Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sirico on Buckley

Excerpts from
Fr. Robert Sirico's memoriam to William F. Buckley Jr...

Among other things, I did not know that Buckley had been helpful at the inception of the Acton Institute. Just one more reason to respect his life and vocation...

Having been my father’s remote control, I recall one Sunday afternoon in the 1960s being told to stop and back up to the “educational channel,” as it was called.

The Sirico household were not big viewers of what was then Channel 13 in New York, so I wondered what my father was thinking.

I click over to the channel and my father said, “Sit down; you’ll learn something.”

Indeed, I did.

That was the first time I had heard or seen William F. Buckley, Jr., who died in his study on Wednesday while at work on yet another erudite page of insightful, urbane, and scintillating prose. Buckley (or Bill, as he almost insisted people call him) holds the record of sending me to the dictionary more than anyone I have ever read in the English language.

He was more than just a stylist. He was a thinker, and a very serious one. He made a mighty contribution to the intellectual culture—raising it as high as he possibly could and never becoming despondent when it refused to budge.

He will be lauded by numerous pendants and scribes for the incredible number of his accomplishments, preeminent of which is his historic role as godfather of the modern conservative/libertarian movement in the founding of the National Review.

He was also a decent harpsichordist, a sailing enthusiast, an avid skier, world traveler and adventurer, lover of Latin, and debater par excellence. If he could do all these things at once, which I am sure he attempted, all the better. All of which is to say that he loved life and lived it to the fullest.

When the time came for me to found the Acton Institute, I was concerned in the early years with establishing our credibility and I conjured up the idea to write Bill Buckley, whom I had met only once or twice in passing, and ask if he would consider being the inaugural speaker of what I’d hope would become an annual dinner.

To my utter amazement he promptly replied (he was always prompt in his replies) that yes, he would be delighted to come, waiving his usual five-figure speaking fee to launch us on our way. That was almost 20 years ago.

We remained in contact over those years, and he was always unfailingly supportive and gracious and, in fact, was a personal donor to our work.

Sirico continues by sharing his fondest memory with Buckley-- in Cuba-- before concluding...

Bill Buckley was as generous as he was intelligent, and as humorous as he was cultured. I suppose that one of the secrets I learned from Bill Buckley in building a movement for human freedom was to be encouraging of other efforts pulling in the same general direction.

He was a man of faith and principle and while I know he had many, many friends of far longer duration and of far greater intimacy than myself, I shall count it as one of the true blessings of my life to have been one of them.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home