OK, so how do you write a last column after 14 years of writing a column nearly every week?
First of all, this probably isnít the last time you will ever hear from me. Iím too opinionated to keep quiet for long, but this is the last time I will write the ďEditorís 2 CentsĒ column, so I wanted to mark the occasion somehow.
But for once Iím at a loss for words. Should I take on the Democrats one more time? Should I bash the Republicans as spineless cowards? Should I try to encapsulate 34 years at the Inter Lake in 500 words or less? Should I give thanks to my mother once again for everything she gave me that prepared me for the winding road of life? Should I praise my family, my co-workers, my friends, my community?
All of these are reasonable alternatives. I have done versions of all those columns at one point or another. But somehow they fall short of the moment. On the other hand, giving lengthy thanks publicly to God for the many opportunities I have been afforded would be self-serving. I hold that counsel between myself, my family and my closest friends. Just know I am aware I did not get here without help.
So whatís left to write about? I feel that it must be my passion, and that is the country I live in ó the United States of America. ďMy country ítis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing Ö :
I am so grateful for a childhood lived in part under the shadow of World War II, which taught me that individual human beings when banded together could not just withstand evil but vanquish it.
I am grateful for those Fourth of July parades on Filorís Lane in Stony Point, New York, where I watched the old men of World War One, the middle-aged men of World War Two and the young men of the Korean War march together under the common banner of 50 stars and 13 stripes, the flag of freedom.
I am grateful for growing up in Stony Point and learning the legend of Mad Anthony Wayne and the Battle of Stony Point so that the Revolutionary War was not just something I read about in a textbook but something that I could live and breathe and walk through. I knew about the ďforlorn hopeĒ of brave volunteers who led the charge with axes and picks and understood that our nation was born of blood and guts as much as the high-minded words of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Still, I am grateful, too, for the Declaration and Constitution that enshrined the sanctity of the individual and gave us common cause.
I am well aware that patriotism, or love of country, is not the exclusive quality of those born in or sworn to the United States of America. Each country rightly has its own claim to the hearts of its citizens, but those of us who are American ó†and who understand the miracle of America ó have the added benefit of knowing that our country has advanced the cause of freedom and human dignity more than any other.
So, yes, let me take my leave not by singing my own praises, or yours, but by pledging allegiance to the flag, the republic, the country that birthed me and grounded me and taught me humility. ďMy native country, thee, Land of the noble free, Thy name I loveÖ Our fathersí God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing.Ē
Stay strong, and donít be afraid to make America great again. Letís roll.
Frank Mieleís last day as managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake is Sept. 26. Stay in touch via his personal email at firstname.lastname@example.org. An open house will be held at the Inter Lake office on Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 4-7 p.m.