Recently I wrote about my niece and her 5-year-old genius son, Arden, who is an expert on presidents and was featured in The Los Angeles Times and on “Jimmy Kimmel Love.” Viewers loved him, and his popularity zoomed, with 300,000-plus hits on YouTube.
When Arden acknowledged that one of his favorite presidents is Harry S. Truman, I sprung into action.
Thanks to Southwest Airlines, Hertz Car Rental and the city of Independence, the entire family of four is arriving today for a four-day stay.
The Truman Library has graciously invited the family to visit this Friday. Arden will recite, from memory, as he has done at other presidential libraries, the Gettysburg Address.
Mayor Don Reimal also extended a welcoming hand to young Arden, as has Cori Day, the Independence tourism director.
Within days Cori had acquired lodging, a carriage ride, a visit to the Truman Home, a tour of the Truman Courthouse, a photo opportunity at the mural of Truman bowling, a tour of the Frontier Trails Museum and various other Independence attractions.
Casey and Lynn Hayes, along with Arden and their 23-month-old daughter, Miranda, are in awe beyond expectations.
The generous response from the All-American city, given the nature of these fine people and vibrant businesses, did not surprise me. However, I was in awe that Independence even had a tourism department with nine employees and a budget of $1.2 million.
We don’t have sweeping vistas like Utah or the Grand Canyon. We don’t have oceans with beaches, and Independence is in the middle of the country. Still, some 200,00 plus visitors a year tour the many historic sites of Independence.
Cori notes Independence offers many amenities and the city is in close proximity to the many other attractions in greater Kansas City, making Independence a destination city.
“Our biggest attraction of course is the Truman Library followed by the Frontier Trails,” she said. “It is exciting to see the youth interested in the history of our city and we try to make it relevant to our young people. That’s why we are excited that Arden wants to visit here.”
Arden wants someday to become president, but first he wants to visit the home of his favorite president – Harry S. Truman.
I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.