Good morning, everyone. On my way home last night, I was at the East and Main intersection. This is where our Liberty pole stands. Each year it is lit during holiday times. The pole is right smack in the middle of the city, a frequent gathering place throughout the year.
It’s right across from where the former midtown indoor mall once stood.
Life – filled with its ups and downs, the level plains which lie between;
The rain without which there would be no flowers;
The valleys where strength and supplies are found to climb to the mountain tops;
Health – though fraught with issues and concerns with which I must daily battle;
Healthcare – which has resulted in finding the root cause of many of my more serious physical ailments along with a cure for the fatal infection that threatened to kill me;
Eye Care – which provides the expertise to restore my vision rather than allowing me to go blind;
Family – who bring joys and tears, but with whom I could not live without;
Sons – those offspring who carry on and outshine the man who was their sire;
Granddaughters – who are beautiful, bubbly, putting a smile on my face even in the darkest moments with a look;
Daughters-in-Law – who put up with the “Old Man” and don’t fuss too much when their husbands stay in touch;
Mom – who may not always agree with the choices, decisions I make, but is always there to support me as her son;
Dad – who often is on opposite sides from where I stand, but is still there when least expected;
The Other Halves – who have brought love and joy to my parents and been there too many times to count for me;
Siblings – who bring the tussle and tumble at times and the closeness and connectivity that none else can know;
Ex-Wives – without whom I would never have known the joy and love of my two sons;
My Ex-Partner – who put up with me through good, bad, sickness and health for over a decade;
Chooey – who provides companionship, alerts me and loves his “Daddy” unconditionally;
Real Life Acquaintances – who have shown up at my door when unexpected, but at the right moment;
Online Friends – some who have been angels in some of my direst moments over the past few years when I felt I could not carry on;
Our Nation – though battered and torn at times, though enmeshed in family feuds at times, yet still the most free and greatest light of liberty in the world today;
God – for sustaining me thus far and deciding it was not time for me to cross the divide and go home yet.
From the Cornfield, I send out my wish to one and all for a day of reflection, a time with family and friends, a day of peace, love and joy this Thanksgiving Day before the madness of shopping fever takes over, forgetting the reason for the season.
May you find no matter your situation, station in life, health or wealth, there is always something for which to be grateful.
Tomorrow, we stop and give thanks for all those who have served the nation in uniform, protecting the freedoms we hold so dear. Some gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in order to ensure that we have the life we so proudly proclaim.
Their sacrifice is honored with each election where not by coup, but by ordinary Americans casting a ballot and choosing those who will lead and represent them. The power and authority of those officials are transferred from one elected official to the next, from the precinct level to the highest office in the land, the Presidency, without the need for troops in the streets because of those who answered the call to duty, honor and service.
The ability to vote, the ability to choose, the ability to speak our minds, the ability to worship or not worship, the ability to write these words without fear, the ability to work, to succeed, to fail, to rise above our circumstances, all of this we owe to those men and women who fought for peace, justice and freedom.
None of our liberties came without cost and thus we owe a debt to each of our veterans and to those who still serve.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 with the treaty signed ending the “Great War” between the Triple Entente and the Allies, the veterans are now honored each year as Veteran’s Day, though initially Armistice Day.
On a more personal note:
In those dark days following the sneak attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, four brothers from Nashville, Brown County, Indiana lined up at the recruiting office and joined the US Navy. These four brothers went off to save the world for democracy both in the European Theater and in the Pacific.
Three made it back home at the close of World War II. The one who didn’t return was my Uncle Homer. My grandfather and his other two brothers, Herman and Wesley, came home, but changed, never to be the same.
My step-father, a fresh-faced kid from Sullivan County, Indiana didn’t wait to be drafted. He went to the recruiting office and signed up to be a soldier for Uncle Sam. He survived, though wounded once, three tours in Viet Nam. He remained in the US Army to retire after 20 years as an E-8 First Sergeant.
My grandfather’s only son, my uncle, later followed in his father’s footsteps and sailed off on the ocean blue with the Navy. He served around the world, then came home.
All of these veterans within my own family are now gone, but not forgotten.
Their service made it possible for me to join the US Air Force in 1976. My time was spent at Grissom AFB, right here in the Cornfield.
It also allowed my step-brother, John Hollifield, a few years later to join the US Army. Unfortunately, we lost him in a drunk driving incident after he did his duty and was home.
The sacrifice of my grandfather, great-uncles and step-father also allowed all of us to still be living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
This is why I am always appreciative of those who choose to serve in our military. This is why I always have an empathy and a connection to the families left behind to keep the home fires burning to shine the light to lead our service members home.
Each November 11th, we celebrate, not just the veterans of that long ago war that was to be the war to end all wars, but the holiday has evolved to celebrate and to show appreciation for all who have served our great nation and those who continue to serve.
From the Cornfield, veterans, I salute you and thank you!
It was, like with any birth, one that was born out of travail, crying, shouts of glee, bloodshed and even death. Truly the continent was in heavy labor as the push and screams of thousands were heard around the world.
That sorrow and agony gave way, however, to jubilation as the nation emerged scathed and covered with the scars and trappings of nativity. But as difficult as that birth was, the struggle was not over.
There would be growing pains, illnesses and diseases to overcome. There would be those who would attempt to reclaim and to destroy that life which was born out of a pledge to devote honor, lives and fortunes to see this epic birth come to be and last through all time.
Through the years, as with any baby maturing to toddler to child to teen to adult, this great nation of states joined to form a “more perfect union” had to go through its share of perils, tests and trials. In each instance, in the end, the US of A emerged on the other side a better nation.
The most trying time is undisputed, which is what occurred during what I would call the teenage years, puberty, when literally brother was pitted against brother, sister against sister, sons and daughters against mothers and fathers. The greatest and most costly toll of lives and bloodshed threatened to tear the nation apart. Yet through the trauma of the Civil War, the War Between the States, a united and stronger country came of age.
Dark days still lay ahead, but it seemed the worst had passed.
Through more battles and more wars, we find ourselves today celebrating the nation we’ve become and feeling the pain of the mistakes we have made. We honor the lives who gave their all to keep this nation the home of the brave and the land of the free.
Now, we look forward to the days and years ahead.
We are traveling the rough and choppy sea of economic uncertainty, but which seems to be slowly recovering.
The ship of state must traverse the gulf as the skipper maneuvers the ship to avoid crashing on the rocks of lost hope, despair, keeping an eye on the course and the port of serenity which lies in the distance.
The tides of global unrest threaten to engulf us. We must stay resolute and strong. Together we can ride the waves and dock in safe harbor.
Many have lost hope.
Many no longer aspire to the American Dream.
Many wonder if the flag will still wave for much longer.
But we are Americans.
We will survive.
From the Cornfield, America, may she always be that shining city on a hill to which others seek to aspire.