MOUNT VERNON — The unrest in Libya and the attempts to overthrow dictator Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi has sparked a sense of deja vu in Mount Vernon residents Bruce Jacklin and Suzanne Parrish.
In 1967, Parrish was in Libya teaching at an oil company school in Tripoli, and a war broke out just about the time her two-year stint was over.
She said, “I’m reading every word and listening to every word to find out what’s going to happen there. I’m wondering about Libyan people that I knew, if they are still there, what they are doing, how everything has affected them. I look at every picture now and see if I can see anything that looks like something I know. I left there during the Six Day War, so Gaddafi wasn’t even in power yet. I will never forget that day as long as I live. It was really harrowing for me. Fortunately I made it out. I was on the last commercial flight out and I was the last passenger on that plane.
“When I see them coming down the street I think of that day that I left. I happened to be downtown that day and this Greek man who ran a restaurant called out, ‘oh, Missy, Missy. You go home now.’ He took me by the arm to my car. We heard the crowds and he said, ‘look.’ The crowds were coming up this one street. He said, ‘you go,’ so I went. I had to pass the American Embassy and it was really scary. They were storming the embassy. There were two rows of [stopped] traffic and I had a little MG Midget, and I could get right between those two rows of traffic and get out of there without being picked up or whatever. It was a thrilling last hurrah to Libya for me. It was quite exciting.”
Jacklin and his family were also living in the capital back in 1967 when they were forced by the violence to evacuate along with other dependents of military personnel stationed there. In fourth-grade at the time, Jacklin said he had a sense that something was going on, but didn’t realize the extent of the potential danger. His mother, Mary Jacklin, and one brother, however, were temporarily in the thick of things.
“My older brother was probably a freshman then,” Jacklin said. “He had gone back home to change his clothes and missed the bus [to school], so my mother had to drive him. That’s when this [revolt] happened, so they were off post during that time.