Gatto Remarks Accepting Elijah Award

John Gatto acceptance of the Elijah Award on behalf of himself and his wife, Janet MacAdam Gatto, at the awards presentation hosted by the Separation of School and State Alliance SEPCON, Omni-Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C. November 20-23, 2004.

I accept this award with gratitude on behalf of myself, an old Roman Catholic alter boy who learned Latin at the age of 9, and for my beloved wife of 44 years, a Scottish Presbyterian who learned, also at the age of 8, that unredeemed Catholics are . . . well . . . not going to be in need of overcoats in the afterlife. She’s been working on my reconstruction ever since.

The Biblical Elijah, a prophet in the days of Ahab, turns up all over the Good Book, in I and II Kings, in Malachi, in Chronicles, in Mark and John and Luke, and probably in books I’ve overlooked. A place is always kept for Elijah at the Passover table against the day he will return to inaugurate the messianic age. The two ideas Elijah symbolized for me in my altar-boy days were these:

1) that rulers will be held responsible for protecting the poor, and

2) that families should be tight with one another, as my German granddad would have said.

And there’s yet a third inspiration Elijah gives us by example, he wasn’t afraid to challenge King Ahab, to speak the truth to power. In these days of colossal journalistic pragmatism (which granddad would have correctly called cowardice), when you really have to read European or Asiatic newspapers to know what’s going on in America, the image of Elijah in Ahab’s face is still there to be read by those committed to reclaiming the original American design. My German granddad was that kind of newspaper publisher, he’d be pleased to think his flesh and blood was getting this award tonight.

Janet and I thank you.

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