Alumni Day 2020: A Time to Honor and Remember
By Howard Zien '71, Class Treasurer
Saturday, February 22, was the annual Princeton Alumni Day.
It is a day of:
- Celebration to honor the James Madison and Woodrow Wilson award winners.
- Reconnection to visit the campus and revisit the sites and sounds that were so familiar 49 years ago.
- Remembrance for those Princetonians and classmates who have passed away during the prior year.
For many years, I have enjoyed the first two experiences noted above. I attend the lectures of the award winners, hoping to learn a few thoughts and insights. I find that I am always successful in this effort which makes me feel like an award winner as well.
In year’s past, after the lectures and the satisfying luncheon hosted in Jadwin Gym/Auditorium, it has been my joy and pleasure to wander off to the various athletic fields and watch the Princetonian’s of today exhibit their skills, which are well worth watching.
This year, 12 of our classmates had passed away; so I approached Princeton and the day’s events with a more sobering perspective. More about that later. First, I would like to share with you my personal rewards from the first item above, the alumni Day presentations.
The Madison Award, Kip Thorne
The Madison Award was given to Kip Thorne, a Theoretical Physicist and Nobel Laureate in the fields of gravitational physics and astrophysics. I was particularly excited at the prospect of his remarks because both of these areas have long been of keen interest to me. And my interest is in no way a result of my deep knowledge of these areas. Rather my interest results from the fact that I am fascinated by these ideas and have never attained even a fraction of understanding of how they work.
I was very excited to hear Kip’s presentation and about the prospect of finally attaining a level of understanding that has eluded me all these years. As the presentation began, it was very encouraging. Kip was entertaining, even folksy. His talk was accompanied by an engaging slide show which included photos of his many physics colleagues over the years. The slide show also included color illustrations and drawing the physical phenomena he dedicated his life to and for which he won the award.
Alas, a genuine and fundamental understanding of these wide-ranging and exciting concepts continue to escape me. My quest for knowledge continues.
The Woodrow Wilson Award, Anthony Romero
The Woodrow Wilson Award Winner was Anthony Romero, the executive director of the
American Civil Liberties Union. Anthony’s role, among other things, is to lead a team of 300+ lawyers throughout the country to challenge the unjust and open doors to opportunity for all to share.
His presentation style was engaging and extremely personal. He said little about himself, but in the stories he told and the topics he shared, all in attendance at Alexander Hall (or whatever they call it now) could see the type of human being he was and why he was deserving of the award. His level of achievement is only exceeded by his humility. He made two very personal comments about himself. And these comments were communicated not as a declaration, but as part of a subordinate clause to some other vital point he felt was more worthwhile.
One particularly memorable remark for me was when he said that he views his role as trying to bridge the gap between the “bottom line folks and the better world folks."
Service of remembrance
I have been on campus for 8 or 10 Alumni Days at Princeton. And I am ashamed to tell you that I have only attended the Service of Remembrance one other time. On that occasion, I was transfixed by the hauntingly beautiful music ricocheting off the walls and ceiling of the Chapel and by the 4 majestic, colorful kites that literally fly and dance inside the Chapel at the beginning and end of the service.
It is difficult to describe the experience and sensation, so I have included here a link to the opening 5 minutes of a service held in the Princeton Chapel that features both of these qualities. This clip is from a different holiday and different year, but it does a perfect job of conveying the tradition and experience of the Alumni Day Remembrance Service.
This year, 2020, because twelve of our classmates had passed away in the prior year, I felt drawn to attend the service. As a bonus, the class executive committee honored me by designating me as the class of 1971 representative. In this role, toward the end of the service, I march in file with representatives of the other classes from the main doors of the Chapel all the way to the alter.
The Chapel is large, majestic and beautiful. It’s architecture is highlighted by the center aisle that I and the other class representatives solemnly walked down that day. And as I began to march down the center aisle of the Chapel, my eyes met the relatives, spouses and friends of our classmates who have passed on. The memory I have of Alumni Day 2020 is the look in their eyes and tears on their cheeks. I instinctively tapped my heart as I passed the loved ones of our classmates. During that walk, I had an overwhelming sense of the majestic making contact with the human. These were our classmates.
James Henderson - February 21, 2017
Pandelis M. Glavanis - September 1, 2017
John A. M. Chitty – February 28, 2019
Daniel P. Cunningham – March 31, 2019
Mark P. Wine – April 20, 2019
David C. Richardson – May 5, 2019
Alan G. Moore – May 24, 2019
Alan Brinkley – June 16, 2019
Jerome B. Simandle – July 19, 2019
David R. Keller – August 3, 2019
Richard B. Lindsay, Jr. – August 8, 2019
Vincent “Mick” B. McGinnis – November 4, 2019
Arlene G. Julius – November 8, 2019
P. J. Murphey Harmon – December 15, 2019
The Class was honored to have these relatives seated with us at the luncheon: Murphy Harmon’s wife Hillary, Arlene Julius’ sister Barbara Julius, Mick Mcginnis’ spouse Melissa, and Jerry Simandle’s wife Jane Darton and daughter.
Photo highlights of the 2020 Alumni Day can be found on this Facebook page.
The following were at the luncheon or seen during the day's activities: William Armiger, Richard DiFedele and Marie, Paul Fitzgerald, Jeffrey Hammond, Jack Hittson and Ronnie, Art Lowenstein, Podie Lynch, John Neale, Ray Ollwerther and wife, Doug Pike, Jamie Pitney , David Schankler, Richard Shell, Roberta Wyper Shell, Gerry Uehlinger and wife, and Howard Zien.
Visit the Class Photo Gallery for more photos of the luncheon in Jadwin.