How many thought Abraham Lincoln? Correct. This was a previously unscheduled stop but I discovered last night we were going to be very near Lincoln’s birthplace where he spent the first 2 1/2 years of his life. Judi has been reading a Lincoln biography on the trip and I am always up for historical sites so we made a nice detour through the rural country side of Kentucky to arrive at what claims to be the first Lincoln Memorial at Sinking Springs Farm in Hodgenville. It was a quiet pastoral site and a far cry from the heavy traffic we would experience the rest of the day before arriving south of Columbus, Ohio for the night.
Our great adventure to the southwest and points in between essentially comes to a conclusion tomorrow when we arrive in Webster, NY at Mathew’s. I started counting the days of the trip the day we left there one month and about 6,000 miles ago. Maybe I’ll do one more concluding entry after we get home. I’ve enjoyed doing the blog and thanks to those who encouraged be to do it and helped me get started.
I love researching and planning trips so something will be in the works. We have big birthdays coming next year and a milestone anniversary the year after so those are good reasons for a journey of some kind. I also have toyed with the idea of a civil rights trip and visits to Central High School and the National Civil Right Museum at the Lorraine Motel only wetted my appetite for that idea. On this trip, we also determined the only four states in the continental United States we have not visited together are the four states in the deep south. Stay tuned and safe travels to all….
Parts of the last two days have been devoted to Civil Rights history. Yesterday we were in Little Rock steeped in the history of the Little Rock Nine. Today we headed out early to be able to spend the morning in Memphis, TN at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. It was a morning full of powerful and historic images and memories. Some of my earliest recollections are watching news accounts of various Civil Rights events. From Little Rock, to Selma, to Birmingham and points in between I remember watching and wondering what was happening and why. In the years to come I would read extensively about the Movement and those involved in it. This morning at the Museum brought all those memories into dramatic focus. The Museum presents a powerful story from the days of slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement and of course the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As you enter the museum the institution of slavery hits you squarely in the face. As you look at images and read accounts of this “peculiar institution” it slowly dawns on you there are words above you encircling the exhibit…. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal” The tensions and contradictions in Jefferson’s words are present throughout the museum. After an introductory movie you move chronologically from the days of slavery and on through history. Eventually the Civil Right Movement begins to come into focus as does a young Martin Luther King. Soon the path takes you to Selma and the March on Washington along with other events and eventually to Memphis. As The Mountain Top Speech is shown on video you turn a corner and suddenly you are standing by Room 306 at The Lorraine Motel in the early evening of April 4, 1968. The rest, unfortunately, is history…..
William J. Clinton and Central High School along with an Unexpected Message.
We have been on the road for almost 30 days and today is the first day we have had rain. That’s pretty amazing. The rain did not bother us much since most of our activity today was indoors. We spent the morning at the very interesting William Jefferson Clinton Library and Museum. The afternoon was taken up by a visit to the National Historic Site at Little Rock Central High School.
The Bill Clinton Museum
This is an interesting and well done museum. Being fairly new it is bright and clean and full of audio and video to enhance the various displays. There is coverage from Clinton’s early life through his presidency. Predictably it is heavy on his accomplishments and light on any criticism or mention of any personal failings. The recreated Oval Office was interesting as were displays of gifts given to the president over the years. Since these are thought to be gifts to America they do not become the personal property of any president.
The Little Rock Nine at Central High School.
In September of 1957, three years after Brown v. Board of Education, plans were made to begin the process of integrating Little Rock Central High School with nine hand picked black students. Things did not go well from the start and soon the national news was reporting from Little Rock and their images shock much of the nation. As a 7 year old I can remember watching these events on a small black and white television set and wondering what the problem was and why these students were not wanted inside the front doors of Little Rock Central High School. Today I walked through those very same front doors. It was a moving experience. Central High School is still in operation and educates over 2,500 students. Twice a day the National Park Service leads a small group tour into the school to visit the auditorium, cafeteria and other small areas of the school itself. There is an exhibit in the school lobby telling the story of the Little Rock Nine and at least 2 memorials on campus grounds. The nine students and their supporters are well honored by the school and the National Park Service.
An Environmental Message at the Clinton Museum.
We have been very aware of environmental issues throughout our trip. From national parks, nature preserves, national monuments and just beautiful visitas seen in our travels the environment is never far from our minds. We were not expecting the exhibit we saw today at the Clinton Library. Art work from debris found in the ocean was beautiful in a unique way but so disturbing on so many levels. This exhibit seeks to bring awareness to the pollution of our oceans.
We left Edmund, OK at 8 AM this morning headed for Little Rock, AR. It was hard to leave Edmund after spending such as wonderful and rich weekend with cousin Kim and her husband Mark. It was a great family reunion that both Judith and I will never forget. We are in Little Rock to visit the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in the morning and take a tour of Central High School in the afternoon. Some history buffs will recall Central High School in Little Rock was the site of a bitter school desegregation effort in 1957. A courageous group of black students who braved hatred and violence to integrate Central High became know as The Little Rock Nine. The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students who enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They were able to enter the school only after President Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne of the U.S. Army to attempt to insure their safety. This was a move that did not result in anything close to safety for the students. This is a good source for more information…. https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/little-rock-nine
Just before dinner, Judith and I visited The Little Rock Nine Memorial in the shadow of the Arkansas State House. It is a powerful testament to the courage and tenacity of the students but makes no mention of the complete lack of support they received from their own city and state governments. It is miraculous that none of these students were seriously injured or even killed.
A Time for Reflection…
Real Warriors Don’t Cry…
“Until I am welcomed everywhere as an equal simply because I am human, I remain a warrior on a battlefield that I must not leave. I continue to be a warrior who does not cry but who instead takes action. If one person is denied equality, we are all denied equality.” ― Melba Pattillo Beals, Member of Little Rock Nine.
After a nice quiet morning relishing the Sooner victory over the Long Horns we headed for the expansive state fair grounds of Oklahoma to visit the World Championship Morgan Horse Show. We had plenty of time to walk around and let Judith meet many of the horses and enjoy the atmosphere of this world class event. We watched the competitions for almost 2 hours and really enjoyed the well trained and majestic Morgan Horses. A quiet evening on the patio was enjoyed by all. Right now the laundry is done and we reluctantly are moving on in the morning. This has been a remarkable visit full of love and laughter and great stories and more stories. We will never forget our introduction to Oklahoma City and the gracious hospitality and generosity of my cousin Kim and her husband Mark. Now it is their turn to get to Maine. We are off to Little Rock, Arkansas tomorrow. The pull of the magnet is tugging to the northeast.
Time does not permit me to completely capture the wonderful day we have had, after all we are getting ready to go out to dinner at the best steak house in the Oklahoma City area. After a hearty breakfast at a local place we were off for OKC. Who knew OKC was such a vibrant and alive place? After walking by the great AAA ballpark of the Dodgers we were off for a ride on a downtown canal boat. From there it was a visit to a beautiful although hot and humid botanical garden in the heart of downtown. This was followed by a visit to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art featuring and awe inspiring exhibit of works by Dale Chihuly. After leaving the thrill of that exhibit the mood turned more somber with a visit to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and Museum. This is an extremely well done and reflective memorial and museum. After remembering the horrors of this day and time a clear message of human resilience and hope is offered. It was an amazing day thanks to Mark and Kim’s love of their city and the generosity of there time. Mark was also very gracious in giving up watching the Battle of the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas. The good news in Sooners WON! Time for steak and more to come tomorrow including Morgan Horses!
Following Route 66 to a Museum, Horses and Family.
It has been a good day. The steak dinner at The Big Texan last night turned out to be a good experience all around. Today we drove from Amarillo to Edmund, Oklahoma. First stop was a wonderfully done Route 66 museum, from there it was a stop to visit some world class Clydesdales and finally we are settled down with cousins Kim and Mark at their beautiful home in Edmund, OK. The blog is a bit late tonight due to their hospitality and a wonderful Oklahoma Bar-B-Que dinner. We have some great plans for the weekend. If I miss a blog it is only because we are having so much fun touring Oklahoma City and all it has to offer. By the way, if any of you college football fans are watching the Oklahoma vs.Texas game tomorrow remember…. GO SOONERS!!!