Letter to the Editor | Monday, March 16, 2015
The Notre Dame student body should take great pride in their respectful observance of the services for Fr. Ted. I would like to share my observations as we walked to down the path and watched you stand for him. As a Trustee and friend of Fr. Ted, it was gratifying to see you there.
THE HESBURGH FUNERAL AT NOTRE DAME
Thousands line the long processional from the Notre Dame Basilica down the narrow road to the Congregation of Holy Cross cemetery. The freezing weather and snow-packed landscape is now shadowed by students, staff and workers as we tread slowly following the funeral party. They line the road with heads and ears frozen in somber intensity. Fr. Theodore Hesburgh — Fr. Ted, a visionary and builder of this place where we walk today. We are now saying goodbye.
The faces reflect what we all feel. Emotions rule the road as we slowly trek along this familiar place where he engaged the Lady. His Notre Dame du lac, the “Lady of the Lake.” The golden dome is behind us. It is here where he had his private conversations with his Lady atop the dome. When there were challenges, the Lady was his counselor. Ask for her help and she will provide the wisdom of choices, he would urge. She will come to you if you will only listen. How many conversations he must have had during his 35-year reign as president.
The walk continues and a bit of sun peeks out of the clouds. The line appears to be endless. When the procession passes, no one leaves. The latest generation of students all stand tall, some at attention with their eyes fixed on his final journey. They feel no pain or cold. They are focused on a time of reflection — of the man who changed the world. The path to his resting place is among his brethren. His grave marked with a simple cross like his Holy Cross brothers.
His footsteps covered the world. A counselor to presidents and foreign heads of state. Honored perhaps like no other American for his untiring commitment to human rights and peace in the world. And when he returned home to his beloved Notre Dame, his attention turned to youth, to those that were in need and those who could change the world. Leadership, God, Country, Notre Dame — Fr. Ted was the agent for doing things right. His well repeated words, “when you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t, you need to do.” He was indeed damned by many as he crossed arms with Martin Luther King; when he offered friendship to our cold war enemies; when he bore criticism for crossing the lines others feared. He knew the do was his challenge. He knew his calling and traveled in light and darkness with the confidence only an extraordinary leader can muster.
Fr. Ted, rest in peace.
Fritz L. Duda
Fritz Duda Company
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.