Austin 2013 167I was young when that picture was world news.  Jackie was stunned.  The world was in shock.  Oswald pulled the trigger and assassinated the President of the United States of America.

My life as a young adolescent could not comprehend the events of that day. Everyone was glued to their black and white televisions.  We mourned together.

The short pause for our grieving was short-lived.  Lyndon Johnson was immediately sworn in as the President.  His wife was there.  Jackie Kennedy, now a widow was a witness to the swearing-in ceremony, hastily done on an airplane.  All LBJ could say was that he would do his best to lead our great country.  That is all anyone could do.

It was a task so great that the nation and the world would not know until later how much he had accomplished.  Vietnam was a scourge.  Civil rights was a powder keg.  The nation was in political turmoil.  Yet, this one man could keep his family life intact and some measure of normalcy for the  many Americans groping for peace.

Austin 2013 170Politicians surrounded him.  Each one wanted what was best for his constituency and his own reelection efforts.  Nevertheless, LBJ tirelessly learned about each necessary vote for key initiatives.  He wielded influence on those politicians with a determination to do what was best for the country, to do what was right.

The racial conflict in the nation was reaching historic and epic proportions.  Hatred from prejudiced people threw all reason out and pressured their politicians to act in accordance with racist legislation and legal pressure.  LBJ would stand against this powerful mood of bigotry.  As President, he direct Federal resources and authorities to bring steady pressure against the injustices of racism.  He personally strove to right the problems of racism in the country.

IMG_2221His words spoken at Gettysburg are moving.  LBJ wanted Emancipation to be a reality in America, not just a Declaration.  Freedom, education and opportunity should be equal to all Americans.

The sadness in his eyes when Martin Luther King was assassinated told the story of his passion for equality among all Americans.  His resolve to stand on King’s shoulders to advance measures that would make a difference in America were historic.  The innocent testimony of his daughters spoke of the true honesty of  their fathers value of all citizens of this great country made great strides against the unfounded hatred imbedded in the lives the few.  LBJ was a remarkable president during an extremely difficulty time in history.

photo credit: brucefong photography