The man in the picture is my husband, Paul. You’ve seen much of his art on my site, along with my poetry. Not only is he a wonderful artist, but he’s a teacher, a naturalist, a business man, an evangelizer, a true cowboy without a horse, a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He’s much more than that, but today he’s going to be re-enacting a frontier artist from the 1800s.
In those years, so long ago, there were no smart phones, no computers or internet and no cameras. To let people know what lay beyond the average person’s eye, artists went along on expeditions and painted what was discovered. Can you imagine experiencing great mountain ranges or the bubbling paint pots and geysers of Yellowstone for the first time? Can you picture camping close to Native American villages and visiting with unknown cultures? The raging waters of wide and perilous rivers, the uncharted terrain, the stories, the people – all of it was being seen by these early explorers as they mapped out this new land.
Paul has always said he was born in the wrong century. He’s happy to be in the wilderness. He likes every opportunity to witness God’s magnificent handiwork. Nature has been sort of a sanctuary for him, having been born and raised in the inner city of Milwaukee. In the 1800s our country was being explored, charted, inhabited by settlers. Trading with the natives had been established by the fur companies, and some trails had been carved out by the mountain men. However, most of the land from the Mississippi River to the Western coast was unknown. It must’ve been thrilling, exciting and frightening to experience it for the first time.
Today, the temperatures will rise into the 90s and Paul will don his 1800s garb. He’ll undoubtedly grow thirsty, tired and hot. Those early explorers were in the same boat, but they didn’t carry bottled water or have air conditioned homes to return to at night. They slept on the floor of the plains – got their water from a nearby stream and hunted for their food. Times have changed, but I don’t think the American spirit has died. It’s just getting used to all the comforts afforded it in the past couple hundred years.
As we look ahead to this weekend and the beginning of summer, let’s not forget those who built this great country of ours. We honor our veterans and those currently serving, but let’s remember those who forged ahead, without fear, to discover just what a gift this land is. Thank God for America. We still honor our flag. We still hold to the truth of the Constitution. We can travel across the vast horizons and behold the glory and majesty of our land – freely. Much blood has been shed to preserve our freedoms.
As vehicles get packed for a weekend of camping, summer fun, recreation and travel across this great nation, let’s keep in mind those early explorers as well. They had no idea what they’d face the next day, but they were compelled to see what lay ahead. God still has great plans for our land. I’m sure of it. Yet we must return to His ways if we are to keep the core values of our forefathers.
Memorial Day should be a day of remembrance, for all who made our land great and free for democracy. We should never forget the price paid for that gift.