WAMC News
4:43 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Ex-ranger guarded MLK; Recalls Historic Event

Gordon "Gunny" Gundrum of Grafton stands near clergyman and activist Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963, as King delivered his "I have a dream" speech.
Gordon "Gunny" Gundrum of Grafton stands near clergyman and activist Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963, as King delivered his "I have a dream" speech.

The former National Park Service ranger who stood beside Dr. Martin Luther King during his "I Have a Dream" speech says the event was a life-changing moment, helping him realize "everyone has unalienable rights."

Gordon "Gunny" Gundrum of Grafton,  says his assignment to guard dignitaries gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 gave him a front-row view of the historic event.

The then-25-year-old former Marine appears in many photographs and newsreels standing close to King as he delivered his speech before a crowd jamming the National Mall. He tells The Associated Press Wednesday the experience of looking out over a crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands was "unbelievable."

Gundrum later left the park service and worked 25 years as New York state trooper.

©2013 AP