Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Local Politics

             Yes, I am retired. However, this condition in life’s journey is an enigma.

All through my working years I had heard from those who were retired that they found themselves busier in their “golden years” than when they were working. I decided I didn’t care for that idea very much. One difficulty: I have way too many interests and hobbies to sit idly by watching what remaining days I have left slip through my fingers.

Am I allowing myself to be busier now in retirement? Probably not, but I’m not letting grass grow under my feet either! I continue to serve on various boards and committees for organizations, both military and civilian. I also volunteer an hour or two twice a month in my granddaughter’s 1st grade class sorting a plethora of papers to be filed in each student’s personal folder. It’s fun sitting in class with a bunch of 7-year-old’s watching an experienced teacher handle these children so full of energy. They begin their class each morning by standing by their desks pledging allegiance to the flag. How refreshing! You remember doing that, don’t you?

I also spend one day a week at my youngest daughter, Jenny’s, store in Turlock which frees her up to continue her work preparing more furniture for the store. She named the store, Rustic Roots, and has a great location. I enjoy spending the day minding the store, talking with customers, and enjoying a cup or three of coffee with Jenny when she stops by.

With my older daughter, Laura, we have become involved in local politics. Growing up, my parents voted for Democrats: Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert H. Humphrey, and George McGovern. By then I was a sergeant in the Marine Corps serving in Vietnam and voting for the first time. Over the years I grew to lean much more toward the values and principles espoused by the Republican Party, and have remained so to this day. My first awareness of presidents and the whole political system came in the late 50’s as the election of 1960 presented the nation with Democrat John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Republican Richard Milhous Nixon. I was drawn to Kennedy because of his energy and great one-liners. My favorite being, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” If I had been old enough to vote then, I would have voted for JFK. LBJ succeeded to the presidency following JFK’s assassination. In 1964 I liked the way Barry Goldwater talked, but I heard a constant barrage of criticism that he was a war monger, and he was going to get us into a war in Southeast Asia (aka, Vietnam). Johnson won easily, and then proceeded to send 25,000 Marines to Vietnam! That smacked of hypocrisy! In 1968 I was all for Nixon, but I was only 20. Four years later I found myself in Vietnam. I certainly did not like the way the war was being handled, but whatever chance there might have been for me to vote for the Democratic candidate, George McGovern, went up in smoke when he said, if elected, he would crawl on hands and knees for the release of our POWs in North Vietnam. That was unthinkable to me.

So about six years ago, Laura approached me and said she was troubled with the direction our country was heading and felt that she needed to do something. She wanted to be able to tell her daughter one day that she did all she could to make this a better country for future generations. She wanted to know how she could get involved. I hooked her up with a friend who is politically savvy and Laura found herself doing volunteer work on Fridays for a local state assemblyman. Shortly after, they hired her. Then the assemblyman called and asked me to be his alternate on the San Joaquin Republican Central Committee (SJRCC). I asked if I would need to be a registered Republican. There was a pause on his end of the line. “Yes,” he finally said with a tone of uncertainty. I told him I did not belong to any party, nor had I ever. I had always voted for whoever I believed would do the best job. Too many times I found myself voting for the lesser of two evils, to use a worn-out, hackneyed phrase. But because I wanted to help my daughter in her pursuits politically, I agreed to register as a Republican and serve as his alternate.

So the first Monday night of the month Laura and I drive the 25 miles to Stockton to the Old Spaghetti Factory for our meeting with the SJRCC. It is a great time for us to spend together which begins with a delicious pasta dinner prior to engaging in the monthly scrum and brouhaha of the political arena. You will be pleased to know that each meeting begins with prayer and the pledge of allegiance.

This past January new elections were held for the SJRCC. Laura was elected to be the Secretary, and I was chosen to be the Treasurer. I’m not sure how much of a dent this father/daughter team is making in the grand scheme of things politically, but we’re having fun, attempting, with God’s help and blessing, to make a difference. Our nation is worth it!

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