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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Land That Time Forgot

We visited Gilbert Lake State Park in Upstate New York this weekend.  This place takes me right back to my childhood and I was thrilled to share it with the kids.  They both claim that they want to live in Upstate New York when they grow up.  Which, is a testimate to the greatness of "the land that time forgot," as my husband and I affectionately describe it.

Our trips to my home town are always enjoyable.  We always feel like we've stepped back in time and relish the simplicity of the area.  There's no traffic to contend with.  The scenery is breath taking.  Upstate people are kind and fun.  The food is spectacular (thank you Brook's Barbecue)!  My friends and family gather together and my kids are sweeter and completely grateful for the trip.

I got to see people I've not seen in 20 years.  It is a blessing that they remember me fondly, as my memories of them are wonderful.  This teeny, tiny town gave me the values that I carry with me, wherever we drag our pop-up.  What makes me a little sad is that this type of town seems to be dying.  A man I've known since I was a kid commented how there's just no money there and that people have to move away to make a living.  I keep wondering how it's kept going all of these years and what is changing?

As we stood at the Memorial Day celebration, I wondered how many other towns had no such ceremony taking place.  My family and I stood in the cemetary where some of our beloved family members are buried, listening to tradition.  Generations of families who share our reverence stood with us.  We had to travel away from our metropolitan living to enjoy it.   

Has America lost the values that these tiny towns hold dear to their hearts?  A Facebook share of a "remember what Memorial Day means" just doesn't cut it, in my opinion.  I felt guilty having to leave the ceremony early to beat traffic on our long ride home.  We passed many family barbeques along the way.  I hope that they paused their day off to remember who provided that freedom to them.  It is many of the men and women from these tiny towns who have provided it.  The pride in serving our country has not been lost on them.  These tiny towns may not be fancy, but their value cannot possibly be quantified.

In a perfect world, I'd be able to raise my children there too.  Unfortunately, my home town has to stay in my heart and in the values I pass on to my kids while living in other places.  My parents were smart to live there, where they still remain.  My son noticing my family's pictures on the walls of the American Legion was not a small thing for him.  He will carry the pride of their service with him wherever he goes.  Seeing my mother holding hands with her brother marching down the parade route as a member of the Auxiliary is a memory I won't forget either. 

The apple pies and flags are images that should not have to be something of our past.  Wherever we live, we can plant the seeds that these small towns placed in our hearts.  We can all pass it along to our larger towns and bring back the America we remember from our childhood.  I really don't want America to mean Kardashian or Real Housewives of whatever city when more of the population is more like the folks from The Waltons.  Waving an American flag should evoke a strong, emotional response and if it doesn't than you might be doing it wrong.  My hometown may seem like the land that time forgot, but it is not forgotten; it is now mobile.

  <This image taken by Cleen Gray at last year's ceremony>

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