The late Governor of Illinois, two-time US presidential candidate and Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson; the late Christian theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr; and King Juan Carlos I of Spain are three “heroes” chosen by New York University President Emeritus and former eleven-term Congressman John Brademas in the new book, A Time for Heroes.
Dr. Brademas is one of more than two dozen Americans interviewed by Robert L. Dilenschneider, a strategic counselor to multi-national corporations, who said he wrote the book “about a group of truly remarkable human beings because we have too few genuine heroes today. I wanted to explore two questions: what does it mean to be a hero and who should our heroes be?”
An assistant to Stevenson in his 1955-56 presidential campaign, Dr. Brademas was in charge of research on issues and served as liaison to the candidate’s policy advisors, including John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Samuelson, and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Said Dr. Brademas, “Stevenson’s importance went beyond what he accomplished in his lifetime. He helped make John Kennedy possible because of the way in which he articulated the nexus among values, ideas, and action in the political order”.
As a student at Harvard, Brademas heard Niebuhr, then on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in New York, preach at the Memorial Church in Harvard Yard. “I found him a very compelling figure, intellectually, morally, and theologically. Niebuhr’s aphorism, Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination for injustice makes democracy necessary’, was a lodestone for me when I entered the arena of politics.”
An Indiana Democrat, Dr. Brademas was US Representative in Congress for twenty-two years (1959-1981) before, following his loss for reelection in 1980, becoming president of NYU in 1981.
As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Dr. Brademas wrote his doctoral dissertation on the anarchist movement in Spain from the mid-1920s through the first year of the Spanish Civil War. In 1983, as president of NYU, Dr. Brademas conferred an honorary degree on King Juan Carlos I of Spain and established a professorship in his name under which eminent scholars of modern Spain lecture annually at Washington Square. In 1997, in the presence of Their Majesties, the King and Queen Sofía, and then-First Lady - a now U.S. Senator - Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dr. Brademas dedicated the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU to promote research and teaching about Spain and the Spanish-speaking world.
Dr. Brademas recalled the attempted coup by Spanish army officers in 1981 and how, “At a critical moment in the life of the new Spain, it was the brave and enlightened stance of His Majesty King Juan Carlos I that saved Spain’s democracy and earned him the genuine love and affection of his people.”
Other “heroes” Dr. Brademas listed in his interview with Dilenschneider were Franklin D. Roosevelt, former Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, and John W. Gardner, founder of the Urban Coalition and former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.
Wrote Dilenschneider: “One of my heroes is John Brademas . Like a lot of heroes, he has energy and brains to spare, and his values are bone-deep. One of them is an ardent belief in democracy.
“But democracy is not his only value”, added Dilenschneider. “Brademas is also a man of faith. His father was Greek Orthodox, his mother was a member of the Disciples of Christ, and John is a Methodist. For a while he even considered becoming a minister. He’s interested in both God and Caesar .”
Other persons who listed their heroes for the Dilenschneider book include US Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), publisher Steve Forbes, University of Notre Dame President Rev. Edward Malloy, and Rabbi Arthur Schneier of New York City’s Park East Synagogue.
A Time for Heroes was published by Phoenix House of Beverly Hills, California.