Remarks Originally Delivered By Peter B. James
Lee's Dry Cleaners
Friends, I realize that us all meeting like this is highly unusual and that some of you were given little time to grieve over the loss of a real American and Patriot, Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith. I some how suspect that the Colonel would approve of letting Mr. Lee's Dry Cleaners stand in for a military service with full honors that would normally be due a man of his rank and accomplishment. Sadly, being a federal fugitive makes having a 21 gun salute a little difficult. One day, when we have exonerated him and his team for the crimes they did not commit, those of us who are still around will be sure he gets that funeral.
For most of my life, I only knew of stories of the Colonel from my father, who served with him in Korea. Dad always said that if you get into trouble in life, the man to find was Hannibal Smith. He'd have a plan to see you clear of whatever troubles you're facing. I guess Hannibal's plans are how most of us came together to be in the back of this old dry cleaners today. Some of you were lucky enough to serve with Hannibal at one time in your career, but the rest of us came to know him during his second career.
I recall the day I met with him to discuss my own problem that the law could not remedy justly. It was the summer of 1990. A local crime syndicate had expanded their territory and was threatening not only my business, but the entire community. After the local authorities told me there wasn't enough to go on, I phoned my father and he told me where to start to find Colonel Smith. It took a whole week to finally make contact.
When I did finally make contact with someone it was Mr. Lee. He gave me instructions to go see a movie and made me promise to buy the largest popcorn I could. As I ate the popcorn I discovered a message written on the inside of the bag. It told me to exit to the back of the theater. When I exited the door I saw the concessions clerk tossing out garbage. He revealed himself as Hannibal Smith and had told me I had just found him and the famous A-Team. The rest as they say is history. With their help my community was able to fight back the crooked organization that was terrorizing us.
While there was some downtime, Hannibal shared some fond memories of Korea and my father. I hadn't realized that he probably didn't know my father had passed away a year or so ago before this. When I told him, he took a puff of his cigar and said "I knew son, I was there." I was amazed. He went on, "that was a fitting tribute you and your family gave him. I wish I could have said something, but with so many military folks there I didn't try. It was the type of service I would have wanted to have after my final mission..." So that's how this plan came together today.
Hannibal always had a plan, most of the time we didn't know or understand the full details, which is a lot like the divine. I don't know if Hannibal was a religious man, but wherever he is; I hope he's on the jazz.