Christopher de Vinck has written an interesting article about the late children’s TV host Fred Rogers in the March 21st edition of the National Rogers Catholic Reporter. Fred McFeely Rogers, who died February 27, 2003 had been the host of an internationally successful children’s television show Mr Rogers Neighborhood. What I didn’t know was that he was also an ordained Presbyterian minister. I had remembered reading somewhere that Rogers had been a Marine and war hero, but this turns out to be nothing but urban legend. Rogers emphasized the importance of recognizing those who have contributed to our success and development in speeches he gave. In one talk he told the audience:

"What is essential about you? And who are those who have helped you become the person you are? Anyone who has graduated from college, anyone who has ever been able to sustain a good work, has had at least one person and often many who have believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investment from others."

In fact, Rogers would regularly ask for sixty seconds of silence at speaking engagements, during which he would tell the audience to use the minute of silence to remember those who had helped him become what they are.

In his article de Vinck quoted, Elwood P. Dowd in the movie Harvey, played by Jimmy Stewart, said:

"Harvey and I sit in the bars…have a drink or two…play the jukebox. And soon the faces of all the other people , they turn toward mine and they smile. And they’re saying, ‘We don’t know your name, mister, but you’re a very nice fella,’ Harvey and I warm ourselves in all these golden moments. We’ve entered as strangers – soon we have friends. And they come over – they sit with us – and they talk to us. They tell us about the big terrible things they’ve done and the big wonderful things they’ll do. Their hopes, and their regrets, and their loves, and their hates. All very large, because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar."

We’ve all encountered at one point or another, that special person who was someone we wanted to tell about our hopes, regrets, loves and hates. We all have one or more people who were instrumental in encouraging us to become what we are. I have no trouble, in my own life, identifying most of them from grade school to the present time. The list is a long one for me because I needed a huge amount of assistance to keep me on the right set of tracks as I stumbled forward through life. I am most grateful to each of them living and dead. I have been blessed by choices, often not mine, that turned out to be the best choice even though my unwilling one.

The wonderful lyrics of George Jones’s song Choices are true for me. Fortunately, there were people in my life who guided me to the right choices. As, the song says:

"I’ve had choices since the day that I was born; There were voices that told me right from wrong; If I had listened, No I wouldn’t be here today, living and dying with the choices I made…"

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