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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 23, 1996)
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We can learn fromBerringer’s generosity
I know that, statistically, people
are more likely to die in automobile
accidents than plane crashes.
Logically then, it follows that
automobile accidents should have
more of an effect on my life than
plane crashes. But that extension of
logic was completely wrong this
Twice, a small plane crashed
outside of Lincoln, killing the
The pilot in the first crash, Mike,
was a generous, big-hearted man
who owned “Mike’s Guns.” I
remember him most for giving a dog
named Brandy to my husband in
exchange for nothing but the pick of
Brandy’s first litter.
Brandy was a wild, one-person
springer spaniel. She loved attention
from everyone, but actually obeyed
only Shawn, my husband. Despite
her faults, she was a great hunting
Once, she had gone after a
pheasant in some brush. She was
down there long enough that Shawn
started calling her back, cursing her
for not working.
Shawn got tears in his eyes here
as he was recounting the experience.
After another two minutes,
Brandy burst out of the brush with
nothing but pheasant showing in her
Two weeks later, the man who
gave her to us was suddenly gone.
Now he’ll never have the chance to
own the pup he was promised.
Brook Berringer, whether we
knew him personally or not,
influenced the lives of every Husker
fan. He consistently gave the effort
needed to become a starting quarter
back at any other school.
Brook also contributed off the
I don’t know much about him
personally. I think I saw him three or
7 wish that Brook
Berringer had the
opportunity to prove
♦ himself in the NFL as
Brandy did, flying out
of the brush with the
pheasant in her mouth.
But it's impossible now.
four times on campus. I do know
that he was a hero to at least two
kids from Oshkosh, Neb., population
While reading the Garden County
News, my hometown newspaper, I
came across two letters from grade
school students who had just come
back from the School is Cool Jam in
Kelli Krauter wrote: “I liked
Tanya Crevier the best. She dribbled
basketballs three at a time and spun
ten basketballs on her body. Brook
Berringer was there too!” It’s
exciting to know that your heroes
care enough to come talk to you.
Kristin Cross also mentioned
Brook Berringer as one of her
Nebraska heroes. She wrote: “We
learned that most of these heroes
came from small towns just like
Oshkosh. Even though they are from
small towns, it didn’t mean they
couldn’t achieve as much as anyone
else. So they kept their minds to
something, set a goal, and they
reached it. They told us that when
we want to do something, we need
to keep our minds to it, and achieve
This is what makes me cry every
time I read about Brook Berringer’s -
life being cut short. It’s the loss of
an example, of someone who made
the world better just by being who
he was. >
Another sports hero with a
character to match his or her athletic
ability is Billie Winsett. I liked her
before I knew her, watching her
encourage her teammates on the
volleyball court. I actually met her
this summer at Cedar Point.
One day, I had my 1-year old son
with me at lunch for some reason.
He was being a turkey as I went
through the line, juggling the food
with him balanced on my shoulders:
Billie offered to watch him until I
was through. It wasn’t a big thing,
simply an act of kindness from a
I wish that Brook Berringer
had the opportunity to prove himself
in the NFL as Brandy did, flying out
of the brush with the pheasant in her
But it’s impossible now.
In memory of Brook Berringer
and others whose lives have been
taken too soon, I propose that we
take a look at their lives. Take the
generosity and the love that they
showed in their lives and make it a
point to reach out and give some
body one of the gifts that could have
died with those people. That’s the
best memorial anyone could ask for.
Kohl Is a junior biology major and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist
This year in history ...
A combination of the good, bad and the ugly
Much has happened the past two
semesters of our lives.
Far too much has happened for
any columnist to try to jam into 70
lines, but hey, the Mountain Dew’s
still flowing through this columnist’s
veins, so we’ll give it a shot.
This year was one of successes,
failures, scandal, tragedy and hope.
From Aug. 17 to the present, it
has been a year of successes. The
University of Nebraska picked up
five national championships —
football, volleyball, another for the
men’s bowling team and one for the
basketball team, well, sort of.
For one man, it became a year
that would place his name in the
history books. And after taking off
his cap to a roaring crowd at
Camden Yards, a quiet Cal Ripken
humbly put the cap back on and
played his 2,131st consecutive
But as often occurs, this year’s
failures overshadowed the successes.
We watched as the government
This year, the weather took its
wrath out on Nebraska. Cold
temperatures put a damper on spirits
and on the lives of some.
Yet local failures struck us with
more force than any icy wind. We
watched as violent crimes grew in
number. Marijuana use soared. And
more teens made the choice to join a
gang. Yep, we watched these things
It was a year of scandal.
Lawrence Phillips pleaded guilty
to assault charges and was booted
off the team for six games and then
returned. Was it enough? Contro
versy never lets the question
submerge below a layer of doubt.
The Athletic Department was
brought into the bitter limelight as it
faced heat for booting Herbie
Husker as mascot, for its distribution
of Fiesta Bowl tickets and even more
for considering an unfavorable shift
of student seating.
“Each of us learned a
little, forgot a lot and,
walked away with
memories we’ll someday
recall while we’re
talking to ourselves in a
retirement home. ”
The largest controversy caused
not only Lincoln, but the entire
country, to come to a virtual
standstill. For a moment, thousands
of eyes remained glued to the
nearest television. No, it wasn’t the
Apollo Moon landing or Kennedy’s
death. Instead, we listened as the
words came: “Not Guilty.”
Tragedy also found its way into
two semesters of Nebraskans’ lives.
We remembered tragically slain
Martina McMenamin and Omaha
police officer Jimmy Wilson. We
were shocked as four intoxicated
teens lost their lives in a driving
accident. We could not help but to
ask the question: “Why?” Again, we
asked that question when Brook
Berringer died in a plane accident.
Again, the answers do not come
easily. And even if they did, in our
hearts, we would never truly
Yet we should never forget that it
was a year of hope.
We witnessed the “Million Man
March.” It never did reach a million
marchers, but it made a strong
statement for African-American men
around the nation.
Bosnia continued to be a regular
spot on the evening news. Yet, with
the deployment of U.S. troops,, there
was hope. Hope that fighting may
cease. Hope that men and women
may soon come out of shell-tom
homes while their children play in
the streets — no fear in their hearts.
It has also proved to be a year of
We witnessed the painful demise
of Calvin and Hobbes. Yet we now
cope with Dilbert and four new
We also learned that Broyhill
Fountain will meet a timely death.
Yet we used our student voice to
decide what will replace it.
We also watched a new beginning
occur in elections. The Republican
nomination war ended with Bob
Dole as the sole survivor, and ASUN
elections ended with the ACTION
party taking control.
It was one hell of a year all right.
Each of us learned a little, forgot
a lot and walked away with memo
ries we’ll someday recall while
we’re talking to ourselves in a
To tliose leaving UNL for the
next destination of life, I wish you
luck. I hope that college has made
all the difference, and that, by the
way, you lose the beer gut in six
For those remaining, there’s tons
ahead. Too much for one columnist
to write about, but this one’s got a
Mountain Dew to spare. See ya in
Kerber is a freshman news-editorial
major and a Dally Nebraskan colnmalst
Her name was Mary, and she
was middle-aged, worked as a
domestic, had little money and no
medical plan, and was in need of
some serious and expensive life
But she had lived in her
Northwest Side Chicago neigh
borhood for most of her life. And
she knew somebody who knew
somebody who knew a politician
of considerable importance.
Some calls were made, the
most important coming from the
office of the politician.
The result was that Mary went
to a good hospital, was treated by
skilled physicians, was cured and
went home with a bill of $0.00.
How the politician arranged
this, I don’t know. I assume that
the hospital and the doctors owed
him favors. That’s the way things
have always worked in Chicago,
which can be good or bad. In this
case, it was good.
And it wasn’t the only time the
politician did something like that.
Using his political muscle to help
out people was part of his trade.
That’s the good side of what used
to be called machine politics.
I like to think of the late
alderman Vito Marzullo, who
usually placed one or two young
lawyers in city or county patron
age jobs. And one night every
week, the lawyers came to Vito’s
ward office and handled legal
chores for low-income people
from the neighborhood. Free, of
In Mary’s case, the politician
who took care of her medical
needs was Dan Rostenkowski,
whose career in public service has
just ended in a most tragic way.
Before anyone leaps for the
phone, stationery or e-mail
device, let me say that
Rostenkowski and I arc not pals.
Far from it. We’ve never particu
larly liked each other, and our
longest conversation has been
about two minutes.
Many years ago, we sat
together at a banquet honoring
up-and-coming young Chicago
ans in various fields. He was the
young politician with a future,
and I was the young columnist.
He was aloof and wary of
talking to someone who just
might stick it to him down the
line. Which shows he was smart
because later I did exactly that.
That was a pity, really, because
we had a lot in common besides
our ethnicity. We came from the
same neighborhood. My family
once owned a tavern within a
short walk of Rostenkowski’s
house. And his precinct captain
never once hustled us for a fast
We have mutual friends and
share some of the same bad
habits. But when he was grabbed
for a DUI in Wisconsin some
years ago, he had the good sense
to be polite to the cops.
We share having had kid
problems, which can be agonizing
for any parent. And if you are in
public life, the minor foibles of
your kids wind up in the newspa
pers while the neighbors of Joe
the Bricklayer don’t even know
his kid was mugging old ladies.
Being a public figure, he is
“There is no one in
our society more
legislator or even
president— than a
prosecutor. Local or
held to a higher standard. And
sometimes, it isn’t exactly fair.
What I’m stumbling into
saying is that nobody should be
taking pleasure from
Rostenkowski’s misfortune. Not
unless you have never, ever,
broken even a minor law and
gotten away with it, fudged a bit
on your taxes or violated any of
the Ten Commandments.
Only a few decades ago, none
of this would have been happen
ing. That’s because the rules
changed. Most of the things he
was nailed for would have been
legal and common or, at worst,
nickel-dime offenses when he
began his career in Congress.
That’s the way it is in our
society. The rules keep changing.
Maybe he didn’t notice. Or
maybe he didn’t see the danger.
The danger was that he was a
big political fish — the kind of
trophy that an ambitious federal
prosecutor loves to stuff and hang
on his wall.
1 nere is no one in our society
more powerful —judge, gover
nor, mayor, legislator or even
president — than a prosecutor.
Local or federal.
At the federal level, they have
a compliant grand jury and all the
investigative tools they need, the
agents of the FBI, Internal
Revenue Service and every other
federal agency. Plus eager
assistants who will send their own
grannies up the river to enhance
And the most dangerous and
ruthless are those prosecutors
who have political ambitions that
are most easily fulfilled by
hanging a well-known public
That’s what did in
Rostenkowski — a federal
prosecutor’s personal ambitions.
If I could put those federal
prosecutors on a lie box and ask:
“Do you really believe that what
he did was a terrible crime?” and
they said “Yes,” the needle would
clang when it went past the
marking for “liar, liar, pants on
(Q by The Chicago Tribune
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