Wednesday, May 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Patriotic heart beats strongest in small towns

The nearer Election Day is, the more reminders there are of how proud I am to be an American, and how important it is to vote, even if it means standing in the rain. Or snow. I m talking about everyday American happenings that can swell your heart with deep patriotism when you least expect it.

The values of our country are not positioned on a high platform with clamoring politicians and audience members flashing signs. Our country s roots are in simple pleasures and simple folks.

All of this came to mind the day I visited West Unity, Ohio, and was so taken with the feeling of small-town America I began to write notes on a scrap of paper in my purse at Mom s Village Cafe between bites of sausage gravy and biscuit.

I had set the alarm for 5:30 that morning to get an early start to the Williams County town in hopes of getting a flu shot. I was the first one at the clinic and left feeling good about my determination to follow the lead Mary Sue Miller, a registered nurse, had given me by telephone a few days earlier. Flu shots were to be given in West Unity and Bryan, she said, and certainly I qualify age-wise. Mary Sue is well-aware of my qualification. She was not yet a teenager when we became friends at Sam s Place in Blakeslee, Ohio, her family s restaurant. We have kept in touch through her marriage to Kim Miller, two now-adult children, and nursing studies at Northwest State Community College in Archbold, which was a career decision that took guts when she was in her 30s.

Americans take flu shots, like many things, for granted. After many years of getting the shots when and where we wanted, it s a new ballgame. This year we must take the initiative to track down availability.

At Mom s Cafe that morning, two groups of customers were gathered around large tables, swapping stories. The breakfast special was $2.25. An occasional political opinion was overheard, but not often. As we all know, in most circles, political preferences are best kept to yourself unless it is to a friend you don t mind losing. There is no doubt that if I were to stop in the small restaurant tomorrow morning, the same group of men and women would be at the same tables in the same chairs. I just may do that, because those are American scenes that are wholesome and honest.

That morning I took a leisurely route home instead of staying on the main roads. It just seemed like the perfect time to drink in a part of the northwestern Ohio rural scenery that is such an integral slice of America. The landscape is in the throes changing seasons. Some trees are naked, others are hanging tight to their golden and bronze foliage, and there are a few that refuse to be fashionably dressed for fall and are still green.

My appreciation of country continued the next two days in Hudson, another small town where community spirit is high. On Friday night, Hudson High School bleachers were filled to capacity with football fans, and sure enough, the Hudson Tigers won another game, this time against Hillsdale, said by townspeople to be tough competition. All of Hudson is fiercely proud of its champion football team. You can tell by the Go Tigers orange lettering painted on store and house windows. Again, only in America, we could say.

On Saturday morning what was scheduled as a routine stop at Bob s Market in downtown Hudson became another patriotic spirit-lifter.

It wasn t just cider and doughnuts with powdered sugar that dripped all over a dark sweatshirt. Michigan State Senator Cameron S. Brown was passing out the treats along with copies of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the history of that Civil War hymn. Again, only in America, we could say.

I did not know until reading Senator Brown s account that Julia Ward Howe wrote the words the Battle Hymn to the melody of John Brown s Body. Nor did I know that she received $5 for its publication in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862.

I returned home to see that the strong winds off Posey Lake had whipped both flag and pole onto the house and into the yard.

I ran to return the flag to its place of honor. To me, it is an American signature that says more than a political sign in the yard that will be old news Wednesday.

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