Now 71, Gundy was 17 years old in the summer of 1963 when King gave his famous speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Gundy lived in Muskegon, and he and his friends jumped at the chance to drive to Washington to hear it.
“Dr. King, growing up, he was my hero,” Gundy said. “I really liked his messages, what he talked about, peaceful protesting, not tearing places apart and hurting people. That resonated with me and my friends. When we had a chance to go, we did it, and I’m so glad I did.
“To this day, when I hear his speech, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” the Grand Haven man added.
Gundy also recalls the day King was shot and killed — April 4, 1968.
“I was sad. I cried,” he said. “That was the most horrible thing to watch it on TV when they replayed it — absolutely horrible. But I lived through an assassination of a president when Kennedy was killed. That was horrible, too, to have your president murdered like that. Then Dr. King, the president’s brother, Robert Kennedy, and you started to think, ‘What’s going on with our nation?’”
Gundy is now retired and spends much of his time reading to students at local schools. He loves to read them books about Martin Luther King Jr.
“When I’m reading to the kids and get to some parts of the speech, I get emotional,” he said. “What a great speech, just a great man. And what an experience just to be there with thousands and thousands of people, all for the same reason. It was exciting.”