If you’ve ever wondered what President Donald Trump means by the phrase “American exceptionalism,” you need to visit a 428-acre site in far Eastern North Carolina often called Kitty Hawk but actually located in Kill Devil Hills.
It is not a battlefield nor a cemetery.
It is the site where, in 1903, a couple of bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio, designed and assembled the first airplane which successfully made a powered flight.
There are a few small buildings, a small monument, a bookstore and some restrooms but they pale in comparison to the ground itself which is –and should be — hallowed ground for America. It is so like this nation that a couple of brothers named Orville and Wilbur Wright just wanted to be able to fly at will. So they set about doing what Americans have done since 1776 when some other guys wanted to be free from a King in England.
These guys, the Wright brothers, didn’t go to Harvard or MIT.
In fact, they were high school dropouts. But they wanted to fly. And they did. And that, my friends, is what makes this the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
Years later, William Boeing, Donald Douglas, Clyde Cessna, William Piper and a host of others made a business out of building flying machines but none of that would have been possible had a couple of bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio, not taken the first step, journeyed to what is now known as the Outer Banks of North Carolina, built a rail in the dunes and made a four-hop powered flight which doesn’t seem all that awesome today but was breathtaking on Dec. 12, 1903.
When you’re sitting on a Southwest Boeing 737-800 routinely flying from Baltimore to San Diego at 500+ miles an hour at 31,000 feet watching Fox News on your iPad while having an email exchange with a business associate on an iPhone somewhere underneath, it’s easy to lose sight of history and take it all for granted.
One of the things you tend to take for granted is that life has always been thus.
That these things happen because almost everybody in America has the ability to do whatever he or she wants to do is often overlooked in the political noise.
The fact is that a good idea or even a partially good idea in America is often worth much more than all the wealth in the European Union, China and South America put together.
That’s why Boeing’s largest competitor is actually about 40 percent owned by European government funds.
Nations which United States industrial might saved during World War II because Boeing invented and supervised the construction of thousands of B-17 and B-29 heavy bombers.
We are a nation which has always treasured and honored entrepreneurs — like Orville and Wilbur Wright — because that’s how things get done in this world.
So, when some left-wing progressive tells you that somehow people who become wealthy because they took a risk are bad, that government is the answer to all of your problems, get in your Ford, Chrysler or Chevy and drive to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, pay the $10 the government charges to see those 428 acres and remember that one of the greatest moments ever in this nation was not some Hollywood screamer badmouthing the president, but two bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio, making the first powered flight ever.
And the aviation industry they begat.
Had America not served as an incubator for great inventions, and their subsequent commercialization, there might not be our ability to take flying 3,000 miles in one hop for a price most people can afford and take for granted.
The Wright Brothers preceded William Boeing who preceded Herb Kelleher who is still around to tell you about the early days of Southwest Airlines. And it all happened in less than 120 years.
Think about that the next time a New York governor tells you that America was never that great in the first place.
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