Next Monday, November 24, the three young men murdered by the KKK in Mississippi on June 21, 1964, will receive the Medal of Freedom from President Obama at The White House. Members of the families of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner will be there to accept the award, including my friend from college days, David Goodman. See his ongoing work with the Andrew Goodman Foundation.
The poignant note: None of their parents lived to see this day. Andy's father was the first to die, just a few years after he was killed, then Mickey Schwerner's father, then Schwerner's mother, then James Chaney's mother in 2007 (unable to find reference to his father's death), followed just a few months later, by Carolyn Goodman (post on her memorial service here.) Imagine if you can (I can't) the horror of being those parents, their children's whereabouts unknown for six weeks until their bodies were discovered mutilated in a ditch.
None of the killers convicted in the first trial served longer than six years of their sentences; in 2005, Edgar Ray Killen (yes, that's his name--"You can't make this stuff up," David said on the phone during the trial), who was described as the mastermind of the executions, was convicted of three counts of manslaughter on the 41st anniversary of the crime and is serving three consecutive 20-year terms. Mickey Schwerner's widow, Rita Bender, who was in MIssissippi as a civil rights worker herself when the murders happened, had the poise to testify at Killen's trial.
I've written a number of posts about the Goodmans. I met David the year after Andy was killed and just a short time after my own father died suddenly. Grief can create indelible bonds and so we have remained friends all these years. I can't wait to see the pictures, David.