Recalling My Navy History – Proud to Be a Veteran at 98

 Every one is a veteran of something because you have done it for some time, but being a Veteran because  you have raised your right hand to serve your country, uphold its Constitution, and protect it from enemies from within and without, is quite a different matter. You are allowed to wear that uniform that sets you apart and requires much of you.

        Military service was not on my planned life’s journey itinerary. That is, until a young female naval officer came to talk to the girls in her former high school in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Those girls just happened to be in my physical education and biology classes. These kids were among those I taught in my first teaching job.

        I was a mere 21. She talked of the War, the Navy, the opportunity, but most of all the duty. It was early 1943; Pearl Harbor was still a raw subject. The War in the Pacific was horrific. The War in Europe was difficult. The young naval officer was not a recruiter; she was just a citizen turned patriot. She was going to do whatever she could to help those brave men aboard the ships, the planes, and the landing barges that carried the men to islands in the Pacific that became infamous and those that sometimes weren’t even named on the maps of the world.

        The Navy needed physical education instructors to work with the physical fitness of the WAVES, the women in the Navy, she said. I could do that; I could serve my country. After I enlisted, I was sent to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for my physical. During my interview, the officer suggested that I was too young to be an officer. In my youth, I became enraged and gave a lecture to her on the lack of relationship between age and maturity. She was not pleased, decided to rid herself of the upstart, and sent me to take the physical. Having been blessed with good health coupled with my attention to my fitness, the physical was a breeze.

I raised my right hand, repeated the words of the oath, and I was in the Navy. I thought that I would be able to finish out the school year, but that was not to be. I was called to my first duty base in May, 1943.

        Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, was like a foreign country to this small town girl from Iowa and the pheasant filled prairies of South Dakota. It is a beautiful and elite women’s college. The town was definitely a cultural adventure for me. We ate at the famous Inn in the city. I came to understand that the food was extraordinary. But then I only knew lobsters existed because I studied Biology in college. I came to relish the new things to explore. It did not take long to appreciate the fine cuisine at the Inn.

        I came also to understand the uniqueness of the women with whom I served. I was one of very few with just a bachelors degree; most had masters and doctorates. It was amazing to learn what people had left to raise their right hand. So many left very prestigious positions. It truly was an interesting, diverse mix of women who had accomplished much in their civilian lives; I did not truly understand how much until after the War when I came to understand fully the glass ceiling.

        As the training came to a close, we all eagerly awaited our “orders.” Mine took me to the Naval Air Technical Training Center at Millington, Tennessee, not far from Memphis. It was a huge base with a Naval Air Station across the street and a Naval Hospital just down the street. The military during the War was a great melting pot and equalizer. The uniform of the United States Navy or Marine Corps was the same for celebrity, teacher, farmer, business executive, movie star, football coaches and football stars, famous chefs and photographers, holders of gold medals, the college grad, or the kid who dropped out of school. Insignia told you what they were doing, but most certainly not where they were from. But we all took the same oath.

Yes, I am proud to be a veteran. I have been able to speak of my pride when folks express surprise that I was in the Navy. Some seem to think that women in the armed services were quite different from those that I knew. My children know that I am proud; I know they are, too. My grandchildren know that I am proud; I know they are, too. My friends know, my colleagues know, and any shipmates I meet certainly know. The sports guy who wants to stop playing the national anthem at sports events will never know or understand my pride. Too bad. His loss.

       America, feel my pride.   I am just one among so many. But I am ONE. As long as I have voice and pen, I will tell you about my  pride.  Do not ignore those who would silence the pride of those who know it. And above all, preserve the voice of those who served and paid the price of the silent voice. They rest with pride; we must be their voice, too.

Danger for Our Children – The Monopoly of Public Education

For almost a century I have been a rider on the merry-go-round called education. Experts with many ideas have jumped off and on. The dashing horses have been painted new colors and given new names. Sometimes the horses were replaced with elegant carriages. But the music didn’t change much; the same melodic sounds remind you that it is still a merry-go-round. People come and ride because it is nostalgic. Workers come and go and try to change the music, but powerful groups like the music as it is.

The monopoly continues. Before compulsory education, literacy rates were higher than before this compulsory monopoly was created. Millions of Americans over the age of sixteen can’t read or fill in simple applications with personal data. Many can’t write simple letters or messages or do simple arithmetic problems. This monopoly has created a system of protections for unfit, unwilling, and non-productive personnel; unions not only protect these people, but they make it difficult for the great committed people to do their jobs. Student learning suffers. It is a puzzle, but the puzzle doesn’t have many pieces.

There is a local union supported by a state union supported by a national union supported by union philosophy in general. There are members in all these unions, many who would not belong to unions if they had choice. I know that many union members would not want their dues to be spent on political campaigns. These are the wonderful professionals who are committed and passionate about their work. Think of the money that will be spent on unions this year for pure political reasons. Most of the reasons will be related to power; few will be relative to teaching and learning. Much of the commentary will be about teaching and learning, but the bottom line in action is power.

The committed educators spend their time and energy helping young people accomplish their dreams. But their environment is clouded by the demands of the negotiations, the multi-level government requirements, and the malaise of many who are forced into this monopolistic monolith, public education.

In addition, the more that we try to be all things to all people, the less we are to anyone. State directed curriculum and state and national testing have added great burdens for our teachers and students. Legislation is passed because of pressure from one group or another. Trying to meet the various directives buries educators under mountains of paperwork that take valuable time from teaching and learning activities.

One might ask how this entity stays in business, why parents don’t make other choices. Public schools are protected with government compulsion. Children are forced to attend; parents are forced to pay school taxes, school boards must negotiate with the unions, and unions oppose any school choice options that appear. In addition, private schools are out of the reach financially of most families. Charter schools particularly are opposed by the unions, and therefore, by many teachers who enlist the aid of their students’ parents to also oppose them.

Until this monopoly is broken, or by some magic, choice becomes a viable option for all, our merry-go-round will only see surface changes, new paint, a new melody here and there. The price for our young learners may become more critical. We now must add the fact that we have a carrousel not suited to many riders of the last century, but one now playing music that is not even recognized by the natives of the digital learners of the 21st century.

American Dream or American Nightmare

The loss of our American Dream means the loss of our precious freedoms

What shocking news!!! News Flash!!!

There is an overwhelming number of college graduates and young people who don’t believe in the American Dream.

I am stunned. The questions then become: What do they believe the American Dream was/is? Do they have no great dreams or visions? What do they see as their future and the future for generations to come? Have they lost the ability?

My American Dream is as alive today as it was when I graduated from college in 1942. It’s as alive as it was when I was a little girl hoeing in my potato field in the Iowa sun when I was in high school; my grandfather never gave me money but always the opportunity to earn a little money. It’s as alive as when I joined the U.S. Navy in 1943. And so it was when I got my first, second, third and every teaching job. Certainly it was alive when I got married and most of all when my children were born. And it was renewed greatly when my grandchildren were born. It was alive when I had the privilege of getting my doctorate. It is as alive today as it was when I took my walk to my first little white country school. It was alive in the faces of those I have taught. It was more alive when I came home from every foreign country I have had the privilege to visit.

It’s alive when I take my gratitude walk and give thanks for all my blessings. But it isn’t just the beauty of the place where I have had the good fortune of living for so many years or the long and wonderful life I have been given. My American Dream isn’t the home, the car, the college education, the incredible Thanksgiving feast we will enjoy, or the thought of the coming Christmas tree and all the presents.

It is simply my FREEDOMS, those great freedoms that are my birthright and the birthright of every person born in this country and those who choose to make it their land. It is the freedom given to me at my creation to become all that I was created to be. It is the freedom guaranteed me under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that allows me the liberty to have, and do and be all that I choose. It is those freedoms that I work to preserve for my children and grandchildren. If we do not have freedom, we cannot help others to achieve freedom.

To lose that American Dream, the dream our founders secured for us in our history, can only happen if we forget who we are. We can only lose the American Dream of freedom if we lose sight of what secures this liberty for ourselves and those who follow.

If the majority of college graduates and young people don’t know what the American Dream is or have lost it, we have a big problem to solve. If colleges and total educational system are teaching our young a distorted view of our history, a view of our Republic as a place of greed or a country devoid of “social justice,” or when they applaud and teach forms of government that have clearly failed, maybe those colleges and schools are not worthy of our young. When our educational system has forgotten the founding principles that have made them great, perhaps they don’t deserve our bright young people.

When our highly respected places of learning turn our young into voices who believe the American Dream no longer exists or is dead, it means to me that they have succeeded in brainwashing them into believing that independence, self-reliance, government only by the consent of the governed, guarantees of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all fictions of an older generation’s imagination. It’s time, they must be teaching, for a new set of rules that matches the needs of the time.

I’m always learning, and I am forever learning that liberty doesn’t need a new set of rules or regulations that match “the changing times.” Liberty is timeless. It is about the freedoms guaranteed in our founding documents and by our Creator. It is about the spirit born in each one of us. It is about independence and self-worth that allow us to be all that we can be. Only then can we preserve the liberty for others.

I think of all the young men and women who join the service to earn the right to go to college. They are fighting and dying to preserve the American Dream. Will they be humiliated and met with derision for their commitment? Will they be made to feel stupid for believing in the things they fought for and many died for?

It’s not only college tuition that is expensive. Much more expensive is what’s being taught there that can turn many of its graduates into believers that the American Dream is dead. These young graduates are many of our future leaders who will not even understand that they are continuing to turn out the lights on “the shining city on the hill.”

It was the dream of religious freedom that founded us, and it is the continuing dream of freedom that will preserve us.  We must not lose it or not understand what it is. The alternative to a beautiful dream is an unwanted nightmare.

Patriotism and Freedom or Transformation to Slavery

Almost daily there is a story, an anecdote, or a report about a school in America where students who are wearing patriotic shirts or symbols are being sent home, asked to turn their shirts inside out, or given another shirt to wear. The reason usually given is that the attire creates an uncomfortable situation for other students, or could cause trouble or a conflict situation. These are American schools. Are we not teaching our young to honor the nation in which they were born or have chosen to call their own? When students who honor their country and their heritage by  the wearing of attire, the stars and stripes of our nation, are harassed and sent home on Cinco de Mayo Day, or any other day, it is time for citizens to go to war, a war that restores education in America to its founder’s dreams.

One needs only to look at Washington’s address to his army in camp on Long Island:

 “The time is now near at hand, which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves, whether their homes and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed and themselves to be consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human effort will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and the conduct of this army. Our Cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of a brave resistance or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or to die.”

Yes, the time is now at hand to determine whether our schools will be instruments for freedom or for the transformation of our country to slavery. Will our schools promote the cause of transformation or the cause of freedom?

Washington continued: 

“Our own, our country’s honor, calls upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion. If we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings and praises if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. Let us, therefore, animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a freeman contending for liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

We have had the eyes of the world upon us from the inception of our country. There were more abroad, I believe, who understood the special nature of our great land than perhaps there were among us who grew up with liberty and assumed that it could always be with us. I am keenly aware that my liberty as I’ve been privileged to live it for the 98 years I have been given, is very much in jeopardy.

It is the eye that I have upon myself that compels me to write this document. I have given my life to serving in a profession for which I still have great passion. But I wonder what I could have done earlier, what I could have contributed to the minds of our new generations to preserve the tenets of our founders. All know that to transform a country you must control the minds of the young. You must erode the values that stand in the way of the transformation. You must guide students’ thinking away from the founding principles of our nation.

Those of us who refuse to allow the transformers to have their way know too, that we have allowed others to re-write our history books. We have allowed multicultural ideas and activities to become the god of plurality and diversity. No people could possibly be more diverse than the multitudes from around the world that came to our shores. But they did not carry the flags of their nation on our holidays; they proudly carried the American flag and sang our national songs. Yes, they added the richness of their culture to blend into the culture of this new, great land. From their easel of experiences and varied backgrounds, they painted the great portrait that became America.

We have become afraid to be proud of our country, the country that millions have sought to call their own. We have taught our young to apologize for being American rather than teaching them to demonstrate their love, respect, pride, and gratitude for being a fortunate inhabitant of the “Shining City on the Hill.”

America First – Status of Our Ship of State

 America First  was published in 1916 by the American Book Company. It was written by Jasper L. McBrien, who at the time of the writing was School Extension Specialist for the United States Bureau of Education, and a former Superintendent of Public Instruction of Nebraska.

McBrien writes in the Foreward:

The rising generation, both native-born and foreign, to get the full meaning of this slogan (America First) in its far-reaching significance, must have time for study and reflection along patriotic lines. There must be the right material on which the American youth may settle their thoughts for a definite end in patriotism if our country is to have a new birth of freedom and if ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth.’ The prime and vital service of amalgamating into one homogenous body the children alike of those who are born here and of those who come here from so many different lands must be rendered this Republic by the school teachers of America.  

Brien continues: The purpose of this book is to furnish the teachers and pupils of our country, material with which the idea of true Americanism may be developed until ‘America First’ shall become the slogan of every man, woman, and child in the United States.

 I cannot say it better.

I have lived most of the years since this book was published. I have lived the changes. I believe that we need a large dose of patriotism and an understanding of our history now more than ever before. In my 98 years, I have seen our ship of state on so many different courses. But, I’ve never seen the culture in such turmoil and division as exists now. Nor have I seen such effort to render us rudderless. This always seems so tragic when we have been given by our Founders the greatest set of maps, our founding documents, ever devised for any people with which to keep a ship of state on course. They were carefully designed to make certain that the government was of the people, by the people, and for the people.

I fear the shoals, the rocks, the reefs, and horrific storms ahead. With the dialogue of pending impeachment, the hate expressed by the media and various factions, the general tenor of discontent in our country are all signs of trouble in our Republic. The constant battle of the “transfomers” to change our country to something far from its founding is very dangerous to that very founding. The desire to change fundamental principles and documents in our nation is a sign that the battle is real and intense. These people who hate the Captain of our ship so intensely that they are willing to sell their souls to insist on a new Captain. We are in dangerous waters; we need to pay close attention to what these entrenched change-agents are doing to our Republic. They want to turn our founding documents and founding principles to the opposite extremes. Socialism, as they profess it, makes extinct our remarkable constitution and founding documents that keep us governmentally a republic. That is our heritage, that is our uniqueness and that better be our future.

 

Religious Freedom and Our Schools

One of the more amazing things that I have come to examine more and more is how cleverly the transformers have used “religious freedom,” one of the great tenets on which our Founders based everything. Diabolically, they have taken this great foundation of tolerance for all religions and turned it on its back. They used our deep desire for tolerance of religion to preach to us about tolerance in all areas. While they are extracting tolerance from us, they are free to practice intolerance. If we show the least bit of resistance, they know how to make most of us feel guilty. They have most certainly used all areas of our society when and how ever they could.

They have flooded our schools with multiculturalism. They have used our national instincts for tolerance to promote their agenda. While they have been removing more and more Christian ideas and ideals from our books, they have been putting more and more about other religions in our school books. While they are teaching our kids more and more about tolerating other religion, they have been distorting the historical facts about the religious content of our beginnings.

Universities, where I have spent much of my career, are the worst offenders. To find a conservative professor is quite a task. I have taught my classes during student strikes; I was told by my peers that I must not do that. Opposing the strike was not a good political move. I insisted that I was only conforming with what they were striking for—freedom of speech and assembly. If the students who were striking had the right to not attend class, then the students who wanted to attend class must have the same right. Oddly, no one seemed to be able to dispute that logic.

Universities are populated with boatloads of Marxists. Many don’t outwardly admit to the name, but they teach and indoctrinate their students with those ideals. Most young people who attend the liberal colleges, most are, come home after a short time to discuss with their parents if conservative, how wrong they are. “You don’t understand. Your way of thinking is old fashioned. There are more modern ways of thinking about our political system and our economy.”

The change in many, including my own, occurs when they get their first pay check and discover how little “they have left” after all the deductions are made. “Mom, this is not fair.” It’s a natural place to take them back to what you taught them in the first place. They find an eternal truth. Old doesn’t mean bad or outdated. So it is with our Founding Documents, our founding ideals, and our God given rights. They are no more out of style than the Bible is for a Christian. .

Churches have been used extensively to fight the battles of the transformers. The strange part of this is that one would expect most religions to want to keep Christ in Christmas, would want to keep our Christian beginnings in the textbooks and in our teaching, and our God given rights ever before our student’s eyes as God given rather than government given. I suspect that sometimes our church people are the most vulnerable to the tolerance pleas and the subsequent guilt that follows if they don’t succumb.

Our School Boards that succumb to the distortion of the holidays, who don’t follow what’s in their textbooks or what is being taught in their classrooms, are also at fault. It is difficult at the school board level to know. Often you are “protected” from knowing for the fear of “micromanagement.” Our young people are in school many hours a day during their formative years. The inclusions and exclusions in our textbooks are critical to our future. As McBrien said in America First many years ago, “There must be the right material on which the American youth may settle their thoughts for a definite end in patriotism if our country is to have a new birth of freedom and if “this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth.”  This is so true for this day.

 

 

 

Political Correctness and Tolerance

One of the great cornerstones of our republic is tolerance. Our Founders came from  various countries where religious freedom was not present, and other freedoms were restricted. Property was in the hands of a few. Government rule was in the hands of a king or monarch of some sort. Freedom to speak and to assemble were restricted if present at all. Justice systems were autocratic and often trials did not exist; one person could be judge and jury. Our Founders were seekers of freedom.

They were often dissidents seeking religious freedom as the basis for other freedoms. Because they wanted to be free to practice their religious choice, they sought this for all people. For this to become reality in their new home, they demanded freedom to practice their own beliefs and the freedom for others to practice their beliefs. Thus this great principle of tolerance was basic. Tolerance was a necessity. This tolerance was embedded in their personal lives and guaranteed in their governing documents.

We became a super-tolerant nation. We welcomed others. Our Statue of Liberty became the symbol for the masses seeking freedom. Ellis Island became the beginning of that road  for the many seeking freedom they longed for.

Unfortunately, that very tolerance and acceptance of other peoples, views and other religions have been used to transform, to undermine, to try to destroy our founding principles and even our founding documents. That very tolerance for all religions has been used to diminish our Christian heritage. That tolerance has been used to distort the values and principles of our republic.

Our history books have watered down our founding; they have heralded other cultures and religions while omitting our Christian founding. We have become afraid to acknowledge our exceptionality and instead apologize  for our freedoms and successes. Our tolerance has been transformed into political correctness.

We need to stand tall; we need to appreciate what our exceptionality has allowed us to do and be. We need to be proud of the values and principles embodied in our founding documents. We have not kept the light from the “shining city on the hill”  focused on us only. We have sent the beams of freedom’s light all around the world. We have given of ourselves and our plenty. We have fought and died for the freedoms born of the tolerance we inherited.

Now we must become intolerant of those who would use our tolerance against us. We must not feel guilty of our heritage. We must not fear to be exceptional. We must again proclaim with verve and gusto the founding principles of this great republic. We must, because the alternative is unthinkable.

If You Don’t Like Change, Don’t Watch the Sun Rise

I am going through many major changes in my life’s journey. Change is swift and super challenging. Without faith, impossible would creep into my vocabulary, but I am not letting it enter. So I thought it was a good dose of medicine to read one of my earlier writings about change, which has been very helpful to me. So, if you’re going through changes little or big, I share this with you.

The clouds lay in layers of gray with the white light of the rising sun behind them. It was an awesome sight. I took a little walk early this morning toward the end of my driveway. The sky in the east was a special sight to behold. These sights and scenes happen only when they happen. If you’re not there, you miss them. Or if you’re not looking, you miss them. There was such beauty in the scene and so many lessons in that early morning landscape.

Everything in the picture  of the moment added its very own color and texture. Every palm frond lay quiet as if it were enjoying the scene as much as I was. Their green lace against the totally blue sky above them offered contrasts with two of nature’s great colors, blue and green. The eastern sky was like a different canvas. But its convulsive changes as the sun demanded more of the space were offset by the strength of Palomar Mountain and the surrounding peaks. They stood firm; they changed a little bit in color, but that was the extent of it.

In just a few more steps, the sun had demanded its place in the morning sky. I could no longer look in that direction. The bold light was so bright I could not view it straight on. That scene of a few minutes ago was finished. It was indeed a picture to capture. That is why we have cameras. We have not only the kind that you point and shoot, as my grandchildren say. “It’s easy, Grandma,” but we also have the best camera of all where the pictures are ours alone. They are stored in the memory book of our mind.

The lessons. Wow. If you can’t tolerate change don’t watch a sunrise; you’ll be a mess in a few minutes. If you love change, a sunrise does wonders. If you think you’re a color expert, don’t watch a sunrise or a sunset; nature has its own color combinations. An early morning walk is a great time to get lessons in getting started; everything around you is doing the same thing. Flowers that rested for the night are waking up; birds and animals are moving about; the sky tells its story.

But the sun–Old Sol is pushing the hardest. No question about where it will be when I take my afternoon walk. I will have to look in the other direction. Yes, it will be on my western horizon. And I can almost bet that it will give me a whole new set of lessons. I’m guessing the picture will be shades of red and orange as it drops into the Pacific Ocean. It continues to teach me that I am one of many; as I see the red sunset many in other parts of the world will be seeing the white light of the rising sun.

Change is happening. I must use the gifts that I have been given if I am to enjoy the abundance of the universe, and I will never enjoy what is to come if I am not grateful for what I have. All of us have the same gift of time so deftly monitored by the sun.

Labor Day 2019 – Lessons of Hard Work

Labor Day each year brings many memories, but it also comes with many questions. The conversations and programs often are confusing. Are they speaking of labor, the noun, or are they discussing labor, the verb? There are a lot of synonyms for each. This day I prefer to speak of the labor that creates, that gives birth to something special, that is difficult, joyous, fulfilling, exhausting, exhilarating, and full of anticipation, expectation, wonderment, and even fear and pain. All of these can co-exist in the planting of a garden and even more so in the labor of birth.

Whatever synonym one chooses, it  seems to be tied to the word “work.”    We even tie the education of our children and youth to the word. “Honey, just remember you’re going to work just like mommy and daddy,” we say. And so they go off to “work” in this place called school. They labor in a place that should be filled with enchantment and joy, but is often filled with tedium, repetition, being told what to do all day, and often filled with few opportunities for choice and real problem solving. Monopolies breed these attitudes, and public schools are monopolies.

While the children labor in the vineyard of the school, the adults labor in the “workplace.” My first one was my home. I can’t remember when I didn’t have chores. Neither can I remember any time in my life when I wasn’t tagging someone around trying to learn how to do something. When would I be big enough to run the tractor? When could I knead the bread? I could dry the dishes if I stood on a chair, or feed the chickens if mother carried the feed.

I was fascinated with how things worked–the windmill, the incubator, water in its various states, and the diversity of the snowflakes. Examination was not a test in my life, it was an opportunity to examine, to observe, and to ask the questions that filled my environment. My unpaid workplaces fit the old Confucius saying: Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

My first paid job was working for my eighth grade teacher cleaning her apartment. What faith she had in giving an eleven year old kid a job. But I was grateful for the fifteen cents an hour I earned. Opportunity knocked early on my door. And it’s been knocking regularly since then. I ushered in the little theater in town; that allowed me to see movies.

At about this same time, my grandfather, the master of thrift, hard work, and personal responsibility,  was also the master teacher. He would never give us (I had many cousins) money, but he would always provide opportunities for us to earn it. He provided the seed potatoes, the plot of ground ready to plant, and taught us how to do the rest by his example. I planted those potatoes, I hoed those potatoes in the hot Iowa sun, and learned how to look to nature for the rain and occasional cloudy day when I could abandon that straw hat he insisted I wear. I was so proud of that paycheck when I sold those potatoes.

But the lessons were the priceless parts of the process. Maya Angelou has said it well: Nothing will work unless you do. I found out in that potato field the truth in the statement of Thomas Edison: Opportunity is often missed by most people because it is dressed up in overalls and looks like work.

Grandpa offered the same opportunity to all, but others saw only opportunity dressed up in overalls and looking like work. I could only learn the lessons of hard work by working hard. Margaret Mead knew this. Even the home-spun advice of Ann Landers informed us: Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work so most people don’t recognize them. I am thankful for the early lessons of recognition.

Labor Day’s Past and Present- Critical Questions Remain the Same

This is a blog I wrote in 2012. As I reread the blog today, the critical ideas involved are still so pertinent that I want to republish it; my granddaughter has survived college, is in her second year of employment that she enjoys, and fortunately lives in a country where she is making her own yellow brick road. But the questions I asked are still pertinent to our culture of today. In many cases, they are more important then when I asked them these years ago. Will some of these be answered by her next birthday?

My message for Labor Day is well stated in this blog:

It is Labor Day 2012. And it is my granddaughter’s 16th birthday.

I celebrate labor. I want to blow the trumpets and announce again the importance of the work ethics of our founders, our grandfathers and grandmothers. My German grandfather was a master at teaching the value of honest labor. He never gave us a fish; he gave us a fishing pole. He never gave us money; he gave us the opportunity to earn money. Then he taught us how to keep some for that rainy day. He was grateful to his new country for the opportunity to own land, to build a multi-family home for his large family, to work from sun-up to sun-set; and to ride in the caboose of the long freight train that was taking his cattle and hogs to the markets in the stockyards of bustling Chicago.

As an immigrant, he seemed to understand better than many who are born in this country, how important it is for government to help you keep what you earn, rather than to figure out how to take more of a citizen’s earnings. He helped his children get their starts. He was an entrepreneur and a tough negotiator when it came to venture capital–the money he and his family had earned.

I sat at the end of the driveway this morning and contemplated the significance for me today of the double celebration. What do the next Labor Days hold for my 16 year old granddaughter? Will they be a celebration of hard work, of ethical behavior in the workplace,and of policies that will allow her to keep what she earns in the future? She works hard at her present endeavors; no one shoots the three-point shots for her; no one spends the hours doing her homework; no one takes her tests or writes her papers.

When she finishes her school work and heads out into her work world, what will she find? Will she find business, industry, and the professions prosperous and free, or will she find them further transformed to be controlled and largely owned by an ever-expanding government?

As I sat pondering the meaning of Labor Day and the future of my granddaughter, I thought about what college holds for her. Will those wonderful years be filled with opportunity to become all she was created to be, or will they be filled with an ever-increasing culture of entitlement, of subversion of our founding principles, of biases that re-write our history, of assassination of our founders, and one that belittles our founding documents that guarantee her freedoms?  Or will she encounter those bastions of truth that honor the exceptionality of this land and who instill the responsibility and humility that come with being a citizen of this Great Republic? Will she come out of college understanding and defending the Constitution rather than thinking it is a document that is outdated?

I ask these questions because I have spent a great portion of my professional career at the university level. And I see President Obama spending a great deal of time on college campuses. Why? Is the transformation not yet complete? I have seen all sides of the questions I ask. I have conducted classes during student strikes and I have walked by students occupying administrative offices. I have given diplomas and as a dean, recommended hundreds of students for degrees at all levels. What have the great private and state universities lost of their heritage that I should even be able to ask these questions?

Read the founding histories of education at all levels. You will be astonished as I have been even though I thought I knew the history. I lived on the inside of these institutions for many years. But the transformation has happened over time, and it has been intentional and clever. Our insistence on religious freedom has been a strength used against us. Our Christian foundings have been diminished or subverted; self-reliance has been replaced with entitlement all in the name of compassion and equality; equality of opportunity has been replaced with demand for equity; and self-reliance and responsibility have been replaced with demands for rights.

But I’m betting on my country and my Creator. I’m betting on the truth, innate desire for freedom, personal responsibility of our people, integrity, and hard work. And I’m betting on friends and neighbors to give people fish who really need help, but I’m hoping that the rest of us will take the fishing pole we are handed and learn how to fish.

Yes, I’m betting on future Labor Days to be celebrations of hard work, of self-determined enterprise, and an appreciation of all labor wherever it may be.

Yes, and I’m betting on a great future for my granddaughter. She is an American, born in this special land of opportunity, this one-of-a-kind place where she is guaranteed (if we keep these guarantees) life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Happy Birthday, dear one, on this 2012 Labor Day.