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EDITORIAL: How close is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

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By PARRY TEASDALE

APRIL 15, 1967, THE SKY was gray outside. I was getting ready to leave. My father came into the kitchen. He was frowning. He said the National Guard was ready to mobilize.

I said it was a peace rally. There wouldn’t be any troops. But my father had access to that type of information. My father left the kitchen and I took the train from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central station.

A day earlier Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, which criticized the U.S. role in the war. This day’s march was scheduled to gather at Central Park and finish at the U.N. building.

I was eligible for the draft at the time. These issues mattered to me.

My train was late. Grand Central was crowded. People my age were calling out directions to the march. By the time I arrived at Central Park most of the demonstrators had reached their destination at the U.N. No one that I could hear was complaining. The street was still packed. No soldiers that I could tell, either. Just police.

I headed back to the railroad station, buoyant but unsure why except that some strangers and I had passed somewhere kind of nearby Dr. Martin Luther Jr. No other interpretation works. We showed up.

So what if we were at the end of the line of the march, amounting to tens of thousands of people between Dr. King and me?

Feels like yesterday and remains in my memory.

It happened 57 years ago.

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