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GUEST COLUMN: Are we starting to check out?

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Mike Ragland

Mike Ragland, Cave Spring city councilman

As a country we’ve always been diversified. We’re a country of strong opinions, or at least some of us are. Even in our Revolutionary War, we had Patriots, Loyalists, and about a third that just didn’t care one way or another. And until the British started burning that third out in the backwoods of the Carolina’s they had a better than even chance of putting down the uprising. But they made some serious mistakes in the South, and it cost them their colonies.

I love genealogy, it’s more than interesting. Especially the Scot-Irish Ancestors that settled the Appalachians. They were running from overbearing governments in their homeland, and all the rules and regulations of the American cities and states that make up the Northeast coast of the U.S. where they landed.

Yes, they were checking out. They built small cabins in the mountains, and attended to their own business. They would give a neighbor a helping hand if he needed one to get him back on his feet. But that was it. It was temporary.

Then they started heading west, looking for wide open spaces with more land. They found it, too, and built states and cities from what was called the American desert and badlands. And once again, they relished the isolation.

They fought a second war for independence, which is widely believed was completely fought over slavery, and is taught that way. Yes, the eleven states that seceded from the Union were slave holding states. Were they fighting for slavery? I don’t know, but if they were, what were Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia fighting for. You see, they too, were slave holding states. West Virginia left Virginia and was admitted to the Union in 1863, right in the middle of the war, as a slave holding state. So you tell me.

But back to our folks that didn’t want anything to do with that war either. Those same mountain folks refused in large to fight for either side. They had no interest in the conflict, they just wanted to be left alone, raise their kids, plant their crops, and mind their own business. All of us have a little of that mountain DNA in our blood. And we still have a streak of “leave me alone” in us.

During World War I, nobody wanted to go to Europe and fight. Wilson was re-elected in 1916 saying he kept us out of war. Yet we wound up in it anyway, and what happened. Wilson’s League of Nations was defeated, and Harding won the presidency promising to return the U.S. to an isolationist country.

Some things eventually get passed. After WWII, they set up the U.N., and unless I read the country wrong, a huge majority of Americans are sick of it, and would like to get out and move it from the country.

I, myself, have been more than strong willed in my personal and political beliefs. Like any good southerner I started my political life as a good Democrat. But in the early sixties the Democrat party left me, and a lot of my friends, too.

It took them a while because they were entrenched, but eventually sacrificed the solid south to beliefs that weren’t indigenous to ours. The ones our ancestors had brought into the mountains when they settled, and spread out in the hills and valleys were leaving our area fast.

The Republican Party seems to be suffering the same disease as the Democrats. They have forgotten who they are, where they came from, and who their base is. I had to leave them, too. So far, I’ve managed to stay independent, with a libertarian lean. But they, too, have some beliefs I can’t buy into, so for the near future will just check out of political shenanigans and stay independent.

What I have found as I get older is that I care less and less about the utterances of government on any level, and like my ancestors of old had rather be left alone.

I’ve made the statement that the only thing I wish the United States Government would do is ‘protect the coast, and tote the mail’ ... I know that’s a little far-fetched, and will never happen. But you’d be surprised at the messages I get from people just like me that’s fed up with government.

Then these hurricanes hit. It’s wonderful to see how the American people come to the rescue of those in need. They contribute everything they can muster. I don’t know about you, but I was extremely proud of our sheriff’s department for the way they handled the “care packages” to Texas. And all the other charities, that band together to protect our rivers, get toys to tots, raise money for mental health, and help the homeless. These are great, and just like the barn raising’s of old, when neighbors came to help each other, they’re temporary. They take care of the crises.

What’s not cool, is those that use a crises for a chance to loot and steal. It was sad to see Americans that weathered the storm in Florida looting stores after the owners had evacuated. To be honest, I’m surprised that more weren’t shot. I wonder if the media is covering some of the incidents. I have friends in Key West that talk about fighting in the streets with ball bats for two nights to keep looters from their homes and businesses. I never saw it reported.

I’ve said all of this to say that many more Americans are checking out each day, from both political parties. They’re a freedom loving people and will only put up with so much. They love the country, but not what it’s becoming. In those old days, they stood against Indians, Yankee soldiers, and outlaw guerillas from both sides that tried to hurt their families. And guess what, they won.

I don’t want to call this a political piece, more of a warning to those who would take advantage of people you think are weak, and the representatives that turn a blind eye to the country’s problems. It can’t continue, and you’ll lose.

Mr. Burk at Pepperell High used to tell us all the time “A word to the wise is sufficient.” Just like they banded together to take care of the storm damage, I remember what Captain Woodrow said in “Lonesome Dove” … “We won’t tolerate rude behavior.”

Mike Ragland is a Cave Spring city councilman and a retired Rome police major. His most recent book is “Living with Lucy.” Readers may contact him at or