Buffalo, N.Y. (wben.com) - A long long time ago there was a man who lived a very disappointing life.
He worked long hours and made very little money in an age of considerable economic expansion and tremendous fortunes that were being accumulated by others.
The people establishing these vast dynasties were innovators who saw the opportunities in various areas such as transportation, building and high-speed communication.
Like smart and ambitious business people of every age, these titans had the skills and made the connections needed to succeed and they did. Wildly.
They threw big parties. They travelled in style. They lived in houses that would put Chris Rock’s palace to shame.
But this did little for the pockets of the man who lived a very disappointing life, and he grew bitter.
We’ll return to his story later.
A short distance away, there was another man growing up as the seventh child of nine in his family.
We’ll call him Wilhelm.
At seventeen he was forced to end his advanced education because his health failed and he ran out of money.
Within months his country was attacked and he left home to fight to defend it.
His bravery in battle and courage under fire were noticed, and he won promotion and was soon on the staff of what we’d call a general.
After serving his country, Wilhelm returned home, married a woman with special medical needs and entered the business world after immersing himself in studies.
As Wilhelm prepared and advanced himself, the man who led the disappointing life-we’ll call him Lee-held various jobs.
Lee joined various clubs, and listened to speeches about the plight of the 99% and the despair of the working man. When a foreign king was murdered, Lee began to think. Deeply. Broodingly.
One day Lee quit a job and never worked again.
Instead, Lee attended speeches where orators of note decried the plight of poor workers, and called for a revolution to address the unequal distribution of wealth and the gap between rich and poor.
One day, the lives of these two very different men, Wilhelm and Lee, crossed paths under the brilliant sunshine of an early fall day.
Wilhelm didn’t know Lee, but Lee certainly knew of Wilhelm. Everyone did.
As the two very different men came face to face to shake hands, the disappointed Lee pulled a gun and fired two shots at the brave and hard-working Wilhelm, who had made something of himself.
As Wilhelm stumbled and collapsed, he urged his many friends to go easy on the man who’d just shot him, and Lee was hustled away from the scene.
When Wilhelm’s ailing wife learned of her hero husband being shot, the already labile lady fell into a deeper depression than ever; one from which she would never recover. You might say that Lee shot two people that day.
As Wilhelm underwent the primitive surgery of the day for a gunshot to the abdomen, Lee was questioned by the authorities: “Why did you shoot Wilhelm?”
Lee, having consumed the speeches of the Anarchist movement declared, “I did my duty. I did it for the American people. It isn’t right that one man should have so much and another man has nothing.” I’ve paraphrased to make the words mean something in 2011 terms.
I’m sure you’ve figured out long ago that the disappointed man I’ve named “Lee” was Leon Czolgosz, who mortally wounded President William (“Wilhelm”) McKinley here in Buffalo in September 1901.
Today, Czolgosz’s philosophical descendants in the “Occupy” movement are camped out at Niagara Square in Downtown Buffalo.
There’s a monument there.
It was erected to the memory of William McKinley.