A really important random alumnus

When we’re given the responsibility speech by our parents at the tender age of 10, then again at 12 and 16, once more at 18 and for good measure at 21 — as if we hadn’t been drinking all this time — there is always some mention of following in the footsteps of someone great who has come before us. Perhaps it was a family member who is now the stuff of legend or a famous figure who inspired our parents once upon a time as well. Either way, we are told to metaphorically fill that person’s shoes and try to accomplish shades of what he or she has done. Figuratively, this is a tad difficult (since it’s hard to follow up someone like Shaquille O’Neal in his respective field) but nowhere as close to how hard it is literally — partly because Shaq rocks a shoe of a size 23. Among all the advantages that Berkeley offers, perhaps none is more awe-inspiring and humbling than this: When you walk the paths of campus, you might actually be taking the very same steps that someone famous once did.

To name a rather interesting one, Army Sgt. Stanley Armour Dunham once took a stroll down Campanile Way. The name may not be striking at first glance, but it becomes rather impressive when you realize that this man was the grandfather of Barack Obama. After supposedly decking his high school principal in the face, he decided that his combat skills would be better unleashed upon the Nazis in Europe. He raised young Barack from the aforementioned tender age of 10 — and likely gave him one of those speeches — on the sandy beaches of Hawaii. Not only is he currently looked upon by residents of Berkeley as the hero who instilled the proper democratic values in the leader of the free world (seriously, did you see the raucous celebrations on Sproul at election night?), but he’s also linked to former presidents Madison, Truman, Johnson, Carter and a double dose of Bush; all as distant cousins. He’s also somehow unfortunately connected to Dick Cheney, but who cares about that?

His name may not even be as memorable as Abe Shinzo — USC’s most notable political alumnus — but he does have a pretty badass Army title. And sure, he may not be in the extensively long and exhaustive list of the alumni whom Wikipedia has branded as being notable, but he’s a Bear through and through. Why else would his grandson like that one NFL team from Chicago?

Follow Uday on Twitter at @mehtakid

Image Source: Talking Points Memo