I was about five years old when my Dad and Mom decided to move us to a new house. I remember going to the building site up on Duncan Station Road and seeing a hole in the ground surrounded by big grey blocks. In the bottom of the hole was cement and they put these long steel rods all through the floor and in the blocks that made up what would be our basement. It seemed kind of funny that they would put all those rods in but I do remember Dad talking about how important it was for a good house to have a good foundation.
Climbing through the framework later of what would become our house, I learned a lot of lessons. One of the important ones was not to use a toilet that was not yet hooked up to anything. (Hey, it wasn’t really my fault, up until that point I got yelled at every time I didn’t use one). One of the other things I learned was how important it was to use sturdy materials. The weight of the walls and roof were balanced so that they supported each other. That would be important in years to come because of the storms that would come.
Mom and Dad used a good builder (Harry Gilbert) and the best materials available at the time. This helped the house to become even more reliable. The windows were double glass and the outside doors were thick and sturdy. To add to the strength, many courses of bricks went up on the outside. The inner walls of wood and the floors were made of the strongest pines and even though there was some settling over the years, the house stood the test of time.
There were three bedrooms on the upper floor. Mom and Dad had their own room, my sister had hers, and my three brothers and I shared a room. We had two bunk beds (which were assigned by age and rank) so it wasn’t much of a change when I went from there to boot camp and on to subs. My youngest brother Tom was also acclimated when he joined the Navy and it really paid off when he and I had to hot rack on the 711 boat.
I have to admit that it’s a really good thing that Harry built the second floor well too. As all brothers do, we celebrated being brothers by occasionally pushing each other around up in the room. Unfortunately, it was right above the dining room and from what my parents later told me, the chandelier would sway after a certain amount of time. A stern warning would be followed with silence and denials, but I am sure we did not fool anyone.
When I think about our country, I think about that house. The builders took the time to make sure it had a strong foundation. That foundation was of course the Constitution. They used the best builders available. The early fathers were not perfect nor were they free from defects individually. But as a group, their unique combinations added to the strength that would be tested in many harsh environments.
The “house” was built on solid ground and the ties that bind it together are freedom, liberty, justice and service to each other. The bricks come from many fields but are cemented together with a bond that makes them dependent on each other. If they start to crumble, it will affect the external shell. But if the foundation is strong enough, the house will stand.
Storms from outside have shaken the house. Time and again, the cosmetics have needed to be repaired but through it all the core has stood strong.
Some inside the house have become dissatisfied with her. They long for the house to look like other people’s houses but fail to recognize that such a fundamental change will lead to a weakening of its structure and attack upon its core. Taking a wall out without understanding its purpose to the framework can be disastrous to the stability. Replacing a solid door or window with a flimsy replacement to save costs (and be more fashionable) will let the cold winter wind and snows blow through and damage the internal structure.
Cutting holes in the base to allow people to more freely enter will surely result in a loss of security. While all are invited to eat at the table in their proper order, some will want to stay the night as well and overburden the house’s resources. Those holes can also allow unexpected varmints to freely roam the house.
Some of the current tenants of the house want to do some major remodeling. They have been very clear that their desires are to see fundamental change. Instead of all the house members having their own chores, the leadership wants to change the work schedule so that anyone who has ever had a grievance with the original owners can now spend all their time propped up in front of the TV while the descendants of the original owners pick up the newly created slack.
The leader encourages all of these divisive actions as a method to maintain control. Keeping people fighting with each other inside of the house will not only make the chandelier swing, but the floors themselves will become weakened. Instead of a calming voice from below telling the “brothers” to knock it off, the leadership encourages them to express their rage. Soon it spills over until every room in the house is filled with conflict. Conflict creates friction. Friction creates heat. Heat creates fire. Fire creates destruction.
Is the foundation strong enough to withstand the fires that are raging and about to grow stronger?
I hope so. I’ve stood fire watch for many years and always saw a glimmer of hope (real hope) at the end of each small flame. The important lesson was to always try and catch the flame while it was still pretty small.