On August 29 I took stock of this land we call Alabama with this post that has now had 20,761 views. It was entitled “I Weep For Alabama” and was heartfelt. I looked back at a family history that stretches for nearly 200 years in a small speck of land in south Butler and north Covington counties.
A history that is largely indistinguishable from thousands and thousands of other families. We were tied to the land as yeomen farmers and people who ran sawmills. We were not highly educated, did not get elected to high office (though one who lost his arm in the Civil War did serve in the legislature), did not become famous athletes or musicians or surgeons or attorneys. We fought wars our country told us to fight.
By and large we were nameless and faceless, like the hoards TV cameras will scan across in football stadiums this last day of 2015. We were the ones the framers of our 1901 state constitution disenfranchised from going to the polls because we farmed land others owned.
But in reality we were the glue that held this nation together. We provided the food for others to eat, the lumber for them to build houses, the labor to lay down their railroad tracks. We understood a “day’s work for a day’s pay.”
And each in his own way had a quiet dignity that comes from being hard-working and respected by your neighbors.
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of daddy’s daddy. A farmer who drove a school bus down muddy roads picking up barefoot children. A man with a quick smile and friendly disposition. Someone who knew grandpa well once told me, “If you are half the man your grandpa was, you’re OK.” I’ve never received a greater compliment.
But I seldom see the values grandpa lived by on public display by our elected officials these days. Instead, I see a Speaker of the House who will soon stand trial for violating the ethics law he once touted. I hear lawmakers talk about education bills they voted for that will not impact their schools, but are needed by “those other people.” I look at the faces of school kids who are loved by the same God who loves me, but are treated as unequal when school money is being doled out.
I weep for Alabama.