Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Voice of Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen

Like Congressman Gerald Ford, House minority leader in the mid-sixties, Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen was minority leader, too, for the U.S. Senate. No, his letter shown here offers nothing shocking, just his honest statement that he would harbor no objections to Congressional hearings on the UFO subject.

I wanted to give Dirksen, who served until a ripe old age, some space here because he was the epitome of integrity and reflected the best the Senate had to offer.

A Dirksen high point was his voice, and if you've never heard him speak you really should find an old recording and listen closely to the voice that reasoned clearly and soothed almost hypnotically. In fact, Dirksen's gift of voice was hardly lost on the man, because sometime around 1967 an LP album appeared in stores entitled "Gallant Men," stories of America's beginnings, with selections patriotically narrated by Dirksen and effectively backed up by an orchestra.

Five years later, shortly before my discharge from the Air Force, my final roommate Dave, a young airman from the Midwest, and I were shopping off base at some variety store when I happened upon a sealed, new copy in the discontinued LP bin. Since I never had the LP, finding it was priceless, so I grabbed it and headed toward checkout. Unfortunately, Dave decided he wanted it, too, and gave me some hard-luck story about how his dad loved Senator Dirksen and would be so proud and pleased to have the LP. Did I, you may wonder, now burdened with guilt at the prospect of depriving Mr. Dave Sr. of this prized recording, reach down into the depths of kindness in my soul and bestow it, as if a gift of gold, to Airman Dave?

No, heck no. Instead, I taught Dave a duo of lessons that day. First lesson -- as The Rolling Stones taught us, you can't always get what you want. Second lesson -- I was the one with the car who drove us there, and if I had to leave the parking lot alone, it would just be too darned bad.

The album still reposes around my home somewhere, decades later. I might even consider trading it in exchange for another Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen -- and maybe another Senator Barry Goldwater -- to occupy the U.S. Senate today. At least these gentlemen of Congress answered honestly and forthrightly when the public brought the UFO issue before them.