Alan Webber: A voice from the past still resonates today
I recently listened to my first podcast while driving home from the airport. I knew about podcasts but never took the time to listen, as most of it just did not look interesting enough to turn off the news or classic rock on XM.
As it turned out, Spotify happened to be featuring podcasts from Paul Harvey.
I loved to listen or read Paul Harvey stories when I was younger and had frankly forgotten about his eloquent homilies. Who could forget his “Now You Know the Rest of the Story” series? Check out the episode on Kris Kristofferson.
If you are not familiar with Harvey…why the heck not? Just kidding, please, no more hateful letters like those from the Billy Graham commentary. By the way, Paul and Billy were very good friends.
Paul Harvey Aurandt had a daily radio program for 56 straight years, carried by 1,200 radio stations, 400 American Forces Network stations and 300 newspapers.
Harvey passed away in February 2009 at the age of 90.
He took with him, perhaps, one of the most brilliant, insightful and iconic personalities of the 20th century.
A conservative social commentator, arguably on par with the likes of Will Rogers (both born in Oklahoma) and Mark Twain, he penned classic narratives, delivering them in a positive and inspirational manner, with a voice that seemed as smooth as butter. His oratories were like sitting beside a warm fireside listening to a favorite uncle.
The podcast I happened to stumble upon was one never heard before, or at least remembered by me. Granted, my wife tells me I had Cheerios for breakfast this morning, but I swear it was oatmeal, so there might be a chance I heard Harvey’s tale years ago and just forgot.
Fortunately, this time, the podcast ended just before I got home to the computer.
Anyway, the 48-minute speech was given at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., in September 2003. Titled, “Freedom with Responsibility,” his message of no self-government without self-discipline is every bit as appropriate and powerful today as it was 15 years ago.
The speech was packed full of light humor and anecdotes that kept the crowd interested and wanting more while absorbing his stout message of self-discipline by those who would be self-governed. That means us, folks.
Ironically, he mentioned in that same speech years ago, (here I paraphrase), “… because there is anarchy in the brains of a few looney birds, who don’t deserve to be free … a government without self-discipline will threaten to take our guns away. And down that road, whole nations slide from regulation to regimentation to tyranny. “
This podcast prompted me to dig a little deeper into the life of Harvey.
A Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient in 2005, he was passionate about American history and the Founding Fathers.
Did you know his own father had been a police officer but was murdered … while off duty?
Harvey only was 3 years old at the time.
It was somewhat distressing to me personally to find out Harvey had been friends with the morally deficient tyrants, J. Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy.
He later denied being “friends” with McCarthy, but did whole-heartedly advocate the eradication of communism from America.
The connection with Hoover, however, likely got him out of a major scrape in 1951, when he snuck into and was subsequently arrested at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill., just to prove and report on their lax security.
Other celebrated talks included, “So God Made a Farmer,” Hard Work” and “Letter from God.”
Perhaps his most famous oration though was given all the way back in 1965, a piece titled, “If I Were the Devil.”
It’s only 3 minutes long. If you are not familiar with this message, I urge you to listen and consider how foretelling those words are a half-century later in the society in which we now live. If you have heard this speech before, perhaps, you might want to listen again. It can be found at youtube.com/watch?v=ZaGVCO6CByQ.
In Robert McFadden’s obituary in the NY Times on Harvey, it was pointed out he advocated individualism, patriotism and a love for God. He detested welfare frauds, big government, political bureaucrats, overly lenient parents, leftist radicals and the moral decay of America.
He was rightly concerned about the national debt and he supported the death penalty.
Hey, my wife could save that obit and use it for mine.