Atlanta 29-May-2010

I came to Atlanta to meet up with some friends and to attend a concert by Neil Young at the fabulous Fox Theatre.

A group of us "rusties" (Neil Young fans who are members of a particular online discussion group known as the Rust-List) decided to spend part of the day sight-seeing in Atlanta.

A friend of mine, Rebecca Grossman, upon hearing that I would be visiting Atlanta, repeatedly urged me to visit The King Center. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site consists of several buildings, including the church where MLK served as a pastor, and is operated by the National Park Service.

I took a wrong turn and almost didn't make it to The King Center, but later that afternoon, a couple of hours before the concert, I decided I really should take Rebecca's advice and visit the place. I brought along two rusties, and we found a nice shady parking spot on an adjacent street.

The first thing I saw when we entered the Visitor Center was a giant replica of a passport, with a hole cut out so one could stand behind it and have their photo taken. Above this display was the title of a traveling exhibition, Visa For Life: Diplomats Who Rescued Jews


The exhibit commemorates the actions of nine diplomats who rescued Jews (and other refugees) during the Holocaust/World War II, including Aristides de Sousa Mendes.


I was astonished by the coincidence. A week ago, I had never heard of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. Here I find myself in Atlanta, on the advice of a Jewish friend, at the museum dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr., on the date that would have been my father's 79th birthday...standing in front of a photograph of the man whose heroic and selfless actions, in a sense that was becoming clear to me, resulted in my own birth.

A man and his young daughter were standing beside me reading the panel on Aristides de Sousa Mendes. I raised my hand shakily, pointed at his picture, and said to them: "this man saved my father's life in 1940..." They were visibly moved, and my hair stood on end. I shared my feelings with my friend Lou Cheffy, and he was quite supportive and interested in the story as well.

I explored the rest of the exhibit, and learned a great deal about some of the other diplomats acknowledged as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem.

I was too overwhelmed to fully explore the rest of this wonderful museum, but was impressed with the few exhibits on Martin Luther King, Jr. that I had time to peruse. Like Rebecca, I strongly urge anyone visiting Atlanta to spend some time at The King Center.

Atlanta Gallery









The evening came, and our group gathered for dinner at a restaurant in a restored firehouse, Engine 11. I was in my element, surrounded by old and new friends, and celebrating the music of one my favorite artists.

The concert was phenomenal... Neil Young was presenting some yet unreleased songs with very deep themes, and surrounding events in his personal life. The recent death of his longtime friend and collaborator L.A. Johnson inspired one of the more haunting songs, "You Never Call." Neil's commitment to artistic integrity and being genuine in his writing was evident in the song "Love and War."