Adrienne on JFK and the Arts…

Adrienne Dern was the first vice-president I hired at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.  PHA was much smaller when she joined us but had grown to the point that Pathlight, our newsletter, needed to move to a staff-edited publication.   The patient volunteers who had edited it since it was launched in 1991 had done a remarkable job in creating a quarterly that made a difference in people’s lives.  They gave news how others were living with this rare and incurable disease….and, from that, they gave hope.  Adrienne knew that transitioning the publication in-house had peril.  Pathlight was the soul of the organization and if patients were no longer editing it, their lives needed to be reflected.  It could not be abstract.  During her six years at PHA, Adrienne accomplished that task through the editors she hired and the thoughtful way she trained and supervised them.

Today, I’m pleased to post a brief but pointed guest blog from Adrienne.  I have also included a recording of the speech from which Adrienne quotes as a reminder to us all of how the President of a great nation, the United States of America, used to speak and inspire and move us toward each other, rather than apart.

Adrienne writes…

President Trump’s budget proposal calls for eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (Washington Post, March 16, Page 1). As for my reaction to this, I will let John F. Kennedy speak for me from words he delivered as part of his eulogy for Robert Frost in 1963:

“In a free society, art is not a weapon and does not belong to the sphere of polemics and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But in democratic society, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist, is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves the nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man – “the fate of having nothing to look backward to with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope.”

Hope is in short supply at the moment. We must keep the arts alive.

Thank you, Adrienne. There is much to be found in JFK’s speech at Amherst 54 years ago.  Here is one more quote about what made America great, worth remembering today.

“I look forward to a great future for America, a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.”




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