Tom and Bobby - They Cared

Tom McCall and Bobby Kennedy
The two men pictured are my great inspirations in public service: Tom McCall and Robert Kennedy.
Tom and Bobby shared a lot of things in common:
They were both born in Massachusetts (though Tom grew up in Oregon). They were both born into wealth (though the McCall family fortune had dissipated by the time Tom reached adulthood).
They both had a way with words and were quite passionate about their ideals (with RFK, that was especially true in the last five years of his life).
They were both bridge builders. Tom McCall was as comfortable wandering the streets of Pendleton as he was in a boardroom in Portland. Robert Kennedy gave hope and gave voice to poor people on Indian reservations, in urban ghettoes, in Appalachia and to midwestern farmers. He told young people disillusioned by the war in Southeast Asia that it was time to admit our mistakes and bring the conflict to an end.
I often hear people say they long for another Bobby Kennedy, or another Tom McCall. I do too, but I also believe they were one of a kind. But we all can emulate them. And whether we serve the public in elective office or some other way, we can all be heroes. It was McCall who said:

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: this is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.”

When Tom McCall was laid to rest, his grave marker included his name, the years of his birth and death, and his years of service as governor. There’s also a two-word epitaph which is the finest tribute anyone could ask for:



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