... Early leadership qualities in evidence
In the mid to late summer of 1992, Edith, my wife, and I decided that we would take a cross country motor trip with the aim of of visiting as many of the National Parks as time would allow. We headed west over the Massachusetts Turnpike and the New York Thruway stopping overnight in upstate New York. We resumed our trip crossing into Pennsylvania and keeping Lake Erie in view for most of the way as we proceeded into Ohio and up to Detroit to visit Edith's relatives.
We had planned to cross Michigan and take a ferry across the lake from Muskegon to Milwaukee but that ferry no longer operated so we drove around the lower end of Lake Michigan to the Chicago area where we visited some former classmates of Edith. From there we headed across Minnesota to South Dakota stopping in the Badlands and visiting Mount Rushmore.
From there we headed south into Nebraska and were able to view the magnificent site where the Missouri River joins the mighty Mississippi. Then it was on to Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. We next headed for Big Sky country in Montana and across Idaho to the Columbia River Valley and the Bonneville Dam stopping overnight in Portland. Seattle was our next objective. Edith has a cousin there whom she wanted to visit and besides we had been to Seattle on several previous trips and wanted to visit there again. We then took off for the magnificent scenic trip down the Oregon coast. We had been told that if we were anywhere near Crater Lake that we had to go there and we did. It was quite a bit out of our way but well worth the detour because it is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the Earth.
Oakland was our next destination and to get there we drove through the magnificent Redwood Forests. In Oakland we visited with one of Edith's young cousins and got to meet her new son who had just started walking.
We then started on the return leg of our trip across the San Joacquin Valley to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. Santa Fe was next and from there we traveled north to Colorado stopping in Denver. We used our stay in Denver to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes National Park driving up a 12,000 foot Mountain to overlook a magnificent valley and the elk who made that valley their home.
We then started our return trip in earnest, crossing Kansas with a stop at the Eisenhower Museum. After a brief visit, we headed for Missouri and planned to stop in Independence to visit the Truman Museum. Labor Day was fast approaching and we heard on the radio that soon to be President Clinton was going to inaugurate his campaign for the presidency in front of the Truman Library. We decided to spend the night in Independence and go to hear Clinton the next morning.
From the enthusiasm of the crowd both old and young I was pretty certain that he was going to be our next president. About two-thirds of the way through his speech, a light rain began to fall and Hillary opened an umbrella and held it over him while he finished his speech. The remainder of our trip home was rather uneventful except for a cloudburst type rainstorm in Pennsylvania which made us decide to stop earlier than we had planned on that day.
Two years later Edith and I had gone to Normandy for the ceremonies commemorating the 50th Anniversary of D-day. We were sitting in the stands that had been constructed for visitor viewing just back from Utah Beach where I had landed on D-day. The first lady was sitting about five rows in front of us. Despite the admonition of our tour guide that it was important to get to our bus immediately, otherwise the bus would get held up in the congested traffic and would get to Pointe de Hoc too late, I decided that I could not miss the opportunity to meet Mrs. Clinton. I was able to work my way through the surrounding crowd and relate the story of how I had been at the Truman Library where she had held the protective umbrella over her husband's head while he finished his speech.
Evidently my recounting of the event conjured up in her the mental image of the good little wife protecting her husband from the elements and it brought a big smile to her face. A young friend captured the scene on his video camera and sent me a copy of the tape. I brought the tape to Hunt Drug to get a still picture made.
This picture of the event described in the story was extracted from a video tape. The reason it is not too clear is that the machine used to make the still photo was slightly out of synch with the speed of the video camera that taped the scene. The author wearing a straw colored pith helmet is pictured just after his conversation with Mrs. Clinton, who is slightly behind him and a little to his right.
Several years ago, at a Team Harmony Assembly at the Fleet Center, I was fortunate enough to meet and talk to Hillary Clinton again. Team harmony was the brainchild of the late Leonard Zakim. Its purpose was to foster understanding and respect, despite differences, among middle and high school students. I reminded the First Lady of our previous meeting on Utah Beach. Her almost instantaneous response was, "Still on the firing line."
March 1, 2002