As a college student I’ve realized that those who served Congressman, Senator, Vice President or President Richard Nixon hold a deep connection to RN that always brings them back to this giant of American politics. This might not strike some as unusual; everyone who works for a boss helps to make the boss who he or she is, and helps to promote the boss’ good works – particularly in the case of a President of the United States.
But it seems all too clear that there is something about Richard Nixon which makes these feelings all the stronger in those who served him.
I say all this because this concept was highlighted recently by Mrs. Lillian Menne Peeler of Virginia. Lillian began working for “the Boss” in the Spring of 1954, when he was Vice President and she was a young 18 year old, and decided to share some of her fond memories with Nixon Foundation President Sandy Quinn. From my perspective since I am 18, Lillian was truly lucky to have found this job, not even remotely aware of the towering impact RN would have upon his nation and the world.
Perhaps it was the people that they worked with. As Lillian said, those who worked in the VP’s office were so dedicated and fun, and she has cherished and kept up the friendships that she made. They, like her memories, will never fade away.
Perhaps too it was the caring side of this family man. Lillian fondly remembers RN bringing his family to her wedding; as she recounts, “I turned as I began to walk down the aisle and there was the Nixon family.” The honor – including their attendance at her reception across the street – was surreal, she said, and something she will never forget.
Similar stories have been shared by so many who served “the Boss” and his family. Touching they are indeed, as they show the human side of Richard Nixon which is so often forgotten.
As we approach his centennial year, it would be wise to remember the sheer humanity of President Nixon – since all of our presidents are, at their core, only human. Sometimes, such as in the aftermath of the turmoil of the 1960s and the height of Vietnam, we expect them to solve all of our problems. Because they’re not deities – they’re only human – they need help from others.
Perhaps the dedication comes from knowing that they were making a difference, serving their country and helping “the Boss” to serve his country. Above all, those who served him were helping do just that.
Jimmy Byron is a Marketing Assistant at the Richard Nixon Foundation and a first year student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Ca.