1947 - 1949 FREEDOM TRAIN
EPILOGUE Part 3 – The Legacy and a Second Freedom Train for America’s
American Freedom Train has its own unique history and colorful story.
These are summarized on dedicated pages on this website. Still,
it is certain that the Bicentennial train would not have been realized
without the inspiration and successful operation of the "first"
Freedom Train of 1947-49.
business, industry and government in the 1970's included many people
who had experienced the first Freedom Train as children. Their numbers
also included museum officials and private collectors of important
historical materials. Often, railroad and other corporate executives
remembered the magical day when their whole school went to see the
Declaration of Independence, and experienced the excitement and
anticipation of waiting in line alongside the gleaming white train.
They remembered the sharply-dressed Marines in dress blue uniform
who made sure they saw everything and knew what they were seeing,
and they felt once more the profound, perhaps intangible, impact
of the Freedom Train and its contents upon their youthful sensibilities
of three decades earlier.
They, too, had
shared the disillusionments of their time: the 1950's McCarthy era
witch hunts, the 1960's assassinations of national leaders, the
bloody quagmire of Vietnam, the confusing struggles for racial,
ethnic and gender equality that reached into the 1970's, and many
of them had encountered the arrogance of power, with its circumvention
of law and, ultimately, of the electoral process in Watergate.
memories of a gleaming white train and its message of renewal and
National Rededication to the American dream beckoned as an idea
worth supporting and repeating.
memory offered a salve for the national conscience at the eve of
its Bicentennial – an event that appeared destined to pass without
notable celebration or recognition.
Perhaps it was
simple nostalgia, a chance for remembrance, or perhaps it offered
a catharsis in a more complex age.
But the fact
that a Freedom Train had come once before encouraged a renewal in
another time, one that desperately needed its message of the worth
and dignity of human rights, of freedom of choice and thought, of
expression and association, of intellect and innovation, of respect
for differences and for the American creed of safeguarding the same
rights for others.
So the message
of that "original" Freedom Train goes beyond the streamlined white
flash of an ALCO PA speeding across America. The train endures through
its message of renewal and opportunity, in reminding all of us of
the importance of each person's potential and place in history by
simply receiving the gift of being born in a free society.
It was revisited
to a more skeptical, more cynical America of the 1970's in an unlikely
resurrection as a second Freedom Train. The message, the gift, and
the legacy of the first Freedom Train - and most of all, its message
of renewal, was resurrected for the generation of the Cold War and
Watergate aboard the American Freedom Train.
struggles, the sacrifices and the horrors of World War II, the 1947
Freedom Train magnified the historic documents it carried. The words
and the hopes of the distant founders of the American Experiment
inspired America’s greatest generation to build the modern world.
The Freedom Train endures as a message from the past to guide and
inspire the future, perpetuating timeless ideals of opportunity,
equality, and democracy in a government of laws and not of men.
The train’s message sought to infuse these ideals with a sense of
meaning and importance for its own time. It was also the hope of
the train's founders that the younger generations it inspired would
not be called upon to repeat the sacrifices that motivated the train,
but that everyone would understand and honor those sacrifices.
That hope abides
as an embodiment and living essence of both the 1947 Freedom Train
and the 1976 American Freedom Train, and it remains a compass for
the American Dream.
Text by Mr.
to Freedom Train...