Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

I came across this reference on, and thought it worth publishing as far and wide as possible:

On the day before the Declaration of Independence was to be signed, John Adams wrote to his beloved wife Abigail that the following day “ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade -- bells, bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forever more – I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, even altho we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.”

I am struck by Adams's vision--"through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory...the end is more than worth all the means."  The words remind me of an image from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, concerning "a city on a hill."  The words of "America the Beautiful" recall both sources:

Oh, beautiful, for patriots' dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America, America, God shed his grace on thee.
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Okay, there are sisters as well as brothers in the picture.  I'm not one to quibble at archaic language.  (I'm a historian--I love archaic language.)  I believe with all my heart that this country can be a place of opportunity and success and peace.    I believe we need to keep the image of a shining city in our minds as we wind our way through the maze of issues confronting us on a daily basis. 

Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address, referred to the city on the hill:

I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still.

As you watch the fireworks, think about these images...and how we, as citizens, can work to make it so.

God Bless America!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Horse History

Returning from yet another extended deadline scramble with the news that Disney has made a film about one of the greatest horses of all time--Triple Crown winner Secretariat.  I remember (or at least I think I remember) all three races--the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes in New York--and watching Secretariat win each one.  Wow.

Those were the days (1973) when televised races were my only contact with horses.  I'd visited riding stables occasionally in 6th and 7th grades, when I could earn the $3 it cost to ride and talk my mom or my friend's mom into driving out there.  The poor animals would be standing, fully tacked up, tied to a post or hitching rack, heads down as they dozed in the hot Florida sun.  My friend and I would climb on and walk for an hour through the pine woods, hoping for a trot but rarely getting one, until we headed back to the barn.  Then the horses would lift their heads, their gaits would quicken and sometimes we would even find ourselves cantering along the sandy path, holding tight to the saddle horn as we raced for home.

Poor horses.  I'm sure they've all gone to Heaven by now and are free to run through cool, grassy pastures without a saddle or a rider in sight.

By ninth grade, my horse-loving friend had moved away and I didn't have time for everything, so I put my horse passion aside...except for the Triple Crown on TV.

Now I feel blessed every morning and evening to go out to the pasture and feed my own herd.    I love living in a community of horse-lovers, where the topic of most conversations sooner or later comes round to what's happening in the field, at the show, with the farrier or the vet.  However I acquired this passion for horses, I have finally come to the place I always wanted to be.