My vision of national history during my lifetime

By Kathleen Anderson

A few weeks ago, I suggested my daughter and son-in-law watch the Gaslit series, a show about the indomitable Martha Mitchell and the Watergate saga.

“Of course,” said my son-in-law. “I like history shows.”

Story. I sometimes forget that not everyone around me is old enough to remember incidents that left a lasting impression on me. And the story? Although accurate, his statement made me stop and think about other historical events that I remember clearly, but that my children and grandchildren read about in their school books.

For example, the first time man walked on the moon or even went into space. Southern governors who stood in front of school buildings to refuse colored children. Civil rights activists who disappeared and were later found to have been murdered.

Marches led by civil rights leaders and their supporters, who have been beaten and imprisoned for fighting for their constitutional rights.

Rosa Parks sitting at the front of the bus and refusing to move to the back.

The speeches that opened so many eyes: “I have a dream” by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and the “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country,” speech by President Kennedy.

The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., President John Kennedy and his brother, Senator Robert Kennedy. The murder of Lee Harvey Oswald on live television just days after he shot and killed President Kennedy.

The Medicare Act that became law, under President Johnson, after the death (and likely failure to pass) of President Kennedy’s dream for Americans.

The Vietnam War, which divided the country and tore friends and families apart. Kent State University students wounded and killed by our own National Guard while demonstrating against the war.

The music. The incredible music of the 60s and 70s filled with angst, anger and truth.

The resignation of President Nixon after the Watergate debacle.

When I look back over the years, it’s often the first ladies I remember. Jackie Kennedy – what a class act. Lady Bird Johnson, who set out to work with Congress to spruce up our highways.

Betty Ford, who made it okay to get help for addiction issues. Rosalynn Carter has stood shoulder to shoulder with her husband throughout his presidency. Barbara Bush, who followed the Nancy Reagan fashion plate, with her dedication to family literacy.

I loved Barbara Bush’s wit and warmth and would have voted for her in a hot minute.

There have been other events and other leaders, some good and some bad, some a bit of both; they were generally the most colorful.

I really don’t know what history will say about our current/recent leaders. We finally had a black president and a black vice-president.

We have a former president who still swears his re-election was stolen from him and a physical attack on our nation’s congressional leaders and Capital Building. January 6e will still rank up there with 9/11 for me.

And of course, there will always be more to come. I may not agree with all the manners in the world, but I’m never bored.

Kathleen Anderson writes this column weekly from her home in Olympia. Contact her at [email protected] or post your comment below.

Aubrey L. Morgan