EVERETT — Nearly a century after Henry M. Jackson’s birth, several events are being planned here to honor the late senator — and to share Jackson’s achievements as an inspiration to future leaders.
Three centennial events, including a public program at Comcast Arena, are expected to take place in Everett on May 31, which would have been Jackson’s 100th birthday.
The U.S. senator, a Democrat who served 42 years in Congress and twice ran for president, was born in Everett on May 31, 1912, and died here Sept. 1, 1983.
While his influence reached around the world, Jackson remained forever true to Everett.
“I know my father would be proud. He never forgot his roots,” said Jackson’s daughter, Anna Marie Jackson Laurence, who lives in Seattle. “When he worked back in D.C., he always had Everett close to his heart.”
A planning group, the Henry M. Jackson Centennial Committee: Honor the Past and Inspire the Future, held its first meeting in early February.
Larry O’Donnell, a retired Everett School District administrator and local historian, is leading the centennial plans, along with the late senator’s children, retired Herald publisher Larry Hanson, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and other local leaders.
The centennial events are being held to accomplish three goals, O’Donnell said. “One is to celebrate the life and legacy of Sen. Jackson, easily Everett’s most famous native son,” he said.
“The second is to inform people — what he did and how he did it. He passed away in 1983. A whole generation has come up since then. Old-timers like me all remember Scoop Jackson. And the third part is to inspire people to carry on his legacy,” O’Donnell said.
Earlier this week, O’Donnell outlined three May 31 events. Times, speakers and other details are still in the works.
The first event will be early May 31 at Naval Station Everett, which has a flag plaza named in Jackson’s honor. That will be followed by a program at Everett Community College. O’Donnell said the college will rededicate its Jackson Center, a campus building that is being remodeled.
The event at Everett’s Comcast Arena, possibly in the Edward G. Hansen Conference Center, will be the day’s capstone. City of Everett spokeswoman Kate Reardon said the centennial committee is still working on details for the May 31 community event, “including securing high-profile speakers to celebrate Jackson’s life and legacy.”
More than a week before the centennial, on May 20, a bronze bust of Jackson will be unveiled at its new site in Everett’s Grand Avenue Park. The statue will be installed across the street from the Jackson home. Once on display in the Everett Public Library, the bust has been in storage in the city’s Culmback Building.
It is one of three busts of the late senator. O’Donnell said the others are at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and in the Russell Senate Office building in Washington, D.C. On the day of the unveiling, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation will also hold a private event at the Jackson home.
A student essay contest tied to the centennial also is planned.
Peter Jackson, the late senator’s son, said the biggest goal of the centennial events “is to inspire and motivate the next generation of Everett public servants.”
“For me the message is local boy does good,” Peter Jackson said this week. “Scoop is a case study of a local child of immigrants who early in his life decided to make service to community — and, by extension, service to state and country — his primary purpose. That living example will be the thread that knits these events together — not nostalgia, but a call to service.”
Jackson, his sister and her daughter Julia, O’Donnell and Hanson were in Olympia on Feb. 24 when the state House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution commemorating the late senator’s life and service. The resolution lists Jackson’s many achievements, among them writing the National Environmental Policy Act and sponsoring the Endangered American Wilderness Act and other environmental legislation.
O’Donnell said the group is working to see that Jackson centennial resolutions and proclamations are enacted at other levels of government.
To help pay for the Everett events, O’Donnell said the group plans to seek sponsorships. While the events are not meant to be fundraisers, O’Donnell said there are donation options for anyone wanting to further the Jackson legacy.
Locally, the Gertrude Jackson Memorial Trust Fund provides scholarships to graduating seniors in the Everett and Mukilteo school districts. The fund is named in honor of Sen. Jackson’s sister, who taught for more than 40 years at Everett’s Garfield Elementary School. And the Henry M. Jackson Foundation carries on work that was important to Jackson in the areas of human rights, international relations and the environment.
O’Donnell said the Everett events aren’t meant to compete with any national recognition of the Jackson centennial.
“It’s wonderful we can have this celebration in his hometown,” said Laurence, Jackson’s daughter. “I hope it will inspire young people to think about public service. It is a noble cause. Government isn’t just some foreign entity. It is made by people like you and me.”
For Laurence, it’s hard to imagine that her father was born a century ago.
“He was so active, that was his nature. He jumped out of the bed in the morning. He loved his job,” she said.
“Scoop Jackson could be meeting with the premier of China, and the next day be in Everett walking down Colby, and saying hi to people by name,” O’Donnell said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.