America will pause today to remember that terrible day 10 years ago when we were attacked. There will be memorials to the 2,977 people who lost their lives that day, including 403 fallen firefighters and police officers. Heroes all.
Today, I remember another hero who passed away September 1, just over a week ago. Our family and friends gathered yesterday to remember the life and many, many contributions of Lyle Martin Ellefson, Joleen's father, my father-in-law. I loved Lyle.
Lyle served America during another troubling time—World War II—in the Army in England, France and Belgium. He worked 30 years at Puget Power and Seattle City Light, moving up from substation operator to electrical engineer. Lyle's hands could do almost anything—he built houses, repaired engines, restored toys, fixed electrical systems.
But, it was Lyle's heart that impressed me the most. He knew what was right and what was wrong. He stood up for justice and he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those who were ignored, pushed aside or pushed down. Here are just two examples.In the early 1960s, Lyle knew a fellow worker at City Light who had been consistently passed over for promotion. Gene Hall was smart, he'd passed the necessary civil service examinations, he knew the job and performed well. Gene Hall was a Black man. Lyle saw the injustice of it all and got Gene transferred to his unit. Lyle and Gene became lifelong friends.
Then a year or two later, there was the day Lyle answered a knock at his front door in north Seattle. A neighbor invited Lyle to sign a petition to establish a restrictive covenant to keep African Americans out of their neighborhood. Lyle was livid and gave the neighbor a piece of his mind. Lyle deplored racial injustice even when his neighbors and his friends at his church were indifferent or worse.
Lyle Martin Ellefson was a good man. His life reflected his deep Christian faith that taught him that all people were created equal and had dignity and worth. He lived that truth and passed it to his children and to his son-in-law. Lyle was a hero to me, my second Dad.
So, as we remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and those who innocently lost their lives that day, I also salute Lyle, a man I believe represents the best values of America. God bless you, Lyle.