Tuesday, October 13, 2015

People with deep roots make America special

One of the many neat things about Brazil is true of our whole country -- the relationships we can forge with others. It takes freedom of the kind we enjoy in the United States to build the relationships that make our country great and that creates pride in community.
One of my favorite Disney movies is Fred MacMurray's "Follow Me Boys" about a saxophonist with a traveling orchestra who leaves the band during a stop in a small Midwestern town to put down roots after the band leader tells him, "You want to put down roots? In a place like this you could put down roots all the way to China" (paraphrased.)
On Saturday I was reminded of how great those roots can be. In the afternoon I covered the groundbreaking for the new Dairy Queen in Brazil. There were about two handfuls of people present but a few hours later, more than 2,000 people had seen the photo and story I posted online and teased on our paper's Facebook page.
Then, Linda and I attended the Rotary Club's annual Spouses' and Awards Night dinner at The Renaissance.
Many had said they couldn't make it due to other commitments but about 40 people showed up. There was much laughter and good fellowship and reminiscing.
At one point, Todd Stemm walked in. Todd was on duty and a few people wondered why the Brazil Police Department was interrupting our meeting.
They didn't realize that Todd is a Rotarian and was there to attend as much of the program as he could.
In many countries, a policeman's presence would have meant the government didn't want that group to assemble, but, in Brazil, Mayor Brian Wyndham
attends service club meetings all the time.
I am reminded of what my friend and former boss, Dick Munro, once said. It was in the 1990s and he was frustrated by something someone had said or done.
"I'm a newcomer," he said. "I've only lived here since 1964."
Well, I've been warmly welcomed to Brazil twice. Once when we moved here in 2001 and once when I returned to The Brazil Times last fall.
At our table Saturday night were Richard and Mary Jo Alumbaugh and Buz Burgess.
Mary Jo was the county auditor for many years until she retired. I met her through the paper, and I met Buz when he cut the lawn in front of The Times. I didn't know about his prestigious career in education until much later, but his roots run deep in Clay County soil.
I looked around the room Saturday night and saw so many people Linda and I have come to count as friends.
The right to assemble in America isn't talked about much but it is essential to our freedom and it is a marvelous aid to building solid relationships and putting down roots.