I come from a long line of people who made a living by the sweat of their brows and the labor of their hands. Hands that could handle a plow or a crosscut saw, break an ornery mule or hold an infant baby.
Simple men who stood on the streets of small town America on Saturday afternoons while their wives bought supplies for the week and talked about the weather, the price of corn or the latest exploit of their prize coonhound or how this year's high school football team didn't quite come up to last year's.
They sat on the pews of the churches, in out-of-date suits and ties and listened to the gospel of Jesus Christ and applied the lessons and principles of honesty and integrity to their every day lives.
They called the midday meal dinner and the evening meal supper and weren't above the occasional sip of white whiskey. They treasured a good hunting dog and could nail a squirrel on the top branch of a tall hickory tree.
They raised their children with discipline and good manners and nothing meant more than family. I remember when my cousin Walton, who was a few years older than me, finished high school and even family who lived out of town came to Elizabethtown to see him receive his diploma, the first male child in the Daniel family to ever do so.
The women cooked three meals a day, rocked the cradle, did their laundry with a scrub board in a galvanized washing tub and helped out with the field work, all the while being comforter, disciplinarian, homework enforcer, seamstress - and they sometimes milked a cow twice a day.
A Wall Street lawyer could never draw up a contract that was as binding as a handshake and a man's word was honored at all costs. Anything less than the truth was unacceptable and they spared not the rod and spoiled not the child.
I'll always remember Labor Day because it heralded the beginning of a new school year and putting on a pair of shoes after a summer of going barefooted could be a somewhat painful affair.
The stalks and vines and other remnants of this year's crop would be cut down and plowed under and the fields would lie fallow for a few short months before the whole process would begin all over again.
I would not trade my experiences of growing up among real men with calloused hands and sun-ripened faces, men who had neither union nor subsidy to provide a safety net should the crop fail or the price of timber fall.
They depended on faith in God, family and hard work, knowing that if you just kept doing the right thing, everything was going to work out.
A lot has changed since the two generations of my early years, but not the truths I learned and live my life by. I wish America would have retained the spirit of the greatest generation; it would be a totally different nation.
Happy Labor Day!
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, and for our country.
God Bless America
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