This time of year it is pretty easy to get excited. All of the fall hunting seasons are open, while whatever kind of fishing is preferred is pretty special too. As outdoor enthusiasts it is hard to think of a better time.
On the surface that is almost enough to be thankful. However, there is much more, particularly when it comes to how this country was founded, settled and has evolved. Wild things and places have been there from the beginning. The vast and abundant natural resources were what natives knowingly utilized and pilgrims learned over time. Just a peak at an honest history book will reveal that fact.
What is also disclosed is how this land was settled and how America’s culture evolved. The contributions were in many different forms, from diverse contributors and came with a price paid in a variety of ways.
This month we celebrate Thanksgiving and remember the pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower in September 1620. The traditional Thanksgiving story says those 102 English Puritans learned from the native Indians and those natives received their initial introduction to people with a vastly different way of life.
Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the Colony of Virginia on May 4, 1607, almost 13 years prior to the landing at Plymouth Rock. But this isn’t the beginning of settlements by a European country on this continent. To the south, St. Augustine founded September 8, 1565 by Spain, is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. The French explored the St. Lawrence River in 1534 while Norseman Leif Erickson landed on a portion of this continent in 1001 well before Christopher Columbus arrival in 1492.
From the beginning this country has always been a melting pot of influences that originated in many places from around the World. The diversity and contribution of those people continued over our entire history and to this day.
Every European country had people wanting a new life and were willing to sacrifice in ways that most times were never chronicled in any history book. Many did not arrive with the skills to deal with the difficulties that lay ahead. However, they either adapted, overcame and learned, or were “consumed” by the land where they staked their future.
Today there is on-going discussion by some as to who traveled the most difficult road to this new land called America. The reality is there is no way to quantify whose influence was greater, paid a more significant price, or suffered or were oppressed more. The truth is each of those forefathers’ contribution played a role.
The opportunity to be in this land did not come without hardship. Nothing of value ever does. Freedom, a new beginning, or opportunities, even if it took generations to be realized, does not come without a price.
Eventually all of these different people, regardless of how willing or not, that arrived in this land united under one flag, spoke one language, and followed one set of guiding principles to build a country that remains the envy of the world. That is the reality of America’s history.
This month, in those quiet times we individually share with the out-of-doors, try to imagine what it was like without the modern equipment and conveniences of today. Try to place yourself in the array of struggles by those that preceded us.
Regardless of individual family origin, our forefathers sacrificed in order for us to enjoy the bounty of today. That is the larger Thanksgiving story for which we give thanks. For many the outdoors is a constant reminder of where all of this began. That is a past we can all be proud and thankful.
Until next month: Pursue all of your outdoor activities in a safe and ethical manner.