Monday, January 16, 2006

Adventures in Headlines

In April 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. I still have the front page (section) of the local newspaper, The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic. I also have that week's Newsweek magazine, which features a cover picture of the slain man in his coffin.

Since then, I have accumulated about 100 front pages, each a significant event that helped define my lifetime—and our country. Just off the top of my head, I have several front pages about the comings and goings of all the presidents since LBJ. Several papers about war; only two about peace.

I have newspapers about NASA adventures (first man on the moon to Columbia's breakup over Texas). Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds have home run records. I have front pages about natural disasters like Mt. St. Helens, the tsunami, last year's horrific Katrina and some vicious, deadly tornados. Of course, 9/11 is included.

Many famous personalities have passed away. Some who were special to me are among the newspapers I've kept: There were the losses of Mother Teresa, Princess Diana; Dwight Eisenhower, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, John Lennon, Joe DiMaggio, others. My friend Mickey Mantle.

I even have two personal front pages. One shows my handsome Air Force pilot son, home from Gulf War I, talking to some school kids. (I'm a proud papa!) The other shows my home completely ablaze while fire fighters retreat from the flaming roof. (I retrieved my papers from the ashes of that catastrophe. Yea! )

To protect the papers, I keep them in individual acid-free plastic bags. Occasionally, I take them to schools or assisted living centers. Lemme tell ya, I am well-received. Kids are quietly and respectfully intrigued. I've watched teary-eyed senior citizens press those papers to their chests.

Of all the papers I have, Dr. King's is still the most meaningful to me. It reminds me of what it takes to be a man of integrity and conviction. It always reminds me of the many times I drove on that sacred highway from Selma to Montgomery. It's a stretch of highway that still echoes his spirit of freedom, justice, dignity and equality. Dr. King's newspaper reminds me of the foolishness of segregation and the idiocy of racism.

I'm as white as a clean sheet of paper, but my life and my family's life are much richer and more complete because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream "… where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers…"

I'm looking for the headline that says, "Free At Last! Free At Last!"

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