Mimi Kennedy’s Keynote speech for the JFK Scholarship Dinner, presented by the Madison County Democratic Women

intro

“I DON’T MIND TELLING YOU I’VE BEEN REALLY NERVOUS ABOUT THIS SPEECH. IT’S THE FIRST TIME I’VE SPOKEN PUBLICLY ABOUT POLITICS SINCE LAST NOVEMBER. AND THE STATE OF THE NATION IS DIRE. THE HOUSE JUST GOT THEIR VOTE TO REPEAL OBAMACARE AT LAST, LESS FOR POLICY INTEGRITY THAN TO PLACATE BRUISED EGO.  WHAT TO SAY ABOUT ALL THIS? I THOUGHT MAYBE I COULD JUST LEAD US ALL IN A PRIMAL SCREAM.

WELL, I’M GONNA AIM HIGH, TO QUOTE ONE OF THE BEST FIRST LADIES WE’VE EVER HAD. I’M GONNA TALK ABOUT HONESTY, POLITICS, AND HOW OUR POLITICAL CONSCIENCE IS FORMED BY WHAT WE’RE TAUGHT AS CHILDREN AND WHAT WE EXPERIENCE ONCE WE’RE GROWN. AND HOW WHEN THOSE THINGS COME INTO CONFLICT, IT TAKES WISDOM TO STAY POLITICALLY INVOLVED FOR OUR CHILDREN’S SAKE AND FOR THE PLANET’S FUTURE. BECAUSE NOTHING LESS IS AT STAKE. I BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE. THAT’S WHAT PROGRESSIVE MEANS TO ME. I BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE AND WHAT TO MAKE PROGRESS TOWARDS IT. PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK ME WHY I CAN’T JUST SAY I’M A ‘LIBERAL’ WHAT’S WRONG WITH ‘LIBERAL?’ AND I TELL THEM THE RIGHT-WING TALK MACHINE WAGED A WORD-WAR ON ‘LIBERAL’ AND WON WHEN WE WEREN’T LOOKING. THEY TURNED IT INTO ‘LIBERTINE’, INTO BEING SEXUALLY PROMISCUOUS AND CARELESS WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY – A LIBERAL SPENDER, A SQUANDERER OF TAX DOLLARS. SOMETIMES DEMOCRATIC POLITICANS EVEN SEEMED TO PLAY ALONG.

 

I LEARNED, AS A MOTHER, TO PICK MY BATTLES. SO RATHER THAN FIGHT THE WORD-WAR I DECIDED ‘PROGRESSIVE’ WAS A WORD WE DEMOCRATS COULD DEFINE. AS BELIEVING THERE’S A FUTURE AND PROGRESSING TOWARDS IT.

THE REPUBLICANS ARE FURIOUS BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO CLAIM IT AS TEDDY ROOSEVELT’S PROPERTY AND THEREFORE, THEIRS. BUT THEY’RE NOT WILLING TO BE PROGRESSIVE. I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE ON THEIR SIDE ARE IN DESPAIR BECAUSE THE FUTURE THEY BELIEVED IN DIDN’T ARRIVE. THE AMERICAN DREAM – THAT EACH GENERATION WOULD DO BETTER THAN THEIR PARENTS – DIDN’T HAPPEN. NEITHER DID THE RAPTURE. OR IT DID AND WE’RE LEFT BEHIND – SO WE’RE NOT AS GOOD AS WE THOUGHT WE WERE. IF WE’RE GOING TO HELL ANYWAY, LET’S END THE SUSPENSE – BRING ON THE APOCALPYSE! I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE FEEL THAT, IF EVERYTHING THEY BELIEVED WAS A LIE, IT’S OKAY TO LIE TO EVERYBODY. ABOUT EVERYTHING. WHY BE HONEST IN A DOG-EAT-DOG WORLD IF THE LIARS ARE GETTING RICH? WELL, AS THE NATIVE AMERICANS POINT OUT, WHEN THE LAST RIVER RUNS DRY AND THE LAST TREE DIES, IT’LL BE TOO LATE TO FIND OUT YOU CAN’T EAT MONEY.

REGARDING HONESTY, SEAN PENN ONCE SAID MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT OUR PROFESSION, ‘AT LEAST WHEN WE’RE ACTING WE KNOW WE’RE LYING.’  

I NEED TO ACT BECAUSE IT’S MY OUTLET. IN REAL LIFE, I’M A TERRIBLE LIAR. I JUST CAN’T DO IT.
MY FIRST SPANKING WAS FOR LYING – IF IT HAPPENED TO YOU, RAISE YOUR HAND I EMERGED FROM SNEAKING CANDY IN THE KITCHEN AND MY FATHER HAPPENED TO BE STANDING THERE. I WAS ABOUT FOUR OR FIVE, AND I MUST HAVE LOOKED LIKE ONE GUILTY PUPPY, BECAUSE HE ASKED WHAT I’D BEEN DOING. I CONFESSED. EATING CANDY. HE ASKED IF SOMEONE GAVE ME PERMISSION AND THAT MADE A LIGHTBULB GO OFF IN MY HEAD. I COULD GET OUT OF TROUBLE! I SAID THE BABYSITTER HAD GIVEN PERMISSION. UNFORTUNATELY FOR ME THE BABYSITTER WAS STILL IN THE HOUSE AND MY FATHER-LAWYER CALLED HER TO THE WITNESS STAND. SHE SAID NO, SHE’D GIVEN NO PERMISSION. AND I UNDERWENT A RITUAL I’LL NEVER FORGET. IT DIDN’T PHYSICALLY HURT. IT JUST LET ME KNOW THAT MY FATHER DIDN’T LIE, AND DIDN’T ALLOW LYING. TOP THAT OFF WITH THE FACT THAT THE FIRST GROWN-UP PLAY I EVER APPEARED IN WAS “SPIDER’S WEB” BY AGATHA CHRSTIE, AT THE COMMUNITY THEATER, IN WHICH A CHARACTER QUOTES THAT LINE FROM SIR WALTER SCOTT ‘OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE WHEN FIRST WE PRACTICE TO DECEIVE.’

 

SO EXPERIENCE WARNED ME REARLY THAT I NEEDED A BRIGHT WHITE LINE BETWEEN PRETENDING AND BEING MYSELF. AND AS MYSELF, THERE’D BETTER BE A BRIGHT LINE FOR ME BETWEEN PRETENDING TO BE SOMEONE I’M NOT AND BEING JUST MYSELF.  SO I’M SPEAKING AS MYSELF TONIGHT. AND VERY CAREFUL TO EXAMINE MY CONSCIENCE AND BE AS HONEST AS I CAN.

 

LET’S START WITH THE FIRST THING EVERYBODY WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT ME: AM I A REAL KENNEDY?

 

photo1dad

I ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY LOOKED A LITTLE ALIKE. THE TRUTH IS, THEY MET IN 1952 AND PORED OVER A MAP OF IRELAND TO SEE IF THEY WERE RELATED, AND THEY FOUND OUT THAT AT ONE POINT OUR FAMILIES WERE IN ADJACENT COUNTIES. SO WITH 10 KIDS IN MY GREAT-GRADNFATHER’S FAMILY NOT BEING UNUSUAL, IT’S POSSIBLE BACK ON THE OLD SOD WE SHARED THE SAME ROOTS. BUT NOT HERE.
HERE, THEY WERE DEMOCRATS – AND WE WERE – DON’T RUN ME OUT OF THE ROOM NOW – REPUBLICANS. AS JFK SAID WHEN HE MET DADDY, “I DIDN’T THINK THERE COULD BE SUCH A THING AS A REPUBLICAN KENNEDY!” SO HOW DID IT HAPPEN? AND HOW DID I ESCAPE THE CULT? THE VIETNAM WAR MADE ME A DEMOCRAT. AT THIS POINT, I WANT TO STOP AND THANK PAM MILES. WHAT A DYNAMO. SHE’S THE ONE WHO BROUGHT ME HERE. PAM’S A DEMOCXRAT – IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED.

WE MET AT A DNC MEETING 11 YEARS AGO – 2006. I WAS 2 YEARS INTO BEING ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR OF PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA, AND I WAS ON A PANEL ABOUT STOLEN ELECTIONS. I’M STILL WORKING TO GET THE NATION ON A MANDATORY PAPER BALLOT AND THE RIGHT TO HAND-COUNT THEM IF THE SCANNER COUNT LOOKS FISHY. SHE TOLD ABOUT DON SIEGELMAN AND HOW HIS RE-ELECTION FOUNDERED IN 2002 WHEN A LATE-NIGHT ELECTRONIC GLITCH SHIFTED 300O VOTES AWAY FROM HIM – AND NO OTHER RESULTS CHANGED. AND YOUR THEN-ATTORNEY GENERAL IMPOUNDED THE PAPER BALLOTS UNDER THREAT OF PROSECUTION OF ANYONE WHO TOUCHED THEM. AND THEY HAVEN’T BEEN CHECKED TO THIS DAY.

Don Siegelman and his daughter Dana

THE MORE I LEARNED, THE ANGRIER I BECAME. BECAUSE DON REMINDED ME OF MY FATHER – A GOOD MAN, AND HONEST MAN – AND HE’D BEEN RAILORADED INTO PRISON ON LIES IN A WAY THAT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN THIS COUNTRY. THE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE JURY WERE RIDICULOUS. MY LAWYER FATHER WOULD NOT HAVE BELIEVED IT. ‘INFERRED FRAUD’ – YOU CAN CONVICT BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE SOMETHING HAPPENED, NOT BECAUSE THERE WAS CORROBORATED TESTIMONY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, AND EVIDENCE WITHOUT ERROR PRESENTED IN COURT! OF COURSE, I NOW I REALIZE MY SHOCKED OUTRAGE WAS PARTLY DUE TO MY WHITE SKIN. PEOPLE OF COLOR KNOW THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON A LONG TIME.

SO WHY WAS DADDY A REPUBLICAN?

HIS FATHER, DAN KENNEDY, DIED WHEN DADDY WAS 7. SO I NEVER KNEW MY KENNEDY GRANDFATHER, SON OF AN IMMIGRANT. I KNEW THE STEPFATHER WHO SAVED THE WIDOW KENNEDY AND HER FOUR YOUNG CHILDREN FROM HARDSHIP, AND HE WAS A REPUBLICAN JUDGE – JUDGE LOVE – WHO LIVED UP TO HIS NAME. HE WAS A GOOD MAN. AND HE WAS AN ELECTED JUDGE, SO MY FATHER WALKED THE PRECINCTS TO GET OUT THE VOTE FOR HIM, AND THAT CEMENTED HIS ROLE IN ROCHESTER AS A LOYAL REPBULICAN WHEN REPUBLICANS WERE LIBERAL. ROCKEFELLER REPUBLICANS, THEY WERE CALLED. GOVERNOR NELSON ROCKEFELLER PASSED SOME OF THE NATION’S STRICTEST ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IN NEW YORK STATE.

I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THINK THAT MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER, WHO WE KNOW HARBORED SYMPATHIES WITH THOSE FIGHTING FOR AN IRISH REPUBLICAN, ARRIVED IN NEW YORK CITY WHEN HE DI, 1868, TO FIND OUT LINCOLN FREED THE SLAVES, AND HE WAS A REPUBILCAN, SO WHEN HE FOUND OUT THERE WERE REPUBLICANS IN AMERICA HE SAID, ‘THAT’S FOR ME!’ BUT WE DON’T KNOW THAT- SO PUT IT IN THE FICTION COLUMN. TO BE HONEST, I DON’T KNOW THE TRUTH, AND NOBODY’S LEFT TO ASK. ANYWAY – OUR FAMILY STOOD ON TWO SACRED PILLARS. ONE WAS THE REPUBCLIAN PARTY AND THE OTHER WE SHARED WITH THOSE OTHER KENNEDYS- THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

 

St. John Evangelist 1955

St. John Evangelist 1955, 1st Communion Mimi Kennedy

 

HERE I AM ON THE DAY OF MY FIRST COMMUNION WITH 60 OF MY FELLOW SECOND GRADERS. THIRD ROW DOWN FROM TOP, THIRD FROM LEFT. NOW, I STUDIED UP ON ALABAMA TO PREPARE FOR THIS SPEECH, SO I FOUND OUT YOU ARE THE NUMBER ONE BIBLE-READINGEST STATE IN THE NATION. SO I KNEW YOU’D GET ME. MY ATTEMPT TO BE AS MUCH OF AN ANGEL AS I LOOKED IN THIS PICTURE WAS AND IS VERY REAL. I REMAIN THAT KID INSIDE. BUT ALONG WITH READING THE BIBLE, I READ THE BALTIMORE CATECHISM. IT WAS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S INSTRUCTION MANUAL FOR CHILDREN, AND WE HAD TO MEMORIZE IT FOR MAKING OUR FIRST COMMUNION AND FIRST CONFESSION AT AGE SEVEN, THE AGE WHEN THE CHURCH SAID CHILDREN OFFICIALLY AND SUDDENLY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL.

HERE’S WHAT WE WERE TAUGHT ABOUT CONFESSION.

Story of a Bad Confession

JOHN IS SEEN HERE CARRYING FOUR MORTAL SINS INTO CONFESSION. WHAT HAS HE DONE THAT’S SO BAD HE’LL GO TO HELL IMMEDIATELY WHEN HE DIES BECAUSE HE DID IT? MURDER? MORE LIKELY, EATING A HOT DOG ON FRIDAY, FOUR TIMES IN A ROW, KNOWING IT WAS A MORTAL SIN AGAINST CHURCH TEACHING. BUT FOUR TIME SEEMS LIKE TOO MUCH, AND HE’S ASHAMED, SO HE SAYS HE ONLY DID IT THREE TIMES. THAT LIE IS A MORTAL SIN TOO – SO NOW, INSTEAD OF A CLEAN CONSCIENCE, HE WALKS OUT WITH FIVE UNFORGIVEN MORTAL SINS. NO CONFESSION JOHN EVER MAKES IN HIS LIFE, UNTIL HE CATCHES UP AND MAKES GOOD ON THIS BAD CONFESSION WHERE HE HID A MORTAL SIN, WILL EVER ‘TAKE.’ IF HE DOES WANT TO COME CLEAN BY, SAY, THE AGE OF 30, WHEN SAY, HE WANTS TO BE A RESPONSIBLE HUSBAND AND FATHER, HE’LL HAVE ABOUT FIFTY THOUSAND MORTAL SINS TO RE-CONFESS, BECAUSE THEY’VE NEVER BEEN FORGIVEN IN A SERIES OF BAD CONFDSSIONS. TALK ABOUT DESPAIR – THE KIND OF THINKING THIS LED TO WAS COVER-UP – I’M ALREADY DAMNED, SO WHAT’S THE USE? IF I’M NOT PERFECT, I’M A LIAR, SO I MIGHT AS WELL LIE AND GET BY. THIS FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE WOULD BE FUNNY IF IT WEREN’T SO LETHAL TO OUR CURRENT POLITICS. I TRAVELED A LOT WITH PDA AND OFTEN I’D DRIVE TO MY HOMETOWN OF ROCHESTER TO SEE RELATIVES. I FOUND A RADIO SHOW, THE CATHOLIC HOUR, WHICH CONSISTED OF A 90-YEAR OLD NUN CONSTANTLY RAILING AGAINST OBAMACARE BECAUSE IT ALLOWS THE TRAGEDY OF ABORTION. IT HAD TO BE REPEALED. IT WAS A GREAT SIN FOR CATHOLICS NOT TO GET ACTIVE

THAT’S WHERE WE RUN INTO THAT DARNED PROBLEM OF CONSCIENCE AGAIN: HERE’S ANOTHER PAGE FROM THE CATECHISM:

 

Another Page from the Catechism

HERE WE SEE A GOOD CATHOLIC FAMILY DOING WHAT THEYR’E SUPPOSED TO, WHICH IS SAFEGUARDING OUR FAITH BY, AMONG OTHER THINGS, AND I QUOTE “NOT READING BOOKS AND PAPERS OPPOSED TO THE CHURCH AND HER TEACHING.” ANSWER 205 STATES THAT CATHOLICS SIN BY TAKING PART IN NON-CATHOLIC WORSHIP BECAUSE THAT IS THE SIN OF ‘INDDIFERENTISM’ – WHICH IS BELIEVING ONE RELIGION IS AS GOOD AS ANOTHER. AS IT STATES IN SUMMARY, ‘THESE SINS HURT GOD DEEPLY.” NO-ONE WANTS TO HURT GOD DEEPLY – EVEN PEOPLE WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD. SO WE STRIVE TO OBEY. WELL, HERE’S HOW THE VIETNAM WAR MADE ME DISOBEDIENT ENOUGH TO BECOME A DEMOCRAT. IN HIGH SCHOOL, I’D ONLY READ THE LOCAL PAPERS WHICH SAID THE WAR WAS ABOUT OUR BOYS FIGHTING COMMIES. AND THE COMMIES WERE GODLESS. THE BODY COUNT WAS FEATURED ON THE FRONT PAGE LIKE A BOX SCORE. AND WHEN THE VIET CONG HAD MORE DEAD GUYS THAN AMERICN GIs, I FELT GOOD. THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE 12 WERE MOSTLY CATHOLIC, AFTER ALL – SO THEY WERE FIGHTING FOR THE ONE TRUE RELIGION. AT FRESHMAN ORIENTATION AT SMITH COLLEGE, I FILLED OUT A QUESTIONNAIRE ABOUT THE WAR. I’VE SEEN IT SINCE, AND I’M HORRIFIED. I WROTE THAT I SUPPORTED LYNDON JOHNSON’S ESCALATION OF THE WAR. “BECAUSE WE’RE FIGHTING AETHEISTIC COMMUNISM OVER THERE AND IF WE DON’T DEFEAT IT WE’LL HAVE TO FIGHT IT OVER HERE.” AT SMITH, I READ THE NEW YORK TIMES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. I FOUND OUT WE WERE NAPALMING CHILDREN AND MASSACRING VILLAGES, AND THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE ARMY WAS CORRUPT. I HAD TO CHANGE. MY CONSCIENCE TOLD ME I WAS LETTING CHILDREN SUFFER AND DIE FOR MY BELIEFS, SO THAT I WOULND’T HAVE TO BE DISTURBED IN MY COUNTRY.

AND THAT WAS WRONG, THE 1968 ASSASSINATIONS OF BOBBY KENNEDY AND MARTIN LUTHER KING MADE MY GENERATION FEEL MAYBE LIKE SOME TRUMP PEOPLE FEEL NOW. WHAT’S THE USE?  WE LOST OUR HOPE – WHATEVER WE’D HAD LEFT AFTER JFK’S ASSASSINATION IN 1963.

 

THE VIOLENCE CAME HOME. MARTIN LUTHER KING HAD WARNED US VIOLENCE HARMED BOTH VICTIM AND PERPETRATOR. KENT STATE HAPPENED THE YEAR I GRADUATED. I JOINED THE NATIONWIDE MORATORIUM AND WORE BLACK ARMBAND AT GRADUATION. IN NEW YORK CITY, I STARTED MY ACTING CAREER AND FORGOT ABOUT POLITICS FOR WHILE. BUT I REMEMBER A COVER OF THE VILLAGE VOICE THAT SHOWED A COMIC-BOOK WOMAN HOLDING HER HEAD IN CLOSE-UP AND SAYING “OH NO! NUCLEAR WAR? THERE GOES MY CAREER!” THAT’S PRETTY MUCH THE WAY I AND MY FRIENDS FELT. BUT I VOTED AGAINST NIXON IN ’72. AND SAW THE PHOTO PUBLISHED THAT YEAR THAT WAS TAKEN BY A PHOTOGRAPHER WHO SAID, WHEN HE TOOK IT, HE KNEW IT WOULD END THE WAR. IT EVENTUALLY DID. PHOTOGRAPHER NICK UT WON THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR IT. I CAN’T SHOW IT AT A DINNER. BUT IF YOU SAW THAT GIRL RUNNING AWAY FROM HER NAPALMED VILLAGE, YOU REMEMBER IT.

 

photo7grease

IN ’76 I WAS IN THE ORIGINAL BROADWAY RUN OF ‘GREASE’ AND JIMMY CARTER RAN. I LOVED HIM, AND I RAN UP BROADWAY ONE DAY TO CATCH ONE OF HIS RALLIES. I’’LL NEVER FORGET A BLACK DOORMAN CALLING OUT TO ME ‘YOU GONNA TELL YOUR GRNADCHIDLREN ‘I SAW JIMMY CARTER!’?” I CALLED BACK “YES!” AND FELT SO HOPEFUL THAT NOW WE WERE ALL IN A GOOD COUNTRY AGAIN, TOGETHER.

 

GREASE LED TO LA AND TELEVISION

The New York Times March 30, 1977

ACCORDING OT THE NY TIMES I WAS AN INSTANT STAR!

I WAS ON THE COVER OF TV GUIDE!

‘THREE GIRLS THREE’ LASTED FOUR SHOWS AND ‘THE TWO OF US’ WAS CANCELLED AFTER ONE SEASON. I WAS LEARNING THE ROPES. I BECAME A MOTHER AFTER THREE YEARS OF WORRYING IT MIGHT NEVER HAPPEN. I WAS PREGNANT IN THAT PICTURE ON TV GUIDE AND MY SKIRT DIDN’T ZIP IN THE BACK. WHEN YOU’VE GOT LITTLE KIDS AT HOME, YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN THE COMPANY OF THE RADIO, WHERE YOU HEAR YOUR ONLY ADULT COMPANIONS. THERE WAS A PACIFICA STATION THAT TALKED ABOUT THE SECRET WARS IN EL SALVADOR AND NICARAGUA, AND HOW VILLAGES WERE BEING MASSACRED AND CHIDLREN TORTURED AND NUNS AND PRIESTS AND UNION ACTIVISTS SHOT, SOMETIMES IN CHURCH. MY MOTHER-HEART IGNITED. I WROTE LETTERS, DID MAILINGS, WENT TO MEETINGS WHERE I MET MARTIN SHEEN AND MIKE FARRELL.

Dharma & Greg

9-11 HAPPENED IN THE LAST YEAR OF “DHARMA & GREG” AND THE CAST AND CREW WERE CALLED TOGETHER AND TOLD THERE WAS A CREDIBLE THREAT AGAINST THE STUDIO AND WE’D HAVE TO ARRIVE AN HOUR EARLY TO GET THROUGH ALL THE NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES. I LOOKED AROUND THAT GROUP THINKIN, WHO WOULD I SAVE, IF THAT FIREBALL CAME THROUGH THE WALL RIGHT THIS MINUTE – WOULD I BE COURAGEOUS ENOUGH TO ACT LIKE THE HEROES OF 9-11? THE ANSWER MADE ME ASHAMED – I FELT I’D SAVE MY OWN ASS. SO I HAD TO STEP UP MY ACTIVISM I DIDN’T WANT TO DIE BECAUSE I WAS AN ACTRESS ON A TV SHOW IN A STUDIO OWNED BY RUPERT MURDOCH. I WANTED TO LIVE AS A BRAVE AMERICAN CITIZEN.

ROWEN WILLIAMS, THE FORMER ARCHIBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, WROTE THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ ABOUT 9-11, ‘WRITING IN THE DUST’. IN IT, HE TALKS OF HOW HE ONCE ANSWERED AN INTERVEIEWER IN SWEDISH BECAUSE HE WANTED TO SHOW OFF THAT HE COULD SPEAK THE GUY’S LANGUAGE. THE INTERVIEW PROCEEDED IN SWEDISH UNTIL HE REALIZED HE COULD NOT POSSIBLY SAY EVERYTHING HE MEANT UNLESS THEY SWITCHED TO ENGLISH, AND HE BEGGED OFF. HE SAYS THAT THE VIOLENT ‘MESSAGE’ OF 9-11 WAS ANSWERED WITH VIOLENCE. BUT THAT WE HAVE TO STOP DOING THAT, BECAUSE ONCE YOU ANSWER IN ONE LANGUAGE YOU HAVE TO BE PREPARED TO CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION THAT WAY – AND BEG IT TO STOP OR CONTINUE TO THE END WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO SAY WHAT YOU MEAN. THAT’S SUICIDE.

Rev. James Lawson

I BEGAN STUDYING NONVIOLNCE IN SATURDAY CLASSES WITH REV JAMES LAWSON, MARTIN LUTHER KING CALLED HIM “THE TEACHER” BECAUSE HE’D LEARNED ABOUT NONVIOLENCE IN INDIA, WHERE HE WAS STUDYING METHODIST MISSIONARY WORK AS PART OF SEMINARY WHILE GANDHI WAS ACTIVE. DR. KING CALLED REV. LAWSON TO TEACH THE STUDENTS OF FISK COLLEGE HOW TO DO NONVIOLENT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE FOR THE FIRST SIT-INS, IN NASHVILLE. DENNIS KUCINICH HEARD ME TALK ABOUT NONVIOLENCE AND ASKED ME TO ACCOMPANY HIM ON HIS CAMPAIGN IN 2003. PAM TELLS ME HE WAS IN HUNTSVILLE – I WASN’T WITH HIM THEN. BUT PEOPLE WOULD TELL ME DENNIS WAS A LOST CAUSE, AND WHEN WAS I GOING TO COME OVER TO HOWARD DEAN? AND I SAID, ‘WHEN HOWARD STANDS NEXT TO DENNIS KUCINICH ONSTAGE AND SAYS ‘MY GOOD FRIEND DENNIS KUCINICH.’”

image 12

AT THE 2004 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, THE FOUNDER OF PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA, TIM CARPENTER, GOT IT DONE. I HADN’T EVEN MET HIM UNTIL THE DAY HE ASKED ME THERE TO BE ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR OF THE NEW ORGANIZATION THAT WAS STARTING WITH THE PROGRESSIVE DELEGATES OF KUCINCH, DEAN, EDWARDS, SHARPTON, MOSELY-BRAUN AND EVEN SOME KERRY PEOPLE. WE WERE GOING TO TAKE THE PEACE AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT INSIDE THE PARTY. I THINK HE ASKED ME BECAUSE I WAS THE ONLY PERSON HE KNEW WITH A NATIONAL PROFILE AND HE WAS GONNA ASK FOR MONEY AND FIGURED HE NEEDED SOMEONE PEOPLE COULD GO TO IF THEY DIDN’T LIKE THE WAY WE WERE SPENDING IT.

Tim Carpenter

TIM TAUGHT ME EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT ORGANIZING. THE INSIDE/OUTSIDE STRATEGY – TAKE IT TO THE STREETS TO GET IN THE SUITES. LEARN HOW TO BEHAVE BOTH PLACES.

Dianne Feinstein’s District Office

 HERE WE ARE DEMONSTRATING OUTSIDE DIANNE FEINSTEIN’S DISTRICT OFFICE PROTESTING HER REFUSAL TO CONDEMN CIA TORTURE. THE SECURITY GUARDS SAID THE PRIVATE BUILDING WAS OFF LIMITS AND THEY’D ARREST US. WE SAID OUR SENATOR’S OFFICE A PUBLIC SPACE. EVENTUALLY AN AIDE CAME DOWN AND TOLERATED US; FEINSTEIN’S OFFICE WAS NOTORIOUSLY INACCESSIBLE AND UNRESPONSIVE. BUT BEFORE SHE RETIRED, DIANNE FEINSTEIN WAS A LOUD VOICE AGAINST TORTURE. SHE WAS FORCED TO EXAMINE HER BELIEFS – AND CHANGE HER MIND.

HERE’S TIM, ME – AND MEDEA BENJAMIN AND CINDY SHEEHAN.  MEDEA WORKED FOR THE U.N. SHE HAD A CAREER IN THE SUITES. BUT SHE STARTED CODE PINK, ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE NONVIOLENT OUTSPOKEN GROUPS BECAUSE HER CONSCIENCE IMPELLED HER TO GET LOUDER WITH THE MOTTO ‘STOP THE NEXT WAR NOW.’ CINDY SHEEHAN SAID SHE HADN’T WORRIED MUCH ABOUT BUSH’S ELECTION IN 2000. SHE’D THOUGHT ‘HOW BAD CAN IT BE?’ AFTER 9-11, HER BELOVED SON CASEY, ENLISTED AS A DEACON’S HELPER AND WAS TOLD HE’D NEVER BE UNDER FIRE. HE DIED IN A ROADSIDE BOMB, AND CCINDY SAID SHE LEARNED THAT HOW BAD CAN IT GET MEANT THE WORST CAN HAPPEN.  SHE BECAME AN ACTIVIST.

image 16

WE HAD LOCAL PROTESTS NATIONWIDE TO PROTEST PROPOSED CUTS TO FOODSTAMPS BY JOHN BOEHNER’S DEFICIT-PHOBIC CONGRESS.  HEY- WHERE ARE THOSE GUYS NOW THAT TRUMP TAX CUTS ARE GONNA COST US A TRILLIION AND THE FENCE IS A RIDIUCULOUS WASTE OF MONEY?

Don Siegelman

HERE’S DON SIEGELMAN. PAM WAS THERE – IN ’08 IN DENVER, AT PDA’S PROGRESSIVE CENTRAL MARATHON. THAT’S WHERE DON MET JOHN CONYERS FACE TO FACE. EVEN THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE COULDN’T CRACK THAT WALL OF LIES.  MEETING DON CONFIRMED EVERYTHING I’D READ ABOUT HIM; HE’S AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN.

Tim Carpenter

TIM PASSED IN 2014. AT HIS MEMORIAL IN HIS HOME IN NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS HELD IN THE CHURCH WHERE JONATHAN EDWARDS PREACHED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE TO THE PURITANS, WE PRESENTED PDA’S 10,000 GATHERED SIGNATURES TO BERNIE SANDERS, AND ASKED HIM TO RUN BERNIE RUN AS A DEMOCRAT. WE’D BE WITH HIM ACROSS THE NATION.

image 19

Tom Hayden and Tim Carpenter

TIM LOOKED TO TOM HAYDEN AS A MENTOR, AND TOM LOOKED TO TIM AS A YOUNG TURK. TOM PASSED LAST OCTOBER. HIS WIFE SAID HE WANTED TO STAY ALIVE UNTIL HE KNEW HOW THE ELECTION TURNED OUT. BUT A WEEK BEFORE, HE CALLED FATHER GREG BOYLE TO HIS BEDSIDE, THE PRIEST WHO’D WORKED WITH TOM ON GANG RECONCILIATION IN LA, AND SAID, “I’M READY TO GO NOW. I’M SO READY I EVEN FORGAVE DONALD TRUMP.’  I’VE OFTEN WONDERED IF THE DYING GET PREVIEWS OF THINGS THEY’D OTHERWISE MISS. BUT NEITHER OF MY POLITICAL MENTORS LIVED TO SEE DONALD TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE.  SO SOMETIMES I FEEL I’M ON MY OWN.

Allison Janney, Mimi Kennedy & Anna Faris on CBS’ Mom

BUT I PLAY A MENTOR ON TV.  THE OLD-TIME 12 STEPPER MARJORIE. WHEN I GOT THIS ROLE, I’D ONLY EVER BEEN TO ONE 12 STEP MEETING TO SUPPORT A FRIEND AT AL-ANON. BUT IF I’D PLAYED A COP, I’D HAVE STUDIED COPS.  TO PLAY MAJORIE I HAD TO GO TO A MEETING AND LEARN ABOUT THIS STUFF. AND WOW, CAN YOU APPLY IT TO ACTIVISM! ONE DAY AT A TIME.  STAY IN TOUCH WITH A HIGHER POWER TO KEEP FROM GOING NUTS, AND REMEMBER TO PRAY FOR SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS YOU CAN’T CHANGE AND COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN – AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

AND HERE’S SOMETHING I THINK I CAN CHANGE. BECAUSE IT’S CHANGED IN ME.   DATA AND SEVERAL THINGS I’VE READ – IN THE JESUIT MAGAZINE AMERICA, IN A RECENT OP ED IN THE LA TIMES – POINT TO THE FACT THAT SUBURBAN CATHOLIC WOMEN WHO OFTEN VOTE DEMOCRAT IN FACT VOTED FOR TRUMP BECAUSE OF THE SUPREME COURT AND RIGHT TO LIFE.  INDEED, WHEN I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THIS, I OFTEN GET AN ADMISSION FROM MY LISTENER THAT SOMEONE THEY KNOW ALSO ABANDONED THE DEMOCRATS THIS TIME BECAUSE HILLARY WAS JUST TOO IDENTIFIED WITH ABORTION IN THEIR MINDS.  AND I WAS NOT SURPRISED. BECAUSE I KNOW FOR A LOT OF CATHOLICS, THE VOTING BOOTH ISN’T PRIVATE. YOU HAVE TO CONFESS, IN THE CONFESSIONAL IF NOT IN YOUR OWN CONSCIENCE, THAT YOU’VE COLLUDED, EVEN AS A VOTER, IN WHAT YOU THINK IS BABY-KILLING. YOU SAW THAT CATECHISM PICTURE. YOU END UP LIKE JOHN, WALKING OUT BURDENED WITH MORE SINS THAN EVER, AND YOU’LL NEVER BE FORGIVEN UNTIL YOU STOP VOTING THAT WAY. OR CANDIDATES STOP MAKING THAT A LITMUS TEST.

SO I’M SPEAKING OUT, HOPING CATHOLIC WOMEN WILL HAVE THE CONSCIENCE TO CONSIDER ALL LIFE, NOT JUST THE REPRODUCTIVE LIFES OF SEXUALLY ACTIVE WOMEN. AND I’M HOPING CANDIDATES WILL STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS – BECAUSE FROZEN EMBRYOS ARE DISCARDED BY COMPANIES IN THE PROCESS OF HELPING INFERTILE WOMEN WHO WANT TO BECOME MOTHERS. THE FACT THAT THIS IS NOT EVEN DISCUSSED EXPOSES THE HYPOCRISY OF FORCED MATERNITY. CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE MY FRIEND. BUT SINCE THEY’RE NOT WOMEN, THE LAW IGNORES THOSE EMBRYOS. LET’S GET OFF THIS DIME. I DON’T WANT TO CRIMINALIZE PEOPLE TRYING TO HAVE CHILDREN ANY MORE THAN I WANT TO ENFORCE INVOLUNTARY MOTHERHOOD ON WOMEN WHO AREN’T EDUCATED ABOUT SEX, OR CAN’T GET BIRTH CONTROL; OR CAN’T PERFECTLY SCHEDULE THEIR SEXUAL LIVES, MARRIED OR SINGLE; OR SIMPLY SHOW BAD JUDGMENT – OR ARE RAPED.

I’VE READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SENATE SESSION THAT PASSED THE COMSTOCK LAW IN 1872 THAT BANNED CONTRACEPTION, ALONG WITH ABORTION AND LEGISLATORS DIDN’T KNOW THE DIFERENCE. NO-ONE WAS EVEN SURE OF FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SCIENCE.  IN FACT, DOCTORS THOUGH THE ‘SAFE PERIOD’ FOR NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING – THE RYHTHM METHOD – WAS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CYCLE, BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT WOMEN WERE IN HEAT, LIKE ANIMALS, WHEN THERE WAS VISIBLE SIGN.

Anthony Comstock

THIS MAN, ANTHONY COMSTOCK, THE KARL ROVE OF HIS DAY, WAS 29 YEARS OLD WHEN HE CARRIED A SUITCASE TO WASHINGTON FULL OF MARRIAGE MANUALS AND ‘OBSCENE ARTICLES’ – SO CALLED.

HE LAID THEM OUT IN A ROOM GIVEN HIM IN THE CAPITOL BY LEGISLATORS WHO SUPPORTED HIS SPONSOR, THE YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION AND ITS RICH DONORS. THE VERY INTERESTED GENTLEMEN LEGISLATORS FLOCKED TO THE DISPLAY- ALL IN THE INTERESTS OF EDUCATION, OF COURSE. COMSTOCK’S DRAFT OF THE BILL LANDED ON THEIR DESKS IN THE LAST HOURS OF THE LAST DAY OF CONGRESS THAT YEAR. NO-ONE HAD READ IT ALL. A SENATOR ASKED THAT IT BE READ ALOUD SO THEY’D KNOW WHAT THEY WERE VOTING ON. ANOTHER SAID – I’VE READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SESSION – HE THOUGHT THEY SHOULD JUST VOTE, “BECAUSE THE DETAILS WERE SURE TO BE ‘TOO DISGUSTING.”  THEY JUST VOTED. THE BILL PASSED, EVEN THE AMENDMENT SOMEONE SNUCK IN FORBIDDING EVEN DOCTORS TO DISCUSS OR SHOW ANY WAY TO AVOID PREGNANCY. UNTIL 1965, WOMEN AND COUPLES HAD NO CONTRACEPTION THAT COULD NOT MAKE THEM CRIMINALS – EXCEPT THE RHYTHM METHOD, ABOUT WHICH THERE WAS SUCH IGNORANCE THAT DOCTORS GAVE DIFFERENT ‘SAFE’ TIMES AND MOST THOUGHT, AS I SAID, THAT IT WAS SAFE EXACTLY AT THE TIME MOST WOMEN WERE LIKELY TO CONCEIVE.  MY OWN MOTHER EXPLAINED THE RHYTHM METHOD BACKWARDS TO ME ON THE EVE OF MY MARRIAGE. I LAUGHED AND SAID SHE WAS WRONG. SHE LOOKED HORRIFIED AND SAID NO, I’D GET PREGNANT IF I DID ANYTHING ELSE. I DROPPED THE ARGUMENT. I’D BEEN USING BIRTH CONTROL FOR YEARS BUT I’D NEVER TOLD HER THAT. THE SUPREME COURT FINALLY RETREATED IN 1965 AND SAID CONNECTICUT’S BAN OF CONTRACEPTIVES WAS AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL INVASION OF MARITAL PRIVACY. SO COUPLES COULD USE WHAT THEY LIKED IN THEIR OWN HOMES WITHOUT FEAR OF ARREST. AND YET RIGHT-WING CONSERVATIVES HAVE TRIED, CONTINUALLY, TO BAN CONTRACEPTION ALONG WITH ABORTION IN FOREIGN AID AND DOMESTIC APPROPRIATION. THEY ARE DETERMINED TO DESTROY PLANNED PARENTHOOD WHERE MOST YOUNG WOMEN GET BIRTH CONTROL IN ORDER TO AVOID EVER HAVING AN ABORTION. I DID. WHEN I WAS FIRST OUT OF COLLEGE, I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO CHOOSE A DOCTOR, OR HAVE MONEY TO SEE A SPECIALIST, WHICH A GYNOCOLOGIST WAS. PLANNED PARENTHOOD WAS IT: THE BULWARK AGAINST IGNORANCE AND ABORTION. BUT THE ABORTION WARS GO ON, AS THE NUN ON THAT CATHOLIC HOUR MADE CLEAR. AND IT’S BEHIND THE ATTACKS ON OBAMACARE AND POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED PROMISES TO REPEAL IT. ITS WHAT PREVENTS MEDICARE FOR ALL, WHICH IS THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR MEDICAL COSTS, BECAUSE INCLUDING ALL AGES MEANS WOMEN DURING THEIR FERTILE YEAR, AND THAT PRESENTS TOO MANY PITFALLS FOR THE CONSCIENCE THAT IDOLIZES PURITY AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHER PEOPLE’S SUFFERING.

NEAL GORSUCH IS IN. CAN WE STOP THIS NOW? AND HOPE HIS LEGAL MIND RECOGNIZES THE COMPASSIONATE WISDOM OF ROE V. WADE, A DECISION WHOSE AUTHORS DIDN’T FIND THE DETAILS TOO DISGUSTING, BUT PARSED THEM TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE STATE HAS SOME INTEREST IN PROTECTING A VIABLE FETUS BUT BEFORE THAT IT IS THE WOMAN’S DECISION TO BECOME A MOTHER AS A MATTER OF POLITICAL EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW. MEN ARE NOT FORCED INTO FATHERHOOD SO WOMEN CANNOT BE FORCED INTO MOTHERHOOD JUST BECAUSE ADHERENTS OF A PARTICULAR RELIGION BELIEVE THEY SHOULD. MY FATHER ONCE TOLD ME, “WE HAVE A LITTLE THING IN THIS COUNTRY, MIMI, CALLED SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.” IT WAS BACK AT THAT NIXON-KENNEDY CAMPAIGN WHEN I WAS IN 7TH GRADE AND FELT OUR TORN LOYALTIES BETWEEN THE FIRST CATHOLIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE – NAMED KENNEDY! AND THE GOP! SO WHEN A FLYER CAME IN FOR THE THEOCRATIC PARTY, I THOUGHT I’D FOUND THE ANSWER.

“LOOK, DADDY – YOU CAN VOTE FOR THESE GUYS. THE THEOCRATIC PARTY – A BIBLE IN EVERY HOME. DOESN’T THAT SOUND GOOD?” THAT’S WHEN HE TOLD ME ABOUT CHURCH AND STATE. “YOU CAN’T LEGISLATE A BIBLE IN EVERY HOME EVEN IF YOU WANTED TO. THE GUY’S A CRACKPOT. THERE ARE ALWAYS GUYS WHO RUN WHO DON’T STAND A CHANCE. A GUY NAMED HAROLD STASSEN IS ALWAYS ON THE BALLOT TOO BUT NOBODY EVER VOTES FOR HIM.”

I ASKED WHO HE WAS GOING TO VOTE FOR AND HE TOLD ME THE BALLOT WAS PRIVATE AND HE AND MY MOTHER DIDN’T EVEN TELL EACH OTHER WHO THEY VOTED FOR. THEN HE ADMITTED NIXON ‘WASN’T HIS CANDIDATE IN THE PRIMARY, AND THAT HE HAD A NICKNAME, TRICKY DICK, AND DADDY THOUGHT HE DESERVED IT. BECAUSE WHEN HE’D WORKED IN WASHIGNTON – 1952, THE YEAR HE’D MET JFK – HE’D GOT A CALL FROM NIXON WHILE HE WAS WORKING ON A JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MATTER FOR HIS MENTOR, KEN KEATING. HE ASSURED ME LATER IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE HOUSE UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE, WHEN I WAS OLD ENOUGH TO ASK. NIXON OFFERED A NAME FOR THE INVESTIGATION LIST AND DADDY ASKED WHAT THEY PERSON HAD DONE TO REQUIRE INVESTIGATION. AND NIXON REPLIED, ‘YOU KNOW THE DRILL, GERRY. THEY DON’T NEED TO HAVE DONE ANYTHING, I JUST WANT THEIR NAME IN THE PAPER AS BEING INVESTIGATED.” “WE DON’T DO THAT,” MY FATHER SAID, AND HUNG UP.

LATER THAT YEAR HE MET NIXON FACE TO FACE IN A RAILROAD CAMPAIGN CARE WITH IKE AND KEN KEATING AND SOME OTHERS. NIXON WAS INTRODUCED ALL AROUND AND DADDY SAID HIS WAS THE ONLY HAND IN THE ROOM HE DIDN’T SHAKE. WHEN HE GOT TO ME, DADDY SAID, “HE LOOKED ME IN THE EYE AND JUST SAID, ‘YES. I KNOW GERRY.’”

WELL, A CRACKPOT GOT ELECTED THAT EVERYBODY SAID DIDN’T STAND A CHANCE. I’M GLAD MY FATHER DIDN’T LIVE TO SEE IT. BACK IN 1960, I THINK HE AND MOTHER BOTH VOTED FOR KENNEDY. BUT I CAN’T SAY IT’S TRUE; IT’S JUST MY BELIEF. AND MY HOPE. I’LL NEVER KNOW.

WHAT THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE FOR — AND IT ANGERS ME AND MAKES ME SAD – IS THAT PEOPLE LIKE MY CLASSMATES IN THIS PICTURE MIGHT HAVE PUT TRUMP OVER THE TOP.

Photo3

OR MADE THE TRUMP WIN CREDIBLE ENOUGH TO STICK, HOWEVER IT HAPPENED. BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT IT WAS MORE PLEASING TO GOD TO VOTE FOR TRUMP THAN HILLARY. BECAUSE TRUMP WOULD PUT IN A PRO-LIFE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE. THEY THINK THEY’RE DOING THE RIGHT THING. LIKE YOUR OWN JUDGE ROY MOORE WHO INSISTED ON THE TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT BECAUSE HE SAID IF WE DON’T PUT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, GOD’S LAW, ABOVE LAWS OF GOVERNMENT WE’LL BE LOST. EXPERIENCE SHOULD INFORM HIS CONSCIENCE THAT JOSEPH KONY RECRUITED A CHILD ARMY, MAKING THEM KILL AND MAIM THEIR FAMILIES, ALL IN THE NAME OF ESTABLISHING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AS GOD’S LAW FOR UGANDA. YOU CAN GET VERY, VERY LOST IN DEFENDING GOD’S LAW IF YOU REFUSE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS.

WE BIBLE-MINDED PEOPLE CAN TAKE GUIDANCE FROM THAT GOOD SAMARITAN. WHO PAID FOR THE WOUNDED GUY’S HEALTH CARE. IT WAS HE, THE UNPOPULAR RELIGIOUS MINORITY, WHO STOPPED TO HELP, AND GOT THE GUY HEALTH CARE, AND PAID FOR IT WITHOUT COMPLAINT. NOT THE RELIGIOUS MAN, NOT THE BUSINESSMAN. AND THE SAMARITAN WAS JESUS’ HERO. WHY NOT FOLLOW THAT EXAMPLE, AND GET OFF THE ABORTION WARS AS A POLITICAL MATTER, LETTING WOMEN HAVE EQUALITY IN TREATING THEIR BODIES AS MEN DO – AS THEIR OWN TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT – SO WE CAN BEGIN A PROGRESSIVE CENTURY AS AN AMERICA WHERE PEOPLE CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER. NOT IN SOME IDEOLOGICAL MENTAL REALM WHERE WE IMPOSE PURITY ON OTHERS TO GUARD OUR OWN. BUT REALLY HANDS-ON CARE. TWO MORE PICTURES.

THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN IN 1981 WHEN I WAS INTERVIEWED BY ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER JERRY BUCK FOR BEING IN ‘THE TWO OF US’ – THE SHOW THAT WAS ON THE COVER OF TV GUIDE.  WE TALKED IN A RESTAURANT AND WALKED OUT ONTO VENTURA BLVD. WHERE I HAD MY PICTURE TAKEN BY AN AP PHOTOGRAPHER. HE MADE ME FEEL PRETTY, WHICH GOOD PHOTOGRAPHERS DO, AND WALKED AWAY AFTER SNAPPING A FEW POSES.

JERRY BUCK SAID, ‘YOU SHOULD FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF, THAT’S A PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER WHO JUST TOOK YOUR PICTURE.”  

OH?” I SAID. “WHO’S HE DONE?” THINKING ELIZABETH TAYLOR? MARILYN MONROE? I WAS REALLY GETTING FAMOUS!
‘REMEMBER THAT PICTURE OF THAT LITTLE GIRL RUNNING AWAY FROM HER NAPALMED VILLAGE IN THE VIETNAM WAR?”

MY WHOLE WORLD CRASHED DOWN. MY CELEBRITY DREAMS TURNED TO ASHES. I STILL CAN’T TELL THAT STORY WITHOUT LOSING MY BREATH, AND ITS REVERBERATIONS WON’T END UNTIL THE DAY I DIE. I GOT IN TOUCH WITH NICK UTT IN THE 90S, WHEN I WROTE THAT STORY DOWN FOR MY MID-LIFE MEMOIR, TAKEN TO THE STAGE. HE TOLD ME HE’D HELPED THE GIRL AFTER TAKING THE PICTURE, AND HAD STAYED IN TOUCH WITH HER. IN FACT, SHE’D RECENTLY CALLED HIM, HE SAID. HER NAME WAS KIM PHUC, AND SHE LIVED IN CANADA, AND SHE’D MARRIED AND BECOME A MOTHER. HE WENT UP THERE TO TAKE ANOTHER PICTURE.

HERE IT IS.

image 23

I DON’T HAVE A BETTER ENDING THAN THAT. THANK YOU.

About the Author
Public Relations - Cayuga PR - cathy@cayugapr.com

Leave a Reply

*

captcha *