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An Art Shay eulogy in verse for Robert McNamara

An Art Shay eulogy in verse for Robert McNamara

August 25, 2009

“He was shaving when the president called,” Margaret McNamara said, letting me and
my
Times photo gear into their Birmingham, Michigan, livingroom.
“We were drinking Martinis. Do you want one while you’re setting up?
I know you met him at
Ford in 1953. He loves the book you did and your
picture of him in
Fortune. That’s why he took your call. You said the magic
word —
Ford.” Sitting next to the warm fluttering lady whose life was about
to transfer to Washington forever (to do much for needy children, as it turned out) I
sweated cold for no discernible reason. I mindlessly thought the arcane word: doom.

I would be right, eventually, because this precise moment in this precise man’s precise
life, far from anything I’d precisely learned going to war instead of college
would be the infant step leading to McNamara’s ultimate march of 56,000 kids like yours and
mine to death. So much for taking violent evasive action based on prescient knowledge. . .

— from Art Shay’s Snapshot of a Strange (Love?) Before His Time, at swans.com

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