Trumbull Rogers Memorial Service
On February 9, 2012, I attended a memorial service for MWSA member Trumbull Rogers who passed away after a long illness on September 4, 2012.
Trumbull's sister, Grace, was organizing the memorial service, a complicated affair as she was living in California and the service was going to be in Manhattan, where Trumbull had spent most of his life. Grace was contacting friends and organizations that Trum (as he was known) knew or was a member of. Her MWSA contact information had Maria Edwards' name and she forwarded the details to me.
As I live in Brooklyn, it was easy for me to attend, representing the organization--in this case in my capacity as president.
On February 8, a major snowstorm swept through the Northeast, significantly complicating things. All flights to NYC were canceled, along with Amtrack and light rail service. This significantly reduced the number of people throughout the country who otherwise planned to attend.
Fortunately, the next day was clear and aside from the typical post-snowstorm problem of accumulated slush on streetcorners, my subway commute to the memorial service's location in the Chelsea district of Manhattan went smoothly.
The service was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. I arrived a few minutes early and was met by Grace, whereupon I introduced myself. She thanked me for appearing, and for agreeing to speak during the service. Initially I had declined, because I did not know Trum, but when the family insisted, Maria provided me with some remarks prepared by those who were familiar with his work.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, with no clouds in the sky. The meeting room set aside for the service was large, and airy. In the front was a large screen in which an informal photograph of Trum was projected. He appeared to be a man in his sixties or early seventies, with thinning gray hair and trimmed mustache. He was smiling and his blue-gray eyes had a kindly twinkle. A lectern and portable mike were to the right of the image. Rows of chairs were arranged, facing the screen. To the audience's left two coffee stands had been set up. In the rear was a row of tables laden with assorted sandwiches, cheese, fruit, and pastries.
Grace was the emcee. Because about half the people scheduled to speak had been unable to attend, she found herself having to stand in for them reading their remembrances. In addition to Grace, family members included his older brother, a niece and a step-daughter. A couple of his friends and associates spoke. I was the last.
By the time it came for me to speak, I found myself very impressed. Trum was an amazing person and someone who had made a huge impact on the lives of so many people.
I told the group that unlike all of them, I had not had the honor and pleasure of knowing him. I then gave the following short speech that Maria gave me:
The name Trumbull Rogers means different things to different people. To some, he was the co-author of the mystery novel ‘When Last Seen...’ Others knew him as the author of ‘Editorial Freelancing: A Practical Guide.’ And others remember him best for his skills as a copy editor, or his flair as a poet. He was many things, but to us, he was a brother.
The Military Writers Society of America is an association of authors, poets, and artists, drawn together by the common bond of military service. Our core principle is a love of the men and women who defend this nation, and a deeply personal understanding of their sacrifice and dedication.
In many ways, Trumbull Rogers was everything that MWSA stands for. He was a veteran. He was an author and a poet. He loved the written word, and he was devoted to the support of America’s military.
We, his fellow MWSA members, honor him for his contributions to our organization and our country. Thank you, Trumbull. We will miss you.
At the conclusion of the service a slideshow of Trum's life was screened and people then gathered around to eat and discussed Trum.
The program had the following poem on the last page, something he had written in 2011:
SAYING GOOD MORNING TO GOD
I stand at my window
Gazing out at the sea
As dawn streaks the air,
On a paling black sky.
Then a still, small voice
Deep inside, gladdened
By the lushness that abounds
And the species that abidde.
When it becomes my turn
To pass into the dark,
I hope I'll be redeemed
As a broad crimson streak
Greeting the Sun.