In celebration of John Paul Hammerschmidt’s extraordinary life, AETN is proud to feature his appearance on “Men & Women of Distinction” at aetn.org/programs/menandwomenofdistinction. Hammerschmidt passed away due to heart and respiratory failure at age 92 on April 2, 2015.
Best recognized for his distinguished political career, John Paul Hammerschmidt became the first Arkansas Republican congressman since the Reconstruction; was the original sponsor of congressional authorization for a national Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.; and authored and was the initiating sponsor of legislation that designated the Buffalo River as America’s first national river.
In his “Men & Women of Distinction” interview with former Arkansas governor David Pryor, Hammerschmidt provides outstanding context and detail about his robust political career — which, he mentions, he nearly didn’t pursue — but also provides an interesting and enjoyable opportunity to see a part of his life that isn’t well known or often seen.
As he talks with his longtime friend and colleague, Hammerschmidt speaks warmly of his boyhood in the Harrison neighborhood and shares his experiences as an Army Air Corp combat pilot flying through the Himalayan mountain range in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II. The episode also touches on his work as the third generation of his family to manage the Hammerschmidt Lumber Company, his support of the Winthrop Rockefeller gubernatorial campaign prior to his own initial congressional campaign, and the very human nature of his working relationships with six American presidents. Perhaps most touchingly, Hammerschmidt shares about his lifelong love, “Ginny” Virginia Sharp Hammerschmidt, and his son John Arthur Hammerschmidt.
Overall, the episode provides an intimate portrait of a prodigious talent who made a tremendous impact on our state and nation. We hope that you’ll join us in remembering and celebrating John Paul Hammerschmidt’s extraordinary life. “Men & Women of Distinction: John Paul Hammerschmidt” is available online for viewing any time at: aetn.org/programs/menandwomenofdistinction/johnpaulhammerschmidt.