By Joshua Ely
WASHINGTON – Birthdays are a time for reflection, both on the past and the future, and on this Independence Day, a former congressman is drawing on lessons from his past to advise Americans on how to better the nation’s future.
In an exclusive interview with WND, former Congressman Jim Rogan called “perseverance” the key to success both in his life and for America.
Rogan has lived a true rags to riches story. He grew up as an illegitimate son of a convicted felon mother. He lived on welfare and on food stamps. As a youth, Rogan made a point to seek out advice and encouragement from national leaders. Never daunted, his resilience paid off.
He’s been a congressman, a judge, and an author.
His newest book, “And Then I Met … Stories of Growing Up, Meeting Famous People, and Annoying the Hell Out of Them,” chronicles his lifetime of experiences meeting those people who helped define our nation.
It will be released on July 8 by WND Books.
It’s a collection of humorous, adventurous and sometimes poignant boyhood stories of doing everything possible, short of breaking the law, to meet and get advice from many famous politicians, athletes and entertainment figures he met as a kid growing up in San Francisco.
Through Rogan’s diaries and photos, you’ll meet and get rare behind-the-scenes glimpses of people like Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Billy Graham, Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, Hubert Humphrey, Barry Goldwater, Cary Grant, Willie Mays and dozens more. Rogan met everyone – from the last surviving witness of the massacre of General Custer to stars of “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.” The stories and photographs brim over in this delightful compilation.
When asked how he was able to meet some of the nation’s biggest icons Rogan attributed it to “half perseverance and half living in a more innocent era.”
Just a kid with a $12 camera, Rogan was never daunted. Despite taking heat from authorities and guards, he pushed on.
“If we got kicked out by police, secret service or a hotel manager, and they shoved us out one door, we just looked for another door to get back in,” he laughed.
Rogan attests “initiative pays off.” He says such lessons remain meaningful for the next generation of civic-minded Americans.
“Very unremarkable people can end up doing very remarkable things,” he said. He insists young people simply need to focus on education and applying themselves to their area of interest.
Offering a piece of advice to the nation’s youth, Rogan said, “This really is a great country with unbounded opportunities for people willing to get their education, and then dive headfirst into the areas that motivate them and will add to their productive value in life.”
Rogan is also a greatly under-appreciated human resource in America today who tells his amazing life story in his acclaimed autobiography “Rough Edges: My Unlikely Road from Welfare to Washington.”
He’s a former gang-murder prosecutor in the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office who was chosen as a freshman member of the House Judiciary Committee to help lead the prosecution of Bill Clinton. He serves currently as a judge of the Superior Court of California and is an adjunct law professor.
But that is just part of a life story that contains more drama than found in 10 lives. Born to a single mother – a cocktail waitress and convicted felon on welfare – Rogan grew up without knowing his father who abandoned him before his birth.
After a rough-and-tumble childhood in San Francisco’s hardscrabble Mission District, he was expelled from high school; became a bartender on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip and in a Hell’s Angels’ biker bar; and worked as a porn theater bouncer.
Along the way he met a young Arkansas lawyer and politician who advised him to study law and become a member of a different kind of bar — Clinton.
In time, Rogan scrapped his way through college and law school; became a Los Angeles prosecutor dealing with the Crips and Bloods; and then became a state court judge and majority leader of his state legislature. Finally, he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Southern California.
In 1998, as a Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, he found himself helping to lead the impeachment of the president of the United States Bill Clinton – the same Arkansas lawyer who advised him to go into law and politics two decades earlier.
Get the entire “Going Rogan” package – three books that will make you laugh, cry and help you sort out the craziness of life in America in the 21st century. Buy one of them or buy them all together and save a bundle.
If you’d like to interview James Rogan, please contact the WND Marketing team at [email protected]
Joshua Ely is an intern for WND.