January 23, 1977 – 40 years ago, it was Sunday. And on this Sunday, 40 years ago, it was about reflection on the week just past. The big story of this week was the inauguration of Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States – all the pomp, ceremony, ritual and civility the Great National Event held this week in 1977.
The news wasn’t about size of crowds but rather the size of civility present in Washington on this day. How newly-sworn-in President Carter reached out to thank President Ford for his service during the transition from the Watergate days of Nixon. How thoughts and prayers were for the welfare of the country and the people in it – how the hope seemed genuine and the sentiments heartfelt. How this was a day of reflection over what had gone on and what was ahead.
And even though the ensuing years were loaded with controversy, and the Carter Presidency came under fire from all parts of the Political spectrum, on this day, this January in 1977, there was optimism. That the cloud of the Nixon era of Watergate and revelation was finally over, for the time being, gave hope to Americans that maybe the long, dark night of the nation’s soul was heading into a new day. At least for the foreseeable future.
And there was other news, while oaths of office were administered; The execution by firing squad of Gary Gilmore had taken place this week. Gilmore, who was convicted of killing a man named Max Jensen was given the death penalty, and Gilmore asked for Death by Firing Squad. It the first such death sentence carried out in Utah in over a decade.
And Theodore Sorensen, who was nominated to head the CIA by in-coming President Carter was hitting the rocks, with Sorensen finally bowing out and politely turning down the opportunity amid a flurry of accusations over Sorensen’s use of classified documents.
And that’s a small slice of what went on this week, the one which ended on January 23, 1977 – 40 years ago today, as delivered by ABC Radio News and Voices In The Headlines.