Google+ Followers

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Leonard Ahearn and the Invasion of D-Day, a Lesson In Life for All to Share

What is the price for Peace.

Let me simply start by stating that Leonard Ahern was my Spanish teacher in high school, both my sophomore and junior years at Fort Hunt High School.

He was in many ways the most challenging teacher I ever had, and after the first day of being his student, I have to admit, I thought he was a mad man and I had never seen such discipline, which I at first mis-took for maybe insanity...boy, was I wrong...what a brilliant and beautiful man.

After not doing well my first year in Spanish 1, I had to repeat Spanish 1. I opted, actually insisted, to have Senor Ahern again. My senior year I skipped to Spanish 3 and it was perhaps too simple after what I took two years to learn from his teaching me Spanish 1.

I was slow...no problems with the accent, or the vocabulary and respective spelling, however I could not stay up with learning thirteen verb conjugations, which I had somehow not been taught properly in plain English, my native tongue

To further explain, for example, would be to say that a verb in its basic un-conjugated form is the infinitive, and then depending on how it is conjugated to display the tense of a sentence i.e., past participle, present participle, etc., again I had never been explained these meanings in English.

As to not blame a teacher per se in my own experience, I grew up very sickly with asthma and nearly died, and it may be there that I missed those days in school.

I have always been smart, but education was always a hale storm of playing catch up when I was recovering and always tough just to make B's and C's...when healthy, I always performed better, receiving A's and B's.

This condition, in turn, was a blessing, as it gave me two years of one the finest teachers I have ever had from Kindergarten all the way through college...He is at the top tied with five total.

Senor Leonard Ahern, and I state his name that way, because it was what he demanded in his classroom, and therefore I will still respect today, was a strict disciplinarian

On Monday and Tuesday we had quizzes, Wednesday was a dict (dictation), Thursday yet again another quiz, and Friday (and a nightmare my first year of Spanish 1) a verb test!

He told us this the first day I ever had him as a teacher and it was a sweltering 90+ degree day (so it seemed as we were on the sunny side of the high school) and I wondered where on earth had I landed such that I am going to be tested like this???

He said we would never receive 100%, because no person and no test was perfect!

He stated, and he was more then likely about 62 at this time, that he had never missed a day of teaching, so if we thought we would ever get a break from him, forget it!

He even put his yellow Camaro into the Potomac River one icy morning...and still made it to his job teaching at school...his dedication was and I am certain still is considered second to none.

My brother had him as a teacher for French, and Donnie my brother, had nothing to say but great, great things about Senor Ahern (Misur Ahern for him).

I believe my sister Susan had him as a French teacher as well.

He and his friends referred to him as Mighty Mouse, and never t his face however.

Donnie, as I , wrestled, so we appreciated people that were in great shape, and we were each relatively small in our respective size growing up.

Senor Ahearn told me he awoke at 2:30 a.m. every morning from his Georgetown home in Washington D.C., where he would then go to the YMCA, and swim laps and do sit ups.

2500 sit ups a week! I do not recall the amount of laps he would swim, but it was a ton too...he did this every single day of every week!

He always dressed impeccably, and has these beautiful silk custom tailored thin ties, that I adored because he had style and he knew what looked shape and distinguished on him, but was never a flamboyant man.

He was beyond humble, in a way I had never known, nor did I truly have an inkling of how humble, until what I have read about him recently and the gift he left behind after his passing.

He knew life was valuable, as I would learn as my own years have passed.

It is amazing how perspective can or may and hopefully will continually change into one which is even more beautiful with deeper meaning upon introspection with new experience always accounted for as we age and travel through time.

Being tutored both my first and second year with him as my teacher was great...as it was these after school times that I learned one on one what it was I could not grasp during class with the other students.

I always did well on all testing, except the verb test, and if you failed a portion of tests and quizzes, collectively, as the way they were accounted for in his grading, you could theoretically perform with A's everywhere, and F's in one field, and flunk the class in it's entirety, which I did my first year.

So I repeated Spanish 1 and finally something clicked, and Spanish was really never a challenge after that point, as I think I rarely had to even study in Spanish 3, because now all the material was a repeat...that was the volume he could teach in just a years school time.

I felt now ready to be immersed in a Spanish speaking culture and learn the language and become fluent, which I still have not, however, the knowledge is still mostly all there in my mind and in tact, because he was that impressionable as a professor, and I will say professor out of respect as well, as he was such a master of his craft.

So it was one day after school, that we discussed some amazing thins, and it was actually many days.

To my recollection I had mentioned my Father and my Brother being West Pointers (as Donnie was an 1982 graduate and my Father an 1952) Donnie would have been serving his commission of at that time a required five years after graduation.

The year would have been, for me, 1982-1983, if my calculation is correct, and perhaps even the second year with him as my professor, 1983-1984.

One day after school, I spoke of my Father having served in Korea and Viet Nam, and that now my brother, which I so love as my Father, was going into active duty, and that I was scared I would lose him forever, as I almost did my own father.

My Father while in Viet Nam, was shot through a flight helmet on a helicopter by a sniper, and it went through his helmet, grazed the crown of his skull so that he received many stitches and a Purple Heart.

The helmet somehow caught the bullet in such a way that it slowed it so that it curved around the inside as it fell out the back. The damage to my Father had been done.

We lived in rural Pennsylvania at the time...and my recall, and it is one of my first memories, (the very first of which was a plane crash in a Pennsylvania air show that was truly like coming into life as the result of a big bang!...another story I will blog about here at some point in the near future), as I recall at age forty two today.

All I remember is being in our farm house and Mom telling me something terrible had happened, but that Daddy was OK, however he had been hurt by another man's gun.

What a sick feeling, at about age three to five, to even be able to conceive of such sin and understand the permanence of my Father may never be coming home ever again to Grace our family was utterly shocking and demoralizing, and still makes me so ill to this day that any of us can act so disgustingly brazen as to use weapons against one another makes my souls cry to the lord with prayer that no man ever suffer this hurt or pain at any level.

I later lost a close friend to murder from the bullet of a gun...and it still hurts too...but there are deep lessons here, and they need to be shared so we may all leave that disgust in the past, and not carry it forward as we move collectively, and I pray, towards Peace!

So, Senor Ahern one day while we spoke after school, saw my hurt, as only he could, and saw my innocent but real deep pain and tried to ease my pain and explain to me about so much so fast with such graphic detail that it could do nothing more then leave an indelible impression like a photograph in my mind.

I am never one to be quiet long, but when Senor Ahern told me these things...I did not open my mouth...my eyes made up for that, as I am sure they were huge taking this all in, and I knew he could see it, and I his eyes as well...intensity beyond words in all reality, as he explained what war was really, like, and it is just now that I recall why he told me this as well.

I had told him I was scared for my brother that he may have to go forward in my Father's footsteps and perhaps make that ultimate sacrifice NONE OF US should ever have to make, because war to me in itself is such an inherent, bur seemingly necessary evil as human beings...it disgusts me to the core of my soul!

I said that my Daddy (and I have Southern roots and that is what I call my Father if we are together and will do so here, as it creates a much closer exposure to me and my situation at that time and today that I want to make abundantly clear) as I explained to Senor Ahearn, never told me much of anything about war.

I told him that I knew my father almost died in a foreign land, and that I would want to know all that he went through so that I could share with others and lead a life that would bring no man to such a place ever again...such an idealist I have always been, and tears roll down my face even now as I cry, because I believe this is possible still today...if we all have faith, help one another as he did me, and carry each other or lift each others spirits upwards.

I selfishly wanted my father to share with me, but it was Senor Ahearn that shared with me the travesty that is WAR !

I also had a neighbor who was a survivor of Auschwitz, so I know first hand from two of the most terrible atrocities in modern recorded history, what war...I am sorry...three examples with my very own Father, of the incredible pain of war...and I have never once stepped on a battle field nor ever been in the military myself, which I did have aspirations of being a West Pointer as well. I am however thankful I never was, no matter how proud I may be of my Father and my Brother, and always will be.

I am thankful to report, my brother's son, just this year, declined his appointment to West Point, and instead, went to the Honors College at the University of South Carolina. Amen!.

I never want Sterling to be on a battle field either! and this I will continue to pray for on a daily basis, as I do for all people in this world.

Communication and understanding through education and language are what we so desperately need.

We cannot afford to go on with war as an acceptable alternative, it only comes from a (I almost said childish, which is such a poor choice, as we as children are innocent and have such beautiful clarity) fear based reactive or proactive stature that always leaves a larger mess, no matter the perceived winner, and in it's wake, such devastation for countless others for generation to come.

One soldier at war, can potentially cause a death that then resonates through time and effect thousands of others.

Think about that as you read what comes next.

It is now D-Day...and senor Ahearn is on an amphibious vehicle, and he is in the "first wave" of the invasion.

He is packed onto this machine with other soldiers, all with rifle and heavy ruck sack!

He even has a carrier pigeon to send message back and forth.

Senor Ahern always stressed language..so please DO take this to heart...his message was one of understanding and sharing and compassion through language, our most incredible barrier today, still!

He even had a job at the Russian Embassy before becoming a teacher, and he was a translator, which he said he could do so near perfection (but again as he always emphasized, nothing is perfect...except...), although he could not speak Russian fluently, and that was so counter intuitive to me at the time, however it is clear to me today that it is not only possible, but real and actual, and was a fact he testified to which I understand today.

First we understand language before we speak it.

We, hopefully, will all be better able to articulate our thoughts and vision with clarity as time passes and we learn more and more, and understand the true importance of life, experience, language, education, history, geography, and every other subject, not object, that we learn as we live.

So the machine carrying these men to death or so close to it, approaches the beach head which lay before them rather beautiful and serene...they were ordered to storm the beach and claim this strategic point to secure our entrance as one nation of many "Allies" into this area.

They, on his machine, had no idea they were in a channel, and that channel, as channels are, was deep.

So off he goes into the water thinking it perhaps only waist to shoulder high, and before he can think, he is very deep under water sinking like a rock and knowing that drowning is imminent.

Training kicks in and he intuitively knows to ditch the ruck sack, and rifle, or certainly drown.

So he ditched the very tools to save him only steps beyond where he is now!

The pigeon drowns as well.

To him,, he has failed already, as part of his responsibility is to send message back via pigeon to the "men in charge".

Senor Ahern is not a man of failure, but of action instead, so he quickly ditches his supplies and makes his swim to the beach.

Keep in mind, he at least became an avid swimmer, regardless of if he had been or not before this point in time, swimming saved his life at this point in time, and kept him fit and trim for his entire future and was always an integral part of his life from that point forward, thankfully recreationaly.

The men that reached the beach before him had (some of them) carried boxes of rifles to the beach, where he stated they "cracked the boxes open" quickly on the beach head so that if anyone needed a rifle, because it was obviously known that this type of invasion carried with it the inherent likelihood of losing your rifle, they could easily find one quickly.

As his eyes grew now even larger and deeper as he explained to me what happened next I sat in utter silence and listened intently.

What moments ago lay ahead of them and appeared serene was now a field of artillery and gunfire and pure death nearly unimaginable.

He stated to me that he got to the beach, and the boxes of rifles were not even needed, as the dead lay "EVERYWHERE" ON THAT BEACH, AND HE COMPREHENDED WHAT HE SAW BUT AT THE SAME TIME, COULD NOT BELIEVE the real and utter shock of what was actually transpiring.

Who is really ever prepared do die in WAR ? No one.

With dead everywhere, he quickly found a rifle, from another man by his dead body, not from a box.

He stated that he made it, somehow in a blur of utter shock and disbelief, past the beach head to a somewhat safer area, where he was able to regroup with others that survived the initial carnage.

So imagine if you will soaking wet, this man maybe 5'5" at most, and very fit and trim and I would have to say no more then 170 lbs, but more then likely, 150 lbs., or perhaps slightly smaller, arrives on the beach head where there is a barrage of gunfire and artillery and smoke so thick you can barely see, with dead everywhere...on the sand and floating in the water.

Finally he is with his friends that survived, as they regroup to move forward trying to achieve their goal.

He said it was hard to have a friend, because in an instant he may be dead. He also stated however, that you have to have friends in order to survive, and I deeply understood this and saw the pain along with the intensity that he was sharing with me.

It was rather like being transported in my own mind right to his time and experience, as though I was by his side at the moment of what was happening, although it had happened so many years earlier.

It was deeply moving and intense, as he knew how to explain something with such perfect language and delivery.

He was truly an artisan of words and language like no one I had ever before or since known.

I know now why my Father and so many others cannot speak of the atrocities of their own personal experience of war, and I understand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or "shell shock", or whatever you want to call it, deeper then I ever cared too, but content with the knowledge, knowing that I do not have to experience it, because of great men like these I have mentioned thus far, certainly including my Father, which I confess, I selfishly wanted to share with me what it was he had seen, so I would not relish in it all, but learn from it, so no man ever again would know the pain I knew as a boy.

Upon further reflection now especially, I only would desire him to share it with me more deeply if it would not hurt him upon recollection and would further help me define such tragedy ion order to be a better catalyst to prevent it.

I do not think anything can have deeper, although may have equal. Impact as what Senor Ahern explain to me, so to hear more countless stories on that perspective would be fruitless to convey any further meaning to me, and would simply be selfish, unless only under the circumstance that per chance by lending an ear and my soul I could perhaps relieve a little pain from another.

On a quick tangent, "The Wall", as written by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame and performed by Pink Floyd first, and currently by Roger Waters on tour now as I right this, starts with him losing his Father to war...so I deeply identify with this movie at every level, as well as with the music therein. It is based on WW2 and the devastation and life changing ripple effect that it has on the psyche of the survivors, even and perhaps more importantly, the ones that did not even see action, but may have been mere children.

So now, past the beach, and not the woods on an ascent, he and they with him, ascent the hill side towards their collective destination, as well as each perhaps their own, and unknown momentary yet permanent respective destination.

Over and over, he intensely told me, he lost men all around him, shot right in the forehead.

At first it was thought to be precision adversary rifleman snipers that were killing as so trained,
and indeed it was a part of what happened, but after he and other survivors analyzing this horrific tragedy all around them, (and this through communication !!! the key to life, peace and prosperity), they realized that not only were these men, their friends. consistently being shot and killed with a single shot to the head, but worse they realized they each had a target on their own heads in the form of what was on their helmets.

Each had a helmet with their respective insignia right smack in the middle of the forehead area of the helmet ans this acted as a bull's eye or as a target, if you will!

They immediately found dirt which they mixed with spit or water or mud nearby, and camouflaged these helmets, by simply covering this area with the mud and dirt they quickly smeared all over, and passed this along verbally to anyone nearby, in order to do so.

These men, if not already having received, should receive the Congressional Medal of Honor or at the very least, if not already once again, The Silver Star, because what is unknown now is how many lives this action has saved on that day and forward into today.

This I will research and suggest in a letter to Congress.

If your reading this now and want to do so, I urge you to take those steps yourself to contact me so we can do it together.

This may have even been the first real modern day act that became or evolved into our modern day camouflage.

He said that few others were killed similarly once they placed the mud and dirt over these insignia targets on their helmets.

It would and does seem so obvious in retrospect, as is always the case, however, it is one of those such seemingly non consequential examples that was so easily overlooked.

We often over plan perhaps the logistical arena and on the other hand do not know well enough the unseen and unknown which is still predictable, when having shared this knowledge.

I know this now, because of him, and for that i am thankful...perhaps it will save lives in the future still...and at a deeper level, I pray because we all see the pure stupidity that is WAR !

What these men did is remarkable and perhaps the very event that brought our infantry and other divisions into a modernization realized because of the need of camouflage.

Nature is always a great teacher, as camouflage is always all around us in so many forms naturally, and it is just one very reason we should all be students of nature, as most great poets and writers have been through the hall of time.

Senor Ahern left a beautiful legacy after a seemingly humble life.

He was humble, as nothing humbles another such as DEATH!

He was much more deeply thankful for life and passionate about sharing its value, especially through the importance of education.

Please read this link, as it was so eloquently written, and explains such a beautiful gift left to others by such a beautiful man, OF PEACE !

He shared with me, and as he has departed, I feel compelled to share his story and legacy, as he was and is a great man.

My hat is off to "Mighty Mouse", as my brother and his friends, and then I, refer to this great man.

Passion and inspiration through education and peace breed the same likeness!

That to me is the essence of one of my finest teachers personally speaking, as well as all of my professors in general...to teach anything else is ultimately fruitless!

I pray that these words do not fall on deaf ears or closed mind, but shall they, I pray then that they echo and resonate within the reader for a long time, until there is a clarity that war is pain ad infinitum.

Please read this link, or you cheat yourself the rest of this incredible real life experience and education that he so wanted to share with everyone, so that less may suffer.

The price for Peace does not need to be the loss of LIFE...it should be life and thankfulness and understanding through education and experience and communication that brings forth less stupidity which results in WAR!

We are in "The Green Era", and it is should be an era that is enhanced with the technology at hand and therefore should swiftly propel us forward into an era of Peace and Understanding first and tantamount to anything else, as we are better able to communicate and educate ourselves more quickly then ever, especially with the Internet and all the excellent sources of information at our fingertips today, and thus left with no valid excuses to proceed forward as a species as we have so tragically in the past.

Fear is based in a lack of misunderstanding...simple as that.

I always try to read with an open mind, as open as possible, if only just slightly more open hen a moment ago, understanding that it is not my perspective that is ultimately important, but our collective perspective through sharing experience and then building upon collective vision towards peaceful means to bring enhancements to everyone.

The seven deadly sins are alive and well, as today tensions are high world wide now, more then ever, as I write this on December 22, 2010.

I would rather die broke and with passion and having left a legacy, then to die a financially rich man that was a selfish pig.

Senor Ahern left a legacy. he never suffered financially, but rather humbly existed comfortably, a long while on a path to leave a legacy so beautiful mathematically that it should perpetuate itself to benefit countless others for a long time.

Being close to death gave him great vision. language gave him great vision. Education gave him great vision.

He utilized all of this knowledge to lead a life in mere obscurity as a public school teacher, not PRIVATE, as mentions in the link, as that was incorrect reported.

He knew where help was so greatly needed, and I for one am thankful for that vision, because of this vision he had and shared with me, I ultimately benefited and am now able to share with you what he shared with me, which so many men cannot repeat with the profoundness that he so candidly shared with me, as it is just to painful so often for .

The price of Peace. Freedom.

Understand that I as a man do not hate a soul, even the souls that have hurt and killed my own loved ones and friends.

I am no more perfect then anyone other man, nor will I claim to ever be.

I am just a mere human being trying to do my best and often seemingly failing along the way.

He taught me failure can and shall be overcome, if you have Faith and understanding, and share that experience and use it to help others, no matter the short term expense to the self, where all sin really resides and roots here on this earth.

Greed and money, the root of all evil? Perhaps simply man is the root of all evil.

Theories abound and always will, but for me personally, gain is pointless unless it helps others more then it helps me.

Thanks Senor Leonard Ahearn, for sharing with me what was such tragedy, so that I may have shared your perspective from a time and experience from before that which I came forth.

You are missed, but for me, will never be forgotten, and that may sound cliche, as so often the deepest things to myself do, however, it is a lesson so worth sharing.

I know why he said no test score will ever receive 100% on his grade, because he knew we are all flawed as human beings...he never tried to be perfect, but rather through education and strict discipline instilled knowledge and experience (both from personal experience and learned from teachings of others) to touch our souls.

I never failed Spanish in reality, even though I got D's and F's in my first attempt, I was truly right where I was suppose to be hearing what I was suppose to learn, which was a deep deep lesson I will never forget.

I am thankful to every soldier everywhere that has stood and especially fought and perhaps perished, for what they believed in, but I think I would rather die non resistant today (at least in the sense of me and a gun or any weapon) then to possibly send a ripple effect that is death that will travel well beyond my space in time, and continually effect countless others in the future.

I choose what Senor Ahern taught me which is education, understanding, language and communication to perpetuate PEACE, because it is what he and others have taught me.

Many great men have fought many tragic wars to come home deemed heroes, but the heroes they are typically despised what it was that made them heroes.

Tyrants and civilizations always die!

Legacies can last forever...and if it is a legacy not based in offering hope after one has passed, then there is no legacy.

What will be your legacy?

Here is his.

Please I urge you to read this, you may have to copy and paste it into your browser's address bar.

__________________________________________________________________________________

http://www.pressherald.com/news/alumnus-gift-to-cheverus-pays-forward-his-success_2010-04-26.html

___________________________________________________________________________________

Text from above link: I included just in case the link one day disappears. I will leave the link for reference.

Alumnus' gift to Cheverus pays forward his success By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — As the first recipient of the Ahern Scholarship for Cheverus High School graduates, Tom Yates feels the weight of high expectations. And he's OK with it.

click image to enlarge Senior Tom Yates is the first recipient of a $40,000 scholarship created by a gift to Cheverus High School by Leonard Ahern, a member of the Class of 1940.
Leonard Ahern
Select images available for purchase in the
Maine Today Photo Store
Leonard F. Ahern was a Cheverus alumnus and a longtime teacher who left $1 million to the private high school when he died in June 2008 at the age of 89. The gift was the second-largest in the school's history.
It established a $40,000 annual scholarship to be awarded to a deserving senior who demonstrates Cheverus' principles of intellectual competence, personal growth, spiritual development, commitment to justice and community leadership.
Though Yates never met Ahern, the 18-year-old scholar and athlete aspires to be like his unexpected benefactor.
"Mr. Ahern truly represents what a Cheverian should be: loving, caring, concerned about others," said Yates, who lives in West Baldwin. "This scholarship represents how much I've grown over my four years at Cheverus and how I'm developing as a leader and how much I have to contribute in the future."
Yates, who will graduate in June, plans to use the scholarship to study business management and psychology at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. The money will be awarded in $10,000 increments over four years. With a financial aid package provided by the college, his annual tuition, room and board of nearly $46,000 will be paid in full.
"I'm pretty much set," Yates said. "Financially, the Ahern Scholarship took a lot of pressure off."
Yates is an honor roll student, a senior class officer and a co-president of the student council at Cheverus, a Jesuit Catholic college-preparatory school for boys and girls. He's also an Eagle Scout, a jazz trumpet player, a member of the school's soccer, track and lacrosse teams, and a coach and third-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
He started the Cheverus International Club, joined the Spanish and Haiti Solidarity clubs and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He volunteers regularly in a soup kitchen and works part time at a sushi restaurant.
"In my mind, Tom Yates' name resonates with maturity and leadership," said Valerie Webster, a Cheverus guidance counselor. "He is an extraordinarily energetic young man with many interests and talents."
Still, Yates was shocked to learn that he had won the scholarship. "The other six people who were nominated were top students," he said.
Yates is the son of Kenneth Yates, a small-business owner, and Yeong-Rae An, a home health aide who was an accountant in her native Korea.
Yates speaks fluent Korean and attends the Rainbow United Methodist Church on Washington Avenue in Portland, which serves the small but tightly knit Korean community in southern Maine.
"My Korean heritage is very important to me," Yates said, noting that respect for elders and others is emphasized in the Korean community, and friends are treated like family.
Education is important to both of his parents, Yates said. His pending graduation from Cheverus will help ease his father's regret at turning down an opportunity to attend the private school when he was a teenager. Yates said he has chosen to study business largely because he shares his parents' aptitudes for the field.
It's fitting that a business major is the first recipient of the Ahern Scholarship, said Steven Ahern, Leonard's nephew.
"My uncle was a financial wizard," said Ahern, who lives in Windham. "He was very frugal, and he learned to invest his money well. He pretty much taught himself."
Leonard Ahern was born on Prince Edward Island and moved to Portland with his family when he was about 10.
His father, Michael, came to work on the railroad but missed his livelihood as a fisherman back home. When his mother, Elizabeth, refused to return to Prince Edward Island, the couple separated, and Michael Ahern went back to Canada alone.
Elizabeth Ahern stayed in Portland with her five children and worked in restaurants as a waitress and cook. Later, she ran her own restaurants in Portland, Ogunquit and Wells.
"My uncle had a deep love and respect for his mother," Steven Ahern said. "That's why he dedicated the scholarship to her."
After graduating from Cheverus in 1940, Ahern served in the Army during World War II, which is when he became a U.S. citizen, his nephew said. Afterward, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Maine and a master's degree from George Washington University.
He worked briefly as a translator for the U.S. government in France and, after settling in Washington, D.C., taught French and Spanish for decades at a private school in Alexandria, Va.
He also tutored high school and college students and worked as a waiter at French restaurants that catered to employees of and visitors to the French Embassy.
Leonard Ahern never married or had children. His ashes were interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington in a moving service that his nephew attended.
In establishing a scholarship at Cheverus, Leonard Ahern ensured that his love of learning would live on.
"He dedicated his life to education," Steven Ahern said. "He enjoyed going to Cheverus. I think some of the Jesuits who taught him really motivated him to learn."
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:
kbouchard@pressherald.com





http://www.pressherald.com/news/alumnus-gift-to-cheverus-pays-forward-his-success_2010-04-26.html

____________________________________________________________________________

Text from above link: I included just in case the link one day disappears. I will leave the link for reference.

____________________________________________________________________________

Alumnus' gift to Cheverus pays forward his success By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — As the first recipient of the Ahern Scholarship for Cheverus High School graduates, Tom Yates feels the weight of high expectations. And he's OK with it.

click image to enlargeSenior Tom Yates is the first recipient of a $40,000 scholarship created by a gift to Cheverus High School by Leonard Ahern, a member of the Class of 1940.
Leonard Ahern
Select images available for purchase in the
Maine Today Photo Store
Leonard F. Ahern was a Cheverus alumnus and a longtime teacher who left $1 million to the private high school when he died in June 2008 at the age of 89. The gift was the second-largest in the school's history.
It established a $40,000 annual scholarship to be awarded to a deserving senior who demonstrates Cheverus' principles of intellectual competence, personal growth, spiritual development, commitment to justice and community leadership.
Though Yates never met Ahern, the 18-year-old scholar and athlete aspires to be like his unexpected benefactor.
"Mr. Ahern truly represents what a Cheverian should be: loving, caring, concerned about others," said Yates, who lives in West Baldwin. "This scholarship represents how much I've grown over my four years at Cheverus and how I'm developing as a leader and how much I have to contribute in the future."
Yates, who will graduate in June, plans to use the scholarship to study business management and psychology at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. The money will be awarded in $10,000 increments over four years. With a financial aid package provided by the college, his annual tuition, room and board of nearly $46,000 will be paid in full.
"I'm pretty much set," Yates said. "Financially, the Ahern Scholarship took a lot of pressure off."
Yates is an honor roll student, a senior class officer and a co-president of the student council at Cheverus, a Jesuit Catholic college-preparatory school for boys and girls. He's also an Eagle Scout, a jazz trumpet player, a member of the school's soccer, track and lacrosse teams, and a coach and third-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
He started the Cheverus International Club, joined the Spanish and Haiti Solidarity clubs and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He volunteers regularly in a soup kitchen and works part time at a sushi restaurant.
"In my mind, Tom Yates' name resonates with maturity and leadership," said Valerie Webster, a Cheverus guidance counselor. "He is an extraordinarily energetic young man with many interests and talents."
Still, Yates was shocked to learn that he had won the scholarship. "The other six people who were nominated were top students," he said.
Yates is the son of Kenneth Yates, a small-business owner, and Yeong-Rae An, a home health aide who was an accountant in her native Korea.
Yates speaks fluent Korean and attends the Rainbow United Methodist Church on Washington Avenue in Portland, which serves the small but tightly knit Korean community in southern Maine.
"My Korean heritage is very important to me," Yates said, noting that respect for elders and others is emphasized in the Korean community, and friends are treated like family.
Education is important to both of his parents, Yates said. His pending graduation from Cheverus will help ease his father's regret at turning down an opportunity to attend the private school when he was a teenager. Yates said he has chosen to study business largely because he shares his parents' aptitudes for the field.
It's fitting that a business major is the first recipient of the Ahern Scholarship, said Steven Ahern, Leonard's nephew.
"My uncle was a financial wizard," said Ahern, who lives in Windham. "He was very frugal, and he learned to invest his money well. He pretty much taught himself."
Leonard Ahern was born on Prince Edward Island and moved to Portland with his family when he was about 10.
His father, Michael, came to work on the railroad but missed his livelihood as a fisherman back home. When his mother, Elizabeth, refused to return to Prince Edward Island, the couple separated, and Michael Ahern went back to Canada alone.
Elizabeth Ahern stayed in Portland with her five children and worked in restaurants as a waitress and cook. Later, she ran her own restaurants in Portland, Ogunquit and Wells.
"My uncle had a deep love and respect for his mother," Steven Ahern said. "That's why he dedicated the scholarship to her."
After graduating from Cheverus in 1940, Ahern served in the Army during World War II, which is when he became a U.S. citizen, his nephew said. Afterward, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Maine and a master's degree from George Washington University.
He worked briefly as a translator for the U.S. government in France and, after settling in Washington, D.C., taught French and Spanish for decades at a private school in Alexandria, Va.
He also tutored high school and college students and worked as a waiter at French restaurants that catered to employees of and visitors to the French Embassy.
Leonard Ahern never married or had children. His ashes were interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington in a moving service that his nephew attended.
In establishing a scholarship at Cheverus, Leonard Ahern ensured that his love of learning would live on.
"He dedicated his life to education," Steven Ahern said. "He enjoyed going to Cheverus. I think some of the Jesuits who taught him really motivated him to learn."
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:
kbouchard@pressherald.com
This is my music, I hope you will find some time to enjoy it as well...he is a part of the inspiration when I sing about peace.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

added 11-23-2012:


Secret message found with carrier pigeon may never be deciphered



http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/secret-message-found-carrier-pigeon-may-never-deciphered-182955040.html

 
ComScore