What is an American truth?

PADUCAH – What defines America? What does it mean to be an American? Those are some of the questions we’re asking and ones we will answer in our new special report — American Truth.

For inspiration, one could read aloud the Declaration of Independence that created the United States of America by separating from Great Britain. The Constitution and Bill of Rights followed to serve as the foundation of our country.

Fast forward through the centuries and past the Civil War, two world wars, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, and countless political movements, moments and protests. In 2019, we’re asking: What are the examples of indisputable American truth that serve as the guiding examples of our country’s past and present?

Susan Baier is director of the McCracken County Public Library

Susan Baier is director of the McCracken County Public Library.

“I think in the current climate these are questions that people are having. And also, you do have a younger generation who may not have firsthand experience of the battles that were fought regarding voting rights, regarding civil rights, and I think it’s important to remind younger generations about what their elders experienced and the lessons they learned,” Baier said.

Baier said she sees first hand that people who are learning about at least one American truth: your right to vote.

“So many people come to us — ‘How do I register to vote? How do I research a candidate so I can make the best decision for myself and my family? How do I know who my elected officials are?’ So, I feel like the work we do really connects people to those rights that we think of as classic American rights,” Baier said.

Baier said we can’t take history for granted.

“I think it’s important to understand who we are, and where we were, and where we’re going. And the biggest indicator of the future is things that happened in the past. So, I think learning from the past can prevent us from making some choices that might have negative impacts in the future,” Baier said.

WKMS Radio station manager Chad Lampe.

Chad Lampe, station manager of WKMS radio, said an inscription on a building at Murray State University inspires his life’s work.

“It’s written on the front of Pogue Library, here on campus. ‘The hope for democracy depends on the diffusion of knowledge.’ So, I believe firmly in the ability for people to have free access to this information, and public radio was designed to be educational and informational,” Lampe said.

He said reflecting on the symbols that define America and things we do every day remind us of what it means to be an American.

“I think you can’t overstate the impact of being informed, whether it’s going to the ballot box, going to your local county clerk to pay taxes, whether it’s going to city commission meeting or fiscal court meeting. I think you need to have some foundational knowledge of the way government works, laws are crafted,” Lampe said.

During the next few months, we are airing stories that highlight an American truth — One that impacts the way you work and live, one that defines who we are as a people, your right to bear arms, your right to vote, your right to free speech.

“I think an American truth might be — I don’t know if it’s written anywhere, but I think in America there is this individualism. We are fiercely independent, and I think that is an American truth. I believe in American citizens, while we are concerned about the greater good of the country, concerned about the greater good of the fellow neighbors, but Americans are fiercely independent,” Lampe said.

Baier said: “The freedom of thought. The freedom of expression. The freedom to express your views. I think that sometimes we take those for granted, but we well know that they are not universally available across the world. I think that is uniquely American.”

It’s time to remind ourselves of the principles that guide us and the ideals we embrace. it’s time to celebrate an American truth.

Do you have a story idea for our American truth special reportsClick here to fill out a form, and we may report on it.