I'm very proud of my heritage but most of us have the same caliber of people in our background. We've just forgotten. I know I did. Mostly, I've gotten too comfortable and tend to complain about the little things while not noticing the important stuff. My dropped calls, schedule changes, power outages and computer problems don't seem like much when I think about what I have.
Firstly, I live in the United States of America. I have a home, transportation, high-tech toys, more than enough to eat, satellite television and more general stuff than I can use. But there always seems to be something else I need. Yes, I'm guilty as charged. I love my stuff. Stuff is good. I also have a long suffering wife, children and grandchildren. They put up with me without raising too much of a fuss but I know it can be a challenge at times. I thought wearing bags over their heads in public was a bit of a stretch but I probably deserve it.
However, I don't think I'm living up to what I was given. I've grown soft and comfortable. I expect things I was never promised. I've forgotten the lessons that were passed on by the folks who came before me.
In my search for some bit of wisdom, Jeff Foxworthy probably wouldn't have been my first stop on the journey but I did learn something important from him. When the concept for his last television series was brought to him, he stipulated that the show must be filmed in his home city so he could be near his family. Later, he was being interviewed by a large group of people and one of them asked why he would make such a demand. He asked the group how many of them knew who their great grandfather was. One person held up his hand. Jeff said, "The rest of you are one generation away from being forgotten". Smart man. Great comedian.
Two of my ancestors fought for Scottish freedom. One was captured and held by the British for twenty years. But, he eventually bought his freedom and made his way home. The other died at the Battle of St. Tears in a clan feud. Sometimes, even fellow countrymen can't get along. But, they never gave up on their dream.
Another of my ancestors came to America in the early 1600's as a part of Martin's Hundred. But, it's not enough to say, "he came". He came as an indentured servant. It was that important just to get to this place. He and his fellow pioneers faced failure and death at every turn but they never gave up on their future and what this country could provide.
My dad and his brother enlisted during World War II even though my dad didn't have to. My uncle landed on foreign soil and was later captured by German troops but he and some other guys managed to make their way back to their own lines. He was later involved in the invasion of Germany. Both came back after the war. They never gave up on their ideals.
These and my other ancestors did what they did without promise of wealth, good fortune or even a safety net. What they were offered was opportunity. The opportunity to do whatever their hands, perseverance, ingenuity and intelligence would allow them. And they were thankful for just that...the opportunity. The pursuit.
Recently, the president said, "I do think that at some point you've made enough money". But that's not who we are. America has always stood for no limits. This has been a country where a person could go as far as he or she wanted to. To be free to create wealth, create business, create jobs. It's never failed us. Even today, people still yearn to come to America. They desire America like no other country on earth and that's as good a barometer as anything. They still come.
In looking back on my life, I don't think I've ever been hired by a poor person. There was someone there who had obtained success. They took the chance and made something out of it. And I wish them the best. I wish them the success to make money, grow businesses and create jobs. To work without hindrance. To invent without limits. To think beyond the norm. It's our way.