Last week I attended a rally for presidential candidate Senator Rick Santorum. I became interested in him fairly early in the campaigning and was cheering for him on the night of the Iowa Caucuses. My respect for and support of him have only grown since then. When he won three states in one night last week, I was dancing in the light of my TV. I discovered he’d be in Dallas the next day and wild horses wouldn’t have kept me away.
A last minute notification that we had in-laws arriving at DFW almost achieved what wild horses couldn’t. It was close, but we made it. Huffing and puffing from a quick sprint across the parking lot, we muscled our way into the crowd in time to hear radio announcer Mark Davis introduce the next president of the United States, Rick Santorum. I suspect the Santorum advance team members hadn’t guessed their candidate would be riding so high when they chose a small event barn in Plano as the sight of the rally. Conservatives were hanging off the proverbial rafters and reverently surrounded the building in deep crowds, hoping to hear the senator.
There were all the usual introductions and words of appreciation. Then the senator acknowledged the types of people in the audience who were most often attracted to his campaign. One of the groups listed was veterans, and that’s when he took a little detour. First, Mr. Santorum recited many of the amazing accomplishments of The Greatest Generation, but then he went one step further.
He reminded us that when these people were born, there was nothing about them that was any different than the rest of us. What made them The Greatest Generation was the way they responded to the challenges they were faced with – they rose to the occasion. That was a perspective I hadn’t thought of when it came to my parents’ generation. I’d always just assumed there must have been something in the air or the water that made them that way. Maybe picking cotton or growing up without TV just made someone inherently better.
Then the presidential candidate reminded us that we were facing some tough times, too. He challenged us to rise to the challenges we had now in the same way our Greatest Generation did. I found his words inspiring.
He rounded out the evening by asking us for our support. Then, he had to be whisked away to another destination and the crowd began to break up. My husband grabbed my hand and hurried towards our car.
Steps away from where we’d been inspired by Santorum, stood a ragtag group of protesters, none of whom The Greatest Generation would have approved of. They held angry signs and yelled at us. The protesters provocations managed to wring a retort out of someone in the crowd and a scuffle ensued when one protester ran into the crowd of departing Conservatives, whacking folks with his sign. What a difference a few steps had made.
We’d stood in a crowd straining to hear the words of a man whose words were aimed at inspiring us to believe the best about ourselves. A few steps away, we were threatened by rabblerousers whose goal was to fill us with either fear or guilt – I’m not sure which. I haven’t mentioned the protesters cause on purpose. I don’t think they properly represented the group they claimed to support.
My parents are members of The Greatest Generation. I’m proud to be their child and they are proud of me. They have as much concern about the poor and disenfranchised as any liberal I’ve ever met, yet they hold staunchly to their conservative values. From day to day the media fluctuates on their prophesies concerning Senator Santorum, but I never fluctuate on my admiration for The Greatest Generation. How about you?