"I guess a lot of us thought you were bigger than life. It just never occurred to us that you would ever die like the rest of us. And it’s impossible to put into words all that you’ve meant to us; but to many, you were the American Dream. Besides JFK, you were the only hero some of us ever had. In an age that said we should suppress our feelings you freed us from some of the prejudices that the previous generation was about to pass onto us.
In every song you sang of life, you filled our hearts with love and emotions that touched feelings in us that we kept hidden for a long time. Helping us to get to know ourselves, telling us it’s all right to feel; to be the way we are; that self-expression is a God-given right. You did for a whole generation something we couldn’t do for ourselves, and because you communicated the depth of your feelings and interpreted ours so well, you were an extension of us.
And we wanted everything for you. I guess we could say you were the heart and soul of and to one generation.
You also represented a part of us that we weren’t sure of, that we dreamed of being. You made us aware of our own potential even though we knew we might never find the secret in ourselves for reaching it as you did. But you showed us it could be done and so excluded yourself from society to preserve the mystery that made you that American dream.
I guess that’s why we put you on a pedestal so high, that you can do no wrong. We didn’t want you to be subject to human ills as we were. We didn’t want to know you better than we did. We wanted you to be perfect, and telling us something that spoiled our image of you would be worse than finding out for the first time there was no Santa Claus.
But now the call has come and fate says your time is up, and we can’t believe you’re gone. It seems like the world ought to stop moving, that life shouldn’t go on — but it does. And we will, ‘til our time comes. And that’s reality, I guess, reminding us of our own unimportance, that life is here and life is gone, just like that. Even for those who seemingly have everything.
And so a part of us has died with you. But the monument we leave to you is not made of stone, but of love. It’s a big empty place in our hearts that’s reserved for only you, that no one else can ever heal. What was once a dream is now a memory. What was once a reality is now a dream. But the impact you had on our world will last until the last life you touched is gone. We’re sure going to miss you and nobody will ever take your place.”
— Donna Fargo, 1977