As I watched the news last week, I was disappointed on numerous occasions with the leadership in Washington. As I watched republicans, democrats, and the president manipulate, retaliate, and irritate one another I better understood why my country is in trouble. However, the one glimmer of optimism was seeing the Honor Flight Veterans removed the barricades in order to visit the World War Two Memorial as planned. Perhaps our national leadership on both sides of the aisle could learn about relationships and cooperation from the strong values of men from the greatest generation and from the life of a man named George.
George David was a thoughtful, generous man of faith. At the age of 90 he rode his bike each day filling the bike basket with litter that younger folks left behind. As an animal and nature enthusiast, my friend could identify most birds, many by their call, and others by appearance. A farmer at heart, George loved to see crops growing, but more so, he loved to grow things especially sweet corn, which he generously shared with friends and family. He was a man that habitually picked wildflowers along the roadside for his wife of almost 65 years. And, one autumn he even raked a bunch of leaves into the following message: “It's fall, Edna.” As far as animals were concerned, George rescued and raised numerous stray animals with symbolic names as: Smokey, Lucky, and Jumper. However, the most special rescue was a dog he named Blaze. One day while riding the tractor, George noticed a sick or injured animal in the nearby woods. Coming closer he saw it was a dog that had been badly burned. Much of the dog's hair was gone and the skin was raw and blistered. Doing the only thing he knew to do, George picked up the strange dog not knowing whether it would bark or bite. Instead, the grateful animal wagged his tail as if thanking the stranger for his help. George said even though he knew the dog was in pain, the simple act of wagging the tail showed the true spirit of the critically burned animal. Blaze was taken to Dr. Cottingham's where he receive good care and eventually ended up at the farm to spend the rest of his life.
George David was friends to all regardless of race, age, or economic standing. Also, in the great southern tradition, George spoke and waved to everyone wherever he went. A story is told about how after waving at something that caught his eye while on the way to the farm, George realized he had actually waved at a mule in a pasture. From that time on, the friendly man only waved to humans. Unlike many of those in Washington today, George David did good deeds quietly with out fanfare. For instance there was the account of how late one afternoon coming in from the farm, George noticed a young hitchhiker near Salters. The man was not thought of again until the next morning, when traveling to the farm, George saw the hitchhiker and realized he had spent the hot summer night beside the road without food or shelter. Understanding the dilemma of the hitchhiker George David gathered food and water for the stranger and offered him a ride to a desired location.
My favorite story took place some 50 years ago on a quiet Sunday morning. George had just written his weekly check to the church and walking into the living room, casually remarked to his wife that the bank account was really low, but made no big deal out of it. At that moment, I thought, oh, we don’t have any money, and it horrified me. Of course now I understand cash flow and sometimes there is more money in the coffers than others, but as a child, I just knew we did not have any money. However, it was years later when it occurred to me that even though funds were tight and the bank account was low, George David continued his benevolent giving. He did not use the excuse that there was no money, or that there were other bills that needed to be paid. George was always faithful and generous.
For years George David carried in his wallet a worn piece of paper cut from a magazine that clarified the man he tried to be. It would be beneficial to many on Capitol Hill to follow the words George live by: “I have to live with myself and so I want to be fit for myself to know. I want to be able as days go by, always to look at myself straight in the eye. I don’t want to stand with the setting sun and hate myself for the things I’ve done. I don’t want to keep on the closet shelf a lot of secrets about myself, and fool myself as I come and go into thinking no one else will know the kind of man I really am; I don’t want to dress up myself in sham. I want to go out with my head held erect; I want to deserve all men’s respect: but here in this struggle for fame and pelf, I want to be able to like myself. I don’t want to look at myself and know that I’m bluster and bluff and empty show. I can never hide myself from me; I see what others may never see. I know what other men may never know, I can never fool myself and so, whatever happens, I want to be self-respecting and conscience free. He was just a man named George, and I was proud to call him Daddy.