White House Trip# 2

Image: Yücel ULUSOY/Gediminas’ Tower — Lithuania

Before I went to Germany in 1963, I had been to Easter Egg Rolls on the White House lawn in Washington, DC. This was an annual festivity for kids under 7 years of age.

I spent 3–6 grades in Germany and observed the assassination of President Kennedy, the March on Washington and the precursor to the Detroit riots from abroad. My experiences for the first two years were greatly impacted by my “running-buddy” friendship with David Lee Spradley, a Korean adoptee of an Army officer. We were thick as thieves through our studies, sports and mischief. [We were reunited 12 years later by Dr. George Clinton in a Detroit recording studio and have remained “ace-boon-coons” since.

My return to the United States was on the third largest cruise ship in the world, the USS United States. This 990 feet long this storied platform was a playground for my newfound friends who together frolicked in the pools, shuffle-board lanes, dining rooms, horse racetrack screening rooms, engine room and forbidden decks in storms.

…cruising by the Statue of Liberty in the fog and riding through the Lincoln tunnel were monumental markers in my life, but riding down 16th Street, past Malcolm X Park (sic), in Washington DC was my largest culture shock of the decade…”dad, how can that White House be where the leader of our country lives? where are the walls, the moats….what’s wrong with these people? How can they be so arrogant to believe that the President is safe? …if I had a bazooka I could…

My father stopped me cold — mid-sentence. “Son, don’t think that way…we travel to war — war does not come home!”

That was 1966…fast forward to 1994 — It’s the launch of AmeriCorps and as National Administrator of one of two Arts programs, WritersCorps, I sat in a bus outside of the White House with a sampling of 60 writers called to national service under my direction. This day was planned to be a major ceremony, where President Clinton greeted and shook the hands of every program director.

The ceremony was delayed as this was the morning after the Cessna plane purposely crashed on the White House lawn and we had to wait for the wreckage to be towed away before we could begin.

HoHum, the drum succumbed and that’s how the West has come forward¿

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