Last Saturday morning began with a speaking engagement before several desendants of Civil War veterans. For a moment we all remembered our ancestors and their sacrifices, sacrifices that included over 600,000 young men giving their lives for a cause and many more at home living in a state of fear, deprivation and in some cases starvation. Wars that followed also involved sacrifices and heartaches, but for some reason our own Civil War remains painful yet intriguing. The 150th anniversary of the Civil War began last year and many events are scheduled over the the next two and one half years to remember one of the most difficult times in our nation's past. After speaking, I struggled to remember a long list of holiday weekend errands which included a much needed haircut. Forsaking my regular barber for a chain barber shop, I was greeted by a very pleasant lady by the name of Madeline. Madeline is a native of Peru, married, mother of four children, Mormon, hard working, thrilled with her son's girlfriend, deferential to her husband, and generally glad that I had shown up on a weekend filled with football games that fill more stadium seats than barber chairs. I learned all of that about Madeline in the first two minutes of our acquaintance. I can conversationally compete with most anyone but Madeline ran circles around me. She is very happy that her children are learning customs and manners here in the United States and doing extremely well in school. Her older son is attending college to become an engineer and her younger children dream of attending veternarian school or pursuing other professions. Madeline spoke of each child in loving tones and with such pride in their behavior and aspirations that I couldn't help but be touched. Madeline came to this country with nothing, unable to speak the language and with little training for any job. Those conditions did not stop Madeline. Her neighbors worked with her to learn the language and to finally get a job. She adapted, learned, worked and then had the audacity to instill those same disciplines and beliefs in her children. I left Madeline's barber shop with great encouragement and the realization that so many around us from whatever background understand that happiness and success come not from taking from others but from hard work, sacrifice and a work ethic that our forefathers richly valued. Those beliefs are not founded in government or programs but in very unique concepts that value personal responsibility and the righteous cause of liberty. Madeline was definitely a breath of fresh air. I gave her a copy of my new book, "The Little Book of Annoying Questions" and she hugged my neck, the neck of a complete stranger, yet one that shared much in common with a Peruvian Mormon mom who just made my day. She gave a great haircut too!
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