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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



It’s always with a little sadness that I greet the end of summer. Those last few hot days where the fun and excitement of the State Fair gives way to the annual slow walk up the driveway and the wait for the first day of school to begin. Those unbearable hot days, when we would barely move outside, unless it was to run crazy across the yard to the sprinkler, homemade from a garden hose and a gallon milk jug. Those nights where it would grow gradually cooler in the evening and we would sit in the old metal swing watching the lightning bugs as they danced above the tassels of the corn across the road.

As I get older it’s harder for me to remember those first few years. There were always pictures, as there have been as long as there have been cameras. Somewhere stuck away I’ve got some old film of my Dad and his siblings walking to the bus, and in many of my old photo albums there are shots of me and my brothers standing at the end of the drive next to the Farm Bureau stop sign waiting for the bus to come.

Such an exciting time when you are young. There are new clothes and mountains of new school supplies and just the excitement and some fear of the new year. We would stand there as Mom would snap the pictures noting the progress of the years, and it would always seem that there was at least one scowl in the group. We could see the bus as it came down the gravel road from the east, and as it wound its way closer to us we could hear the excited chatter of the students on our route. Marvin Coulter drove our bus for the rest of the time we kids lived at the north farm, and we would look forward to seeing him as he pulled in the driveway taking care not to run us, or any of our farm yard pets over. We would climb aboard and take our seats and then we would be off to school. Our dog Statler would sit quietly with his head on his paws near the end of the drive watching us go, some days not moving far from that spot until we would come home, although as the weeks wore on he would wander off, as if he knew exactly where we were going and when we would be home.

This week, my three will be back off to school. For the younger two it’s old hat, back to the Dexter building where they know the routine. For my oldest its her first delicate steps into middle school. I hope that she realizes how important this time in her life is, for as I look back now, this is where school became fun and interesting. The exposure to more than just learning your arithmetic and how to read and write, comes as you start to explore the world around you. And hopefully along the way she’ll make sure to remember that life in middle school can be the basis of her education on down the line. Learn the good study habits, learn as much as you can, and don’t get hung up on cliques and dances and all those little things that matter a great deal when you are that age, but you slowly find matter less as you get older.

I remember those first few days of school every year. The new teachers, the new faces, the new big kids to steer away from! I remember the shock of learning in one of my first Jr. High school classes that I didn’t know everything in the world, and that the days of recess were long over. I remember the heat most of all. A hot sweltering heat that when mixed with 300 young bodies, especially some bodies who hadn’t yet learned about the value of deodorant, in a brick building brought about an odor that I dare say never really washed out of my gym clothes.

But the first few days were always short ones. And we knew that if we just bided our time in the morning, but the end of lunch, the big yellow busses would line up next to the school and we would be granted an early reprieve from our day because of the heat. We would get home and pile out of the bus and into the yard. Statler, running from one boy to the next, happy to have his playmates back and enjoying the time together on those hot August afternoons when we ruined the knees of new jeans, when we didn’t worry about paychecks, when we didn’t worry about what was coming the next day. No, we enjoyed the short lived feeling of freedom that came to us, in a time when we were young and lightning bugs danced in the cool evening air.

See you next week. Remember, we’re all in this together.