My wife and I continued our tour of the Midwest in Kansas City, Missouri. Fortunate arrival timing and seasonable weather conditions allowed us to have an enjoyable weekend of major league baseball, live music, and military pageantry. Finding no problem in booking an affordable motel near several, major sights, we set out the following morning on a walking itinerary of the downtown area.
During the golden era of railroads in the early 20th century, Union Station became a major hub of transportation in downtown KC. It remains today as a great symbol of civic pride. Beginning our walk through this historic terminal, we heard melodic echoes emanating through the busy corridors. Stepping outside the front entrance, we amazingly witnessed a crowd of more than 20,000 people celebrating a festive, military concert of the Kansas City Symphony. A program of proud, patriotic music unfolded now, to demonstrate that there is a serious commitment in this city to honor those men and women, who paid the ultimate price, for our country to remain free.
At the corner of 18th Street and Vine, our next destination became the American Jazz/Negro Baseball Museum. As a major center of Black American achievement in Kansas City, I quickly learned from the exhibits that there was also a hidden story of institutionalized racism behind these important, American art forms. To gifted pianist Count Basie and other talented black musicians, Kansas City once meant a lack of opportunity to play in white-only dance bands. To pitching legend Satchel Paige and other African American athletes, poorly funded, Negro baseball leagues were their only option in an era of race segregated, major league baseball,
Driving to the eastern suburbs of K.C, we caught sight of Kauffman Stadium. Winning the World Series of baseball in 2016, the Kansas City Royals had achieved the pinnacle of success for America’s national pastime. As this stadium fills every night with winning baseball, we were thrilled to obtain two, decently priced tickets in the upper deck of Royals stadium. As the game proceeded, I witnessed a team of relatively unknown players unselfishly overachieve with timely hitting, great hustle, and reliable pitching. On this night, we felt their contagious energy as they efficiently handled the opposing team while royal blue remained the talk of this baseball crazy town.
I learned this busy weekend that Kansas City immortalizes the lives of its hometown heroes. Many of them rose from humble circumstances in early life to attain legendary status in public leadership, professional baseball and new forms of creative music. Being so immersed in this historical sample of KC society, I saw firsthand evidence that American greatness in this heartland of Missouri remains strong.