Young Congressman Charles E. Bennett

March 1st, 2013, 12:00H · Topics: Famous And Not So..., Guys · Print

United States Congressman Charles E. Bennett (on right) shakes hands with an unidentified gentleman in a photo that I would date around 1960. Charlie Bennett was a Law School Graduate of the University of Florida and served in WWII working with guerrilla fighter’s in the Philippines.  There he contracted polio and relied on two canes to help him walk for the rest of his life.  For almost half a century Congressman Bennett represented Jacksonville in Washington, DC.  He first served in the United States Congress in 1949 and was re-elected to the post 21 times before he retired in 1993.  Charlie Bennett was a true “old school” politician who put his constituents ahead of his personal gain. When he first went to congress he did not accept a congressional paycheck and consistently voted against pay raises.  He also returned his military disabilities checks believing it was wrong to accept two salaries.  He was known to drive back and forth from Jacksonville to Washington to save taxpayers the cost of airfare.

Congressman Bennett was a historical scholar and authored over a half dozen books on North Florida history.  He was responsible for bringing the copy of the Andrew Jackson statue to Jacksonville, one of four in the country with the original being located in front of the Capitol building in Washington, DC.  Bennett died in 2003 and his ashes were interred in an unmarked location that he picked out himself in Arlington National Cemetery.

In Loyd Sandgren’s collection of images there are several photographs of Congressman Bennett taken in the earlier days of his career. They are special to me because I had the honor of shadowing the congressman during his final week in Washington where he was gracious and patient with me as I tried to document the end of his tenure.  I also returned to Washington to document his final trip to the Nation’s Capitol when his family and friends, on a cold and rainy day, placed his ashes in the ground in a quiet tree covered corner of Arlington.

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  1. 1 Robert Elrod,Sr March 1st, 2013 23:40H

    Enjoyed those comments. I had the honor of working with Charilie in the early 1960s. He was quite a guy.

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About Photographer Loyd Sandgren

I first met Loyd Sandgren in 1997 as I was putting photo gear back into my car after... Learn More