“On the Fourth of July there was always a political rally in some large and dusty clearing in the middle of the woods. The barbeque and potato salad and sliced homegrown tomatoes and corn on the cob and biscuits were stacked on long tables and served up by country people, and I sat on the grass with this steaming feast in my lap, splitting some of it with Skip, lethargically eating and listening to the preachers and politicians.” — Willie Morris, “My Dog Skip” -circa 1943
Consider for a moment just how different life would be if any one of us had been born in an entirely different era. I have often thought America seemed poised for greatness in the post-World War II years, and I love reading true accounts of those years.
The soldiers and sailors were all welcomed home, quickly landing jobs in the booming industry of our country.
As a nation, we were joyous and grateful, our patriotism strong. Families were being built right along with entire communities of new homes.
Those homes were comfortable but not fancy or enormous. Neighbors looked out for one another, and the kids were respectful of any adult who scolded them when they stepped out of line.
What so many long for today is that simpler time. Some of us were fortunate enough to have been raised in a version of this era, simply by being raised on a farm. We worked hard, learning to value and enjoy our play time all the more.
A bike ride on a steep hill was our thrill, no entrance fee required. We learned how to cook because that was we all had to eat. I remember peeling carrots and potatoes with my sisters, standing on a step-stool.
We husked sweet corn and peeled hard-boiled eggs at the far corner of the yard, throwing the waste over the fence where the livestock grazed. Could it be my imagination or did we enjoy meals more in those days?
I recall my great-grandpa Charlie scraping his plate to get every bite, so I did the same, and my father jokingly chided us, saying he was going to get us rubber plates.
Patriotism was a part of us, never preached or breached.
We pledged allegiance at both school and church. I remember feeling proud to be an American, stirred to place my hand over my heart while watching fireworks on July 4 with my large extended family. No one told me to feel a certain way; I was raised to simply know and feel an appreciation that went deeper than a lesson in school.
We are tiny specks in the large universe, but each individual is capable of making a difference, in our given time, in the larger scope of our world. We all wish for the return of the simple life, of an innocence lost, of true patriotism with a measure of gratitude stirred in.
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