Today we traveled a few hundred miles south into Kentucky. Crossing the state line brought me into the 50 states club, as I have now been in all 50 states (plus DC) at least once. We added one new national park to our list, the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. It is located at the house in Cincinnati where our nations 27th President was born and raised. He did not live there after leaving home for college because he spent his entire life as a public servant holding an amazing number of jobs in service of his country. He was a state judge, an Federal Appeals Justice, the person who got the Panama Canal project on track to completion, and the person who oversaw the organization of an system of government in the Philippines. He was also elected President of the United States, and later appointed to be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In the later position he helped modernize our judiciary to its present system.
From there we moved on to Louisville, Kentucky to visit a street corner. The corner of 4th and Walnut in downtown Louisville, now named 4th and Muhammad Ali Blvd, is the corner where the prolific author and spiritual prophet, Thomas Merton, had what he described as a mystical experience which changed his life. He was a brother at a Trappist monastery near here and had lived most of his life in solitude. But after this experience began to speak and write about his thoughts on a number of issues of his day, including civil rights, the Vietnam War, nuclear armament, etc. While not directly involved in any positon of power in the church or in society, his thoughts influenced many others who were.
Then at the end of the day we made contact with one of Peg’s cousins who she has not seen in almost 40 years. It was amazing how easy it was for Peg and her cousin to just sit down and start talking about family and memories as if they had been getting together every year to catch up. I love these kinds of connections, and hope to connect again within a shorter time than the last gap.