Any holiday weekend finds me catching up around home. July Fourth found me not at parades or fireworks but mowing the lawn and plowing my small garden filled with tomato plants, peppers and other summer treats.
There is something peaceful about plowing. My ancient tiller was purchased when Ronald Reagan was president and it has never failed when called into service.
One or two pulls of the starting cord and the eager but geriatric machine comes to life, anxious and willing to work.
Perhaps it mimics its owner, who during midsummer seems to find a path away from being overwhelmed into the suburbs of organization and accomplishment.
The oddity of a cool July Fourth lifts my spirits as I make quick work of plowing, then hoeing and then for good measure planting pumpkins, late radishes, cucumbers and butternut squash.
Spring rains have given way to blue skies and a spell of dry weather creates soil as eager to be worked and made productive as my old tiller.
A quiet moment while spreading fertilizer and hoeing awakens me to a cacophony of singing July flies, nearby midday fireworks and whistles of steam engines participating in the Cumming Fourth of July Parade some dozen miles distant.
Those whistles reminded me of my grandfather’s stories of nearby steam-driven cotton gins sounding the noon hour.
I loved his farming stories, which included perseverance in dealing with bad crops and descriptions of shiny World War II era B-29 bombers flying over his fields in their trek from the nearby Bell Bomber plant to battlefields in Europe and Asia.
For a precious moment I think of those who are currently sacrificing and those who have sacrificed for this country, a country once made up primarily of farmers but now seemingly dominated by those confused and concerned about our future.
Despite those concerns, we thankfully have young men and women who are driven to fight for righteous causes and beliefs.
Those causes and beliefs were formed 238 years ago by mortal men meeting in a stifling Philadelphia room. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are concepts that value the individual; our freedom from oppression, often overlooked property rights and the marvelous right and privilege to dream of something better.
While barbeques, parades and times at the beach may be pleasant and exciting, I dare say that ideas of our forefathers, remembered on a sunny day in the middle of a small garden while tilling the soil, remain inspiring and exciting.
Having observed a recent interview with radical professor Bill Ayers, I understand that not everyone shares my inspiration or excitement.
I am reminded that to some extent we are at war with ourselves and that defining us a nation and as a people is somewhat elusive.
Our internal war is far from over as we easily find many like Ayers fully engaged in arguments against life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I know there are always those who will want to blame and punish everyone affiliated with this country and our history. Those detractors deny our foundations in equality while touting those who have no concept of anything but oppression.
You will never win an argument with those folks. Let them speak, but then ask how they would define and lead their perfect nation.
Not one will answer you except to continue to blame, criticize and offer senseless retribution as solutions. That is the only game they know, they have no other answers.
There is an old saying that any jackass can tear down a barn door but it takes a carpenter to build one.
My dad was a carpenter, who like his farmer father before him and his before him, built, plowed, dreamed and pursued happiness. They generationally shared a dream that the next generation would have it better. And we did.
My forefathers didn’t mind voicing their opinion and disagreement with our government. They did so respectfully and with passion.
That voice is fundamental to our freedoms and one of the building blocks leading to better government and a better nation — a nation not at odds with itself, but one with concern for what is best for present and future citizens.
Those forefathers realized, as we must, that there is no perfect individual, church or government. There are perfect concepts and beliefs endowed by our Creator such as life, liberty and the pursuit, not the assurance, of happiness.
It has been my privilege to plant these concepts and beliefs in my children, with strong encouragement to teach the same to their children so that lives spent for this soil should not be in vain, but as nourishment and replenishment for dear concepts and beliefs that make this the greatest nation ever seen on earth.