Oklahoma: Moments to Remember

By Tony Mussari

I am writing this note from Oklahoma. I must confess that I am favorably disposed to this beautiful place.  In another lifetime, I lived and died for an Oklahoma native named Mickey Mantle. If he did well, I had a good day.  If he did poorly, my day was ruined. Mickey Mantle was my boyhood hero. I tried to run as fast as he ran to first base, I tried to bunt like him and play centerfield like him.  I never accomplished any of these dreams, but they were the dreams that defined my childhood, and he was the baseball player I always wanted to be.

So here we are driving along Interstate 40 at 70 miles per hour gawking at the magnificent vistas that surround us. Our first stop was Tulsa, and the home of a man who once owned the ratings in America’s top television market, New York City.

If you lived in New York in the 1960s, you knew the name Dean Lewis.  He was legendary.

Today, he is a successful businessman who lives the American dream in a beautiful home with a wonderful wife, Marilyn, and the American family, three children and two grandchildren.

Spend some time with Dean and his wife and anything that is troubling you will disappear.  These are kind people, gifted people, generous people and thoughtful people. For them, life is an opportunity to confront and overcome challenges with positive thoughts and family support.

That’s how Marilyn faced her successful battle with lung cancer, and that’s the way Dean faces an illness that he has had for many years that no one has been
able to accurately diagnose.

In this home, there is much laughter and a lot of good will. This is a place where the American flag is prominently displayed and the news of the day is critically reviewed.

This is a home where life is good because the work is hard, the family is strong, education is revered and everyone understands that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

As we were leaving Tulsa, we stopped to visit with a group of people who personify the spirit and the substance of the First Amendment. In some ways, it was a flashback to the 1960s. In another respect, it was a reminder of the priceless benefit of freedom, the right to assemble.

A few hours later we were standing at a place in Oklahoma City that reminds everyone who visits that the price of freedom is not free.

The Oklahoma City Memorial is powerful, poignant, and peaceful.  The sights and sounds of this place penetrate deep into the heart and soul of everyone who visits.

This is a sacred place, a sanctified place, an unforgettable place. People talk softly here. They walk reverently beneath the towering walls and rippling water of the refection pool. They stop and stare at the empty chairs that memorialize the fallen, and often they shed a tear for the people who went to work and never came home on a beautiful April day in 1995.

The Face of America in Oklahoma City belongs to ranchers from Utah, a housewife from Kansas, a group of Boy Scouts from Oklahoma, a father holding his sleeping daughter, and a young couple recently transferred here to take the next step in a career that will enable them to provide a good home for their son, their first-born child.

This is a place where everything that is America on its best and worst days leaves a permanent mark on one’s soul.

This is a place where the faces of 168 men, women and children will live forever in the hearts of everyone who visits.

Sometimes you find the Face of America in a sacred place where the sadness of the past is recorded in beautiful ways that gives one comfort, strength, peace, hope, and serenity.

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