Shining solid gray in the warm spring dusk, the Rodham family headstone toppled sometime over the weekend near the edge of Scranton’s Washburn Cemetery.
How the heavy stone fell remains a mystery.
Did fanatics drag it down a day or two after a local television news report showed it for the world to see?
Did the wind blow it over, as the kindly undertaker suggested Monday evening while standing on sacred ground? Did vandals overturn it on purpose or did the earth above our abandoned coal mines shift in a natural gasp of living soil?
Whatever force sent that heavy marker on its back must have been substantial. More significant, though, is the power that righted the wrong and worked to raise the stone to its original dignity.
Virtue still lives in that old Scranton graveyard. Strength breathes as testament to a legacy of life, love and commitment to what is just. The Rodham family stone anchors an indelible spirit that remains so much a part of this city. So, too, does the family memorial mark the presidential campaign of a special Rodham daughter. Like those who came and went before her, Hillary is part of this town, her father’s town, a town that helped shape her and her family.
The Rodham signature remains part of Scranton’s past, present and future.
Family history provides identity to us all.
That’s one reason why, born of good stock, Hillary brings the Rodham character of discipline, purpose and honor to her pledge to help people and a country in need.
Little about life is easy – especially in Scranton. Mystery clouds tomorrow. But what we know for sure is that when trouble arises, the chance to help people makes for better people. The chance to make a difference in people’s lives turns bad into good in any town.
A man and his wife had spotted the downed Rodham headstone Monday afternoon while walking the cemetery where the man has family buried. So he went home and quickly made a call. The man he called listened, hung up and made a call of his own. Other calls went out as well.
By early evening, four men and a woman stood by the Rodham family plot, talking in quiet tones the way good people have stood around talking at Scranton burial grounds for centuries. Then they shook hands and went to work to solve the problem.
The undertaker called a crane operator who said he would show up at the cemetery the next day. Police would be notified. A Rodham family friend called Hillary’s brother, Tony, to tell him that everything would be okay. Another person called the man and his wife to thank them for their concern and promised to keep them up to date.
People looking out for each other, neighbors watching out for neighbors, good citizens helping anybody who needs help. Money or no money, black, white, Latino, citizen, non-citizen, gay or straight - just like the video Hillary released Sunday when she officially announced her presidential campaign.
“Hillary for America” translates into exactly what happened in Scranton yesterday.
Helping, not hurting, creates a new day in our lifetime as sturdy as a toppled headstone raised again in dignity, stability and love for all that’s good.
At our best, in Scranton and elsewhere, we’re simply people helping people.