Today in 1938, the birthday of Billy Mills, a Marine veteran, activist and runner who won an Olympic gold medal in what’s been called the biggest upset in the history of the Games.
Billy Mills is Oglala Lakota and grew up on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.
He grew up poor, and was an orphan by age 12.
After that he was sent to a federal Indian school.
Running became his outlet, and he got so good at it that he won a full athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas.
His summer job in college was working on the garbage truck, only he wouldn’t ride in the truck; he’d run from house to house as part of his training.
And that hard work paid off.
In 1964, Mills qualified to run in the 10,000 meter race at the Summer Games in Tokyo.
He wasn’t favored to win; in fact, most race watchers hadn’t even heard of Billy Mills.
But he hung in there, lap after lap, step after step.
And then, in the final lap, Mills took off.
He said he’d seen an eagle on another runner’s shirt, reminding him of the time his father had told him that one day he would have the wings of an eagle.
It turned out later that the eagle was only there in his mind, but it worked: Mills crossed the finish line, stunning the audience, the broadcast announcers and even the people in charge of the race.
Mills said the official at the finish line had to ask who he was!
But from that point on, plenty of people knew his name: Billy Mills, the first American to win gold in the Olympic 10,000 meter race.
Since then he’s led a nonprofit called Running Strong for American Indian Youth, to encourage, inspire and empower more Native runners.
Maybe some of them will win gold too.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed some of the most memorable buildings humans have ever walked through.
He also designed one of the most memorable buildings a dog has ever gone through.
The Marin County Civic Center in California is exhibiting “Eddie’s House,” a four square foot doghouse Wright designed in 1956.
It definitely looks like a Frank Lloyd Wright design.
‘There goes Billy Mills!’ (Indian Country Today)
Official Marine Corps Photo # A411758 – History Division, United States Marine Corps (main page on 2008-08-14), Public Domain, via Wikicommons