Friday, February 20, 2009

Loyalty Above All Else...

Vince Hardy.

Man. Police Officer. Bigelow enthusiast. Father. Grandfather? Sadly not.

The man who single-handedly refurbished the family boat, "The Three Rivers," had his life cut short by a misfired shot to the chest in 1993 as he was about to apprehend the Polish Hill Strangler, one of Pittsburgh's most notorious and elusive serial killers. He never even got to take the boat out on the water.

He was a man of principles. He lived his life by one lesson that his father taught him in boyhood...

Loyalty above all else... except Honor.

He taught this profound adage to his sons, Tom, Frazier, and Niles, though only Tom ever really exemplified this age old truth as his father did. As they would drive down Bigelow Boulevard, sometimes against traffic, sometimes causing mass spillings of the sweet nectar we call Iron City, sometimes awkwardly speaking of Tom's love life, father and son shared a bond.

Honor can be a difficult road. As difficult as driving through the Armstrong Tunnels past an incinerated police cruiser? Who am I to say? But a difficult road, I assure you. Whereas loyalty too has its share of adversity, the true test comes when one if forced to chose: Honor v. Loyalty?

When young Tom was put in such harrowing circumstances, how was he to know what to do?

Luckily, he could think back on those words of his father and make the right decision.

So what if it got him kicked off of the homicide squad to become a river rat. So what if Eddie Eiler never gave him the respect he deserved. So what if he had to live on a house boat docked on Washington's Landing and wash himself with a microwaved dirty washcloth. He still had his honor.

Thank you Vince Hardy. Thank you for your service, for your example, and for your wisdom. May you have grandkids in the great beyond.

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