My Turn – Hillary and Hillary: Different heroes
January 11, 2008 saw the death in Auckland New Zealand of famed mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb to the top of Mt. Everest. For his incomparable feat, Edmund Hillary is recognized as one of the greatest mountaineers of all time and often his accomplishment is compared to that of American Neal Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Coincidentally, Armstrongs moon walk occurred on Edmund Hillarys 50th birthday. In 1985, Neil Armstrong accompanied Edmund Hillary as he piloted a plane to a landing at the North Pole. Having reached the South Pole on a prior expedition, Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to reach both poles and the summit of Mt. Everest.Im very curious to see if former First Lady and presidential aspirant Hillary Rodham Clinton will comment on Sir Edmund Hillarys death. Perhaps she already has and the news just hasn’t reached me here in Truckee. For over a decade, Sir Edmund Hillarys great mountaineering achievement formed part of the Hillary Clinton mystique. During a stop in Nepal in 1985, the then-First Lady briefly met Sir Edmund Hillary. Soon afterwards, Mrs. Clinton announced that her mother had read of Sir Edmund Hillarys adventures while pregnant with the future First Lady and liked the name Hillary so much she decided to name her daughter for the famous explorer.Afterward, Hillary Clinton often told audiences that she had been named for the famous mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary, and that accounted for the unusual double L in her first name. Husband and former President Bill Clinton even mentioned this in his official 2004 autobiography. Eventually some cynic pointed out that Hillary Clinton was born in 1947 and Edmund Hillary climbed Everest and gained world fame in 1953.Unfortunately for the Hillary Clinton legend writers, when Hillary Clinton was born in 1947, Edmund Hillary was an obscure New Zealand beekeeper, unknown in the United States and very little known outside mountaineering circles anywhere. The likelihood of Mrs. Rodham, Hillarys Mother knowing of him in 1947 was slim to none. Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mt Everest and gained world fame when Hillary Clinton was already five years old. About 2003, Hillary Clinton revised the story, saying only that her mother had told her that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary; a minor distinction. Lawyers please take note.Finally, in October 2006, an official spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign put an end to the fiction. It was a sweet family story her Mother shared to inspire greatness in her daughter, to great results I might add, announced Jennifer Hanley, spokeswoman for the Hillary Clinton campaign.Im sure that many readers are already familiar with this story, and I certainly hope they and others dont find my bringing it up again as mean spirited. Just remember the old Texas saying, Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Wasn’t it Lyndon Johnson who first said that? Prentiss Davis is a Truckee resident.
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