Monday, April 16, 2007

Uncle Adrian Becomes Commander of Swedish Polar Star

Don't laugh, but Uncle Adrian, New York City Parks Commish extraordinaire, got awarded some amazing honor last week.
Well at first when mother came home with the news, I thought it was a late April Fool's joke.

But no, all dressed up in her fanciest suit, with pearls and perfume (yuck!) she went off to the Swedish Embassy on 64th and Park Avenue and watched dear Uncle "A" (as we in the family know him) become awarded a Commander of the Polar Star.

The Swedish Order of the Polar Star was instituted in 1748 by King Fredrik I. Until 1975 the award was only given to Swedish citizens for "civic virtue, long meritorious service to the nation," and other wonderful things.

Since then, the recognition has also been accorded to foreign nationals and to other people who may have promoted Swedish interests.

While Ambassador Ulf Hjertsson read the good stuff about "A" Benepe, most of what he had surmised about the family name was indeed true, that Benepe means Good Sword in French, and that the title had been accorded to an ancestor by Napolean. How he managed to obtain that information is beyond my black hairy head, but it is indeed true.

So what did Uncle A do? He put up a statue in Theodore Roosevelt Park for Nobel Prize Laureates.

Wrote the NY Times on October 15, 2003, "A monument dedicated to American winners of the Nobel Prize was unveiled yesterday in a ceremony attended by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and dozens of past Nobel Prize winners.

The monument, a four-sided monolith of red Swedish granite, is engraved with the names of 271 American winners. It is behind the American Museum of Natural History in Theodore Roosevelt Park. In 1906, Mr. Roosevelt, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, became the first American to win the Nobel. Space has been left on the monument for the names of future winners."

Said a statement from the Swedish consul, "His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf is the Grand Master of this Order, and decisions on teh conferment of distinctions are made by him on the recommendation of the Swedish Government," in this case, Ambassador and Consul General to the United States, Ulf Hjertonsson.
I had to see the pictures to believe her.

There she was with Aunt Charlotte and my nephew Erik (handsome devil!)
PS, when can I go for my spring ride, and when oh when will it stop raining?


Anonymous said...

I was worried for a second that he was getting an award for taking two urban parks away from poor people in the Bronx and giving them to the NY Yankees as a development lot for the new stadium. Maybe those people in the luxury boxes at the new stadium will give him an award for that? That land had to come from somewhere. Why not a low-income community with a high rate of asthma?

Jen Benepe said...

Hey there
There are so many misconceptions about the Parks Dept. that are carried through by the press because they sell newspapers. Actually if my memory serves me, no additional park space will be used than what already is being used (I'll have to check). The luxury boxes, I think that's the Yankees' domain, not the city's. Okay, a low-income community with a high rate of asthma--that describes where Adrian grew up actually, when the parks were in total ruin. But in this particular case, your enemy is not the parks dept, or Mr. B, but perhaps more appropriately the millions of motorists who are causing asthma. I also would like to see more parks: do you have several hundred million dollars lying around that we could use to buy some property from a developer?
Your remarks seem to be well intended. Let me know if you want to do a bike ride one day with A, I am sure he would like to hear what you have to say.