Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10, 1869

According to Mr Bird May 10, 1869 was the best day in the history of the United States.
It was the day the the Golden spike was driven to complete the first transcontinental railroad connecting the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad.
For the first time in the history of our young nation there was one continuous rail road connecting the wild west to the rest of the county.
The two rail road companies and the rest of the country had a huge celebration and ceremony for the occasion.
For the last 59 years a cast of citizens and volunteers have recreated that ceremony.
They meet at Promontory Summit, the very place the golden spike was driven 141 years ago, and repeat word for word the things that were expressed more than a life time ago.
Lucky for Mr Bird, Promontory Summit is only about an hour from our home.
Every year since Mr Bird was a tiny kid he has gone to the ceremony.
Now he brings his own family, year after year.
It is the first day he requests off from work every January.
May 10, 2004 Promontory Summit

Although I have come to the ceremony year after year, it always has special meaning to me.
In 1869, just as the golden spike was getting ready to be driven, the rest of the country waited with baited breath for word that it was complete.
Some cities wired the telegraph to the local fire department alarm so that as soon as the signal was emitted the whole town would know and could join in the celebration.
Other towns had huge crowds of people around the telegraph waiting for the pre-assigned signal: D.O.N.E. done!

"Every telegraph in the nation was waiting with baited breath for that one word.
Both the spike and the maul are wired to the transcontinental telegraph wire so that the entire nation can hear the blows as the spike is driven. Now ladies and gentlemen, the time has arrived. As Mr. Shilling, the telegrapher, gives the signal over the wire, that the spike is driven, bells and whistles will sound across the nation."

Before the spike was driven a prayer was offered.
This is the telegraph message sent to the entire country just moments before the spike was driven:

"Bulletin! Almost ready. Hats off! Prayer is being offered."

For a moment the entire nation bowed their heads in prayer, together.
Think of the power of that prayer.
Has our nation before or since been so united and humble and prayerful.
That was an amazing moment, I can still feel the power of an entire continent united in prayer to their God.
How I long for our great nation to be as great as it was in that moment.
The rail road was more than just a highway into the west.
The work of building the railroad united a wounded country which had been badly broken and nearly divided by civil war.
Men form the North as well as the South untied their effort and worked side by side in an effort to rebuild our nation.
Men from all over the world came to help in hopes of bringing the knowledge they'd acquire to their homes across the seas and to replicate our system in their own lands.
The eyes of the whole world were upon The united States of America and this great feat of courage and strength.
Many men gave their lives in the completion of this revolutionary task.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you. We are gathered here to join the ends of the earth, to join the raw riches of the American West with the finished products of the industrial East. We also meet with mixed feelings; with joy that the work of thousands of men has joined the railroad, and with sorrow we remember the hundreds of men who gave their lives in building the railroad."

This is the heritage I want to pass on to my children.

I want them to see the examples of hard work with the blood and sweat and tears these men gave to build a nation.
I want them to see the value of coming together to build something bigger than themselves.
I want them to learn about these great men and the marvelous things they accomplished with not much more than their bare hands and wagons pulled by horses.
I want them to celebrate their personal victories, big or small.
I want them to love our nation and to stand tall in it, under their God, always giving thanks to Him.

P.S. Click here to read the reenactment in its entirety. It is truly inspirational.

1 comment:

JoeyRes said...

That's a cool tradition! It's definitely something to share with our children how hard people just like us worked to build this country.