My ancestors fought on both sides of the American Civil War, largely dependent on where they lived. Those in West Virginia tended to support the Union. Those in Kentucky and Virginia tended to support the Confederacy.
One of my grandfathers was an Iowa farmer. He helped feed a nation when all farms were family farms. The other grandfather was a Kentucky welder who built Liberty Ships near Baltimore during WW2. He helped defend our nation.
Two great uncles served in Europe in that great, terrible war. One was captured and imprisoned in a Nazi POW camp. He survived torture, and returned home when his camp was liberated by advancing allied troops.
My father became a pastor. One of his brothers became an educator, the other became an officer in the US Air Force (now retired). Dad’s sister raised a family in Ohio. Her son served in the Air Force, and after an honorable discharge, spent his career as an Ohio State Trooper. One of her daughters runs a day care.
Our family story isn’t woven with claims to fame, leaders of industry or politics. Ours is a typical story of a people whose roots run deep into this land.
There have been hardships, like the winter the gas stove in my grandparents’ farmhouse exploded, injuring my grandmother and burning the house down. The family of four lived in an un-insulated clapboard garage, until they could rebuild. Those of you who have endured the mid-west winter can imagine that trial.
My paternal grandfather wired their whole house for electricity, and became one of the first to own a television set in their neighborhood. My mother didn’t have electricity until her senior year in high school, the year she was homecoming queen.
My grandparents have been gone a long time, yet the left parts of themselves in me.
My love of the land and growing things. My desire to be self -reliant. Tractors, trucks, farms and ranches. My love of sports and technology. My affinity for the ancient tones of of Bluegrass and Country music. Falling asleep while watching all those TV shows. Porter and Dolly, Marty Robbins, That Good Old Nashville Music.
My parents, who taught me about faith, God, and instilled a sense of responsibility and duty, My dad who taught me to hunt and fish, and fostered a sense of adventure. Mom who taught me to cook, and is still teaching me to look at the positives of a situation.
There are more stories but I will stop with these. As we enter this season of Thanksgiving I become reflective. ,As my mind reaches back through our family history, I am humbled and thankful that our family has grown, contributed, and prospered in the greatest nation in the history of this sphere.
I am not always proud of where we have been as a nation, but I am thankful for the hope that we can improve. We are an imperfect nation led by imperfect people, yet somehow God continues to bless us.
I hope that in this season, whether you are in a time of blessing or a time of difficulty, that you too will find reasons to be thankful. And maybe share some of your stories with your family.
Merle said it best: The Roots of My Raising Run Deep