To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, October 30, 1999

Life after they say
you’re dead

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor;
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before...

-- W.B. Yeats, "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death"

BORN Irish, I share with Hawaiians the emotional burden of historic defeat. I once mentioned this to Haunani-Kay Trask and she one-upped me. Trask is half Hawaiian and half Irish -- doubly cursed.

Recent efforts by owners of the Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser to close this paper have hit our staff hard. We've ridden some tall waves since mid-September.

A few weeks ago, I heard Garrison Keillor on the radio reciting William Butler Yeats' poem about a World War I Irish aviator. Like a Rainbow Warrior touchdown pass, it took me by surprise. Tears welled -- OK, I'm Irish but I'm not usually that sensitive.

We all identify with the fate of the good ship Star-Bulletin. It's now on rocks and shoals. Federal judges will decide the fate of this 117-year-old island institution, working from argument, precedent and statute, disregarding the people involved -- disregarding Kiltartan's poor.

Somehow, the system will determine what's just, mete, doable.

Meanwhile, professionals such as managing editor Dave Shapiro endure, covering this story like any other. Shapiro took a few days off for a gall bladder operation last week, timing the procedure to ensure he'd be at the helm on the fateful day.

...Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds;
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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