Today I went to a funeral.
A rite of passage for a man who was an inventor, created the cordless electric knife, fought for his country in WW II, became a talented artist, graduated from Cooper Union and raised a wonderful family.
His story is uniquely American. Free to dream, to innovate, to build factories, to take risks and to bring his creations to market, he was an American hero. Not a household name like the great tinkerers Ford, Edison, Franklin, Jobs, he was nevertheless made of the same strain of DNA that has made the USA the epicenter of greatness for centuries.
We are a nation of inventors. We are a nation of risk takers. We are a nation of dreamers. The man who’s funeral I attended was a member of that extraordinary lineage.
When his family called the funeral home to make arrangements last week, they were asked if he was a veteran. When the family advised that he was, they were asked if he would like a military funeral. Immediately, they said yes.
When I entered the sanctuary, I was taken by the sight of his coffin draped with the American flag. And at the cemetery, an honor guard attended to one of their fallen, folding his flag and playing taps with the reverence they would bestow on a commander-in-chief.
It had been more than a half century since he’d been a soldier. But in the U.S., the real U.S., the U.S. that loves this nation, the U.S. that believes in American exceptionalism, the U.S. that is proud of its extraordinary history and sees no reason to apologize for it — in that U.S., once a soldier always a soldier.
Men and women who build things, who fight for freedom, who strive all of their lives to make a difference: these are the people who define the United States Of America.
A week before this entrepreneur/soldier/patriot/father died, he painted his self portrait while laying in agony in his hospice bed.
He could not be stopped. He was an American. He was America.
Anyone who underestimates that, or who thinks they can defeat it with a new pan nationalism, are dead wrong.
The soldiers send messages from heaven.