When I discuss my father’s story, I try to add relatable material for the audience. Often I procure a historical photograph featuring one of the five presidents in the town in which I am speaking. Since my father traveled to so many places protecting presidents or vice presidents, I can often find a relevant picture in which he is included.
For a presentation I recently gave in Twin Falls, ID, instead of a photo, I found an entry in former Vice President Johnson’s diary of a campaign stop there on October 19, 1962, shortly before the midterm elections (coincidentally on the same month and day I was visiting there). LBJ was traveling across the country to support his party’s candidates at that time.
The diary entries of that week in October have been thought-provoking to me. I am amazed that the vice president traveled with only two Secret Service agents protecting him (one of whom was my father), and that they flew on commercial air flights. I also have a greater appreciation of how much my father traveled. He was away from us for days on end during his career.
In addition, I realized that election day for the 1962 midterm elections took place just over a week after the Cuban Missile Crisis ended. I wonder if the relief of averting a nuclear disaster diverted some of the bad behavior and barrage of mud-slinging which is so prevalent in the current elections. The polar discord within our country seems to have magnified over the years and has been very concerning to me.
I was slightly relieved to hear a recent lecture at the Atlanta History Center given by historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin. While discussing her new book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, she reassured the audience that our country has endured and overcome even more significant internal conflicts throughout its past.
So, as I stood in line to vote last week, I reflected on some of these thoughts while forcing myself not to be annoyed by the 2-hour wait. I focused on how fortunate I am to live in a country where we can express our opinions so openly. I am forever grateful to our veterans and members of the armed forces for protecting this freedom for us. I will continue to pray that the extremes of opinions will not weaken our society but instead help us shape a better one. Moreover, I am thankful for the opportunity to cast my vote.
I appreciate the historians and archivists who have made these primary sources of history available. The Vice-President’s Daily Diary entries for 10/19/1962 and 10/20/1962 can be found in:
Pre-Presidential Daily Diary Collection, LBJ Presidential Library, accessed November 02, 2018, https://www.discoverlbj.org/item/vpdd-19621019
“The Twins” statue citation, RYV photo.