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Who Are You?

Yesterday we celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks, BBQ, and pool parties. Family and friends gathered for festivities at home and traveled to nearby parks and schools were they could enjoy the grand display of bright lights and explosions. For many, this was something to enjoy. For others, it is a day to fear because it brings back memories of flash bangs, bombs, death, and war. Do we ever contemplate what the fireworks represent or even why it's a day of celebration? The day is about America's history, the founding of a country, and the men (and women) who died for our freedoms. But how many children are being taught that history?

We are living in a time when history is being rewritten, destroyed, and misrepresented. People use words incorrectly or manipulatively hoping that no one will correct their errors and pray on those who do not know the truth. I take offense at the flippant ways people are judging others and falsely accusing the innocent of crimes they did not commit. The sad thing is, most people have no defense because they don't know the truth about their family, their history, or their heritage.

My father's family history goes back to the original settlers who came to America from Germany seeking religious freedom. They were working class families with small family farms and many worked as tradesmen. They had no slaves and fought in the civil war to end slavery. My mother's side of the family includes those who immigrated from Switzerland and married Native Americans (Choctaw) who walked the Trail of Tears and were forced into confinement on a reservation. I was fortunate to know my great-grandmother (Rachel Crow) and listened to her stories of traveling in a wagon train to Texas, living in a home without running water, and as a single mother, relying upon her own strength to provide for her family. She shared her amazement with me about new inventions; the rail road, cars, the telephone, and seeing the first airplanes. She made for me a Jingle Dress and moccasins when I was 5, which I fondly remember to this day. My great-grandmother lived to be 98 years old and loved sharing these stories with me. My grandmother (Rachel's daughter), gave me dozens of photo books but few stories to go with them. I look at the photos and have no idea who the people are. She passed at the age of 93. My own mother died at 80 a few years back and I was fortunate she did a dive into her family tree and give me the family Bible with names and dates.

I love history and learning about people, places, and events of the past, but I'm most interested in the people who made me. The ones who worked hard, lived life to its fullest, and trusted in their Lord and Savior to provide. Sadly, most people don't look beyond their own lives and personal events. If they have children, they don't share stories of their childhood, and never ask their parents or grandparents about their childhoods. We are told to live in the moment, but our lives and those around us are made up of many moments, good and bad. The challenges we face and overcome creates resilience. When we are fearful and go through the things that make us most afraid we learn to be courageous. When we fight we learn we have strength. That strength can be used to help others and defend the weak. When we have knowledge of who we are we can share that knowledge with our children and give them a legacy to lean upon. Without knowing who you are and where you came from, you can only know what you know and that limits you to your own understanding. When you know who you are, where you came from, and who your ancestors were, you can share that truth with others who falsely accuse and misuse history to their advantage. When you have no idea who you are, you are easily manipulated into believing the lies and will apologize and accept guilt for crimes you (and your family) did not commit. There is a saying, "If we do not learn from our past mistakes, we are bound to repeat them." Wisdom happens when we can learn from the mistakes of others and avoid repeating them. Without that knowledge we live unwise in our own beliefs and limitations.

"Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight."

 Isaiah 5:21


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