Sunday Thoughts: A Letter To Jim Lehrer of the News Hour

Jim Lehrer used to host the News Hour on PBS television. He started back in the mid-Seventies with the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour program and when Robert McNeil retired in 1995 the show went on as the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.  Lehrer stayed on the show until 2011.

Lehrer was a Marine. One night leading up to the Marine Corps Birthday on November 10, 2006, he talked about being in the Marines and mentioned his experience as a young Marine entering the Platoon Leader Class (PLC). It motivated me into writing to him on November 11, 2006. He replied over is signature on November 27: “Matthew Connolly – thank you – and Semper Fi.” Here is what I wrote to him:

Dear Mr. Lehrer:  Like you, I took my first airplane ride courtesy of the PLC program. I left from Logan Airport. It was in June of 1957. I also stood on the train platform as the DI welcomed us to the world of the Marines. I listened in dread as he went up and down one candidate yelling, “Home! Home! How the (expletive do we know where home is!” On and on he went while the rest of us took a surreptitious look at our orders hoping we did not make the same mistake by inserting the word home rather than our town on the line which read: “I received these orders at ________.” I immediately knew my life had changed.

Two years later I stood on the same platform and went through another similar welcome. This time a candidate fro Natick, MA, David Connell, stood next to me. The DI looked at his paper work and started to explode. DI: “Candidate! You are supposed to fill in answers to ALL the questions.” Connell said nothing. Holding the paper two inches from Connell’s face he said, “Candidate! Look at this! It asks you for you middle initial and you have not put one down!” Connell: “I have no middle name.”  DI: “If you don’t got a middle name then you write down ‘N’ for none.” Connell complied and went through the next six weeks as David N. Connell.

One final thought. During my first six weeks in 1957, every time I entered our Quonset hut at Camp Upshur I saw these words printed in large block letters on the back wall: Prior Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” For me those were as much a part of what the Marines were about as anything else. Your speech was well prepared, moving and memorable. Thank you for it and the memories.  Semper Fi.”

Sundays are a good day to reflect.

By the way, the photograph on this page of JFK was drawn free hand by Dave Connell. We were sitting next to each other in a classroom. Kennedy was running for president and Dave knew I was supporting him. He asked me if I’d like him to draw a picture of him. I said sure but don’t you need a photo to copy? He said no. Within about five minutes he handed me the portrait of Kennedy you see above. That’s another lesson I learned in the Marines: there are some people with enormous talent that others, like me, just can’t come one-two to.

3 thoughts on “Sunday Thoughts: A Letter To Jim Lehrer of the News Hour

  1. Matt

    all you got left is your Marine Tribe ….

    in other tribes

    for the uneducated and the uneducable

    high school dropout can’t find work so he joins the Marines to Semper Fi
    and collect some money.
    High school dropout is sent to Paris Island to be all he can be. He is trained to kill women and children and a occasional freedom fighter trying to protect his wife from being raped by Mr Semper Fi.
    High school dropout ships out to invade Iraq for USEmpire and US oil companies.
    American oil companies are struggling with the problem of Peak Oil.
    Peak oil means we no longer have a infinite supply of oil.Maybe you saw the documentary film END OF SUBURBIA see

    high school drop out didn’t because his high school teachers were too busy DUMBING him down

    High School dropout manges to kill a couple hundred women and children while throwing in a occasional rape. Mr Sempi Fi has now been transformed into Mr serial killer.
    Mr high school dropout/serial killer now begins to experience extreme depression from his actions. Mental Wealth workers call it Post Traumatic
    Stress Syndrome. But the only people who experience traumatic stress in Iraq are the Iraqi women being raped by Semper Fi’s before they shot and killed them.
    Good thing serial killer/high school dropout has never read the research
    of Ian Stevenson MD whose groundbreaking study of 300 children who remember previous lives provides the science for the existence of reincarnation. see

    What this means for high school dropout is that he will be coming back
    again for another life . Of course so will the people he murdered , so for practical purposes he has another couple hundred lives he has to live getting “wacked” by the life forms he semper fi’d.

    The difference this time is the raped and murdered have had some time to ponder while they wait for him to pass over, how they will “do” Mr Semper Fi- the high school drop out serial killer.

    Mr high school dropout comes back from Iraq out of work unless he re-enlists. There are not to many job openings for serial killers until he lands a job working with his be all you can be buddies at the local police department.

    1. Scumbags from the Middle East fly jets into World Trade Center, Pentagon, field in Pennsylvania killing thousands. Pope Innocent III returns from Previous Life as W and fails to remember his brilliant slaughter of Cathars.

      My, oh my. What’s a dear old motherfucker to do? Maybe come back as a Dung Beetle.

Comments are closed.