Aug 22, 2008

Kennedy, Lincoln and our Future President

Our train earlier passed over a railroad bridge known locally as the triple underpass in Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas. As I glanced out the train window it was an image burned into every person of my generation. The grassy knoll, the Texas School Book Depository these are names that intricately tied to the tragic moment that occurred there. On November 22, 1963 this was the location of the John F. Kennedy assassination. I snapped this photo as we approached the Dallas stop.

Currently our train, the Texas Eagle, has left the Lone Star State. It is one long stretch. Night has reached us. We continue to move on. Little Rock, Arkansas is a few hours away.

The porter tells me that I better enjoy what is left of the dining car experience because the bean counters in Washington are moving towards over the counter service on some routes. I take it this is one of them. The table linen, personal high end service may be a distant memory.

American train travel, outside the northeast corridor, has little comparison to European (or other first world) country train service. Because Amtrak does not have ownership of the train corridors in much of the South and Southwest, train travel is highly unpredictable. I am looking forward to our Springfield visit and pray that the 9 hour tardiness of my last excursion is not duplicated. So if timeliness is not the valued factor then I would recommend that service be increased to compensate. I share my thoughts with a couple from Kansas and they and their traveling companions all agreed.

After recently visiting with some of our world leaders in high speed train travel our American system could use some improvements. Despite this knowledge I am still more than happy with the company and experience from this journey outside Texas. Simple truth is that it's hard to put the public servant hat down even when on vacation.

I return to my cabin to catch up on some reading. I sit back to enjoy Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln". It's a book I've struggled to find the time to finish. I thought this might be a fitting time. For now I leave you with a lecture from the Pulitzer-prize winning historian. I've attached the hour long video for those who find interest.

In the morning we will pass through St. Louis, Missouri the so called "Gateway to the West". I am looking forward to seeing the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the iconic image that symbolizes among other things, the western expansion of our country. It is a symbolic entry point to the West and all that entails. Thus enters into our discussion the quintessential American character of many of our presidents.

Here is a discussion of the greatest of them all.

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