What is really in a name?

Published 5:37 pm Monday, November 14, 2005

By By Janet Little Cooper
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".
– Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II.
What's in a name? This quote was made famous when spoken from the mouth of sweet, young Juliet to her secret love Romeo in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
So, what can be learned from a person's name? According to language experts, a person's name can sometimes tell a persons gender, where they came from and even their culture. In the United States, people are given a middle name, while in other countries they typically only have a forename. In Korea, the family name comes before the first name being the primary name. Others argue that a name exposes nothing of a person's being; it is nothing more than an identity.
I have learned a lot this week from a name – Dr. Benjamin C. Maxwell. I personally did not know much about the Atmore native and hometown doctor when I was given the assignment to feature his life in today's paper, but that soon changed.
It is absolutely amazing how one person's name could bring out such incredible stories. Everyone I met had a fond memory of their time with Dr. Maxwell, whether it was from an encounter with him in his office, at the hospital, at church or on the streets.
One can only aspire to such greatness exemplified in Dr. Maxwell's life. From the many stories I've heard this week from his family, friends, and co-workers, he loved every moment and every thing that life had to offer.
Dr. Benjamin C. Maxwell was not only an accomplished doctor to his patients, but from all accounts he was a confidante and friend as well. His dedication to his patients extended far from the confines of his office into the streets and homes of the people he cared for.
Unfortunately, his body was seized by Alzheimer's years ago that prevented him from continuing his practice. According to the people that knew him best, he was aware of the disease, but never let it control his life and most importantly his spirit.
What's in a name? A lot if you ask me. It should be every person's desire to live a life of example and encouragement for others around us. A person's name goes everywhere with them through life, from beginning to end. It can be tarnished needlessly by vengeance or mistakes, but for all, it should be a sort of badge of honor speaking bounds of a person's life and accomplishments.
While Dr. Benjamin C. Maxwell is no longer among us, his name remains. His name will always be present in the hearts of this town as he is remembered for his many acts of love.
Janet Little Cooper is the lifestyles reporter for the Atmore Advance. Her column appears weekly.

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