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To Tallahassee and Back: Happy Birthday, Richard Nixon!

I owe my interest in politics to the late President Richard Nixon. I would never have imagined that one day I would be working with Mike Fasano, another who was impacted by Nixon at a young age.

I owe my interest in politics to the late President Richard Nixon.  I was five when he was elected president and ten when he resigned.  I suppose my first connection to him came with our mutually shared date of birth (January 9), although he was born in 1913 and I came along 51 years later, but that is not the point.  The point is that I found a common ground with the most powerful man in the world and it was exciting and intriguing to a young boy.

I read Monica Crowley’s tribute to President Nixon on this, the 100th anniversary of his birth.  She pointed out in her wonderful voice the accomplishments of an extraordinary life.  She shared her own personal experiences working with him and how he helped shape her outlook on the world.  Although, sadly, I never did meet the man before he died, I do have an uncle that did business with him in New York.  I suppose that lays claim to a family connection, however tenuous!

For me, the true connection with President Nixon is that he was the first president that I followed, studied and championed.  When the Watergate crisis was underway, I took a strange delight in watching the proceedings unfold on television.  I was home sick and had plenty of time to watch the hearings play out.  It was not delight in what was happening to someone whom I thought was great; it was delight in being a witness to something extraordinary.  Although at 10 years of age I may not have fully understood what it was all about, I understood enough that something great was occurring.  Not great in the sense of it being good, but great in the sense that history was being made.

I recall when he opened China to the world and saw the potential that had for our nation on the world stage.  I saw my parents celebrate when the end of Vietnam neared, my dad an old Army sharpshooter who served during Korea appreciating as much as anyone could.  I understood that President Nixon was at the center of that too.  When Nixon resigned, my young mind saw it as an injustice.  It took many years of reading and study to put the pieces together to finally understand why he did what he did.  I have often wondered what our nation would have been like if he had weathered the storm as President Clinton chose to do 24 years later.  Would Nixon have escaped acquittal in the U.S. Senate as Clinton had?  I doubt it, but it does give one pause to consider what our modern history would have been like if he had.

I am forever grateful to President Nixon for piquing my interest in politics.  During my school years, I involved myself in politics in various ways, culminating in a seat in the student senate in college.  When we moved to Florida, I involved myself in the local Republican Party and through that met my friend and soon to be supervisor Mike Fasano. 

Although Mike is just a few years older than I, I was thrilled to learn that Mike rode around his neighborhood with “Nixon Now” signs on his bike, a young boy equally enthralled by politics as I was.  Although it would take many years for our paths to cross, we both stepped onto that path because of the impact Richard Nixon had on our young minds.

I am realistic enough to realize that it still may take many years for people to look at Richard Nixon without the taint of Watergate coloring everything good he ever did.  I am also realistic enough to realize that he was a flawed individual who made choices that were not always the best ones.  Who among us can say we have never made a mistake?  Not I, surely!

As I celebrate my birthday, I also celebrate the birthday of the one who stirred within me the desire for public service.  I would not have imagined that day, nearly 40 years ago when President Nixon stepped down from the highest office in the land, that I would be working alongside another who was also impacted by the 37th president of this great land.  For that, I am forever grateful.

Happy birthday, Richard Nixon!

If you have any thoughts or comments about President Nixon, or anyone else in politics or government that influenced you, please leave me a note.  I would love to read about your experiences and send you a reply.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Greg Giordano February 07, 2013 at 02:22 PM
A loyal Patch reader, Ed Carraway, has sent me his thoughts and memories about President Nixon. With his permission I am posting them here. Due to space limitations I must break up his comment into serveral smaller parts. PART ONE GREG; DID YOU EVER BRING UP SOME FOND MEMORIES and thanks for some deserved recognition of Pres. Nixonwhich I will complement. You expressed many sentiments which I share with you. I have kept this reply on my list of things to do, whose time has finally come. I started following President Nixon while he was in California as I resided there during some of his days in office. Coincidently I moved back to my home State of Maryland and continued my political interests as the Executive Director of the 1970 Republican Rally for the State of Maryland as a hired gun fund raiser and public relations. V.P. Spiro Agnew having been Governor there and I doing same for a few local politicos I was honored to be appointed to this position.
Greg Giordano February 07, 2013 at 02:22 PM
PART TWO Ed Carraway: Many are not aware of the many outstanding achievements under Nixon. During that time I became close to many on his staff, and those in Congress where I had a front row seat, so to speak. During which time I was honored to head an Annual Columbus Day DC Chapter to round up a few notables to speak and Ticket sales. A few who accepted were, AFL CIO Pres. Meany, Sec'y of Transportation. Volpe, President Nixon himself and many others who spoke and were honored for their efforts on behalf of all Immigrant Communities as they recognized all for their many contributions to this great Country. As part of the speech I co-wrote, our introduction included Pres. Roosevelt's famous opening line to the D.A.R. "welcome ladies and gentlemen and fellow immigrants", which caused quite a stir and lots of applause.
Greg Giordano February 07, 2013 at 02:22 PM
PART THREE Ed Carraway: Roosevelt and Eleanor were never invited back after that statement as us American Revolutionary War descendants at the time looked upon themselves, not I for one, as the Blue Bloods of America, even a notch or two above the Mayflower arrivals. Let’s start with President Nixon's establishing the Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, the Dept. of Environmental Affairs, and his Executive Order on the study of Medical Marijuana. Son of Sen. Goldwater's was an acquaintance of mine and his father was instrumental in convincing Nixon to commission the study. As it was completed just before his reelection campaign it was shelved due to cautionary political timing as the report was complimentary to Marijuana. And such was big no, no in those days. Also, I ran the campaign in Maryland's largest Democratic strong hold, Prince Georges County, where we had the first Republican Senator from Maryland elected in many decades. Which came to me being promised a position in the Cabinet as a Deputy Director for FHA as it was known at the time. Upon Agnew's downfall and Nixon's too that went by the wayside.
Greg Giordano February 07, 2013 at 02:23 PM
PART FOUR Ed Carraway: I also bring this up as during the Impeachment Hearings there was a Republican who sat on the far right side of the Panel known as Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan of Prince Georges County Md. Larry was an ex FBI agent and privy to behind the scenes evidence a few folks did not know of, and a Professor of Journalism at Univ. of Md.and the first Republican to state he was for impeaching Nixon. Needless to say he did not even bother to run in the next re-election, but, skipped that term and ran again next time, where I was on his re-election committee as Community Director, and he won hands down and wen on to continue an illustrative career in Congress. .I had a like position on the Potomac Observer a DC metro weekly newspaper so we had a good exposure. at the time, which I milked for all it was worth. During that time my brother ran for Congress in a Republican California primary against John Schmitz of the John Birch Society. In a few years John resigned from Congress as he had a paramour with three children on the side who were on welfare etc. His daughter was a chip off the ole' block, Mary LaTerneau and a teacher and imprisoned for having sex with a 14 year old who got her pregnant. Guess my brother ran to early. But, things went well for him as CREEP settled out of Court as defendants in a lawsuit for their dirty tricks. He invested the money wisely and has become a very rich real estate magnate. And no longer was interested in holding public office.
Greg Giordano February 07, 2013 at 02:23 PM
PART FIVE All this is probably more than you were expected or wanted to know, but your Nixon Birthday recognition got me started with some great memories of which none were bad, just life as in the lane you choose. Ed, thank you for taking the time to share these wondeful memories with Patch readers. I know that everyone who follows not only this blog, but any student of history, will appreciate the personal experiences you related.

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