Thursday, November 8, 2012

We Are America

Our country is unique in many factors.  Our founding fathers designed checks and balances that control our government without compromising our freedoms.
This country, in a large part, has embraced the land in which we reside as the foundation to its building.  Searching throughout our history, one comes to understand without the respect we have given to nature and the frontier; this country may have never survived.
I have written in the past about an episode with Teddy Roosevelt when he was bear hunting in Mississippi.  The story goes that President Roosevelt was pursuing a black bear and had several high ranking state officials invite and join him in the expedition.  The party enlisted the help of Holt Collier who was known as the best bear hunter in the area to assist in the hunt.  The gentleman also happened to be black.  Roosevelt and Collier hit it off and stole the show with their tales of different hunts they had been a part of.  One thing of note; Roosevelt insisted Collier be treated as a member of the hunting party rather than a servant.  Later in the hunt, Roosevelt had a chance at a black bear that was beaten and worn from a ferocious battle with the hounds and Roosevelt refused to take the animal as he deemed it unethical.
A newspaper cartoonist in New York picked up on the story, and tied his rendition of a bear cub strapped to a tree with Roosevelt waving off the shot to the fact that Roosevelt treated a black man in the South as a human of equal standing, titling the cartoon as ‘Drawing the Line in Mississippi.’  It became one of the hallmarks for equal rights amongst races during the time.
We have also had other outdoorsmen make their marks on our history.  People such as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone were indicative of our American spirit and beliefs.  Not only were they more than capable of living on the land, but they served their states and our country with passion.
Even before we became a sovereign nation, we relied on the resources our land provided.  If it wasn’t for the assistance of a Native American named Squanto in Rhode Island, one of our first settlements may have gone the way of the Lost Colony story here on our own coast.  Squanto assisted the Pilgrims led by John Smith through their first winter, teaching them how to fish for the native species of the region.  Without Squanto’s assistance, the Pilgrims would likely have fought a battle with the local tribes and not been able to survive for lack of food.
One story I find particularly interesting is that of our first President George Washington.  Washington built his Mount Vernon estate on the shores of the Potomac River.  There he became a proficient fisherman.  He learned of the annual shad run there also.  Washington constructed huge nets he could place in the river trapping the massive abundance of the darting silver scaled fish.  It provided
Washington with not only a stable source of income, but actually an abundance of wealth.
The winter of 1777 in Valley Forge was a typical winter for that part of Pennsylvania.  Many stories tell of the harsh conditions and the picture in one’s mind is of deep unrelenting snow and wind.  Actually, the winter consisted of moderate snow that would melt during the day.  The constant wet is what the harsh conditions consisted of.  Disease poured over the troops as there was no way to stay dry.  Most meals were a flour and water mixture called fire cakes.  Washington tried his best to get relief but Congress was unable to assist.  Toward the tail end of winter, Washington realized the time was near for the annual shad run.  Washington directed his men to construct nets and traps and place them in the nearby river.  His hunch proved correct, and nourishment for his weakened and starved troops was provided by shad making their own pilgrimage.
Our country has had plenty of courses that seemed to be astray, yet we continually find the right path.  Adversity, tribulations, and trials have always been countered by instinct, knowledge, and love of the land and people.  We have prospered from our freedoms that allow us to have the chance to develop those instincts and obtain that knowledge.  And in those virtues, we further our love of our land and people.
It’s great to be American and free.

1 comment:

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