Sunday, May 29, 2016

Happy Memorial Day from Harrison Farm!

Memorial Day is a just time to honor those brave souls who gave their lives that our way of life might continue.  For each generation of Americans, we must re-define and refine what our way of life means.  My perception of the dream that is America will always be influenced by history.  But history -- for me -- is a collection of stories.  Especially those stories of my youth, shared to me by my grandparents.  As a child listening to my grandfather, it was easy for me to envision him as a child listening to his own grandfather.  And that grandfather did not seem so very distant from me, when I was told of his youthful walk at age twelve to the Ohio Statehouse to pay his respect to the assassinated President Lincoln.  As a child listening to my grandmother, I could imagine her as a child playing with her favorite cousin Ray, just as I played with my beloved cousin Jim.  Thus, I could easily sympathize with her lifelong sorrow that her cousin survived the landing on D-Day, only to give his life at the Battle of the Bulge.  History is a collection of stories, and these stories are much closer to us than we often realize.

I am constantly amazed by the caliber of the friends in my life.  Part of the human experience is self-doubt, which can lead to great melancholy.  Even on my most melancholy days, though, I cannot fail to acknowledge the vast riches I posses in my friends.  I am blessed that many of the people whom I admire most in this world are the individuals who are my friends.  I have likewise been truly fortunate that God has sent such amazing young people to me to work as my student assistants and my interns.  When I meet these young people for an interview, I share with them the mission of our farm to connect people with animals and with farming.  I tell them that I love celebrations, and animals, and teaching.  We discuss their dreams & goals, and how this farm can serve to enrich their life.  Somehow, in all those discussions, the young people with whom I have worked have ended up becoming many of my closest friends.  They are truly my farm family.

The young ladies, with whom I have the pleasure of working this summer, are a dynamic, intelligent, and beautiful group.  While I have the lofty goal of providing internships to help make their lives better, the reality is that they have enriched my life immensely.  I am constantly inspired by their honesty, their desire to learn, and their willingness to share their experiences with me.  I do not worry about the future of the world or our country when I am in the company of such resourceful, amazing young women!  

As part of our summer internship program, we have instituted Friday Fun Day.  Our first Friday Fun Day coincided perfectly with Memorial Day weekend.  We attended the wreath-laying ceremony at the Statehouse in honor of Memorial Day, and got to hear presentations by a truly inspiring woman who lost her husband in Afghanistan, as well as a speech by Lt. Governor Mary Taylor (one of my favorite women in politics).  Afterwards we walked through the Statehouse and I shared with them why it is one of my very favorite places: the paintings, the history, the architectural beauty.  Holly Golighty had Tiffany's, and I have the Statehouse.  We did a pop-in at the office of State Senator Kevin Bacon, and his aide kindly allowed my interns to see his office.  We even took advantage of a fortuitously placed podium to recognize Intern Marissa's two months of work at Harrison Farm, and her promotion to Senior Intern.  After a respite at Starbuck's and a stroll along the riverfront, our group had a remarkable private tour of the Ohio Supreme Court.  We all learned a significant amount about the building, and had a marvelous experience there!

I love teaching because it provides the opportunity to share so many wonderful things about life.  I hope that this experience was an opportunity for my interns to understand why patriotism is vastly important to my life, why I believe in our democratic republic, and how immediate history & politics can be in each of our lives if we embrace them.  In discussion after our adventures, it was clear that the tour of the Supreme Court was a huge hit, and that my random stories about history & politics were appreciated.  That being said, everyone's favorite moment was a brief & beautiful one that we witnessed by chance.  In my eternal quest for shade, we had grouped under a tree at the side of the Statehouse as our vantage point to watch the wreath-laying ceremony.  A grandfather & his grandson stood in front of us, each holding the American flag.  We were also standing behind two members of the Air Force who were helping to coordinate the plane that flew overhead after the wreath-laying.  One of my interns snapped this picture of the young boy talking intently to the patient gentleman representing the Air Force.  I know a couple of my interns had tears in their eyes watching this gentleman give a patch from his uniform as a memento to the boy.  

We live in an amazing country.  It is our duty to share our love of it with those who come after us, so they grow to appreciate the beauty of the dream that is America.  It is likewise our sacred duty to live our lives in a way that honors those who showed the greatest devotion to this dream by giving their own life.  My grandfather was touched by his grandfather's deep respect for the assassinated president who held the Union together.  I grew up knowing keenly what it meant for my grandmother to experience the loss of her beloved cousin in World War II.  I hope my interns will never forget the quiet moment they saw of a member of our military demonstrating dignity and love of country to a child.  May God bless you this Memorial Day, and may God bless our great country.

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