Thursday, September 28, 2006

Edward Lawrence Albert

Edward Albert, the actor probably best know for his work in the movie "Butterflys are Free" died recently. He was only 55 years old and I was quite shocked to hear the sad news. I always enjoyed seeing him in movies and on television, but I also respected deeply who he was in his private life. He was an intelligent and gracious man who put his family and the causes he believed in first in his life.

Here is something he said after 9/11 that I have read many times.

"You don't have to be dead to be a hero..." (G.S. Patton)

"In the year 2000, Americans voted plain-speaking Gen. George S. Patton their favorite general...over everyone from George Washington to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, et al.

In 1969, at the age of 19, I was lucky enough to work with George C. Scott in the definitive portrayal of his career over a period of many months and several countries on the definitive film version of Patton's WWII career. Having survived a few revolutions and coup d'etats myself, I am profoundly aware of the value and contributions of the unsung heroes, the everyday heroes, the quiet men and women who step up every single day. You, you, and you. We see them now, every hour of every day on every channel. Faces on the faceless...the plumber with his tools waiting patiently until his abilities are needed. The housewife or househusband taking the children to school then passing out water to the thirsty. The singer in the cathedral lifting all our voices, all our hearts, all our hopes. Even those who do nothing but care in their hearts and wish they had some contribution to make. The simple act of caring is heroic. Some days it is a heroic act just to refuse the paralysis of fear and straighten up and step into another day. My 95-year-old father pulled 'his' Marines out of the water at Tarawa under a withering triple crossfire, having four boats shot out from under him, refusing a direct order to retreat, and returning again and again and again and again until he had every single man back to the hospital ship. Yet that heroism pales in the face of his ferocious optimism as he battles to maintain his dignity while I button his shirt today. In times of life crisis, whether wild fires or smoldering stress, the first thing I do is go back to I eating right, am I getting enough sleep, am I getting some physical and mental exercise everyday. Sometimes you have to be selfish to be selfless. Then I start looking into my fears. Courage is just fear, plus prayers, plus understanding. Fear is the only true enemy, born of ignorance and the parent of anger and hate. On a level of simple personal survival, understanding and forgiveness are crucial...whether in an intimate personal relationship or on a global level. As a lifelong warrior, I still remember my first lesson in combat...get your opponent angry, and he will defeat himself. Let us begin by doing our best to do our best, every single time, no matter what, forever. That is a truly heroic goal. Yesterday, someone wrote 'God Bless the Everyday Hero' in the dust of my car' s rear window. Like a kiss from one beloved, it will wear off before I wash it off. God bless us everyone."

Mr. Albert spent the lions share of the past decade taking care of his father, Eddie Albert. Both of them were in my view giants among men. They both are sorely missed.

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