Do we take the time to thank our 'heroes'?

September 23, 2003

Dear Editor:

Rep. Joe Clarke once took one of my sons to the legislature for a day, which certainly made Mr. Clarke his hero.

Our paths did not normally cross that often and Joe probably would have had to be reminded to even remember the occasion. But our family followed the career of a man who had the respect of even those who lacked the courage to pay the price his ethics required. Over and over, we heard him described with words like integrity, honesty, allegiance to the good of the state, rather than "pork barrel" or the party.

I remember his being begged to take the position as speaker of the House when Frankfort needed its tainted political image repaired, and I remember that he was basically removed by some of the same people when his impartiality stepped on their toes.


Perhaps because of recent deaths around me - a college mentor, a gracious friend, and the son of my best friend - or just maybe because of the sense of distrust of most things political, I wonder if in our frenetic, e-mail lives, we thank our occasional heroes and mentors, Scout and Sunday School leaders, teachers and friends often enough for simply being there. And sometimes I wonder if a few strategic thank-you's would have made a difference.

Harper Lee (author of "To Kill A Mockingbird") understood this truth when she described another lawyer: "Have you ever thought of it this way ... ? Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we're paying the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It's that simple."

"Stand up," Kentucky, Mr. Clarke has passed.

Judith Dickey


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