Some RedStaters may remember the one I am talking about. It was the same size as the one the Heritage Foundation is giving away now, but instead of the painting of the signing of the Constitution on the front it had a black-and-white illustrated depiction of a minuteman. Something about it I particularly remember was the image of the "IRS Man" running from the spider on the back. I did a quick Internet search for the "Patriot Network" and it looks like an anti-income tax advocacy outfit. Maybe the Ruby-Ridge types, not sure. All I remember is that my Granddad carried this pocket Constitution around with him, and gave one to his seven-year-old grandson. It had a profound effect on my outlook of life.
This past week I learned that my grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
My apologies - I know RedState is not the place for personal business, and I don't mean this post to be such. It's purpose is something else. Something that I can't manage to put into words but that I hope is evident by the end of the post.
He doesn't know that I know. My parents begrudgingly told me a few days ago. Funny thing, the first thing I though of was when I was told was that little book, that little pocket Constitution. I was putting my son and his spend-the-night frient to bed tonight. Through a related incident that was in no way my fault, I was looking through out nightstands for some antibiotic ointment. I came upon one of those little Constitutions that I had stuck in there several years ago. It was tough.
I would say that you would have to now my grandfather to understand, but I'll bet a good many of you, by virtue of what you believe and the principles that you hold true, have had someone in your life much like him. He was in Korea. He was the son of a son of a son of who-knows-how-many sons of a farmer. He was drafted by the Rams to play professional football out of high school. But in those days, football players didn't do that well, so he opted for college. An farming man majored in economics, messed up his shoulder, and came home to take up the family acreage. My grandmother was a northern transplant - from Philadelphia by way of D.C. When she came to Mississippi, the folks she was staying with (so goes the story) told her that "whoever you date, don't date ____ ____." So naturally you know who she ended up with.
So may grandfather raised his family, a son and a daughter, farmed the land and took care of his wife for many, many years. The values he instilled in his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are second to none. He was always known as somewhat of a rebel . . . not against "authority" per se, but against what he considered oppression. See my grandfather was something of an anomaly at the time. When so many folks were basking in the legacy of the Roosevelt bailout, he genuinely understood the genius behind the Constitution. He believed in the same principles the Framers believed in, and unlike so many of us that either haven't had the will or the opportunity to prove it, actually stood up and fought for his beliefs.
The real purpose of this post isn't to get into particulars. The purpose is to recognize a man that is a real American, and to try and explain how his convictions shaped those of his grandsons. My brother and I, although we live a few hundred miles apart, still talk regularly and vehemently about conservative issues. It is not because we don't have anything else to talk about. It is because we understand the importance of preserving our legacy as Americans, and this comes primarily from our grandfather.
I can't really explain my grandfather's passion for America other than to think that he, like our nation, really is exceptional. Reading the newspaper, I can remember him asking outloud, "Now where in the Constitution is the government given the power to do that?" I would love to put up against our current president in a debate. In our president's own words, my grandfather "would tear him up."
One other instance I for some reason vividly remember really solidified for me that this man was a man of principle. As I said, he was, for decades, a farmer like so many before him. In fact, so was my father, too. When farming really went south in the late 1980's, my dad and granddad sold off most of their land, equipment, etc., and took to different ventures. My father first bought info a franchise and later started his own manufacturing business which, much to the dismay of the Chinese, has proven to be highly successful. My grandfather started his own excavation/trucking business, ran this for several years, and sold it off once my father started his business. My grandfather now works at this business, which I think is the greatest thing in the world. But back to my original point - the thing that really told me he was a man of principle. Knowing that his legacy and life's work was farming, and that it had to be abandoned for economic interests, I engaged him on the subject of farm subsidies one day.
"I actually think that farming would be something that government subsidies would be good for," I said.
"Naw," he said. "You wouldn't have to have any government subsidies for farmers if they (government) would just leave us alone. We could feed the world."
Wow. That said it all. Not bitter, just a clear understanding of freedom, markets, and liberty.
My grandfather was the first person to explain to me natural rights - that the government doesn't "give" us anything. In fact, our laws are designed to protect us against government overreaches.
You could call him a Reagan Democrat, but I think he would take offense to this. I have heard him describe himself as "what you call ultra-ultra conservative." But, I must say, not so far Libertarian. He thinks Ron Paul, for all his good points, has "gone off the reservation."
Like I said, my grandfather has prostate cancer, and I just learned about this. Were it not for him, I likely would not have been involved in the conservative movement, worked in campaigns, or have found RedState. I'm not claiming that I make some great contribution to our effort, but I'll have words with anyone who says this man didn't. A poor country farmer that understood macroeconomics, foreign policy, and limited government. If only he could have ran for president.
God bless my grandfather, and those our there we all know like him. I really believe that they are the reason we carry on this fight. They are the reason that we strive to achieve a vision that we know to be the best man can do, live in the most liberty, the most protection, the most "pursuit of happiness" that is possible in an imperfect world.
I shouldn't ask this, but please say a prayer for my grandfather. He is truly a great American, and the greatest solider for freedom and the American way I have every known.
Thank you all for listening.