Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cambridge Gives David Halberstam a Square

I was walking down Mount Auburn Sreet in Cambridge last weekend and came upon some plants in the middle of the street in front of Claverly Hall. At first I thought it might be a Harvard Lampoon prank, as the trail or plants leads to the Lampoon castle.

But it turns out that the City of Cambridge has designated a new square between the front drive to Lowell House, Claverly Hall, and the Lampoon building.

And just who is David Halberstam? He arrived as a reporter for the New York Times in Vietnam in the early 1960s, during the period the Kennedy administration was sending advisors but after The Quiet American by Graham Greene (1955) and The Ugly American by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer (1958).

The Best and Brightest in the Kennedy administration and later in the Johnson administration had to learn the lessons of Vietnam all over again. And Halberstam made his career documenting and explaining that hubris to the American people.

The stone inscription reads:

David L. Halberstam
Member of Harvard's Class of 1955
Managing Editor of the Harvard Crimson
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist for the New York Times
Author of twenty books and public intellectual
He appealed to America's conscience on the issues of civil rights and unjust wars

A small irony is that the Harvard Crimson and Harvard Lampoon are big rivals, and now the Lampoon has a memorial to a Crimson editor just beyond its front doorstep.

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