History Book

NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book, and a little recognition for my beloved Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis. Today, the tallest monument in the United States celebrates 50 years as the symbolic gateway to the west.

And 7 years ago, a tornado’s direct hit on a small city in southwest Missouri changes residents’ lives in an instant.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, two brothers come to faith in Christ just days apart, and go on to start one the largest Protestant denominations. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Today we begin with May 24th, 1738, 280 years ago this week. After struggling for years with sin, doubt, and personal disappointment, Anglican preacher John Wesley attends a public meeting at London’s Aldersgate Chapel.

MOVIE CLIP: A faith that is just a notion never goes to the bottom of the heart. Faith is God’s work in us…

As Wesley listens to Martin Luther’s preface to Romans, he is overwhelmed with Christ’s love, forgiveness and salvation, a moment reenacted here in the 1954 film starring Leonard Sachs:

WESLEY: A most wonderful thing has just happened to me, and I can not restrain myself from bearing witness to it now, at once. I, John Wesley, I am that man described by Luther. Casting about Him in the outer darkness. Sir, when I heard the words: “Faith is God’s work in us…” I, I felt my heart…strangely warmed…

A few days earlier, John’s brother Charles Wesley had his own dramatic encounter with Christ while suffering severe chest pains. He was reading Luther’s commentary on Galatians, when Charles says he found peace with God and hope in the loving Christ. One year later, he writes “O for a Thousand Tongues” to commemorate his conversion. The hymn consists of 18 stanzas.

AUDIO: O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing

Conflicts with the church of England eventually lead John and Charles Wesley to leave the Anglican communion and start the Methodist Church. Today the denomination has about 50 million members worldwide.

Next, May 25th, 1968, after more than 30 years of designing, planning, and construction, U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey officially dedicates the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis. Humphrey declares: “Let the Gateway Arch stand then as a symbol of America’s determination to have beauty with utility…quality with quantity…and humanity with progress.”

The Arch is a monument to President Thomas Jefferson, explorers Lewis and Clark, and the spirit of Western expansion.

AUDIO: Across time, said architect Eero Saarinen, an absolutely simple shape has given the great memorials their significance and dignity. Here, neither an obelisk nor a pyramid nor a dome would do. In this place, for our time, a great, yet simple arch did seem right…

Audio from the 1967 documentary Monument to the Dream. The National Park Service estimates that more than 3 million people visit the arch every year, though far fewer take the three and a half minute tram ride to the small observation deck at the top.

And finally, May 22nd, 20-11…

NWS: Stations, National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning…

An EF-5 tornado touches down in Joplin, Missouri.

NWS: Doplar radar indicates a tornado 10-miles west of Carl Junction…

The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning 20 minutes before it hits Joplin. Civil defense sirens warn of the impending disaster, but many residents don’t hear them.

AUDIO: Just tornado devastation as far as the eye can see…

The tornado kills more than 150 people, causing nearly $3 billion in damage. One newscaster tries to describe the scope of the damage after the storm passes…

AUDIO: You can see nearly every window in the hospital has been damaged, the roof severely damaged, every vehicle in the parking lot is a total loss…

Within the first month, more than 16,000 insurance claims are filed, making the Joplin tornado the single costliest and seventh-deadliest tornado in U.S. history.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book. I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Daniel Schwen)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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