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Go Fly A Kite!

When I was growing up “Go fly a kite,” was a popular way to insult someone if you disagreed with them or thought they were a little nuts. Oh, that we still used such innocent language with each other.

One of my favorite movies, growing up, was Mary Poppins. I remember when it came out, my mom and I got dressed up and she took me to see it at the old Rivoli Theater in downtown Muncie. I was in third grade and determined to learn how to spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I never mastered it but certainly had fun trying.

One of my favorite scenes from Mary Poppins is at the end when Mr. Banks takes his children out to fly kites. I remember singing “Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height. Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring...”

What about Benjamin Franklin and his kite? According to popular legend, Franklin discovered electricity by flying a kite, with a key attached, during a lightning storm.

Did you know that a kite was important in building the first suspension bridge over the Niagara River Gorge near the falls?

According to, in 1847, an engineer named Charles Ellet, Jr. was commissioned to build a suspension bridge across the Niagara River, close to the falls. The first thing he had to figure out was how to stretch a wire across the 800-foot gorge. His team had no idea how that was going to be possible.

One of Mr. Ellet’s assistants suggested flying a kite across the gorge. A contest was held, with many people attempting to be the first to get their kite from the Canadian side, across the river, to the American side and take home the five-dollar prize.

A young American boy named Homan Walsh won the contest on the second day of the competition flying his kite from the Canadian shoreline. But here is the back story.

Homan approached this challenge differently than the other contestants. Before the competition began, the fifteen-year-old took the ferry from the American side to the Canadian side to take advantage of the stronger winds. He flew his kite all day, all night. When his kite string broke, he had to wait eight days to cross back over by ferry. He retrieved the kite, made repairs, and crossed over again. On January 30, 1848, Walsh’s kite made it across the gorge, winning him the cash prize!

The next day, authorities attached a heavier cord to the kite string and pulled it across the Niagara River. The strength of the line kept increasing until a wire cable consisting of thirty-six strands of No.9 wire was stretched across the gorge. This enabled authorities to start construction of the first bridge over the Niagara River Gorge.

Sometimes we think the small things we do will not make a difference in the big picture but if Homan Walsh, had not decided to do a small thing differently than most and do it well, it might have taken many years before that bridge was built.

The Bible tells us in Zechariah 4:10, Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

It seems like there is so much to do to help unite and heal our country that it is too big of a task to accomplish. The important thing is to keep going and not give up. Do not think the small things are unimportant.

What if, like Homan did with the kite, we take a different approach than most and just love our neighbor, be kind to those with whom we come in contact, and make sure the words we speak heal and not hurt? It all started with a small kite string and ended up with a suspension bridge. Let’s go fly a kite and see what happens.

What small things could we do today that might have more of an impact than we think? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Here is the link from Mary Poppins if you would like to sing along.

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