“Welcome to the Land of Oz!”
That was how our radio partner KMUW welcomed us as we pulled into Wichita, Kansas for our stop in the Wheat State. And the stories have been plentiful. Wichita, we learned, is the originator of many things: Pizza Hut, the electric guitar, Cessna airplanes, and yes, folks, the original White Castle. Pizza, and airplanes, and little, tiny, burgers, oh my!
Our first week of recording, Randy Cabral came in with his friend and colleague Heidi Johnson to talk about the first fully-tactile Braille American flag. Randy created the flag to honor his father, a World War II veteran who became blind later in life. The American flag was a big deal in the Cabral family. Every day his father insisted that it be raised and lowered in front of their house. As his father’s sight grew dim, Randy decided to dedicate himself to learning Braille and subsequently started the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute.
One evening Randy’s mother told him that his father, who was now completely blind, had confused their American flag with her scarf. That same evening Randy drafted the first-ever tactile American flag. Randy has toured the country with his flag, commemorating it at places such as Arlington National Cemetery, as well as giving a copy to President Obama. Some of his most prized memories, however, have been when he has witnessed blind Americans ‘see’ their flag for the very first time.