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William F. Buckley, Jr. — My Hero

Sometimes there is a person, a friend, a celebrity, unlikely though it may seem, who speaks to you as if from your own heart but with clarity you can't usually muster up for yourself. This person seems to know secrets to existence, to love life, to understand its hardships, its revelations, its brilliance, its comedy, its sadness and to bear all with dignity, humanity and humor. To me, such as man is William Buckley, Jr. I suppose true celebrity is to aspire to such a role in someone's life and thereby merit celebrity.

William F. Buckley. Jr.
Mr. Buckley in his office at the National Review in 1965. Mr. Buckley's winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater's, hosted one of television's longest-running programs, "Firing Line," and founded and shepherded the National Review.

It's hard to summarize what William Buckley means to me. To me, his is the kind of life one aspires to, filled with so many varied things of real value and I wonder if people always value these same things properly. He stands for freedom of expression. He represents fairness of intellect and living. He means you can have fun and be scholarly both, one not canceling the other out.

Buckley is famous for having friends with whom his ideas were diametrically opposed, his political ideas, that is. This has confused people since he was famous for his strong conservative ideas. He was onto the secret of life being more than just the surface, more than just ideas, important as they are, more than any one thing; he was onto its soul.

In addition to his political career, in which my own interests do not lie, William Buckley wrote a series of captivating detective novels, with a colorful hero named Blackford Oakes. He was married to a socialite, who must have been quite a woman, Pat, and so had his hand in the upper crust of New York social life.

William F. Buckley, Jr.

When I was a tiny kid, there was a girl in my class whose mom worked for Buckley. My own mom, who was a Buckley type in brilliance and diversity but a Democrat, was fascinated by Buckley and liked my classmate's mom too. My mom told me that Buckley was this unusual man with many different aspects to his life and even at the age of five or so, it stuck in my head and made me curious about this guy.

Excellent sailor, prolific, adept and varied writer, noted politician, witty man, social figure, individualist — a truly great man. I cannot stop weeping for the world's loss.

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