20-Feb-2011 -- A mix of sleet and rain fell as we headed south through Cincinnati on I-75. After turning southwest for Louisville on I-71, we outran the precipitation, and, after getting on I-65 heading south, each passing mile seemed to bring a rise in temperature. At Park City, “Gateway to Mammoth Cave National Park,” we existed the interstate, took Highway 255 to Bon Ayr, then US-68 to the vicinity of 37N 86W.
Having recorded a visit here the previous day, my wife opines everything looks a lot like it did 24 hours earlier, and decides to take a short nap. I, however, feel the same rush of adrenalin I have already experienced twice today: a chance to celebrate International Confluence Day on a whole integer latitude-longitude crossing! I am quickly over the gate, and after a short dance, standing on the ten zero spot. A steady stream of cars passes by on the Cumberland Parkway. I assume most of the drivers are frustrated there is no pull-off here to provide convenient access to 37N 86W. I’m surprised no one toots their horn in recognition of my good fortune to be able to stand on this particular spot on this particular day.
37N 86W marks the 17th confluence point I have visited on International Confluence Day, each being in a different state. Although the growth in the popularity of this DCP holiday has been at best tepid over the last decade, I am firmly convinced such commemorative geography is where it’s at…
Kentucky - “United we stand, divided we fall.” (state motto dating back to 1792)
[Around the time of the first Degree Confluence Project visit, Ohio Governor George Voinovich traveled to India, where he saw the phrase “Government Work is God’s Work” on a public building. On his return home, this event inspired him to suggest his state’s motto be inscribed on the Ohio Statehouse. Thirty-seven years earlier, the state had selected the motto “With God, all things are possible,” the proposal of the then 12 year old James Mastronardo, who credited the expression as a thought he often heard espoused by his mother. However, responding to the governor’s suggestion, the American Civil Liberties Union quickly pointed out the biblical roots of the phrase: Matthew 19:26. Attributed to Jesus, the words were used to explain to the disciples his statement that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Jesus, according to Matthew, then said by way of explanation, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Claiming this phrase from the Bible violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom and a separation of church and state, in 1997, the ACLU filed a suit against Ohio and its state motto. Various federal courts sided with Ohio, allowing the state to retain the motto. Judges ruled Ohio's motto does not endorse a specific God and, thus, was not a violation of the First Amendment. Ohio is one of five states with the word "God" in their mottos. During this debate, a reporter tracked down the no longer young James Mastronardo to ask for a comment. She found Mr. Mastronardo in Kentucky where he had lived for 21 years. During the interview, the driving force behind the Ohio state motto admitted he had never learned the motto of the State of Kentucky. "I'm still a Buckeye at heart," he explained… (In 2002 the Kentucky legislature passed a law designating “Deo gratiam habeamus” as the Commonwealth's official Latin motto, which is rendered in English "Let us be grateful to God." This ends Part Two of today’s civics lesson.) ]