Former National Park Service ranger Gordon “Gunny” Gundrum, from upstate New York, stood next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During his “I Have a Dream” speech 50 years ago. Last week on the anniversary of the march Gundrum was the subject of a news story broadcast on ABC affiliate WTEN in Albany, NY. He described witnessing the March on Washington from his assigned post next to the speaker’s podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as: “Unbelievable.”
Born in the small town of Grafton, NY, which is located halfway between Martin Van Buren National Historic Site and Saratoga National Historical Park he joined the marines and then became a park ranger. Gundrum was halfway through his five years with the National Park Service when he and other rangers were pulled off their usual duties at cemeteries, monuments, and parks in the Washington, D.C. area to provide extra security for the march. He was assigned “podium duty” guarding dignitaries on the memorial steps and speakers at the podium.
Gundrum, dressed in his ranger uniform, can often be seen in photographs and newsreels standing close to Dr. King as he delivered his speech. At the beginning of the civil rights leader’s speech, most clips show Gundrum reaching in front of Dr. King to adjust the cluster of microphones on the podium.
“It helped me realize that everyone in the world has certain inalienable rights,” said Gundrum when describing his experience on August 28, 1963. To view the news story click on the link.