Friday, November 14, 2008
When Woody Guthrie was asked how he got his name he usually said, "I was born in 1912, the year Woodrow Wilson was nominated for president. My father was quite a figger is Okfuske County (Oklahoma) politics at that time, so he named me after the president, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, which is too much of a name for a country boy, so I sawed off all the fancy work and just left Woody. I could remember that."
I'm sure Woody wasn't the first and won't be the last to carry a president's name. I've heard of a few Lincoln Kennedys, many Andrew Jacksons, Andrew Johnsons, and a whole shitload of George Washingtons. But this week, in the wake of Barack Obama's election, I thought of one person who must be looking at all this from a most unique perspective. President Davis. No not Jefferson Davis, or anyone sharing that name, but a wonderful person I know named President Davis. That's right his first name is President.
I remember the day we met. He strolled into one of my English 3 Honors classes about six years ago and I was captivated by his smile. But it wasn't until I looked at my attendance sheet until I realized that his first name really was President. I had to ask.
Apologizing for immediately asking how he got that name (still, you don't often meet anyone named President) I soon learned the story.
"It's really very simple," he said. "My father wanted to make sure that I received respect all through my life, so he named me President, because presidents always get respect."
Yes they do. But just because a person has a name that connotes respect doesn't mean they will always get or deserve it. All you have to do is spend a few minutes talking to this President and any concern you might have will be allayed. A warm, empathetic, bright, dynamic person, President Davis did his father proud.
How must he be feeling these days? Wonder what he'll name his kids?