My father has always emphasized education and culture. I was a good reader early, so when I was in second grade, my Dad got me the full used set of Grosset and Dunlap’s “Companion Library,” containing dozens of classic books. The entire Tom Sawyer series was included, but also Aesop’s Fables, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Swiss Family Robinson, Jungle Book, The Call of the Wild, Kidnapped, The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights, Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Tanglewood Tales, Gulliver’s Travels and a couple of dozen more.
Though it was more implicit than explicit, these books gave me an introduction to the culture of my people, and an appreciation for the value and accomplishments of that culture, along with the goodness of the people within it. I learned about honor, chivalry, love, kindness, humor, courage and sacrifice. I learned about the bad within people, but also the lofty impulses that to this day inspire the best within us.
Growing up in a small town of 500 people where it seemed everyone looked like me, I wasn’t conscious in a racial sense, but I had a strong sense of ancestral connections. My family was from an intersection of Southern and Appalachian honor cultures and had started a plantation in the Tidewater of Virginia in the early 1600’s, having descended from minor nobility in Nottingham. Extended family was nearby, along with a family cemetery integrated with my grandfather’s farm.
My ancestors fought in wars since before America declared its independence, all the way through Vietnam and every conflict in between, and my family has a rich oral history of family heroes. Although some of our heroes are war heroes, many of our family stories involve everything from hunting and moonshining stories through famous poets and inventors. This family history and appreciation for ancestors helped put my own life in context beside that of my people. In a very real way, I had a sense of needing to prove myself worthy of my forebears.
As I grew older and gained an interest in science, I read biographies of great scientists and inventors. I laughed at a youthful Thomas Edison trying to make his friend float by pumping his stomach full of helium, and waited with bated breath to discover the outcome of Pasteur’s first use of his rabies vaccine in an emergency where a 9 year old boy was mauled by a rabid dog. I learned of the trials and struggles scientists faced to advance knowledge, with each step seemingly an uphill battle against forces of an established, but incorrect, theory.
As a teenager, I immersed myself in science, math and the humanities. I gained a keen appreciation for Euclid, whose brilliant system of geometry persists today, and Newton’s invention of calculus and classical physics. I learned of Avogadro’s determination of constant proportions in chemistry, as well as Mendeleev’s formulation of the periodic table. While taking four years of Latin, I translated Virgil’s Aeneid and his heroic visions, while also reading Cicero’s moving orations against Cataline. I read Shakespeare’s subtle humor in death scenes, and studied music. I was thrilled, one day, to hear what was unmistakably Bach’s work in the brilliant performance of Yngwie Malmsteen.
As a child and a teen, although I was not explicitly aware of this, I was enthralled with our culture, from ancient times through the Middle Ages all the way to my own family tree. I was starting to make connections, and could see ancient greatness repeated in the words of Thomas Jefferson, and a hint of Odysseus in George Washington. Although I felt the Constitution had been illegally imposed, I could nevertheless see the beauty in what it was trying to achieve, the wisdom of the electoral college, and its foresight in the Bill of Rights. It was only natural that, one day, I would take an oath to uphold and defend that Constitution against all enemies – both foreign and domestic – and serve in our armed forces. But that is a story for another day.
Growing up, I was restricted to only one hour of television a week, and that was usually a re-run of Hee-Haw, Sha-na-na or a Nova special on PBS. I only had an AM radio. Although this protected me from degenerate propaganda, when I left home at 18 to attend college over 1,000 miles away in the Northeast on a full scholarship, I was wholly unprepared for what I would encounter.
It took years. Maybe I just didn’t want to believe it, but I gradually learned that even though the forms of America were still in place, they were being hollowed out from within and replaced with something sinister.
I learned that politicians who had sworn to uphold the Constitution were blatantly violating their oaths and attacking the Second Amendment – clear treason for which they should have been hung. And that was just the beginning.
Having read an old copy of J. Edgar Hoover’s “Masters of Deceit” in high school, I thought I was dealing with advanced communist subversion. And, to some degree, my initial assessment was correct. Like so many others, my journey into political solutions started with joining the Libertarian Party. But the more I read and observed, the more I came to realize that the class warfare of communism had morphed into an all-out war against all of the best of who we are: our families, our faith, our history, our heroes and ultimately even our genes. So a different solution was required.
And thus, you find me today, defending what is true, what is beautiful and what is good. We are not a perfect people. But we are a people capable of transcendent beauty, the pursuit of truth, and setting aside personal gain in order to do what is right in the face of overwhelming odds. It’s a tale as old as our people, an intrinsic part of who we are. Now that we know the story, it’s up to us to determine how it will end.