Upon the shoulders of greatness

I have spent some of my most recent months asking my distant relatives for help in honoring our ancestors through the restoration or placement of tombstones of generations past.
It is a small act that we can share to recognize decades of work, tears, blood, and hopes and dreams given by those who preceded our existence. In many cases, we can divide it up at $10 to $20 each to make the costs light upon us all. The price of a meal can sometimes set in stone the gift of life that we were shared by a previous generation. Stones do not have to be fancy, just a simple marker with names and dates.
While some of our family lines were well to do and had the means to mark their passing, in many cases, they scraped out a meager existence on a farm and often found themselves at times of death without the means to buy a store-bought stone. So, a rock or wooden cross was used to mark the grave.
Sometimes their remains were buried in church graveyard, community cemeteries, family cemeteries or simply in the soil where they poured their adult life and strength. I can think of one of my great, great grandparents buried on their farm, which I am told, now rest underneath a building. I never knew just where they were buried and sadly no one alive really would at this point.
No matter where their earthly remains are, their plots still need care, though often its been generations since their names crossed anyone’s lips. There are church, private and public cemetery committees struggling each year to pay thousands to mow and weed eat cemeteries. Have you donated to those? The cemetery for your parents, grandparents or even ancestors further back.
Right now, I am working on restoration or tombstone projects on my great, great grandparents both of my paternal grandmother and grandfather. I hoped to do these since I was a youth beginning to build my genealogy. I am closing in on raising the funds and hope to have these complete soon.
Sadly, in one case, the passage of time has lost the official cemetery plots, so the stone with the direction of the cemetery committee will be in the section of the cemetery where many of our family and their contemporaries were interred. Had it been done when I was little, there were still family members who could physically point to their plots, but they are lost to time.
Our family is blessed that some of our ancestors resting places are cared for by state or national park staff in some areas of the country where our folks were uniquely intertwined with America’s regional or national history.
The key thought I want to share is think of how you want to be remembered? You are working to make a difference oftentimes for your children and grandchildren. Your parents and grandparents did the same as theirs did before them. Each generation has hopes and dreams for those that follow. We stand on the shoulders of generations of men and women who through the centuries contributed to us being here. Learning their names, visiting their graves or places they were in life helps us connect with the lifeforce they passed to us. When we find their past presence is disappearing, we should join with other descendants and help to see it remains.

Take off the gloves and put on the mitts

The election season is finally over once again, barring any post-count legal maneuverings by either side.
It is now time for all candidates on every tier of government to take off the boxing gloves, shake hands and come out fighting for the American people rather than against each other.
I have often wondered what miracles could be accomplished if candidates took those millions they use to travel around the country via bus and plane, creating a presence on television, radio, newspaper and Internet while smiling, waving, shaking hands and kissing babies, to accomplish something needed in our country like improving some roads and bridges.
Of course, this is a dream that will never be realized. In the early days of our country, people were simply elected on the merit of what was written about them in newspapers and through word of mouth.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most Americans to even get to see a candidate let alone a president.
We had candidates such as Washington, Jefferson, Adams and countless others who traveled as far as the horse and buggy or ship or boat might carry them.
When trains came along, candidates would stump largely only where the rails could carry them. The classic speech from the rear of a caboose is a wonderful early political image.
Today, however, candidates are in our face almost every minute trying to get our attention to get behind their agenda.
It is safe to say that more money has probably been spent in some races than ever before. What could be done with that? What if it was put in Social Security? What if it was used to help our military families? Instead, it pads the coffers of every advertising concern on earth. At least that helps to pay the salaries of folks like me, who pound away on the computer to try to shed light on the news and encourage with uplifting words. I guess that is one benefit that I do appreciate.
Now that it is all over and the gloves are off, candidates could instead put on their mitts. Let’s have all the candidates — winners and losers — form baseball teams and gather in the largest stadium in the country and face off one final time for the enjoyment of the people. It could be shown on pay-per-view, and the money raised from the event could go toward helping pay down the national debt.
That would at least be more entertaining than the last many months have been.
This would be a tremendous way for candidates to help relieve the tension placed on families across the country.
If baseball isn’t the answer, they could don oven mitts and the competition could be a bake-off. With the popularity of the Food Network these days, I bet even that would work. Maybe they could all volunteer to serve us our as our cooks for Thanksgiving.
Then after the games are over, hopefully, they can all shakes hands, and the winners and losers can work together to make our country a better place to live.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful.