Friday, July 3, 2009- I’m currently sitting on the edge of Canada, where I've been since yesterday in north east New York, waiting for my next load assignment; it ain't likely to come though, not till Monday.
I've cleaned my truck out -literally-- as I cut a new rug for the floor last night. Fortunately, I didn't wait till today to start that project, as it rained through the night and most of this morning. But right now the grass is glistening; the sky is clearing, bolstering a clean, clear blue that seems like it goes on forever.
My fuel mileage percentage has been terrible over the last few days due to hauling heavy loads across some rough (but beautiful) terrain, so I'm trying to not idle my truck much which means I am down to bare-bones self-entertainment: short walks, meditation and reading --lots of reading-- and yes, bird watching; Sedge Wrens, something that looks like a Warbler, and lots of Seagulls, chirping Sparrows and other field birds. Then, though I was quite surprised, I swear I saw an Eagle; it was too large to be a Falcon, I thought. I jumped out of my truck and took a more advantageous position, and sure enough, this huge bird came soaring back, even losing some altitude as if she knew I wanted a better look. Wow, she is a Bald Eagle, and on July 4th weekend too!
In so many ways I am blessed. I was born in America with the genes of durability and independence: born in a land destined to "house" the freest people this world is likely to ever produce. I thank “Nature and Nature's God” everyday, but especially as July 4th approaches.
Now, I’m a tough guy- not moved by much to laugh heartily, nor to cry- only my wife and my God really stir the depths of my soul. I give my wife the credit for saving my life, for I truly began an entirely new and fulfilling adventure the day I met her. And for God .. well, He is all things that are. But on this day, July 3rd, it brings me to my spiritual knees, to wonderment, and to liberty-minded reflection as I look forward to tomorrow and all that it stands for.
Freedom means so much to me, as I have experienced confinement; I learned to read, beginning at about 20 years of age, when I was in prison- and it was inside those walls in 1976 that I first learned of, not freedom, but Liberty. I found inside those walls that I had a mind when I got my first “A” in a college class. And I found inside those walls I had a heart when I “discovered” a tear on my cheek as a sat and watched a moving July 4th television special about the history of Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. On July 3, 1976, I discovered the real America, and my thoughts turned from drugs and a struggle for basic existence, to a desire for Liberty. That new struggle began at that moment, for I knew –somehow intuitively- that liberty is found in the soul, physical confinement notwithstanding.
I began searching the prison library for all books of political and social science. I looked diligently for subjects ranging from Early American History to Self-Improvement. As I was first learning to read, I was tutored by the use of Zane Grey and Louis L’amour: The Sackets served as a vicarious life for me behind those walls. But now I was on my own!, and the freedom I felt while reading of the Old West served as a great spring board, conditioning me for the wonderment of our nation’s Great Beginnings. And this, my time in prison, was my Great Beginnings too.
For some, the 4th of July invokes patriotism; but for me it’s a three day event. This day –July 3rd- has a special meaning, as it is the fulcrum of a special three day event. July 3rd stands in between the day that John Adams wrote would be celebrated as the “most memorable epoch” in American History; and on the other side, the day that our Declaration of Independence was officially adopted. Thus, from this perspective, today is naturally my day of deep celebration; to meditate, to reminisce, moved to wonderment and liberty-minded reflections, all culminating on the venerable day of July 4th.
America. Where else could a runaway, incorrigible, child from a broken home and a criminal/drug infested life, grow up to find the realities of service in the U.S. Marine Corps? Where else could the life of Scoop Jackson been possible? Martha Raye! From Governor Bradford to Stagecoach Mary; from Nathanael Greene to David Petraeus; from Jesse Owens to Dick Button- Home of the Grand Canyon and the London Bridge; Home of the Brave. All of this, and more, IS July 4th.
Yes, I fear progressivism shall continue digging at Liberty, adding shallow freedoms that I now know are cancerous to what our founders meant to establish. But for the moment, this Independence Day weekend, I command my mind and heart to look to what was and what can still be, and not at what is now and likely to come in the short term. For I know from experience and intuition, Liberty and Dependence are both contagiously habit forming, but with Liberty being the stronger of the two.
Though John Adams was mistaken about which day would be celebrated, his intimacy towards the importance of our Declaration of Independents was right on. My birth could have happened anywhere. But the story of my life, from Prison to Praise, could have only happened in the Land of the Free, the United States of America; I give praise and thanks for all those who sacrificed it all, for me, and you.
I wonder if I will be able to see the fireworks from Rouses Point. I hope so.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
UPDATE: I saw a great display of fireworks just above the eastern horizon. And yes, I got my next load early Monday morning.