Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Touching History

Everybody has a story, whether it shows or not.

I've told a few of my stories here in this blog that I thought might interest my readers. Some are things very few people knew about me before. Granted, nothing world-changing (yet) but who would have guessed that this mild mannered housewife-turned-artist has opened the gates of the Panama Canal or met Martin Luther King, Jr.?

That's the way it is with most people, though. Someone who has accomplished incredible, history-changing feats may blend into the crowd and escape our view completely. They may appear to be as ordinary as you or I when something they did may have changed our lives forever.

A few years ago I worked on the staff of a television show and met some amazing people. It was part of my job to read books that publishers would send to us in hopes that their authors might be interviewed on our show. I would help prepare the show's hosts for these interviews and often escorted the authors to the studio on the day they were taped.

I confess I didn't always read every page of every book sent to us. But once I picked up In Love and War, by Jim and Sybil Stockdale I couldn't put it down. Jim had been a Navy fighter pilot, shot down and held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and the book told, in alternating chapters, both his story and hers. His leadership role among his fellow prisoners and her persistence back home were instrumental in changing the policies of the US government in regards to prisoners of war and helped lead to the creation of the The League of Wives of American Vietnam Prisoners, which later became known as the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.

Having read their book and been fascinated by these two strong, courageous people, I wasn't sure what to expect when I met them. What I found we two pair of sparkling eyes, two big smiles and two people who looked like the grandparents in a Norman Rockwell painting. As I spent time with them that afternoon and listened to the interviews they taped for TV and radio, I was struck by the way he insisted that she was the hero not him.

I'm sure if I had passed them in the grocery store I wouldn't have given them a second thought.

Everybody has a story.

I don't have a job that puts me in the path of famous people anymore. I stay home, most days by myself, work on my art projects and my attempts to sell them online and this year I'm hoping to do more writing, too. But now and then my husband will tell me about someone he's met and bring a story home with him.

This week, for instance, he was at a committee meeting and discovered that one of the ladies serving on this committee with him was the woman who had taken the handwritten words of Martin Luther King, Jr. and typed up those Letters From a Birmingham Jail.

Everybody has a story.

I spend time on social networking sites and have formed friendships over common interests of art and soap operas. One day, in between discussions of the latest plot devices of daytime dramas I discovered that one of those friends works in genetics research, seeking a cure for cancer.

Everybody has a story.

What will yours be?

"The Movement" by InnerCity
View other poster designs at zazzle

Special thanks for the use of this image goes to Al Stewart


  1. What a great post, thank you for sharing this..Yes everyone has a story...I wish the youth of our nation would spend just a little time visiting the Seniors in their area...just think of the history they would learn from these people...

  2. Great blog, Donna. I agree, everyone has a story...and there are so many out there. I'm hoping to work my way through as many as I can.

  3. Enjoyed your blog, Donna. Everybody does have a story. And these stories are what make us all unique. Thank you for sharing this story with us. Loved it. :)

  4. That's a wonderful blog, Donna. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I was THERE! and Donna, I realized when interviewing the Stockdales how blessed we all are in this country.
    Guys with that kind of integrity were in those POW prisons FOR US.
    Lawanna McIver Fields