I’ve been doing a lot of catching up over the past six months. Catching up with family, with dear friends, and with my history.
I always knew that my parents’ families had immigrated to this country just as a group of revolutionaries were overthrowing the government – if not before. On one side were the Hessian soldiers who came here as mercenaries to fight with the revolutionaries. On the other? Apparently quiet people who sided with the powers that were.
Recently I’ve learned more about my birth family – actually my birth mother’s family – who left England for an as-yet-unknown reason – and sided with the British, because they were.
So my family – however one measures the meaning – has been in this land nearly as long as pale people arrived on its shores. And if you know me, you know that’s one characteristic that retains its hold on my DNA.
The point, however – and there is one – is that nearly 250 years after their arrival on this continent, these British conservatives and Revolutionary rebels have led to a woman who identifies herself as a conservative liberal – or progressive conservative – who loves this country precisely because of my ability to define my views.
I come from a long line of gritty people. I’m the granddaughter of a moon-shining coal miner, who picked up his family of 5 young children and left the green hills of Tennessee for the deep dark mines of West Virginia because those mines provided the opportunity to stay close to his motherless children.
His youngest daughter found herself “in trouble” and left West Virginia for Columbus, Ohio where she knew giving up her baby was a good choice for both of our futures.
My parents raised me in a Republican household that believed strongly in the traditional values of limited government, fiscal restraint, and measurable accountability for all tax dollars spent. Now those views would make them wild progressives. As a child, I remember we had family and friends who were Democrats and the common message was, “Well, we love them but they’re wrong.” We still shared holidays, laughter, and recipes, however.
Today will be a quiet day in our house. Our close friends are traveling, the kids are busy, and we’re doing the preparation for an upcoming road trip – and that provides time for a little introspection.
I deeply value a country where I truly have the freedom – and parental support – to become anything I truly desired.
I deeply value this country where hard work, merit, and “gumption” can overcome birth status – recognizing that birth status still delivers a trump card.
I deeply value this country where civility and kindness overcome the hate and evil amongst us.
And I deeply value my friends and family who think I’m wrong – but love me anyway.