Now that I’m once again fully and completely an Arkansan I thought I would fill you in on some Arkansas facts.
First of all it is pronounced ‘Arkansaw’ not ‘Arkansas’ as some uneducated people are fond of saying.
Here are some vital statistics:
- Area – 53,179 square miles (29th in US)
- Population – Almost 3 million (32nd in US)
- Capitol City – Little Rock
The capitol building is patterned after the US Capitol. They filmed a cheesy movie using ours as a stand in for the US Capitol.
- Became a state – July 15, 1836 (25th state)
More facts can be found here:
- State bird – Mockingbird
I love Mockingbirds. I love their music. We didn’t see or hear much of them in Kansas.
- Sate flower – Apple Blossom
- State tree – Pine tree
- State mammal – White Tail Deer
- State insect – Honey Bee
- State road kill – Possum
Okay. I made that last one up. Here’s a couple more I made up:
- Most famous old time Southern politician – Orval Faubus
Orval Faubus was governor of Arkansas from 1955 to 1967. The Wikipedia article about him is fascinating. There’s a lot I didn’t know about his political beginnings. His biography points up the most important qualities of a politician: bad things don’t stick and there’s always another comeback. Both of those are qualities we see in Arkansas’ other famous politician.
Faubus was famous for his part in the 1957 school desegregation crisis at Central High School. Nine African-American students were set to enroll at Central. Faubus called out the National Guard to stop them, ostensibly to prevent mob violence. This forced President Eisenhower to federalize the troops to get the students in school and protect them. Faubus bowed to the inevitable while looking good for the home folks. This brings me to a famous quote:
The man who can smile when things go wrong has probably thought of someone he can blame it on.
I don’t know who said that. I may have made it up myself. But probably not.
I was in the seventh grade in 1957. I didn’t know much about what was going on except our suburban school was suddenly inundated with transfers from the city schools. Parents rushing to get their kids out of harms way. I haven’t made a careful study of this crisis but my impression is that most of the students, both black and white, handled it pretty well. It was the parents who had a problem.
- The other famous politician from Arkansas – William Jefferson Clinton.
He was governor from 1979 to 1981 and from 1983 to 1992. Even back then in Arkansas he was known as the comeback kid and as Slick Willy. He was one of a long line a Arkansas politicians who kept getting reelected but you couldn’t find anybody who would admit to voting for him. Bill Clinton is one of the best politicians in the last thirty years. Best in the sense of most effective, most skilled. Not necessarily in the sense of what he got done but in the sense of how he did it. There’s no telling what he could have done if not for the fatal flaw.
But that’s true of a lot of us. Politicians, athletes, ministers have been felled by that fatal flaw: pride. Call it hubris if you want to use a fancier word.
In this season of searching for a leader for the next four years we look at positions on the issues. We look at tax records. We study their backgrounds. In all this sifting we should not overlook the most important attribute of a leader.