Little Rock, Arkansas, Day 2: Open Doors and Open Hearts

By Tony Mussari

Spend a few days on the road and two things become apparent.  America is a big country with scenery that is breathtakingly beautiful.  Every state has its own natural treasures.

There is another characteristic that often is overlooked in the day-to-day drumbeat of news that all too frequently causes apprehension, fear, and suspicion.  Americans are fundamentally good-hearted people with a natural inclination to help others.

Shortly after we finished our interview with Nancy Rousseau, the principal at Central High School, she went to her computer and she wrote a note introducing us to her friend Skip Rutherford, the Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service.  Because of Nancy’s kindness, in less than 24 hour hours we were sitting in the renovated Choctaw train station that is the home of the Clinton School talking with Dean Rutherford about his work and students who are carrying the message of service with compassion to  countries around the world.

Skip Rutheford is an interesting, engaging, and down to earth person.  He is a masterful storyteller, an innovator and a man who dreams big dreams. For him, the classroom is the world and the goal is to teach students how to become leaders who will use their talents to make tomorrow better than today for the people they serve. Spend a few minutes with Skip Rutherford and you become convinced that our country and our world will be in good hands his students graduate.

Skip Rutheford was generous with his time, and before our visit ended he opened a door for us at the Clinton Library where we presented the 9/11 National Remembrance Flag to the Supervisory Archivist, Dana Simmons.  What a moment!

In Little Rock, Arkansas, we found the heart and soul of America.  People like Rett Tucker and Mark Abernathy who care about their community and the people who live there, two men who have literally changed the face of their city;  a young woman named Karhonda who has found redemption from a troubled past thanks to the mentoring of people like the Tuckers, the Abernathys and the Huies; a graduate student, J. Adam Penman who wants to become a member of America’s State Department team;  Veronica Gray, a mother who brought her family from Colorado to experience the magic of Central High School;  Brandon Hood, an employee at the Hampton Inn who is making something of his life because he wants to become a better person.

These are the Faces of America who speak for America on its best days.  These are the people who inspire us to keep on keeping on as we make our way to California and back.

Sometimes you find the Face of America when kind people open doors to help others.

Our next stop is Oklahoma. 

Until the next time, we hope that all of your stories have happy endings.

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