May 27, 2011
A number of years ago, you were to be given the Nixon Foundation Architect of Peace award. I was a docent at the Nixon Presidential Library at the time. So that there were no empty seats at the ceremony, the foundation asked a number of docents to be “seat fillers.” I was one of the docents chosen.
Before the event there would be a reception line. In the line would be Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Governor Pete Wilson, Senator John McCain and You. The other docents and I were given only one instruction; how to address you. We were told to say: “Good evening, Doctor Kissinger, my name is …” We received strict instructions to refer to you ONLY as “DOCTOR Kissinger.” We rehearsed what we were to say and I remember thinking: oh, so this is how you talk to politicians?
As I waited with the other docents, I turned to them and said, “Why can’t we just say, ‘Good evening, MISTER Kissinger?’” They said: “No, Vivian, you’d better follow protocol and say it just as you were told!” Then I looked at them and said in a very serious voice, “Well, I’m going to say, ‘Good evening, HANK!’ Why should I say ‘DOCTOR Kissinger?’ Heck, my dad has a doctorate and he doesn’t make everyone call him DOCTOR!” They laughed, however I didn’t crack a smile and this alarmed them. They believed I was going to go through with my plan.
As we approached the reception line, we first met Mrs. Eisenhower, daughter of Pres. Nixon. I barely got a word out of my mouth, when she said: “Good evening, I am Julie Eisenhower, and you are?” I was kind of caught off guard. I stuttered out the name, “Vivian Love.” I then had a brief conversation with her and found her to be absolutely charming.
Next was Governor Pete Wilson, former governor of California. He didn’t say a word but shook my hand. I said, “Good evening” and continued down the line. Next was Senator John McCain of Arizona. He didn’t say a word either as we shook hands. I said, “Good evening” and he actually smiled.
Finally came the moment for me to approach you. Looking back at the docents who were behind me, I could see their concerned looks. Was Vivian going to do it? What would she say? Was she serious? Would she be asked to resign from the docent guild tomorrow? Would she embarrass all the docents?
I approached you and saw your hand outstretched to mine. You didn’t say a word; didn’t even crack a smile. I composed myself, took a deep breath, shook your hand and said, “Good evening, DOCTOR Kissinger, I am Vivian Love.” (of course I over-emphasized DOCTOR!) I could hear a faint sigh coming from the other docents. I smiled at them as we took our seats and said: “Did you really think I would call him Hank?” We all laughed.
What would you have thought Hank? I could’ve called you “HEINZ!”…your birth name. LOL I do hope you had a wonderful birthday on Friday, as you blew out 88 candles on your cake. I hope your family and friends sang to you: Happy Birthday to you, Hank!
Regards, Mrs Love