“Every step tells a story”

 Freedom Trail

By Sharon Stevens


So many years ago I took a creative writing class at Amarillo College from Jodi Thomas and DeWanna Pace.  In the first class Jodi asked us to write a story about finding a shoe. The friend that had encouraged me to take the class had told me about this so I was prepared…somewhat.  I debated and contemplated day after day about what I would write. The whole six weeks of class I worried about my shoe. I have taken three creative writing classes since that time, as well as also attended writing conferences, and joined the Panhandle Professional Writers, one of the oldest continuous writing groups in the country. And I still hadn’t prepared my thoughts on shoes.

Jodi explained that the best advice she ever received was, “Put feet to your dreams.”

And I couldn’t quit worrying about my shoe.

Some time ago I watched a Native American storyteller, Eldrina Douma, share a story at the Branding Iron Theatre at WTAMU about finding a moccasin, and that this was the spirit of her grandfather reminding her of home. After her performance I asked her what gave her the insight to share such a story and she said she had taken Jodi’s class and this was what she had written about the shoe.

A few weeks ago I was watching a news program about Boston and across the screen I glimpsed one of the road signs for their Freedom Trail exclaim, “Every step tells a story.” I was so moved by this simple statement I wrote this down and referred to it over and over and over again, never knowing what an impact these five words would hold for me. And I could NEVER fathom that they would connect to a tragedy in this dedicated and patriotic city.

There are no words to explain or describe a story such as this. You can write every thought using all phrases and dictionary definitions and still you can’t come up with anything close to the memories the whole world will suffer from now on.

At the bookstore we had a family attending New Student Orientation at WTAMU and the mom asked about crime in our community and whether it was safe. You could see as the weight lifted off their shoulders as I explained how closely our campus police, sheriff and police department work together. The dad explained that they lived close to Virginia Tech and they didn’t want to ask, but since we shared about our community so freely they were greatly relieved. Another visitor came into our store and when I asked her where she was from she was very evasive. She said they were from Colorado and after much prodding she explained she was from Aurora Colorado. She just didn’t want to say as whenever she shared she got funny looks and had to tell everyone what she knew.

Someday a family connected to each of these tragedies may step into our community looking for a safe place to rest. As all those who witnessed the Boston bombing and the kids grow, and leave their homes, we may be the ones they turn to as they journey through life. They may come to the musical drama TEXAS or our Panhandle Plains Historical Museum or any of our countless museum or attractions. With the new marketing campaign of “Make Memories in Canyon” they may travel to our area to find a sense of fun or a moment of peace. Who knows?

The Freedom Trail will forever be marred with the blood of those killed and injured. And of course the trail itself is a reminder of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War. And even though the trail may be miles away from the actual bombing, as far as our hearts are concerned the whole city will be connected with pain and ugliness.

I just hope and pray that families will once again walk in the trail of freedom, but that no one ever again has to write a story such as this, and that NO ONE has to follow in the footsteps of the bomber, or the victims, or their families.

I just don’t think I could walk a mile in their shoes.

From the Freedom Trail website…. Though the Hub was filled with marvelously well-preserved historic sites — ranging from Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church to the Old State House and the Old South Meetinghouse — there was no organized route linking these gems together. So in March 1951, Bill Schofield, columnist and editor for the Herald Traveler, wrote to suggest that citizens get together to create the link that would tie the story of the American Revolution together making it easy and enjoyable for residents and visitors. Businessmen and women, elected officials, and non-profits worked together to designate a walking trail on Boston’s sidewalks in front of 16 historically significant buildings and locations. What to call the new path? Rejecting Puritan Path, Liberty Loop, and Freedom’s Way the group settled on the Freedom Trail. Now a national brand, trademarked by the Freedom Trail Foundation, it sets the standard for historic trails.