I ask myself this question every year at this time and every year it changes because every year our country changes. I go back a long ways in this country's history. Back to before the start of World War II, in fact. Back far enough to remember the pride that was instilled in this country, at the end of that terrible war. Not just pride in our military but pride in our citizens, too, for the way they banded together and went without, so we could win. It wasn't just a military victory it was a whole country victory.
Of all of the holidays our country celebrates, none has more meaning for me than Memorial Day. That's because, except for the obvious being its meaning to honor our war dead and those who survived, it's also the start of another summer season. Here in the Midwest we tend to bookend the fairest of our four seasons with Memorial Day and Labor Day. The alpha and the omega of summer. But we need to keep that as a subliminal message lest we forget the true meaning of Memorial Day.
It was a Christmas Eve like most Christmas Eves. My wife had spent the day baking cookies and pies and had a beef roast simmering in the oven. The plan was to have a nice supper and then gather with our three small kids around the tree and open gifts. The kids were biting at the bit; it had been a long month of waiting for them. The tree had gone up right after Thanksgiving and it seemed the gifts seemed to multiply as the days went by. They had instructions not to touch the gifts but a cursory look told you that little fingers had done as much examining as they could safely get by with.
True happiness is a state of mind and must always be preceded by a commitment to good. We have found out, in our lives, that achieving worldly goods accomplishes little in our efforts to attain true happiness. Some of the richest people I know are the most miserable. I say this because I have found happiness in many places in my life and it didn't cost me a penny. I am thankful for that. I have found happiness in the world our creator gave us. I am amazed each time a flower blooms, or a hummingbird appears, or the sun sets once more over the hills and across our placid lake.
The Roman people 2,000 years ago would go to the coliseum on a Sunday afternoon to watch some helpless Christians fight for their lives' with wild beasts. For the Christians it was a foregone conclusion that they would be torn to pieces and devoured, so the ending was not that much in doubt. That left the only reason for the spectators to be there was to see the grizzly results. What a way to spend the afternoon, huh?
Last week there were eight people killed by gun violence in the Twin Cities and a sheriff's deputy in St Cloud. We all seem to abhor the violence and condemn it but nothing is being done to stop it. I'm not sure what it will take to control this problem but something has to change. It seems that every time a problem comes up, along with the problem comes many theories on how to fix it. Each one slanted toward someone's personal beliefs and most not really helpful to solving the problem. So it is with guns. There are those who want to ban all guns as if that would be possible.
As I travel around the Brainerd lakes area, it's hard to go very far without seeing help wanted signs by local merchants. With unemployment hovering around 10 percent in this area, my first reaction is this: Why is it, when there are so many employers looking for help that we still have people without jobs? I thought about this long and hard and this is what I came up with. Like always, there are two sides. Work can't just be seen in the concept of your work and you make money. Some of the other good reasons for working are self-esteem and having a purpose and a reason to get up each day.
I think back over the years and to all of the times and places where man got rid of some creature through his own greed and mismanagement. Things like buffalo, moose, carrier pigeons and some species of ducks come to mind. Almost always, the situations were thankfully reversed but not without some real pain to a lot of people. There are lots of reasons why Mille Lacs walleyes are in trouble. Taking too many fish out of the lake seems to loom the biggest. Not that long ago the daily limit was six and everyone was happy. The fishermen, the resorts and the fishing guides.
I have always remembered a particular Fourth of July celebration when I was a youngster growing up in Staples back in the '50s. That year the National Guard brought a tank to be in the annual parade. It was the biggest war machine I had ever seen, coming down old Highway 10 on rubber treads, with its own contingent of soldiers behind it. Just before it got to the semaphore that used to be at Fourth Street North, they shot off that big gun. It was a blank charge for sure, because had it not been, it probably would have blown up the Farmers Oil Station on the west end of town.
I was just a baby when the bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor and our country had enough of the imperialists from Japan. For over four years from that day, we fought back across the Pacific and brought Japan to its knees, culminating in a total surrender on the decks of the battleship Missouri. Halfway around the globe from there, the U.S and it's Allies brought another tyrant, Adolf Hitler down to defeat and for a while at least it looked like we had achieved what could be a lasting peace. But history tells us that for all practical purposes there will never be a lasting peace in this world.