Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Day of Remembrance

I want to challenge people to think about Memorial Day and its three-day weekend. The fact that we celebrate this day of remembrance as a holiday says a great deal about American culture.

Some cultures have a focus on the past. Individuals in this type of culture often live out their lives bearing the shames or glories of their family history.  

Other cultures live in the present. The average individual isn’t concerned with the past beyond a few stories and they are confident the future will appear in its proper time without their active effort.

The other focus of a culture is in looking forward. This is the American culture. We plan, we build, and we work to create the future that we want to see. Individuals in this type of culture often delay their immediate personal gratification for a greater reward later.

I point out these different cultures, not to show one is better than another, but to remind the reader that there are differences.

Here in America, you find a place where the average person works towards promotions and retirement, people band together in organizations which seek to promote improvement in knowledge, living conditions, and other noble causes. You see a culture where individual merit is recognized and rewarded and yet the individual becomes part of the whole.

Memorial Day is a time where we are to pause in our drive to build the future and to take time to honor our past. We understand that today’s world is the result of the efforts and labors of people in the past.

Every veteran marching in a parade, every American Flag displayed beside a stone marker in thousands of cemeteries across our nation should cry out as a reminder to every citizen that our liberty and our culture has always come at a high cost.

Some veterans gave of the valuable time that makes up their lives. They suffered no horror or injury; they just did their duty during peacetime. Others performed their duty and suffered emotional, spiritual, or physical injury in the conflicts our nation has engaged in. Some gave up all they had and laid down their lives for their country. 

It is fitting and appropriate that all Americans take a moment this weekend and remember the reason for Memorial Day. Whether you are at the beach, the lake, or at home; no matter if you are alone, surrounded by family, or have gathered with thousands of like-minded citizens; take a moment to consider why we have Memorial Day. Remember to say thank you to a veteran and also to thank God for the culture that has inspired the men and women of American to sacrifice so much to ensure that we have a Memorial Day to celebrate.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Why a Grange Fly-In

Members from around the country will fly or drive to Washington, D. C. to participate in the National Grange Fly-In that begins this Sunday. They will visit our National Grange headquarters, have a lot of information shared with them by several guest speakers, and take time to meet with their Representatives and Senators in Congress.

Why would people take the time and expense to come to our nation’s capital? It is very simple - contrary to popular myth, it only takes a few people to influence the political process for good. One person can make a difference and one of the lessons of our Fly-In is that you begin by understanding the legislative process.

The Grange understands that the true strength of our legislative program isn’t vested in our lobbyist or Legislative Director. The legacy of lobbying that John Trimble and then Thomas Clark Akeson set for the National Grange continues today with Burton Eller. That legacy is to educate and empower the individual and to promote the policies adopted by Grange members across the country.

The true strength of the Grange legislative program is in the involvement of our members. Letters, phone calls, and email to our local, state, and federal elected officials help build relationships between Grange members and our representatives. Those relationships grow into trust and that leads to some measure of influence.

The goals that I have for this year’s Fly-In are simple: I hope that each member will experience the excitement of seeing that their opinions and votes count. The American process is about people, not money or mass numbers. I believe that the process of influencing others is done one person at a time.  
If every participant learns something new then the educational portion of the Grange is reinforced. If they take that new-found knowledge home and share it with the members of their own Grange, then that will be a great reward for their efforts. 

Lastly, I hope that each member takes the time to remember that while our nation is not perfect, it is exceptional. The rough and tumble of politics may get ugly and nasty on occasion, but there are few nations on earth that let each citizen have so much impact on legislative affairs. The promise of our nation’s Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is one of liberty and responsibility. 

Those members who participate in the National Grange Fly-In truly are demonstrating the responsibility of citizenship in the United States of America.