News’ account of Buckley memorial service fittingly ‘quirky’ and ‘charming’

To the Editor:

Your article on the St. Patrick’s Cathedral memorial service for William F. Buckley, Jr. (“For Buckley ’50, a final organ plays,” 4/7) was charming — just the right amount of quirky detail for a departed gadfly who posthumously managed to be “still famous” one month after his death, despite Samuel Pepys’s startling self-awareness in his Diary that we quickly forget the dead.

Perhaps the pomp and ceremony of the casting off is actually our attempt to expiate our guilt at how quickly we “tuck’ them “away,” not only in the ground but in our consciousness. Of course, it’s self preservation: We couldn’t drag the ghosts of the past around like the chains of Marley’s ghost. Dust-in-wind syndrome is really a form of mental health.

Look what’s happened to John F. Kennedy in the short span of 45 years: He’s barely a matchbook cover or an airport name these days, even though the entire nation felt like it had its chest ripped open in Dallas in 1963. One question: Were the eulogists, Kissinger and son Buckley, as unmemorable as your brief coverage of their remarks suggests?

Paul D. Keane

April 8

The writer is a graduate of the Yale Divinity School class of 1980.

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  • Post Script

    In 1979,I sent William F. Buckley Jr. a courtesy copy of a booklet of editorials I published titled "Holy Smoke:Opinionation from Holy Hill" when I was student at the divinity school since I had dedicated it to him with these words: "To William F. Buckley, Jr. whose writings alerted me that man is God at Yale".
    I included a note saying, "Even if the ideas don't, I hope the dedication and the title of this little book will please you". A month later I received this note from Mr. Buckley in the mail: "Thank you for the dedication and the book. I'll pass on the ideas, but two out of three isn't bad". Kind heart.

    Paul D. Keane '80MDIV