Yesterday’s epsiode of Coffee With JIm, our Sunday morning podcast, illustrated the infectious magic of iconic Route 66 in the era of renaissance. And it was a manifestation of the Jim Hinckley’s America tag line – “Telling People Where to Go & Sharing America’s Story.”
Beth Hilburn shared the unique and fascinating history of the Hi Way Cafe on Route 66 near Vinita, Oklahoma. And with passion Beth shared the story of how she and her family used the cafe and COVID pandemic to foster development of a sense of community. It was an inspirational story and based on comments received, a tale that has encouraged people to plan a road trip.
Long before we launched Jim HInckley’s America, I had a fascination for America’s story and our national quest to make the lofty goals and concepts ienshrined on our founding documents a reality. And so, over the years I have been privileged to meet, and occasionally become friends with, amazing people.
When employed on a construction project near Winslow, Arizona, the foreman was a former Navajo Code Talker. It was through him that I learned about the Comanche code talkers that went ashore in France during the D Day invasion. And it was after a delicious dinner in his home that I learned about his childhood that included a boarding school, seperation from his parents and culture, and a brutal suppression of his native language.
Yet he and his family were deeply patriotic. He proudly flew the American flag at his home. And he had a son that was awarded two purple hearts in Vietnam.
America’s story is unique and complicated. It is tragic and inspirational. It is a dichotomy. It is a shining example for the entire world.
It was founded on concepts that were enshrined in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other documents. The often turbulent quest to transform those goals into a reality was, and is, the ever evolving American story.
Key to ensuring the success of this evolution is presenting history as it was, not with selective editing. And that is why any effort to paint our story in dark tones is a grave disservice to people such as John Adams, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Bessie Stringfield. Lieutenant Colonel Ely S. Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe, succinctly summed it up when he told General Robert E Lee at Appomattox Court House “We are all Americans.”
This is why I am also disgusted, and concerned, about the anti “woke” movement that is being sold as a holy crusade. How do we tell the story of the Civil War, the abolitionist movement, the civil rights movement, Abraham Lincoln or the American Revolution without talking about the horrors of the slave trade, the Battle of Bamber Bridge, or the Washita Massacre?
It is a distinct pleasure and honor to share America’s inspirational story through programs, podcasts, presentations, books and interviews. I derive a great deal of satisfaction in learning that one of our programs sparked honest conversations and discussions. It makes me smile when I see people light up as stories about Issac Johnson, Ralph Teetor, David Buick, and Effie Hotchkiss are shared.
America’s story is a rich, colorful, and diverse tapestry. It should not be white washed or transformed into a weapon. The inspiration of the American story is in the nations failures and successes, the tales of innovation and immigrants, and in the ongoing quest to transform foundational precepts into a reality.