I have never heard of Forest McDonald. Apparently he was a well know historian who died a few days ago on the 19th. From the New YorkTimes:
Forrest McDonald, a presidential and constitutional scholar who challenged liberal shibboleths about early American history and lionized the founding fathers as uniquely intellectual, died on Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He was 89.
And he was a conservative, which surprises me that I had not heard of him. But I don’t read a lot of historians. More from the obituary:
As a Pulitzer Prize finalist in history and a professor at the University of Alabama, Dr. McDonald declared himself an ideological conservative and an opponent of intrusive government. (“I’d move the winter capital to North Dakota and outlaw air-conditioning in the District of Columbia,” he once said.) But he refused to be pigeonholed either as a libertarian or, despite his Southern agrarian roots, as a Jeffersonian.
But what caught my eye was this quote from his memoir that was highlighted over at The Imaginative Conservative:
I can describe that attitude no better than by saying that one has a duty to be grateful and joyful in the very fact of one’s existence, and in the existence of one’s fellow human beings…. And given the existence of human beings, the probabilities against my own existence—or yours—are again as high as those against the existence of man. You can attribute this to God, or to big bangs, or to sheer blind luck; all I can do is shout hallelujah, I got here! My God, I got here! In the face of this colossal fact, I must exult in my gratitude, for everything else is trivial; no matter what the uncertainties, whether things are better or worse, whether I am hungry or well fed, whether I am sick or healthy, or cold or comfortable, or honored and respected or despised and kicked and beaten, even that I shall soon be leaving, all is trivial compared to the fact that I got here. I am a miracle, and so, dear reader, are you. Let us rejoice together.
-Forrest McDonald, Recovering the Past: A Historian’s Memoir
That truly is a memorable quote, and so true. We should be grateful for every moment.