Steve Whitmore, who is the media spokesman for L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, has written an affecting account of some last days spent with his father, actor James Whitmore. The piece, which appears on L.A. Observed, describes a mantelpiece crowded with pictures of a robust, ex-Marine with presidents Ford, Carter and Clinton -- and one president-to-be, Barack Obama. James Whitmore had believed in Obama before the Illinois Senator had even announced his run for the White House, and threw all his energy into campaigning for Obama last year.
"Whitmore," Steve writes, "wanted to make this a better place to live; through politics, gun control, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the purely American belief to pursue one's own brand of happiness."
It was through a supreme act of will that James Whitmore forced himself
to survive the last few months of aggressive lung cancer that had struck
him late in life, to see Obama inaugurated.
His son describes how
painfully weak and semi-conscious the old Marine was on that day,
although he was surprised by what happened after Obama's oration:
the speech and just prior to the singing of the National Anthem, my dad
motioned to me with great intensity, fists tight, eyes closed and teeth
clenched. He appeared to be saying with his body, 'Get me up! Get me
up!' I thought he had to urinate."
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However, to Steve's amazement, Whitmore had
something else in mind as he made the superhuman effort to stand through the anthem and the
country's passage into a new era. A public memorial for James Whitmore
will be held March 28, 1 p.m. at the Directors Guild of America.