Every American Should See It

Every American Should See It

2020 | Week of July 6 | Radio Transcript #1367

After surviving Y2K, I decided in the summer of 2000 along with two good friends to take some of the money I’d carefully saved and take a trip out west. I mean a big trip out west. Honestly, before that, I hadn’t been west of Kansas City, Kansas.

We started planning, as I recall, on January 2—once we knew all was well, and we weren’t going to be cooking on camp stoves, eating and using hoarded rations of all sorts for years to come and using ham radios for communication.  We planned every detail for this 3-week adventure—routes, where we’d be when, places of interest we wanted to be sure we saw. We even booked hotels and bought tickets to various attractions in advance.  Just planning the trip and imagining seeing all the things we’d read about or seen on tv for years was great fun. We even designed a logo for the trip and printed it on T-shirts, polo shirts and sweatshirts!  Seriously. When people say half the fun of a trip is the planning, it’s just true!

Our plan called for us to take the northern route out to California. So, on Father’s Day afternoon, we headed out for our first stop: Mitchell, South Dakota, and the Corn Palace. From my perspective, that was a TOTAL bust. I’m not a great one for flea markets or craft shows anyway; so when we went into this building made of corn and found it just a big room filled with vendors hawking homemade wares, I was done in about 2 minutes and went outside to inspect the building up close. Yep, it’s corn alright…and lots of it. We agreed as we pulled out of town, that if the trip didn’t quickly get better, we were going to cut it short and head home.

Next attraction as we were en route to Spearfish, South Dakota, was a drive through the Badlands which was pretty cool, especially since we’d never been there. Our expectations inched back up a bit.

So, why Spearfish, South Dakota? Well, in the summer, they had a famous passion play there in an outdoor amphitheater. Let’s just say we wouldn’t ever go back even if it were still running. Sitting in the rain in our loudly crinkling rain ponchos for what seemed hours and hours with a play that should have been riveting but wasn’t further dampened our enthusiasm for the rest of the trip. We were 1 for 3…not good.

Our itinerary told us we were then heading south to Keystone, South Dakota, to see Mount Rushmore. Even our bad beginning couldn’t keep us from being excited about this attraction!

We got into Keystone just before dark, checked into our lodging and asked if we could make the evening show at the Monument. “If you hurry,” the clerk said. That’s all it took. Let’s just say we made excellent time up the mountain, parked the car, ran to the entrance gates, all the while hearing over the loudspeakers the program that had been going on for some time—all in total darkness.

We walked into the amphitheater with no idea of what was about to happen. And suddenly, the lights came on, and there in unbelievable splendor was Mount Rushmore! It was breathtaking, truly breathtaking.  I came to an abrupt halt and realized tears were streaming down my face, as I was overwhelmed with the sight but even more so realizing how blessed I am to be an American. I recall whispering a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for His goodness in even letting me see this monument to freedom. I didn’t care what happened on our trip before or after. That was all I needed to have an unforgettable, fabulous summer adventure.

Why this story? Because I think all Americans ought to see that Monument, both in the daylight and at night. But not just because it’s visually overwhelming and spectacular but because of what it stands for.

President Trump got it so very right this past Friday evening as he stood at the base of this national treasure and rehearsed why it is fitting that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are enshrined on this mountain in the Black Hills.

The president rightly noted that destroying our statues and monuments is about much more than property destruction; it’s about obliterating our history and heritage.  Statues and monuments are historical records largely for the next generations so that they know the truth—both good and bad—about a place and its people.  When the story is changed in the written records, revised in the textbooks and the visible images are gone, then the past can be whatever anyone wants it to be and the present and the future can be written pretty much without challenge.

Mount Rushmore, President Trump said, would be protected and preserved, not desecrated or destroyed. I sincerely hope that is what happens because there are millions of people in this country now and millions yet to come who need to have the unforgettable experience of seeing Mount Rushmore and being awed by the blessing of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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