Lorraine Stanley Berlin
September 25, 1919 ~ March 15, 2015
Her life spoke her Wellesley College alma mater's motto: "Not to be served, but to serve". During WW2, she left Lockheed Aircraft to join the Red Cross and deployed to NE India with the US Army Air Corps' famed 444th and 20th Bomb Groups. In 1946, she again deployed to Europe to serve in Germany and Austria with the US occupation forces. Married in 1947, she and her husband returned to the US where they began a remarkable 42-year journey (21 overseas) together in politics, business, Air Force counterintelligence, education, counseling and raising their four surviving children: Bill, Brett, Trevi and Trudi. Following the loss of her husband, she continued actively including Tokyo-Washington Women, Sewell-Belmont House, White House, Smithsonian, and 23 years at the Kennedy Center. She left a mark on every life she touched.
Memorial Services: Sunday, March 29, 4pm. Fort Myer Memorial Chapel.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made either to: Georgetown Visitation Monastery 1524 35th St NW, Washington, DC(202)337-0305. Please designate any donation In Memory of Lorraine Berlin. (This is where she worshipped and attended Italian class. She especially loved the nuns there) OR To a special training fund at ProLiteracy (formerly Literacy Volunteers of America) where she served on the national board and as a volunteer when she lived in Syracuse, NY and for a short time while in Washington DC: ProLiteracy, 104 Marcellus Street Syracuse. NY 13204. Designate: In memory of Lorraine Berlin, "For training focusing on TUTOR 8"
Interment will take place on May 11, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at Arlington National Cemetery. All guests are encouraged to arrive at 9:15 a.m. that morning.
A Tribute to My Mother, My Encourager
Lorraine Stanley Berlin
To many, the long bus rides home on the weekends were just another part of the routine of the Aviano Air Base teen, sort of a cross between a late-night date and time to just "hang out" with the crowd. For me however, it was always coming home --- the beginning of a long evening of family time that began when the bus arrived. The Saturday night bus rides after school dances rolled into town well after midnight. If you were ever tired and burdened by the ritual, I never knew it. Instead, those times became the base for one of the pillars of our relationship, a highlight of my memories. Often, well after others were asleep, you and I would still be talking, sharing as mother to son, friend to friend. It was in those quiet moments that I discovered the roots of your loyalty to me, respect for me, confidence in me that helped to catapult me into manhood. We became friends, shared secrets, sorted out experiences, laughed. I think that it was in those times that I discovered the joy of discourse. It was also when I began to discover that I was someone of abiding significance. I specifically recall your advice to me to allow others to take positions of honor in various high school activities even when I could eclipse them in student elections or in other ways. Your rationale was that for me high school was only a beginning, that my true contribution and significance would last into a lifetime. You even suggested that as a symbol of that fact I not even buy a class ring. It was a small thing. It was a giant message.
The same message you sent when you drove all over Italy just to see me play football (you were my private "groupie"). The same message you sent when you prepared special dinners for me as I was preparing to go off to my many big adventures. The message you sent again and again in so many ways and with so many results that still define much of who I am proud to be.
And the same message you sent when you proposed our great book project. We never quite finished that adventure, but the fact that you wanted me to do it with you not as son, but as colleague was a subtle, but powerful moment in the transition of my life from boy to man. Besides, it was fun then and we had lots of fun later, particularly when Dad suddenly "remembered" that he had thought it was a great project.
No moment officially marks the transition more than the ritual of leaving home for college. You worked hard to assure that this significant time was mine in reality as well as in appearance. Going to the Academy was my decision. You had misgivings, but I never knew it. Dad was proud, but was also petrified that I might quickly follow the causes and ways of the day. He saw the Academy as a providential continuation of the "cocoon" that we had been provided in our unique overseas setting. We have never taken the time to talk about this in detail, but I have always suspected that you knew me much better. You had no particular fear; you were ready to launch me into the world. You also knew that my bent was not towards the regimentation characteristic of the Academy. You believed in me, and, perhaps even more important, you wanted me to have the freedom to be. You like me. While oceans separated us geographically that message kept on coming.
You believed in me when my peer rating fell to 25 from the bottom out of my class of 1147. You believed in me when my grades always fell short of my optimistic expectations. You believed in me when you knew my entire cadet career was in the balance. You stood by me in my fight to make a comeback; but you let me know clearly that if I decided to throw in the towel that an honored reception awaited my return home. When I won the battle, attained peer ratings sufficient to make the Commandant's List for excellence, and finished my final semester with near perfect academics, the officers who knew me stood in line to applaud my comeback. I felt proud and grateful. But I also knew that these men who honored me were converts. Your confidence in me as a person, as your son never wavered. My performance of the moment was not the measure of your loyalty. I realize now that through the turmoil of those years you quietly taught me the profound difference between accolades of the moment and love for a lifetime. In doing so, you have passed on a legacy to your daughter-in-law and grandchildren. Dad gave me the personality to be my family's publicist; but your legacy is the quiet, consistent loyalty that gives power and depth to the publicist role. It has taken years of distance and growth to fully articulate what your confidence meant to me at that time, but there can be no doubt as to how strongly your messages were woven into my inner fabric.
Take my legendary performance (though probably not celebrated by the Academy historians) before the committee of officers that I met late in my junior year, following a less than exemplary mid-term grade report. All went well until, in an attempt to make me feel extra guilty, the committee chairman (a full colonel and Department Chairman) pointed out that even my mother was ashamed of me. Knowing instinctively that this was simply not true, I immediately challenged the veracity and advisability of what I knew was an outrageous claim. My defense almost cost me my cadet career, but facts are facts: I had someone who, reminiscent of our friend Plunkett of Tammany Hall, would "vote" for me no matter what.
You have often wondered if perhaps you did not give to us the "right stuff" that would allow us all to convert our tremendous gifts into consistent success as measured by Wall Street or other conventional institutions. We have all meandered to a degree and none of us have large bank accounts any more (I worked hard to reestablish parity after the windfall of my Cray years). Perhaps the greater question, however, is, "What are the true metrics of success?" The last ten years have helped me realize that there is no security outside of who we are and the relationships we have --- both with each other and with God. The tools you gave me were thus the tools of choice for the real battle.
No story from our anthology --- and boy, do we have stories! --- better captures for me the metaphor than when I sent you flowers from the Tidal Basin for Mothers' Day, my sophomore year at the Academy. Well, at least it started as flowers. Unfortunately, by the time it arrived in Turkey, the package contained a dried stick and a few dried pieces of what had been flowers. Sent Air Mail, Special Delivery, no less! We have laughed many times over this anecdote, but until today I missed the poignant message. Many things we have attempted started out as flowers and ended up as twigs. But despite the appearance of insignificance and even failure, the real value was contained in the abiding love and shared belief that was conveyed Air Mail, Special Delivery.
You also have stood by me as fortunes have changed in recent years. You have walked beside us through every twist and turn. Kathy has deeply appreciated this quality in your character. Indeed, your consistent loyalty and belief in me has been a crucial element in the special relationship you and she are developing.
Not only were you a loyal provider, protector, encourager and even occasionally a co-conspirator with me, but to all of children and grandchildren, you helped give us among the rarest treasures of our age: the integrity of a lifelong and fruitful marriage. Through all the unexpected twists, turns; through times of deep disappointment, discouragement, and even failures, you stayed with and were ever loyal to our father. For 42 years, you walked along side of him. You were true to your wedding vows. You loved him and stood by him until the day he died. His love for you and respect for who you were to him will always be legendary in our family lore. But I think few recognize the degree of commitment and selflessness that the success cost you. The last fifteen years of marriage, children, and all that has attended these times has opened my eyes in special ways to uniquely appreciate how much you gave. Dad summarized it in a simple phrase when describing his thoughts on his life shortly before his death. "It was not what your mother expected," he told me. You discovered, and taught us, that commitment --- the substance of the decision that makes love genuine --- always transcends circumstance. Thank you for living out that maxim during the many bumps in our road together.
And so it is, as I survey the landscape we have traveled together and the fortifications we have built. I am richly blessed with so many fun memories I could never hope to list them. In terms of experiences, venues, and privileges, my life often reads like a romantic novel. Form the heritage you gave us, to the way you and Dad met, to my life today. It's all quite a story. Yet it is the private moments that create who we are, and who we are that determines the meaning of our journey. The character of those moments, the consistency of the message, the strength of the partnership. Deep below our landscape, hidden below the brambles and sunshine, is a private vein of gold and diamonds, the mine created by your words, your confidence, your self opened to me.
The Bible speaks throughout and loudly of the importance and impact of a wife and mother, but nowhere are the ideals better expressed than in Proverbs 31, summarized in verses 25-29:
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the Teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
"Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."
These words, then are my Tribute to you. First, you met the standard of a little boy who needed only a place. Then you rose to set the standard that was the envy of every teen that I knew, and the fulfillment of the heart that few knew. Now, in the center of my manhood, our moments together remain among my most treasured possessions, ever reminding me that truth is worth seeking and life is the sum of our decisions more than the collection of our circumstances. The power of the investment you have made continues to penetrate the deepest chambers of my internal engine room. And the result has reached into every sector of my influence. Through me, your legacy has changed lives, encouraged many to keep on, penetrated hearts, built bridges, established mile markers. Sweetest of all, it has allowed me to look at my own son with eyes of love that see around him to what he is hiding, the very treasure of who he was created to be. In giving that abiding inheritance, finally, therefore, you meet God's standard of the Proverb.
With joy of this my 45th Christmas with you, with gratefulness, and with my commitment to be in your home stretch what you have been in my own race thus far, I rise up to bless you!
CemeteryArlington National Cemetery
May 11, 2016
ServiceArlington National Cemetery
May 11, 2016