With Malice Towards None

Veterans Day. What would have been my father in law’s 88th birthday. College Application Deadlines. My daughter refusing my offer to proofread her application essays. Taking both dogs to the vet at the same time.

Welcome to this week’s edition of, What Random Yet Oddly Related Thoughts Are Cluttering Karen’s Mind. Well except for the vet thing. So yeah, my daughter has boycotted me from proofing her essays. I guess I should be glad she’s not dependent on me for help, right? I mean, we want our kids to handle things like this on their own, right? So I shouldn’t sulk, right? Fine, I didn’t sulk. For too long. Because I stumbled upon one of my son’s old essays… and if you promise not to tell him I’ll share part of it with you:

“‘With malice towards none.’” That was my grandfather’s slogan when he was elected University of Miami Student Body President in 1942. For 16 years of my life, "Hurricane Harry" Rinehart instilled in me the principles of academic integrity and drive for success. Every time we spoke he’d ask about my grades and how I was doing in school. I can still remember how his eyes lit up when I reported (truthfully!) I was making A’s or high B’s in my classes.

Two months before he died, I had the privilege to travel with my dad and Papa Rinehart to Monessen, Pennsylvania—the small town where Papa grew up. His father owned an auto garage where Papa’s first job was sweeping the front sidewalk. We visited the house where he was born and lived until he was sixteen–when his father became the first person in the United States diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. With no medical solutions or hope, doctors at the Washington DC V.A. hospital suggested the family move to Miami where the climate might keep my great grandfather more comfortable.

From the time he arrived in Miami through college graduation, Papa worked several jobs to raise tuition, including a paper route, serving as the business manager for The Hurricane and distributing cigarette samples on campus (ironic for a man who never smoked!) While there, he earned the Iron Arrow Award, was Student Body President, and became a charter member of Sigma Chi.

Upon graduation, Papa attended Officer Candidate School, USN. A Lieutenant JG, he served as paymaster aboard the USS Eldorado, the flagship during the Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions. After the war, Papa used the GI Bill to obtain his master’s degree at Harvard Business School. For 39 years, Papa loyally worked as a salesman and District Sales Manager for the National Gypsum Company, while nurturing his wife through a 20-year battle with cancer and sending his three children to college.

Harry Rinehart used his life’s lessons of enduring hardship, working hard, taking leadership positions and courageously entering unchartered territory to guide his children and grandchildren. His life is an example for me — a bar that has been set — and I know I’m a better person for being his grandson. I want to reach that bar and beyond—not just to satisfy myself and ultimately serve others—but to make Papa proud."

And this is where, on some rare gleaming Bus Stop Mommy days, all the random stuff comes together.

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