The ‘44 should have an asterisk since he didn’t actually graduate from Cornell, but dropped out and joined the military during World War II. Nonetheless, THE Kurt Vonnegut, the Mark Twain of today, a Cornell and Cornell Daily Sun (our newspaper) alum, passed away on Wednesday night in Manhattan at an age of 84. His novel, Slaughterhouse V, which was one of a few books I enjoyed reading for my high school English classes was inspired by Vonnegut’s experiences during World War II when he was in a German prison camp near Dresden during the time of its fire bombing by the Allies. The Cornell Daily Sun handled Vonnegut’s death very well through its Thursday and Friday editions, both of which honored his achievements (later issues will continue to do so). In addition, the front page, which usually has a red pinstripe to separate the header from the front page, was black on Friday. It doesn’t seem like much, but it definitely created a feeling that words would not have been able to describe.
“I was happiest when I was all alone – and it was very late at night, and I was walking up the hill after having helped to put The Sun to bed. … I am an atheist, as some of you have gleaned from my writings. But I have to tell you that, as I trudged up the hill so late at night and all alone, I knew that God Almighty approved of me.” – Kurt Vonnegut ‘44