David “Gator” Davis, former Weapon Systems Officer, from the 308th Fighter
Squadron who was stationed with me at Udorn, AB Thailand in 1972, extended an invitation to visit Austin and speak at his Northwest Rotary Club. He and his wife Salee rolled out the red carpet and gave me a true Texas welcome.
Austin described as “A Blueberry in a Sea of Ketchup” held true to its reputation. Home of the State Capitol, the University of Texas Longhorns, Torchy’s Tacos and roadways covered with beautiful Bluebonnets.
I spoke at five venues, two Rotary clubs and three retirement homes and was received by enthusiastic audiences. There is always something interesting that happens at my talks and Austin was no exception. When I gave my talk at Gator’s Northwest Austin Rotary Club, I told the story of two men who were shot down and killed over Laos in 1971 – Capt. Leo Thomas and Lt. Dan Poynor (in the photo on the right), there was a man in the audience who called out “I knew Dan Poyor.” It was Robert Allen, who had been a fraternity brother of Dan’s in College. It was one of those strange coincidences and an emotional experience for both of us.
It has reinforced one of the main purposes for me writing the book and giving my talks - to heal the wounds from the Vietnam War and that contentious time in our history.
While in Austin I visited the Johnson Library and I must say it was impressive. Unfortunately, his many accomplishments have been over shadowed by the tragedy of the Vietnam War.
I did tell President Johnson how angry I was for him getting us entrenched in the Vietnam War.
But he reminded me that he was fighting a war at home too - the “War on Poverty.” His vision for a Great Society and all the remarkable legislation he got passed raised so many people up out of poverty. He increased the number of seniors covered on Medicare, started Head Start, and provided federal grants for students to go to college and help them to realize the American dream. He continued to say, “Angel, don’t forget the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protected minorities and women like you from being discriminated against. And, in 1965 when I got Congress to pass Voting Rights Act, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. told me ‘You have created a second emancipation.
I guess facts matter, if you want to take them into account. And, I guess everyone has two sides and that certainly was true for President Johnson. For more on the LJB’s legislation click here.