is a column written by my husbands uncle, Duane Dailey, & published in The Mirror, a weekly newspaper in Mercer, Missouri. He is a semi-retired ag photojournalist at University of Missouri in Columbia. he wrote this after the recent family reunion. This column appeared in the July 8 2009 edition.
Fourth of July deserves more than big-bang fireworks
For me, potato salad was the all-American highlight at the Fourth of July carry-in family dinner at the Methodist community hall. The counter filled with salads, casseroles, compotes, and roasted meats with each new arrival.
Side tables bore cakes, cooies and pies--gooseberry to raisin cream. What a bountiful food supply we take for granted. We gave slight thought to the farmers who produced it; but applauded the cooks.
The hometowners worried: How many will attend. Will there be enough food? Or, will high prices of gas and plane tickets stop travelers from California or Florida? The answer: No. Whether by Volkswagen Bus or airplane, they came.
This was a once-a-decade reunion, an all-out effort to bring kin together. My Uncle Wesley, when he was among us, called it a gathering of in-laws and outlaws.
Individual families gather at the holidays. However, this is a gathering of two clans, Dailey-Shroyer, with our Germanic and Scot-Irish heritages. This merging of cultures started long ago. Today we treasure our differences and common concerns.
At this reunion, we update family histories, greet the newborns and recall the deceased. The genealogists tell of their finds in the archives here and abroad. The Internet extends our searches beyond cemeteries, courthouses and State Historical Society, where I started 60 years ago.
In brief programs, we heard hints of our converging heritages. We need reminders of our Whig ancestor's fights, when they opposed the monarchs in Great Britain. They wanted to worship at their church not a state church, to farm land not owned by a laird and to run a business without dictates from the king.
Meanwhile in Europe our Mennonite ancestors, when chased out of Switzerland decided there were better worship places in the New World, starting in Pennsylvania.
These stories told on the Fourth of July remind us why our forefathers fought to write our Constitution and Bill of Rights. These tales are better for us than watching the rocket's red glare of fireworks. Hard fought freedoms are as important today as then, because there are still those among us who would be our monarchs. They would take us into wars for their family honor or personal wealth.
Our firecracker holiday has lost the patriotic oratory that reminds us of reasons for the War of Independence. We must recall why ancestors put their necks on the line.
As natives of other lands, our ancestors were oppressed by their own leaders. When their lands were taken, they came here to be free. An ironic note: We were reminded that our ancestors were the first illegal aliens.
My mother reminds us, she's glad that when they headed west, our ancestors stopped in Missouri, a land of rich soil, good timber, and flowing waters. A place to build cabins and plant corn to grind into meal. Their lives hold lessons we must hold dear.
Late in the evening of the Fourth, as I checked bowls of leftovers in the fridge, the potato salad called to me. Potato salad as only made by my mother, who learned from her mother-in-lawm who undoubtedly learned from her mother.
The salad contains tart vinegar, plus sugar, on a mix of mashed potatoews, boiled eggs, and pickles. What a treat. The mixing and melding of foods and flavors creates an exotic dish from an Irish potato.
Likewise, our families are mixes of ethnic differences. Soon, we'll trace genealogies (notice that base word) by DNA blood samples of our mitochondrial genes through maternal lines to regions of the globe, whence we came.
We can do that with cows. What an eye opener for us. We will trace our ancestors, and then read the history fo the country at the time they were living there in the early 1700s, when they headed this way.
It's good to remember this better way of life on the Fourth of July.