Friday, June 22, 2007

Ordinary heroes

If you're somewhat morbid like me, then perhaps you have a habit of perusing the obituaries as part of my daily read of the newspaper, and I'm often struck by accomplishments of ordinary citizens who have made an extraordinary difference. One such man, whose obit appeared today, did just that. Emphasis is mine.

Roy Torcaso, 96; Defeated Md. in 1961 Religious Freedom Case
By Adam Bernstein, Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 21, 2007;

Roy R. Torcaso, 96, whose application to be a Maryland notary public led to a U.S. Supreme Court case that affirmed his refusal to take a state oath requiring him to declare a belief in God, died June 9 at the Himalayan Elderly Care assisted living home in Silver Spring. He had complications of prostate cancer.

Mr. Torcaso, who said he was an atheist, was a bookkeeper by profession. He worked for a Bethesda construction company when his legal challenge started in 1959. He had been urged by his boss to become a notary public.

At the Montgomery County Circuit Court, he refused to swear to a state oath given to notaries public that made them profess the existence of God.

"The point at issue," he said at the time, "is not whether I believe in a Supreme Being, but whether the state has a right to inquire into my beliefs."

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