Hay traveled on an unfortunately named ship – The Dictator, and the trip was plagued by sensationalistic gossip. Hay's trip to the South was largely a success, though. He later served as Secretary of State for McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.
One hundred and one years later – to the month – his descendant, James Symington, future U.S. Congressman from Missouri, son of a U.S. Senator for the same state and the grandson and great-grandson of congressmen on his mother's side, made a much more auspicious visit to Florida. He was accompanied by his wife, Sylvia.
James was born in Rochester, N.Y., and moved to Missouri as a child when his father accepted a position with Emerson Electric. After his graduation from Deerfield Academy at age 17, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.
“It was in 1945, and they were taking anyone that they could,” he explained. “At the time, we didn't know that Japan would surrender, and they were estimating that 500,000 soldiers would die in an invasion of the country. Truman had a tough choice with the bomb, but I think he made the correct choice.”
Of course, Japan was hardly the only enemy that the U.S. was facing in WWII. Germany was hard at work attempting to develop its own atomic bomb.
“We beat the Nazis because we had Einstein,” said James. “They had the delivery system that von Braun created for them, the V-2 rocket, but we beat them to the bomb. After the war, von Braun came to the U.S. and helped build the Saturn-V for NASA. I met him once, on a small plane flying to Cape Canaveral for an Apollo launch.”
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