deferred until it was not apt to trigger another round of city riots. Nonetheless, he is given high marks by senior members of the CAP staff who remained through the transition.
Frederick OR. Hayes
Regarding PAWs recent profile of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 54, I believe your readers deserve something other than the usual love letter to a celebrity. Don Rumsfeld is not an uncontroversial figure; many disagree with much of what hes promoted in the more recent past, in particular, his peculiar, seemingly unquestioning and extraordinary support for Star Wars, Ronald Reagans missile defense shield. I think if PAW is going to profile someone like the secretary of defense, serious investigative reporting, with thoughtful interviews with those who dont necessarily admire or share the subjects politics or philosophy as well as those who do, is called for.
Samuel W. Gelfman 53
Congratulations on the November 21 articles on the important leadership roles of Donald H. Rumsfeld 54, secretary of defense, and Robert S. Mueller III 66, FBI director.
Princeton has reason to be proud of the contributions that these two are now making to the national welfare of America.
Is Princeton today graduating seniors who will be equally qualified to perform major roles in national leadership in future years?
Ralph S. Cannon Jr. 31
I have just had one of those existential moments that are so theatrical that they seem contrived. Out here on the frontier in Albuquerque, Mr. Danny Glovers performance [see Talks on Campus, page 15], which was delivered with the complicity of the administration of Princeton, received great coverage in the local media. One of the radio talk shows dealt with little else for hours. The fact that Glover had been invited by a special interest group was never mentioned; the fact that the university had provided him with a soapbox, on the other hand, received the most profound notoriety.
I would not go so far as to say that I am ashamed to be a Princeton graduate, but I am certainly embarrassed to admit it around here. Does the administration feel that it owes the graduates nothing? At the very least they could try to preserve some appearance of responsibility for the things that go on in the universitys name.
I sent my son, who was accepted at Princeton some years ago but chose to go to a service academy, a copy of the Trentonian account of Mr. Glovers maunderings. My son is now an F-14 (Tomcat) pilot, currently on an aircraft carrier headed West. His response, which made clear the commitment of himself and his comrades, was so poignant as to make anyone proud to be an American. It is obvious that he understands that he and his brothers and sisters are risking their lives to preserve a system that even affords a prerogative for fools to speak near treason in public with no fear of the consequence.
The contrast between the shallow, hypocritical, mindless goings-on that take place in the name of my alma mater and the spirit of the men and women who are wagering their lives to preserve the freedom of fools like Mr. Glover is staggering. When I read my sons comments I truly understood for the first time what democracy really means. At the same time I was saddened to finally appreciate the fact that our gifts have now become so trivialized that one of the worlds greatest universities will thoughtlessly allow its name to be appropriated to give weight to the maunderings of an idiot whose only motive is to show a total lack of gratitude to a nation that has so richly indulged him.
Robert O. Woods 62
With reference to a letter from Jack C. Childers, Jr. 60 in the November 21 issue about the admissions office failing to answer letters, I write to report a very positive experience.
In spring of 1998 I wrote a letter on behalf of a candidate and received a short, courteous response from Mr. Hargadon.
This year my wife wrote a thoughtful three-page letter to Mr. Hargadon and he replied with a superb letter of the same length.
Edgar M. Buttenheim 44
Allan L. Griffith 60s letter in November 21 hit a nerve. I, too, have received a pre-approved sales pitch for a credit card this one from First America and for a Platinum VISA card with which Ill . . . be supporting the important programs of Princeton University. . . .
I tried to find out exactly the extent to which my use of this card, should I choose to get one, would support Princetons programs. The representative to whom I talked said that Princeton would receive a percentage of whatever I charged to the card. When I asked what percentage, she said she couldnt tell me that. I asked to speak with a supervisor.
The supervisor basically said the same thing: It was a percentage, but she couldnt tell me what percentage.
I agree with Allan Griffith alumni should be slow to bite on these blind baits.
Nelson Runger 53
In your From the Archives photograph in the November 21 issue, the man holding the basketball is my grandfather Geoffrey W. Helm 33, who died in 1988. He was captain of the 193233 team. Incidentally, my dad is Geoffrey William Helm, Jr. 63.
Sarah E. Helm 89
Two of the men in your photograph were good friends of mine, and I believe I have identified the other three. Heres my final answer, left to right: John Emery Seibert 34, Peter Charles Fortune 33, Roy Kenneth Fairman 34, John Leo Grebauskas 35 (who changed his surname to Grebb after graduation), and Geoffrey William Helm 33. The sixth member of this 193233 varsity team, missing from the photograph, was Karl Henrik Larsen 34.
The 193233 varsity team won 19 of its 22 games, including seven of its 10 league games and was ranked second in the league standings.
Joseph Hazen 35
Editors Note: We also heard from Paul Busse 42, Hugh Fairman 58, Adra Fairman w34 p58, Ed Spencer 36, William Oman 34, Hugh Sweeney 35, and Marion Helm w33.
Other responses to From the Archives are online at www.princeton.edu/paw/plus.
In the story about John Seabrook 81 in the December 5 issue, we gave him an incorrect title. He is the Robbins Professor of Writing.
In our story in the October 10 issue about a panel convened to discuss September 11, we omitted the Princeton affiliation of one of the panelists. Herman Belz, a visiting professor, is a member of the Class of 1959.
We regret the errors.