At 12:30, President-Elect Jennifer Hara called the group to order and the bell was rung. Cell phones were turned off. American members pledged allegiance to the flag.  President Shaun’s car had gone on strike on the trip into DC, and he wasn’t able to make it to the meeting on time.
Words of inspiration were delivered by Russ Savage, who read from the Christian mystic Meister Eckhardt and offered a prayer of Thanksgiving.

Secretary Tim Hurd introduced the guests of Rotarians:

  • Lauren Corbett, an intern at IRD, guest of Andy Koval
  • Jean Green, guest and sister of Nancy Riker
  • Kate Giles, Secretary of the Rotaract Club of Washington
  • Former club member Jim Lanning told us that he is now a member of the Silver Spring Club but hopes to visit here from time to time.

Acting Sergeant at Arms John Jackson announced the birthdays for the week:

  • Jim Brookshire, Feb 16. Past President Jim joined in 2000. His classification is Law: Environment & Natural Resources. He was sponsored by Larry Margolis.
  • Josette Conell, Feb 16. Josette was sponsored by Paula Delo when she joined in 2008. Her classification is Education: French.
  • Bob Walker, Feb 20. Bob joined in 2012 and was sponsored by Monica Boner. His classification is International Development & Population. We just found out that Bob had a severe fall at work this past October that resulted in multiple injuries.  He had surgery on his shoulder one month ago, and is now making a full recovery, but it has prevented him from attending Rotary. He hopes to make it back for a lunch soon.  He is working from home, and would enjoy some greetings from his fellow Rotarians.
  • Sharon Taylor, Feb 21. Sharon was sponsored by Marjorie Scott when she joined in 2013. Her classification is Law: Litigation.

In announcements:

  • President –Elect Jennifer reminded us that the next meeting is a “Bring Your Boss to Rotary Day” and that the speaker is Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian, who should be of wide interest.
  • Kate Giles of the Rotaract Club told us about a networking dinner March 11 at La Tasca Restaurant, which is also a fundraising event.  There were flyers about the event on the tables and there is information on our website.
  • President-elect Jennifer presented Red Badges to new members Anthony “Trip” Triplin and Johnny Allem.

Ed O’Brien then took the podium to introduce our speaker, Mary Beth Tinker.  He has known her for a long time, and just recently watched her interacting with 300 young people at the 4-H Center. She started her involvement with students’ right as a 13 year old student herself, back during the Vietnam War period.  She is a pediatric nurse, a union leader, and she has set off on a speaking career, inspiring thousands of high school students at assemblies around the country.

Mary Beth Tinker then took over the microphone, told us she was a big fan of Rotary, and that her sister was a member in Fayette, Missouri. She complimented Ed O’Brien on his work for children’s rights and human rights.

Her speaking style was strikingly optimistic and cheerful, reflecting her primary career of working with children.  She demonstrated how she breaks the ice talking to students, singing old children’s songs and giving examples of children in history who made a difference in the world.  She invoked “runaway boy” Ben Franklin, who left his apprenticeship in Boston and achieved fame and historical immortality in Philadelphia.

She talked about her upbringing as a Methodist Minister’s daughter in the Midwest in the 50s and 60s, as civil rights issues came to the forefront and the protest movements against the Vietnam War took shape. Her parents were active in these events, and she remembers picketing with her mother, singing songs, though she always considered herself shy. Her father was forced to resign from his church for his work against a segregated swimming pool.

As a 10 year old, she learned of the bravery of the girls of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  She vividly remembers August 4, 1964, when the Gulf of Tonkin resolution put the US deeper into Vietnam, and on the same day three voting-rights volunteers were killed in Mississippi. Her parents travelled to demonstrations.

So it was completely natural for her as a 13 year old to wear a black protest armband to school in 1965; though her protest was squelched within minutes and she was sent home, the point was made.  The ACLU took on the case of “Mary Beth Tinker vs. Des Moines,” which eventually ended up with a Supreme Court decision in her favor.  Schools are not enclaves of totalitarianism, the Court said.

She went on to earned master’s degrees in both nursing and public health but her understanding of her own role in the history of free speech led her last year to start a nationwide program of speeches to young people about their first amendment rights.  She has spoken to nearly 60 schools and almost 20,000 student s with her upbeat message.

In questions and answers, we learned that she has been at Prince Georges Hospital for 6 years as a pediatric nurse.  The issues she addresses range from AP course availability locally to human trafficking around the world. She wants young people to join in civil society as soon as they can.  She supports student membership on school boards, the Polaris Project, Rachel’s House, and UNICEF.  She speaks out against child brides, child soldiers, and North Korea.  When asked what the most significant threat is to children’s rights, she mentioned war and the rewriting and whitewashing of history.  Her original armband is displayed in the Newseum.

Yet there is nothing shrill or obviously combative in her persona.  With the reassurance and calm manner of a cheerful nurse, she’s treating a whole new spectrum of disorder.  The club was very sympathetic.

The tree certificate was read and presented.  Josette Conell tended the green lottery hopper.  Ken Kimbrough held the winning ticket, worth $32, but didn’t draw the Ace of Spades, which would have been worth $491.

Stu Shalloway and Ted Hamady ran the hospitality table.

Russ Savage and Trip Triplin were greeters.   

The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.