On the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 29, I carefully started a brush fire in the pasture between my neighbor's house and mine.
Two men that were helping me that day and I fought valiantly to put the fire out, but there was just enough wind whipping up to blow it into new spots.
Even before my pride gave way to humility, a Center Point volunteer fireman was passing by on State Rod 59 and saw the smoke.
He quickly summoned the units and within 30 minutes, both the Center Point and Cory fire departments were at my house. Their calmness and professionalism brought rest to my soul. There were no, "hey stupid, how did you start this fire," looks to someone who was feeling very dumb and dumber at the time.
Within an hour, the fire was out and peace had been restored to the Clay prairie.
As I stood at my back door and waved thankfully to every firefighter that headed east, I had a revelation of how utterly helpless I had been.
If it had not been for them, the fire would not have been put out. I realize this is not California and it eventually would have died out, but I have three sets of neighbors, their homes, farms and land all directly west within 600 yards of me.
We are all utterly helpless without civil order. Thank God for our firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency squads and workers and our soldiers of the National Guard and military.
Can you imagine the utter chaos if man was a law unto himself and took everything into his own hands?
We are all utterly helpless without God. Some of you might dismiss the thought of a personal and interactive God, but without His hand in the affairs of man, we would have the chaos previously mentioned. In the prophetic future, that day will come as recorded in 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8 -- "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: Only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked by revealed..."
We are utterly hopeless without one another and in the days to come, might need one another more than ever. There could come the day when the need to share will be much more than the "Share Food and Co-op" programs.
Two years ago, you would have never entertained this thought, but what has happened to our economy in just the last six months has caused a number of you to ponder some different things.
On Jan. 20, Barack H. Obama became the 44th President of the United States of America. His keynote word has been "change," and change is sure to come. I hope it will be for good, for change for change's sake is not always good, and things can get worse.
I am also thankful I attended the send-off for the 138th Division on Jan. 2. The Division and their families, the people, the band, the program and the atmosphere was emotionally charged.
I have a cousin in the unit, 57-years-old, Master Sergeant, first tour of overseas duty. He looked like Schwarzkopf in his greens. I was proud of him.
As I scanned as much of the stage as I could, I recognized a number of other men and was amazed at the number of "gray heads" (my age) that were on the stage.
I later learned that the oldest man in the unit is 60-years-old. Wow!
Young boys and girls, ones twice their age or more, and those in between make up the 138th.
I also had a realization that day of who the 138th is to Clay County and the surrounding area. They have without face and selflessly served us forever. They are our military unit! How many thousands of times (take 40 times 300 for an underestimated figure) I have drove by the National Guard Armory and never gave it a thought. I was an ultra-na*ve, country boy jock as a teenager in the late 60s. I hope I had more of an awareness of Vietnam than I can remember now.
I saw the pictures and the news stories. I felt the pain of acquaintances who graduated before me (Gary Rose and Johnny Young) but were killed before I graduated.
Of a good friend's brother who became Clay County's first fatality in the Vietnam War (Max Batchelor). Yet it and the military never seemed to sink in, and when my number in the last lottery was high, friends went immediately from college to boot camp and I went on in my sports and self.
Fast forward: 38 years later. Thanks 138th for all you have ever done from all of us who have never realized how much you have done. Our hearts and prayers are with you until (and even after) you return safely to Forest Park. If it hasn't already been done, could the names of the entire unit be listed for over personalization and prayers?
We need God. We need civil order. We need our military, and we need one another. To all in Clay County (which ahs been a good place to be born, grow up and old in) -- may 2009 be the best year in your life.