My wife and I were returning home Saturday night from a business trip in Ohio, when she noticed the Stars and Stripes flying at half-mast at an Illinois Tollway Plaza. I asked the toll attendant why, and he replied, “a congressman died,” then asked his colleague whether they knew the name of the congressman, and she answered, “Henry Hyde.” The attendant was clearly surprised at our emotional response. When I told him that Henry Hyde was a great man; his only response was a bemused facial expression suggesting incredulity that a couple driving along the Tollway would actually care about the passing of some politician.
Our fourth son, Asa Hyde Naselli, born in 1999, is named in honor of this great and good man? Gail and I had the privilege of being invited to introduce eight-month old Asa to Henry Hyde in person. We talked with the Congressman in his Addison, Illinois office for about fifteen minutes, while important-looking men in expensive suits tapped their feet impatiently on the waiting room tiles. The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee listened attentively as we answered his questions about home schooling and raising a large family, and answered our questions, crediting his mother for instilling moral backbone in him, to stand up for what is right no matter the consequences. He also spoke of his generation of Americans’ answer to the threat of Fascist imperialism, describing how he and all his friends eagerly joined the military (the U.S. Navy in his case), and would have felt ashamed to do otherwise.
He seemed in no hurry to wrap up the conversation, but I wanted to be considerate of his time, so I asked if, before we left, we could pray for him. This Catholic gentleman rose and hobbled out from behind his desk, standing before us with head bowed reverently, permitting my wife and I to lay hands on him and entreat the blessings of God upon him.
We were on our way out when he called after us, “wait, I have something for Asa.” He brought out an engraved silver cup, bearing the inscription, “To my namesake, Asa Hyde Naselli, from Chairman Henry Hyde.” Then he asked if we would stay a moment while his secretary shot a photo of the three of us with him. I confess that I relished the indignant sniffs as we passed by the “suits” who had been watching through the waiting room window as a peculiarly humane public servant demonstrated his priorities.