One of the great African-American icons (maybe the last) of our time, Dr. Maya Angelou, slipped away on May 28. She was 86.
In spite of a difficult childhood, including a rape by a family friend at age 7, the Grammy Award winner rose to become one of America's most celebrated singers, dancers, authors and poets.
She is perhaps best remembered for her recital of one of her many poems, "On the Pulse of Morning," at President Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration. Her book, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," became an international bestseller.
Maya Angelou was a great person, not just a personality. She counted among her friends Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Oprah Winfrey. At her death, condolences poured in from notables around the world.
First lady Michelle Obama, Winfrey, Bill Clinton and others eulogized her at a memorial service last Saturday. I suppose Dr. Angelou might have been a little amused by it all.
You see, from what I know of her, Maya Angelou was tough, yet tender hearted. Great, yet gracious. Extremely proud, yet extraordinarily humble.
And, on her destination to heaven, I think she might have been well satisfied with a small ceremony and a pine box marked simply: "Handle With Care."
We are coming to the end of an era. Of the millions of American soldiers who fought in World War II, and especially those who were among the warriors who were part of the Allies' first major front in the war, the Normandy Invasion, only a relative handful are still alive to tell the story. After all, the invasion took place in 1944, 70 years ago.
I don't think young people today are much aware of the great sacrifices made during WWII. In all, various estimates of the number of soldiers and civilians who were killed during the war were somewhere between 50 million and 70 million. In my opinion, it was a war that had to be fought. Otherwise, no doubt, America would be a very different place today.