Ron Silver’s suffering is at an end. His passing Sunday ended a two-year long bout with esophageal cancer.
He used to say that it was his curse to have been stricken with a type of that terrible disease that was so exotic that few people — and, until he came along, few if any celebrities — had contracted it. As a result, victims with cancer of the esophagus had no lobby-generating large research and development budgets aimed at producing a cure.
Their life expectancy was short, often measured in months after diagnosis. Ron quickly ran through the conventional therapies and then the exotic ones.
The fact that he staved off death for as long as he did was a tribute to more than medical care and the love of his family; it was a reflection of his indomitable spirit.
The pain and trauma associated with his illness was, of course, but one of the things Ron Silver suffered with extraordinary equanimity and courage.
Another was the brutal treatment he received at the hands of his one-time friends and colleagues in Hollywood after Ron embraced National Security-minded policies and even President George W. Bush following the attacks of 9/11.
These were considered by the dominant left culture to be an intolerable apostasy and resulted in a blight on Ron’s ability to get work anywhere in the entertainment industry.
I had the privilege of visiting with Ron periodically over the months of his illness. He never exhibited any sense of self-pity over the hand he was dealt, or regret about the choices he had made.
To the contrary, he exuded a robustness of spirit and an amazing equanimity about his fate. Even at his darkest moments, he displayed a wry sense of humor that inevitably made the listener feel less gloomy, and one can only hope did the same for him.
The world will remember Ron Silver as a gifted actor. His most important role, however, was as a man who found his real calling in using his abilities and prominence to advance causes of vital importance to the country he loved and to the preservation of its security. He will always be revered by those of us who shared his passion and admired his courage.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. held senior positions in the Reagan Defense Department and is currently the president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington.
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