"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Last spring , the Boston College library acquired a quintessential expression of old-fashioned American patriotism--the "Jackie Letter," the gift of longtime BC classics professor Jack Shea. It was written to five-year-old Jack in 1942 by his father, Lt. Commander John J. Shea '18, while he served in the Pacific on the aircraft carrier Wasp, just weeks before he died trying to save his men during a Japanese torpedo attack.
Commander Shea's letter, full of longing for his wife and son and forebodings of his coming death, was also a lyrical expression of the best of American values--freedom and opportunity, honor and duty, loyalty to country and family. Shea's sisters, Boston public school teachers, read it to their grade school classes, and as word began to spread, the school system printed the letter as a pamphlet that every child brought home. The letter became something of a national sensation when it was featured in the Boston Globe and reprinted in Life, Look, Time, and many other publications.
For students of American Catholicism, however, the "Jackie Letter" is even more striking as an illustration of the mid-century convergence of Catholic values and the American zeitgeist. No one blinked at Shea's flat statement: "Be a good Catholic and you can't help being a good American."More