Wednesday, November 28, 2012
the once and future senator
The year was 1969. The summer between my sophomore and junior years in college.
My friend John Crooks and I had just finished the summer semester. Because we were both dual political science/history majors, we decided to put some of our studies to good use by flying over to Washington, DC for a week.
I think it was John's first trip. It was my second.
And that trip is the provenance of this photograph. The guy on the left you know. The 20-year old version of your correspondent. And someone not yet accustomed to cameras.
The Dapper Dan on the right was my senior senator at the time -- Mark Hatfield.
I grew up in a mixed marriage -- at least, politically. One parent was Republican. The other was a Democrat. But they both agreed on one thing. They admired Mark Hatfield.
For me, he was the epitome of what a statesman should be. Principled. Persuasive. Charismatic. And a smart dresser.
I also learned from him that it was possible for two people to start out agreeing on a set of principles, but for each person to end up with differing political positions. From him, I learned how to respect one other as God's creations.
Mark Hatfield died this past year after many years of public service. Uncovering this photograph was a reminder that we all leave a legacy behind.
For that boy with the lop-sided smile, it was learning that principles transcend transitory political victories -- or defeats.