It has been nearly 15 years since Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 other persons died in a plane crash in Croatia during a trade mission. On Friday, D.C. and federal officials dedicated a stretch of the street that runs alongside the Commerce Building in his honor.
Now named Ron Brown Way, it sits on 14th Street NW between Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues — near the White House, where Mr. Brown, a Democratic strategist, held considerable sway during the Clinton administration, and adjacent to City Hall, where his son, Michael, is a D.C. Council member.
Friday's ceremonies were attended by an estimated 500 people, including widow Alma Brown, and several other Brown family members and friends, and D.C. and federal officials, who held a wreath-laying event and presented a flag flown aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Ronald H. Brown, the fleet's largest ship.
Afterward, Michael Brown said his father has a rich legacy but that giving back is what he wants his own twin sons to most remember.
"He preached you can do well and do good at the same time as long as you continue to give back to the community, whatever your definition of the community," Mr. Brown said in an interview. "However you define your community, ethnically, by neighborhood, however you define it. It's why I gravitated to public service."
An Army captain who served in South Korea and Europe, Brown was a lawyer and lobbyist before becoming a strategist and running the Democratic National Committee. Bill Clinton appointed him Commerce secretary after winning the White House in 1992.
Brown died in April 1996 when an Air Force plane crashed into a Croatia mountainside. He served at Commerce from 1993-96.
"This is a fitting tribute to a man who was born in Washington, D.C., and spent his life working to deliver economic and social justice for people in this city, across America and, indeed, around the world," said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. "The dedication of Ron Brown Way will help ensure that what Ron Brown did and what he stood for won't ever be forgotten."
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