Let’s talk about our country the way we remember it. Back when folks were openly patriotic and proud to be Americans.
Everybody kept an eye out for their neighbors’ needs back then, helped in small ways to point the kids in the right direction so they would grow up with a sense of honesty and fair play, worked hard and gladly shared the fruits of their labors with others.
The good news is that Americans are still like that. Everyone I know is, in their hearts, fair-minded and kind, respectful and downright proud to live right here in the heartland of America.
I believe our country still bears the imprint of our Founding Fathers, courageous men and women who understood that the greatness of any nation is a bestowed gift from God. And we acknowledge that we who have inherited this gift are responsible for its future.
This means that whatever patina of ills have coated the surface of our nation today can still be scraped away to expose a strong and unblemished heart. It only takes the resolve of those who recognize the importance of paying back a portion of what they have so abundantly received.
One place I know where this goodness is clearly evident is Rocky Ripple, a small incorporated town in the middle of Indianapolis. The town is an island sandwiched between the canal and the White River, not far from the campus of Butler University.
Rocky Ripple was founded in 1928 as an incorporated village and continues today with its own governance. The population in the last census was 606.
In the middle of the town is Holdt Park, a lush, tree-lined green space where on the last Saturday of September every year the town sponsors an old-fashioned festival and art show.
Upwards of 100 artists and craftsmen bring their wares and set up their tents. Food vendors fire up their grills, and musical groups set up on the bandstand. A volleyball court becomes the world’s largest sandbox for the kids, and an adult pixie complete with gossamer wings floats through the crowd with a bubble machine, eliciting coos of delight from kids of all ages.
Folks start setting up for the festival around 7 a.m., and visitors begin arriving around 10 a.m.. Promptly at 11 a.m., someone mounts the bandstand, takes the microphone and sings our national anthem. There’s a hush then as the crowd stops and everyone stands with their hand over their heart.
There’s no political reason for this. It’s just Americans being American.