Selling Americans on America: Journey into a Troubled Nation
In the aftermath of WWII, America was on the verge of losing its soul. In response, The Freedom Train traveled the U.S. American values to those who had lost their way.
This is the podcast for Extension 720. The show originates from Chicago on WGN Radio and features newsmakers, tastemakers and trailblazers. Hosted by award-winning broadcaster Justin Kaufmann, this talk show/audio magazine goes in-depth to help you better understand the city (and world) that you live in.
Gerry and Janet Souter have authored and co-authored more than 50 non-fiction books in history, biographies, young adult, art books, military history, business, memoir, computers, and the Internet. Gerry was a writer, producer, international filmmaker, and columnist and photographer for The Chicago Tribune. He is proud of his work for the Arizona State Guard and Detective Agency and his stint in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Janet Souter was a news coordinator, editor and columnist for the Daily Herald Newspaper.
Here Gerry and Janet Souter are in the WGN (720 AM National SuperStation) radio studio with our host, Justin Kaufmann. They are flogging their latest history book released in September, “Selling Americans on America – Journey into a Troubled Nation.” The gig lasted about 20 minutes at 8:00 PM. Justin took time to acquaint himself with the book and was an excellent interviewer. To tell the story of the Freedom Train’s marathon journey through all 48 states, stopping at 300 towns and cities from 1947-49 showing original documents from the National Archives guarded by U.S Marines to bust Americans out of their post WWII malaise had us spinning non-stop (pant, pant). The time shot by.
How a “Freedom Train” reignited faith in a country that was riddled with dissent, anxiety and mistrust in its leaders.
In 2018, 10 years after the damaging recession of 2008, America was barely hanging onto its democratic values, shaken by a profound mistrust in government, with freedom of speech under attack and thousands of refugees seeking asylum in America. Compounding those problems were economic inequality, a loss of common civility, and a failure to provide for the needs of returning warriors. By 2019, the fabric of American society was barely holding together.
Selling Americans on America tells of another turbulent era—Post World War II— when a phenomenon called the “Freedom Train” reignited citizens’ faith in a country that was riddled with dissent, anxiety and mistrust in its leaders.
In 1945-46 more than five million workers enlisted in labor strikes across the country. The constant fear of communist infiltration dominated the headlines. Returning GIs demanded jobs and housing. Government entities continued war-time meat and dairy rationing. Displaced Persons fleeing war-torn Europe poured into the country. Overseeing the chaos was a president nobody elected, coupled with a bitter, divisive Congress.
To renew citizens’ unity and pride in their nation, a privately funded consortium of advertising, civic, and entertainment professionals created a product to literally “Sell Americans on America.” To help carry their message of hope, they assembled 130 priceless documents including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation. Combined with a media blitz of songs, operettas, radio shows, and local festivities, the train reminded Americans that “Freedom is Everybody’s Job.”