Going Home!
Written by Tony Mussari
Copyright 2011
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
Photographs of flag presentation provided by John McAndrew

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years

Two weeks ago, Kitch and I made a sentimental journey to a place I called home for most of my life. In 1959, King’s College became part of my life, and my life has never been the same since my first day on what was then a very small and humble campus.

Less than ten years later, I was invited to return to King’s to fill in for a teacher who was on sabbatical. That one year position became a 37 year commitment to King’s College in a number of different capacities. My first assignment was in the History department. In 1983, I was asked to chair a Mass Communications department that was down on its luck, and the rest as they say is history.

On this day, Kitch and I put our worries about her battle with breast cancer in a box as a friend would say. We picked up the man who had the greatest impact on my life when I was a student at King’s and the person who gave me the teaching position in 1968, Dr. Richard Loomis, and we drove to King’s to present the National 9/11 Remembrance Flag to Fr. Thomas O’Hara.

In the parking lot, we had a brief reunion with another former teacher, and a member of King’s first class, Joe Balz.

Once inside the Sheehy-Farmer Campus Center, we were joined by a group of friends and supporters of our Face of America project. While we exchanged pleasantries, I could feel a swell of emotion building as memories of a lifetime in the classroom flashed through my mind.

At the appointed time, Fr. O’Hara arrived, and we made the flag presentation in the same room where Kitch and I said farewell to our last class. It was a bitter sweet moment. The words of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi apply. “Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

After the presentation, we followed Fr. O’Hara to the conference room named in honor of his parents. Once there, we had coffee, dessert and an opportunity to express our gratitude for the help we received during our Face of America Journey.

Everything went smoothly until I was asked to speak.

Then it happened.

I stood up, looked into the faces of former students, colleagues, friends, Dr. Loomis and Kitch, and there was silence. 

I was so filled with emotion, I could not speak. It was an uncomfortable and a beautiful moment. Everything I felt about this place I called home for so many years rushed from my brain, but it was blocked by my heart. The sound of silence spoke louder than any words I could speak.

After what seemed like an eternity, the silence was broken with an expression of gratitude, a summary of the highlights of our Face of America project, mention of the 23 former students who helped us during our journey, an in-the-moment from the heart proposal and a conclusion about being home.

Fr. O’Hara spoke words of welcome and gratitude for the flag that will one day be permanently displayed on the campus.

Then it was over. The room emptied, and we said farewell to King’s in much the same way we did almost six years ago.

In the days that followed, Kitch and I received thoughtful, heartfelt and very generous notes from just about everyone who attended the event. They have been carefully placed in a special file.

Dr. Loomis captured the spirit of the event in a poem he wrote. It speaks to one of the fundamental characteristics of America on its best days and the America Dream.

Home Again
For Tony & Kitch

Does it matter that the Laurel Line
Runs no more with a merry rumble

Past the Administration Building
To the railroad heart of the city
And back again the other way to Scranton?
Who really cares that almost
None of those kids owned a car,
Or that they who were called men then
Are called kids today. Does it matter?

Yes it does. Give us those men,
Give us those veterans, give us
Those students broken to learning
By parents and nuns who knew
You break a boy like you break a horse,
So he’s good for something and knows
To get somewhere and be better off.

It matters that Father Kline
No longer kneels to beg the Holy Spirit
To plunge our brains into the Heart
Of His light and help us reckon
Rightly, Truly and count our blessings,
Beginning with parents and teachers
Who taught us good sense or else.

Old teachers still hang around, though,
Old students turned to adults are here
And walk these halls. And, yes,
That’s good, but where we are
In our youth? Where is that
Ignorance of ours that hungered
For learning? Ah, learning is here.

And we are the learning now.
We’ve seen much of life,
And more of human folly and greed
Than we ever wanted to see.
But there is innocence here still,

Boys become men, girls become women,
And we live together now, still learning.

We are home again where we started,
And bring the wealth of souls with us,
We tremble to be with our brothers and sisters,
And look forward to the family meal
That awaits us now that we are home again.

January 25, 2011
Richard Loomis, Ph.D.

Thank you, Dr. Richard Loomis, Pam Bird, Suzanne McCabe, Teresa Peck, John Augustine, Joe DeVizia, Sean McGrath, Fr. Tom O’Hara and Frank Oliver.

A special note of thanks to Elaine Zavada for making all the arrangements.

This is one day of our Face of America Journey that we will never forget.