“Send Her Back”

I don’t want to “send her back.” I want her to appreciate the many opportunities that this great country which I love as provided to her. I want her to love this country that has allowed her to become a congresswoman. For 98 years I have enjoyed the fruits of my founders; I have enjoyed the freedom given to me by the constitution and our founding documents. I was born wrapped in the red, white, and blue of our magnificent flag.

Perhaps a return visit to the two places she left would be a stark reminder of why she became an refugee. As an educator for decades, I wonder how someone who has achieved what she has can seemingly hate this country so much. Behavior and words need to match in this respect. Wanting to transform this country to a place for “opportunities that exist for all” denies recognition of the opportunities that she has been given and used freely.

What other country in the world would this be possible? To rise from refugee status to a member of one of our deliberative bodies, the “House of Representatives.” What other country in the world would allow her make the comments she is making about her new land? No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I want her to appreciate one of the reasons for our founding, religious freedom. I want her to appreciate her ability to follow her faith as I have been able to do. I want her to feel wrapped in the flag. No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I want her to share all the positive things that have happened to her in this great land. Surely she must know deep inside that this divinely guided experiment, this awesome Republic, is one of a kind. It is unique. I want her to tell the world, including the countries from which she fled, what this great land provides for all of its citizens and so many others. Most certainly it has been provided to her in a short period of time. No, I don’t want to “send her back,” I just want her to be as grateful as I am for all this country means, all it represents and all of its values.

I have been questioning how someone can become so absolute and sure of her philosophical base in such a short amount of time. What other country does freedom ring to the extent that this would be possible?

My almost-century perspective has allowed me to experience all the positive things and also things I have worked extremely hard to change. I know that unless we retain the principles and practices of our founding and live through our founding documents that our country will be something quite different. Unless we remain one nation indivisible under God with liberty and justice for all, we will our lose freedom.

A Walk to Remind Us of Our Christian Heritage – The Capitol Part 2

We enter the rotunda of the Capitol. One of the great moments in American History paintings is of Reverend John Robinson’s prayer meeting aboard the Mayflower before the ship sailed for America. Another is De Soto and the discovery of the Mississippi River with a monk beside him in prayer placing a crucifix in the ground. And there are others such as Columbus and the baptism of Pocahontas. In the chapel is a stained glass window depicting George Washington in prayer with the inscription of in God We Trust above it. The Christian influences are all about. Our Founders were certain about their Divine Guidance and the need for it.

So when the President stands in the Chamber to deliver the State of the Union address, above and just behind the President are the words, In God We Trust. They are there as a reminder to every Senator, Representative, and all the others present. Above the gallery door is a relief statue of Moses. The east entrance to the Senate Chamber has the Latin inscription meaning, God has favored our understanding. And you will find more times when we reiterate In God We Trust.

As we exit the grand edifice that graces the east end of the capital mall, we stop a moment on the steps.  And it is here the President places a hand on the Bible, the Christian Bible, the Bible of our God in whom we place our trust, and pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and to serve this nation.

We are what we are: we are a nation that was founded to attain religious freedom. a nation that recognized the role of Divine Guidance in its creation, and the need to trust in that Divine Guidance.

We walk toward the White House, where we started our walk together. When we reach the White House, the people’s house, our footprints will have made a Christian cross.

A Walk to Remind us of Our Christian Heritage – The Capitol Part 1

We leave the magic of the Tidal Basin in cherry blossom time and head for the Capitol. The significance of the three “greats” we have just visited in our walk, Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson, will be even greater as we see the home of the Legislative Branch of our government. This branch was created to make certain that we remained “We the People.”  I thought about the arguments that were present as our Founders struggled and argued passionately about creating a government that would ensure a legacy of freedom. What was needed to insure the continuation of this great experiment in self-government?

They had no pattern; this was not a cookie-cutter government. They had no former path to follow. They knew that power had to always rest with the people; they knew that they had to have checks and balances. They also had to have a branch that adjudicated when differences could be settle no other way. They created our republic. They created this “shining city on a hill.”

They fought; they struggled; they died to create a new birth of freedom under God with justice for all, with the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. They declared their independence from tyranny and abused power. They created this government where the Executive Branch, the president, is one leg, but only one leg of three. The Capitol building we see ahead houses another one of the legs.  The arguments about this branch were vigorous and passionate. Some wanted a strong central government and others wanted the power to be decentralized.

The Founders finally decided on having two groups: to create equality between the small and large states, each state would have two senators; the second group would be based on the population of the state, the representatives.

Our next part of the walk is to explore the art in the Capitol that depicts our Christian heritage.

Freedom Requires Vigilance, Courage, and Action–Lessons from Pioneer Ladies

Watching the political happenings lately, I was drawn back to some very courageous pioneer ladies who lived in Yoncalla, Oregon.

In 1920, the gentlemen of Yoncalla had a “gentlemen’s agreement” tnat the incumbents would not hold an election for any of the town offices. They would just skip the formality of an election.

The women of the town decided, “No, No.” They took matters into their own hands and produced a an all-female slate for all the city offices. The slate included Jennie Lasswell who was the wife of the mayor. Can you imagine the conversations at the breakfast table and other places in the Lasswell household when the mayor became aware of the election?

It seems that enough folks in the town agreed with the ladies. The entire slate was elected. Mary Goodall Burt became the town’s first female mayor. Mary was a Pacific University graduate and a former teacher. Teachers played a prominent part. Council members were: Jennie Lasswell, also a former teacher; Bernice Wilson, a teacher; Nettie Hanan, a community activist; and Edith Thompson, active in women’s organizations and community work.

I wanted to name them for you because so many pioneer women remain nameless in the history books. I’m hoping someone who reads this  will carry a name or know someone who might know the area or a name. These ladies stepped forward just a year before I was born. And it was a big step. But they knew it was not right not to have an election. They were living in the struggle for equal rights and the difficult movement to gain the vote. This was just not a Yoncalla Affair. These wonderful women were ordinary women living a pioneer life in Eastern Oregon who stepped up to do what was right.

I am grateful that the baby girl born in New Albin, Iowa a year after this successful campaign is able to tell the story. It is one of the wonderful stories of pioneer women of the northwest that I honor in “Pioneer Women of the Northwest.”

When I think of these women, I don’t dare say or think that I cannot make a difference. I am one, but I am one who has had the opportunity to follow incredibly brave, courageous, and strong women. I hope that I have helped to clear some brambles from the path of those following me. It is still a journey that requires courage. But I am determined to do what I can to make it better for my granddaughters and my grandsons. Freedom always has and always will require vigilance, courage, and action.