Education and Family

The Book of Dad

Dr. Robert Benson

The Book of Dad – Our Great Nation of Heroes and Pioneers

I had the occasion recently to visit our nation’s capital. While I’ve been there a few times, even as early as this past January 2013 for Barrach and Michele’s 2nd Inauguration. Then my wife Ulett and I roamed the streets of DC and couldn’t get close to the festivities and pageantry. We did visit Arlington Cemetery, significant as we both are Veterans. But this last visit I actually was on the lawn, near the monuments, the MLK monument, and the Lincoln Memorial; the area where literally millions upon millions have congregated. Among those who’ve marched, visited and congregated in the name of and cause of freedom and preservation of, no matter what, the greatest nation in the world. Countless pioneers, trailblazers, movers, shakers, people who cared; all of whom have their own Betsy Ross, Joan of Arc, Mother Theresa and Jackie Robinson stories. Today we talk to one of those Pioneers, one who lived the life, not only talked the talk, but walked the walk, we hobnob with Dr. Connie Brothers.
Dr. Connie Brothers
Dr. Brothers (my dear friend) is the former Chairperson of the Dare County Airport Authority, Dare County Regional Airport, Manteo, NC. She now resides in the great state of Arizona. Her account of her recent trip to DC in honor of the 50 Year Anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington.
It has taken me this long to recover from my trip to Washington and to realize all it meant to me.
It was an amazing trip, from my very first flight in first class, to the quality of St. Gregory’s Hotel on M Street NW and their most helpful staff, to the exciting day at the Lincoln Memorial.

I did not march to get to the event but, with lots of help from people around me, went to the front of the reflection pool in a golf cart because I walk with a cane. Security was heavy for everyone, but not as long a wait for those of us in golf carts. Nine a. m., not a moment too soon to be there for the presidents after 3:00 p. m.!!!!! I was able to sit part of the time on a chair I got at Walgreen’s near the hotel and gave to one of the staff at the end of the day. It drizzled most of the day, but that bothered no one.

My main thought the whole day was on what it meant to be there, 50 years after the original march. Old as I am, I was not at that march. But living in St. Louis, MO, at the time and being very active in the civil rights movement, I remember watching every moment of that march on black and white TV and yearning to be there. Somehow after that march and after the world realized that white segregationists were still killing blacks–I think of the four young adolescents killed when a Baptist Church was bombed–I managed somehow to become a part of the groundswell of Americans who joined the end of the march from Selma, Alabama, to the capital, Montgomery, where Dr. King spoke from the steps. That event was a pivotal moment in my life. Thus, being at the Lincoln Memorial last week was, indeed, emotionally significant to my–and to many around me with whom I spoke.

I saw the following statement on the internet today, which reminded me that: “William Faulkner was right when he observed, in Requiem for a Nun, that the past is never dead; it isn’t even past.” And that sentiment was true for those I met, who weren’t even alive 50 years ago, but came from as far away as Florida and Toronto, Canada, to be a part of this day. There were too many to mention here, but I have kept up with Edwin Whitehead, a Floridian young enough to be my grandson, with whom I talked all day. And who shared his umbrella and helped me in so many ways all day.

In addition to Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama, I particularly remember (not in any particular order) these others who spoke: Lynda Bird Johnson, Caroline Kennedy, Dr. Joseph Lowry (91, and a survivor of the original march), Myrlie Evers Williams, The Rev. Bernice King, Forest Whittaker, Martin Luther King, III, Jamie Foxx, Oprah Winfrey, Al Sharpton (yes, he spoke at this one, too), Andrew Young, Julian Bond, and a particular hero of mine, John Lewis.

There’s little more to tell. It was a most wonderful event!