Dick Gustafson’s new project teaches American history through words and music. | VailDaily.com

Dick Gustafson’s new project teaches American history through words and music.

EAGLE COUNTY — Dick Gustafson has been many things in his life — most of them wonderful — and most of all he's an American.

Gustafson is putting the final touches on a multi-media book project about America's history. Because, he said, we don't seem to know enough it.

"Today, little is heard of American history. Children are taught not to love America, but to blame America," Gustafson said. "America offers more liberty and opportunity than any place in the world."

The "Spirit of '76 — Renewed" is a reflection of Gustafson's belief in America.

Chief among those beliefs is that it's time for Americans to stand up and stand proud.

"What will you stand for? What will you absolutely not stand for? Gustafson asked.

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About 10 years ago, Gustafson spotted the results of college surveys where many common questions about America's history were answered incorrectly or not at all.

American patriot

"One thing is certain, he is a truly an American patriot," said Bjarne Blume, part of the publishing company, iLearnNetwork, that's helping Gustafson handle the project. "When we met Dick, we were so impressed by his devotion, fascination and commitment to his country."

The non-narrative version of his ebook has been brought online and is available for purchase. He's also raising money online for the multi-media project.

He said he's hoping that the book purchases, along with fundraising from his IndieGogo campaign, will generate enough cash to license the music used in the multimedia version of his book.

That's being pushed along by iLearnNetwork's efforts to provide "Spirit of '76 — Renewed" and other Gustafson's stories to teachers and students across the nation. Gustafson recently completed a history of the American flag, and is wrapping up one on world slavery.

Among other things, in "The Spirit of '76 — Renewed" you'll learn:

It took 600 years to settle America, and it was a British colony for 100 years.

The British monarchy sent "criminals, beggars and Presbyterians" to America.

The first American patriotic protest song was penned in 1768 by John Dickinson, who put new words to a British song.

An American's tale

Gustafson was born in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, and raised on military bases across the country. He's an Eagle Scout, and his Explorer Scout Silver Award was presented to him in the White House by President Harry Truman.

He earned degrees from four universities, was a financial planner and consultant, educator and actor. He helped create the Vail Valley's children's theater programs.

He and his family moved to the Vail Valley in the early 1970s and opened one of the area's first hardware stores.

He was a two-term Eagle County commissioner, was instrumental in the new county building, the Eagle County Justice Center, and was the driving force in making the Eagle County Regional Airport a commercial hub.

The county later hired him to oversee the airport expansion.

He has beaten cancer, had numerous surgeries, a brain tumor and Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's forced him to move to Holly Creek, Colorado.

Still, he keeps contributing.

He still does a radio show featuring big band music, one of his other passions.

At the end of each show he signs off with one of his signature phrases.

"Don't forget, you live in the best country in the entire world. Be proud!" he said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

To help

Dick Gustafson is selling e-books and raising money to finish his multi-media project about American history, “Spirit of ’76 — Renewed.”

To order it, go to Spiritof76renewed.org.

To contribute to his fundraising campaign, go to http://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/03e34e81.