Once upon a time in Oklahoma we were a land of giants: Will Rogers, Mabel Bassett, Robert S Kerr, Henry Bellmon, Carl Albert, Peter Hanratty, Tom Steed, Fred Harris, Helen Cole, to name just a few. Among those I actually met: Carl Albert, Tom Steed and Henry Belllmon. In a time now gone they were statesmen and women who cared about Oklahoma and the USA. They worked together with people from both sides of the aisle to make Oklahoma better and protect those less fortunate than themselves. They cared about what happened to all Oklahomans not just the privileged few.
Among them were oil men and business men and women, but they would never neglect the many for the sake of the few. They understood FDR’s words, “The test of our progress isn’t how much we add to the abundance of those who have much, it is how we treat those who have little,” and took them to heart and did what they could to make the least among us have a fighting chance to have their small piece of the American Dream.
Their philosophy wasn’t to dis those who had little and belittle them as being shiftless and lazy, because they knew they weren’t, by circumstance lazy or shiftless. They knew that but for the grace of God and the loss of one paycheck went us all. They had compassion not disassociation or avarice. Their mentality wasn’t I got mine so to hell with all you losers out there eat cake!
They of course were not perfect but that is what made them special. That is what made them great. Though often flawed and often human they always rose above their flaws to do what was right, because they cared about the people they served. They cared about making a difference in the world. They cared about giving everyone a chance to be all that they could be. That was not a slogan to them that was what they stood for. That is why they were giants.
Once upon a time in Oklahoma we were a land of giants. What happened to us? Once upon a time we reached for the stars with Sally Ride, L. Gordon Cooper and Tom Stafford. Once upon a time we had visionaries who worked to make Oklahoma an inland waterway, who helped create more lakes than Minnesota. What happened to those giants among us? When did our leaders become petty and greedy caring more for those who have than those who have not?
Once upon a time in Oklahoma we were a land of giants. Oh Cry for Oklahoma Argentina! Oklahoma is still a great state but we are once again in need of visionary giants like Henry Bellmon, Carl Albert and Mabel Bassett.