The American Story: An introduction

The American Story podcast has been coming out once a week, every Tuesday, since Constitution Day last year. Each episode is a 6-8 minute story about what it is that makes America beautiful, heartbreaking, funny, inspiring, and endlessly interesting. They are written and recorded by Power Line friend Chris Flannery, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute and contributing editor of The Claremont Review of Books. They are well-conceived, well-written, and well-produced. Below is Chris’s sampling of episodes you might like along with a brief summary prepared by Chris. Have a listen. If it makes you feel a little more connected to your country, Chris writes, it’s not an accident.

“Make Cakes!” 
The Porto family escaped Cuban communist tyranny for American freedom and built a very successful bakery operation in Los Angeles. Porto’s Bakery & Café is a many-splendored gift to the country. And it’s not just the empanadas; it’s the spirit of freedom and enterprise. It’s a great American story on any day but under these current lockdown conditions, it has even greater appeal.

“Independence Forever!”
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams celebrate their last Fourth of July with parting reflections on the meaning of the American Revolution. It was the Idea of Independence itself, the idea of political freedom, that inspired the heroes of the Revolution and all their heroic deeds.

Number 42
Each year on April 15, all players in Major League Baseball turn in their regular uniforms and wear one adorned with the number 42. On no other day does any player wear that number; it has been permanently retired. This custom, unique in North American professional sports, has been adopted to honor a man who not only changed a sport, but helped change a country—Jackie Robinson.

What’s Love Got to do With it?
Our schools and colleges are failing miserably to educate our citizens. And its not just a matter of facts. The first duty of civic education is to teach each new generation of Americans what it is about the country that makes it worthy of the last full measure of devotion. Understanding this and helping others understand it is the most important work in America. 

Of Birds and Potatoes
If you need a little poetry in your life—and who doesn’t?—Billy Collins can be a good place to start. He is famously funny. So much so that, because he reads his poems so amusingly and his readings have been so successful and well-attended, he has been called—not always as a compliment—a “stand-up poet.”

Simple Truth
The Congress of the United States named him “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” During his last twenty-four years—more than a third of his life—George Washington was the foremost man in America, the man on whom the fate of his country depended more than on any other man.

Michael Patrick Murphy
The USS Michael Murphy and her crew operate in more than 48 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The area is more than 14 times the size of the continental United States; it includes 36 maritime countries, 50% of the world’s population, and the world’s 5 largest foreign armed forces. This American warship carries on the name and the work of an American warrior. To live up to his legacy is our most honorable work.

“O Captain, My Captain!”
A rough company of volunteers chose the 23-year-old Abraham Lincoln as their captain in the Blackhawk War, and no doubt considered that he should be proud of the distinction, as he would always be. But this did not mean they expected to have to obey him.

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