Mobilize the Forces

During a recent 12-hour drive, I was able to spend the better part of a day listening to one of my very favorite voices. Tom Brokaw narrated his book, The Time of Our Lives, as I drove my boys through several states as we made our way to our vacation destination. My boys were plugged into their gizmos, and it felt like Mr. Brokaw was sitting next to me. What a great way to spend a day! More than anything, the book’s subtitle appealed to the former history teacher in me: A Conversation about America: Who We Are, Where We’ve Been, and Where We Need to Go Now, to Recapture the American Dream.

Brokaw offered spot-on advice, advice from which I believe all politicians could learn. Much like he did in “Our Greatest Generation,” he shared stories with lessons and values I admire. One suggestion that stuck with me, and which buzzed around in my head for a few weeks, was the idea that we have an entire generation of the most-qualified volunteers this nation has ever seen.

I’m convinced we could solve many of our nation’s problems with the help of our retired friends and neighbors. They could help educate, mentor, lead and advise in the classrooms, clubs and community centers of our cities. They are an excellent pool of potential volunteers.

There’s an 80-year-old woman who is a member of our church who remains active in international mission projects, traveling at least once a year to remote corners of the world to do good. One of my retired neighbors recently hiked Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for a charity near to her heart. My father continues to lead his Rotary group and several community and church committees as he approaches his 70th birthday. Rarely a day goes by that he doesn’t have a committee meeting of some kind. I often comment that I want to be just like these folks when I grow up. What I really mean is that I hope to do as they are doing when I am retired and have more time under my control.

So here’s hoping my garden doesn’t look any better and my floors aren’t any cleaner after I retire. Here’s hoping that instead, I’m making a difference right here in our community in a way that matters just a little bit more.