Americans are so fortunate.  It is true that many Americans are not as well off as others and it is true that life can be somewhat harsh for some as compared to the average American.  It is also true that living in America is great as compared to the majority of the rest of the world.  True, we have children going hungry at night and in certain areas a person could die after being struck by a stray bullet; but so many other parts of the world are much more deprived than what we have in America today.

The average American does not realize how fortunate he or she is.  Unfortunately, many feel they are guaranteed to a soft and comfortable life if they are citizens of our country.  Many feel this is a constitutional right when in fact the constitution only grants its’ citizens “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  Everyone has a right to pursue their dreams.  It is up to the individual to make the best of it.

Last week I visited   a man that was 94 years young.  When I left I felt so fortunate to live in a country with so many advantages and built from the sweat and blood from men and women like the man I visited with, Raymond Johnson.  I learned about the fiber of the ones who carved out our country during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.  I learned what it was like to live in rural North Louisiana, to move with the sawmills as they moved, to go to school in numerous locations in rural America and most importantly to build a very successful business.  This is one of those success stories that proves the American dream is achievable.

What I was most inspired about was that this story represented the core fiber of America that built our great nation.  That unique individual that did not complain about living conditions because it was the only living conditions that was ever known.  That person that was working while obtaining an education in rustic country schools and who felt fortunate to be able to get an education.  The person that worked endless hours without complaint to realize a dream because that is the way it was supposed to be.

I thought back to something I said several years ago; every community has a history and every person in that community has a history.  Unfortunately when a person dies the history dies with them.

I promised Raymond that I would return to visit again and asked permission to bring a tape recorder with me.  He was quite responsive so next week I hope to capture a little of the essence of growing up in timber camps around North Louisiana.  Then I remembered a note I received from the LSU library following my donation of my grandfather’s political papers.  The note disclosed that the enclosed papers were copies of interviews of my grandfather written by T. Harry Williams, a professor at LSU.  Williams was writing his book, “Huey Long”, and he later won the Pulitzer Prize for his publication.  It was noted that he was a pioneer in writing by using oral history was he captured the life of the Kingfisher, Huey Long.

I started thinking about how we could capture the history of our community and preserve his for future generations.  Perhaps a new project is on the horizon.


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