She’s Here!

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – “I ate at my first Applebee’s on that trip,” Matthew reminisced during Tuesday’s final goodbyes before I headed for Helena. Grandson Matt was referring to our trip of 2001, when he was almost 10 and we went to three capital cities and three national parks in a three-week period. Helena, Bismarck, and Pierre were the capitals; Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Badlands were the parks. I chuckled that he remembered the Helena Applebee’s stop; he didn’t want to go to an unfamiliar place but I promised an oreo shake. He tried something new, and he loved it; the next day we visited the capitol. He loved that too. Little did we know that day just how it would affect our lives. Matt is 20 now; he’s studying Japanese with plans to head for Japan next year for more study; he plans to live there, and teach. Matt’s vision expanded under the wide-open skies of Montana; my vision expanded by watching a kid in a capitol. That’s why I’m here today.

Matt was a ball of fire that day in 2001; he ran ahead of me up the sidewalk, turned and threw his arms into the air in a great swoop of liveliness. Inside he ogled his eyes upward at the old-fashioned lights, sat grinning on the imposing stairway, posed confidently in front of the governor’s door. Every inch of that capitol building became a part of him, he claimed it all. Outside, he touched the statuary; plopped down on the grass in front of the “Montana 2001” flowerbed. “Get my picture here, GMom” was his request in every spot, and so I did.  

The idea of writing something for kids (and for everyone) about capitols and capital cities began to take shape that day. Those pictures sat stored in my photo boxes; waiting for the time to be right. And then it was. Capital Cities USA was created; the Board of Directors was organized; the route was planned for the Journey Across America. The Scion needed a design; I wanted to inspire enthusiasm for “capitol visiting.” The long-ago picture came floating into mind – Matt, arms up and smiling. It took a while to find the pre-digital print, and the image of Matt was small, but the graphic artist took it and ran, pulling the “joy of the boy” to the front; changing the Boeing emblem on his shirt to “Capital Cities USA.” I was pleased with the result; the Helena capitol representing every capitol in the USA; Matt representing every child, everywhere, so in love with life. Be enthusiastic! That’s the message. Be curious! Take risks! Stick to it! Those messages are important too. See the possibilities, I say, no matter what your age. 


Dreams can be realized. I thank all my grandkids – Jeffrey, who used his expertise to set up this beautiful website and helps me keep it working smoothly, tweaking it when it needs a tweak; Jason, who tickled my fancy with creative marketing ideas way back when he was only 10 and continues to inspire me with possibilities today; Alec, Brett, Matthew, Justin, Jake, Andrew, and Kaitlyn, who are s0 diligently immersed in their studies and in building a solid future for themselves, doing great; Kayla and Sam, who just revved my life up a notch by helping me explore Honolulu and Juneau, with enthusiasm. Here I am today, arms up!