“Let me be content with what I can create from my faithful heart and the simplest of tools.” Pixie Lighthorse
I went to the best lecture today. It was the inaugural event of the Earle C. Clements Lecture Series. I was enraptured from the word go, and by the time it was over, I felt I was in the company of an American treasure. We often think of heroes as only being soldiers or first responders or someone who saves another’s life. Yet there are people who serve the citizenry in a civilian capacity whose work makes them every bit a hero. One such man is journalist Sid Davis, above with BFF Terry Keys.
You’ve likely never heard of Sid Davis though his work is part of the American canon. He’s covered nine presidents as part of the White House Press pool. He was Washington Bureau chief and White House correspondent for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company (you have to be a certain age to remember that ever existed) and vice president and Washington Bureau chief for NBC News. Titles aside, he was foremost an ethically conscious, sincerely devoted reporter who covered some of the most crucial events in our nation’s history during the 20th Century. In particular was his coverage of John F. Kennedy’s death in Dallas followed by the oath of office of Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One. (read more about it here) Davis was one of only three reporters aboard Air Force One when Johnson took the oath with Jackie standing by his side covered in blood, bone, and brains. His telling of Kennedy’s death and its aftermath were detailed in a way that only first hand experience could tell. I knew Davis was special when he told the story of stepping out to catch a ride to Kennedy’s funeral. On the street he ran into a woman who struck up a conversation.”I’m a Republican,” the woman said. Davis’ eyes filled with tears. He stopped momentarily to collect himself. With shaky voice, he continued, “I’m a Republican, but I didn’t know how much I loved him.” That was the first of two tear-filled stories he shared, and it’s a prime example of the depth and breadth of Davis’ understanding of our times and the conviction that propelled him to become one of the most respected journalists in the country.
Terry Keys (top photo) was the first person I saw when I walked into the auditorium for the lecture. Much to my chagrin, he dragged me to the front of the auditorium, and I’m so glad he did. I can’t think of anyone else I’d have rather shared such an inspirational time with. Without prompting, he snapped the photo above while I was doing a selfie with a very gracious Sid Davis.
Davis took us on a roller coaster ride through some of America’s most tumultuous years. He was gracious. He was forthright. He was honest. He was everything a good journalist should be, and I hope the many student journalists in the audience emulate him. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Mr. Davis speak, take it. Let him inspire you.