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Masons: Reasons for Fireworks!
By “Coach Gary” Micheloni
July and fireworks: Well, it is sort of a tradition around here, whether that be on the pages of this column, the views and ideas of the MCAA staff, or the deeply held beliefs of the men and women of the masonry industry: Independence Day is huge for all of us. The reasons may be varied, but they all tend to be related and amazingly similar!
The American Fourth of July celebration does tend to focus on the patriotism and desire for freedom boiling up in the 1770s and before. Rightly so. If not for then, the today would be completely different. We’d be talking about our royal family, and not our current concept of a republican form of government, coupled with the rights of the people. Amazingly enough, that truly American ideal has persevered for some 237 years – unprecedented in the history of this world.
Our main battle, back then, was with the British Crown. Many thought is simply to be foolish. And those naysayers were close to being correct. If not for a little luck now and then – some would say divine intervention – the uprising would have been short lived.
A saying we are familiar with is that “freedom is not free.” Our freedoms only began in 1776. The battle to preserve and guarantee them continues to this day. As I write this, people we all know personally are either deployed or serving in the military at this minute, getting ready to go (again?) or are just returning. They are people in our neighborhoods, churches and synagogues, community service clubs, recent graduates from high school and college – carrying that same torch of freedom and ensuring our liberties.
American history is filled to overflowing with accounts of the heroism and valor, which have saved and preserved this nation, along with her traditions and values. Let me share the names of just a few. Our freedoms of today can be traced directly to the battlefields at Lexington and Concord, Gettysburg, the Western Front, from the sands of Iwo Jima to the Battle of the Bulge, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and so many others. It is almost a sin to not list more.
I’m recently reminded that some 69 years ago, the landing of Allied troops at Normandy (D-Day) occurred. An important part of this was the mission of a company of U.S. Army Rangers to take over a position currently held by a German machine gun and artillery emplacement. Their guns would be trained on the troops coming ashore, so their removal was mandatory.
Please realize that this group of about 225 Rangers was to attack these guns at a place called Pointe du Hoc. If you Google this term, you will see the enormity of the task, because the Pointe was protected by 100-foot-high, vertical cliffs, just off of a short beach. You’ve just gotta see the picture.
So, their mission was to come ashore, scale these cliffs in the face of overwhelming machine gun and rifle fire, down the cliffs and at the Rangers, as they climbed up. About 100 of the Rangers actually survived and went on to complete the mission. Over half were lost. And let’s not forget this: Every Ranger was a volunteer. Such is the heritage of our country.
Bringing this back to the present day, compare your lot in life to that of a young, Army Ranger, while he is contemplating the enormity of the task before him. Sometimes it feels like the competition is playing dirty; things are not fair; the economy sucks; your business is just hanging on by a thread; life is tough! You finish the sentence – because it’s your life.
How did those Rangers get to the top? They wanted their goal more than the enemy wanted to deny them. And that’s a big part of the secret of life, isn’t it? Plus, the Rangers had a secret weapon. They had artillery of their own. Offshore lay the U.S. Navy, which could deliver a barrage of its own. They had plenty of ammo, the best guns, and more experienced people. The Rangers had the Navy in their corner of the ring. Just had to make the call and ask for the help.
So here’s the thing. For us in the masonry industry, we’ve got our own version of the Navy. We happen to call it the MCAA. They’ve got plenty of ammo, know how to deliver it, and have the best people around to make it all happen. These days, it’s a much easier call to make than the one that the Rangers’ radio man made.
Let’s face facts: Even with the Navy’s help, the task before the Rangers was daunting and not likely to succeed. But it had to succeed. There was no Plan B. This made their accomplishment all the more remarkable. Actually, the enormity of the mission probably helped the Rangers, as the German artillery overlooked this possibility, at first, thinking it impossible, until they were completely overrun.
You have got to believe that you can make it. To help you with that, remember where you came from, everything that your country has gone through, and the paths laid out by the pioneers ahead of you. Happy Independence Day, America!