Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Star-Spangled Story

On Monday morning, when the future of the American Dream was teetering under the Capitol dome, George W. Bush was in the East Room of the White House presenting the National Medal of Science and Technology and Innovation to men and women "whose discoveries have changed America and the world."

Their names ranged from Willson to Lefkowitz to El-Sayed to O'Malley, a mosaic of the ethnic and cultural diversity that reflects the strength of a country where everyone, if you go back far enough, comes from an immigrant family.

One of them was my cousin, Leonard Kleinrock. His father and mine came here after World War I, with nothing but hope and struggled through a Depression to give their children a better life than they had had.

The citation read: "The 2007 National Medal of Science to Leonard Kleinrock for his fundamental contributions to the mathematical theory of modern data networks, and for the functional specification of packet switching, which is the foundation of Internet technology. His mentoring of generations of students has led to the commercialization of technologies that have transformed the world."

I can tell you all this here only because of the achievements that led to his being called "the father of the Internet" and at a moment in history when we all need to be reminded that America is a place where, with determination and hard work, everything is possible.

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