Mike Pence’s Childhood Heroes

A friend recently sent me the newly published Mike Pence memoir, So Help Me God, providing a nice anecdote for this Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. Typically, books face about a two-year lag time as they sit in my queue. My friend moved the former Vice President to the front of my line of books to read.

My first anecdote to share from this book is what Pence identifies as his two heroes while growing up:

JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr., were the heroes of my youth. The two men provided incredible moments of inspiration. They were both gone by my tenth birthday. But the impressions endure. Of course, there was an ethnic affinity for Kennedy, the first Irish Catholic president of the United States and the member of a large family like ours. But both he and Dr. King demonstrated that through words and courageous stands, leaders could encourage Americans to see the best in themselves and strive to achieve great things.

I can still remember hearing Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech from the March on Washington in August 1963 replayed in the classrooms of our small Catholic school. And I’ll never forget sitting in front of the television in our basement on July 20, 1969, watching grainy black-and-white images from the surface of the moon as President Kennedy’s vision to land a man there by the end of the decade and return him safely to the earth became a reality.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.