Kicking Up Dust
January 26, 2012
As an avid runner, I love to simply walk out my door with nothing more than some good music and a compass to guide me back home. Often, I venture beyond the soft trails of the suburbs and begin pounding my way along the heavily traveled streets of the city.
On an unusually warm January evening, I started my run at Mill Creek Park and ran down to 47th street. Then, I cut up and over through Westport and further up Main street to the WWI memorial. I passed many casual strollers taking in the sights or shopping, some fellow college students playing Ultimate Frisbee on the lawn of the Nelson Atkins Museum, and fountains that have run with water for more years than I have been alive. I continued past hole-in-the-wall restaurants from the time when Mom and Pop joints rivaled the most up-and-coming fast food chains we now frequent. Finally, standing at the base of the Memorial, I gazed over Kansas City, my city, a city brimming with hidden charm, culture, history, and events that have captured the national spotlight on more than one occasion. This great city spread out before me, filled with the sensations of jazz, prairies, fountains, and barbecue stockyards mingled amidst the towering pinnacles of exemplary art deco architecture. I asked myself: Have we forgotten?
As a kid growing up in Kansas City, I often heard stories from my parents and grandparents of events that they had lived through or stories they had been told from the generations before them. Now, those generations are all but fading, the memories fading with them. And as schools continue to prepare students to enter the era of globalization and a global society, local history seems to be a topic rarely discussed in enough detail. As any historian or history teacher such as me will tell you—to know where we are going, we must know where we have been.
So...Kansas City. Where wars were fought. Where presidents were born. Where jazz revolutionized music. We were once considered the heartbeat of the country. Dust now shrouds the glory that has made us who we are. We are more than a statistic on violence or merely the largest city in Missouri. We are a city that is awakening, refurbishing and revitalizing. Let us educate and preserve the memory of the past. Join me as we take a weekly jaunt around Kansas City. Come discover Kansas City, from some of its greatest accomplishments to remembrances of its humblest beginnings, from fountains to architecture to great events and the people who lived them.
Lee's Summit Branch