While sorting my "end of life" papers and reviewing 82 years of life on Earth, I found some historic news clippings about Sen. Orrin Hatch. I was reminded that we're the same age, and of the pivotal roles he has played. Like him, I maintain my desire to "keep at it." Retirement lets me pursue gardening, talking with friends every morning at the local coffee house, reading nutritious, fact-based local and national news and keeping close to my children. With age, my respect for them and for those who have been leaders in my life seems to deepen. Also like Hatch, I need to remain active and continue sharing my experience and philosophy in the interest of our country for as long as I remain coherent (by my own definition!).
Op-ed: Step up again, Sen. Hatch, to preserve the NEA and NEH
One of the freshly excavated clippings is a very rich, intelligent and caring interview conducted in Hatch's Salt Lake City offices with Salt Lake Tribune staff writer Ann Poore. The resulting well-written piece appeared on the front page of the Sunday, Nov. 11, 1990, Arts section under the headline: "Hatch speaks out on the arts" and continued under the subhead "Hatch makes a case for tolerance, 'human understanding' for arts." The portrait accompanying the article was of a youthful, composed, 55 year old.
We were both relatively youthful and in our prime: Hatch, a U.S. senator, and I, a practicing architect, appointed with Hatch's endorsement by President Ronald Reagan on Feb. 25, 1985, to serve as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Advisory Council. Alas, my term was only six years. However, we both served and became acquainted during the presidencies of Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Hatch represented the Senate well with his old friend Sen. Edward Kennedy when hosting the annual National Medal of Arts dinners preceding the actual award ceremony and luncheon in the White House the following day. He was a key advocate in bestowing the Medal of Arts on two giants of Utah's artistic legacy: Obert C. Tanner and Utah Symphony's Maestro Maurice Abravanel. During those same six years, he often courageously stood alone, at no small political risk, preventing the dissolution of the National Endowment For The Arts.
The great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art." Hatch and I share an appreciation for the essential place of the arts and humanities as both windows into and expressions of our human quest for the divine. And we both know that the mere creation of art can be an act of courage and heroism. We know the forces of intolerance, insecurity and ignorance often view art and history as an enemy to be starved and destroyed — recall the 2001 destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban fundamentalists.
At this critical moment in America's history, we must stand together and draw from the well of courage. Proposals to defund and eliminate arts and humanities support demand a response. To lose the NEA and NEH would abrogate our commitments to future generations. Sen. Hatch, we need a heroic leader once more. Will you stand with us to preserve our humanity for future generations?
M. Ray Kingston, an Ogden farm-boy, true humanist, explorer of nature, the worlds of science, math and aesthetics and, according to a few loyal friends, a relatively competent architect. He is the 'K' in FFKR Architects.
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