This Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the resignation of Richard M. Nixon, the only president in this nation’s history ever to have resigned from that office. His dramatic exit from the White House, but not from the national or international political stage, followed a long and torturous investigation that included televised congressional hearings and daily front page articles in The Washington Post. Before the proliferation of today’s social media, “what did he know and when did he know it” clearly was dependent on personal and verbal testimonies, not an email thread or You Tube video. The story still makes for great reading – and reflection.
Forty years ago, Congress was still bipartisan, with great legislators (some on Nixon’s enemies list) focused on working together to resolve the nation’s issues, some of which mirror today’s challenges. A war in a faraway country, soldiers returning home to face an uncertain future, a struggling economy, dependence on Middle East oil – sound familiar? What began as a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters segued into a constitutional crisis that nearly paralyzed the nation. Democratic and Republican leaders were outraged by the scandal. Two Senate Watergate Committee (formally, the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities) members, Chairman Sam Ervin (D-NC) and Howard Baker (R-TN), became folk heroes via the televised hearings.
When the end came, it came quickly. President Nixon announced on August 8 that he would resign at noon the following day, handing the office to Vice President Gerald Ford. As Marine One lifted off the White House grounds with the now ex-president and family aboard, it seemed as though the symbolic black cloud that had prevailed over the city for so many months lifted away as well. Since Watergate, there have been steamy scandals, other constitutional crises, and more and more political polarization, but Watergate remains the black spot on the nation’s history – the scandal that brought down a president.
On a brighter note, the Spotlight by Starlight free summer concert series at Mason District Park, will welcome renowned folksinger, Tom Paxton, this Friday night, August 8. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., but get there early to ensure a good parking spot. Bench seating is available; you can bring your own lawn chair, too. The park is located at 6621 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/performances to check out the free summer concert schedule for this, and other county parks, through the end of August. It’s a great opportunity to spend time, close to home, with family and friends, and hear some great performances, from bluegrass and Latin to big band and blues. You can’t beat the price!
The next Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force meeting will be held next Tuesday, August 12, at 7 p.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. The Task Force will finalize its recommendations this fall and present them to the Board of Supervisors. Next Tuesday’s meeting will include an opportunity for public comment.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.