I'm almost ready to open my window and shout as loudly as I can, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" and retreat to Weston Monastery until the voting is complete.
In the meantime I'm offering my thoughts on "I am Vermont strong," a more pleasurable subject. A seemingly new battle cry, but I suspect it is been a part of Vermont history from its very beginning, whether spoken or not, even before Vermont became the 14th state of the union in 1791. It seems to have recently emerged from the great challenges that so many Vermonters were facing as a result of hurricane Irene which hit Vermont so savagely in September 2011. As it turned out not facing the challenges alone but aided by friends, neighbors and even total strangers who came to help, to comfort, to share the heavy burdens that so many Vermonters were now shouldering.
I learned some of Vermont's first immigrants first came from Connecticut. The question is why? Because those who came wanted to give their families a better life than they were now living in Connecticut where the soil was very sandy. Vermont's was very fertile, so they came in droves, they built their cabins, planted their fields, some of the very first who could say, "I am Vermont strong!"
The early years are filled with stories of tragedy, compassion,
From Ireland, Italy, Wales, and England they came to work the granite and marble quarries. The very first one was in Dorset in 1785.
It can be truly said of the earlier farmer "A woman's work is never done." The women and girls milked the cows and fed the pigs and poultry, made bread and cheese, carried wood and water and swept their homes with brooms made of thin birch sticks. They made their own cloth, knitted stockings for their husbands, children and themselves and again they could say, "I am Vermont strong."
Let me share a story about a neighbor to neighbor help involving Jonas Boutelle, an early settler in Franklin County. The following words recorded in a diary.
"Jonas was hurt by the fall of the tree working with Eli Bell browsing cattle quite a distance from his home. He was reported dead and neighbors rallied to bring him home and when they arrived he was not breathing. His eldest son quite young left when his father had blackened out with his mouth causing him to catch breath and with a remarkable presence of mind obtained water from a nearby spring, wet his father's face and put a little into his mouth. Mr. Boutelle was not fully conscious until Dr. Hall had operated on his skull and addressed the wound. The doctor had to travel 42 miles to return home."
Vermont history is filled with so many firsts. In addition to providing for a state university in Castleton, Vermont.
It built the first land-grant college, the first normal school, the first private military academy, and the first college of training for women.
In 1834 the first electric motor by a Brandon blacksmith named Thomas. The first stars and stripes flag used in the battle of Brattleboro, sewn in old Bennington and was presented to Col. John Stark who led his colleagues at the battle of Bennington, considered the turning point of the Revolutionary war.
The list goes on. The country's first navigational canal, first pulp paper mill, the first US patent, number one signed by George Washington for making potash out of wood ashes. The first state to abolish slavery in 1834. Born in Rutland, John Deere fashioned the first steel plow. In 1846 Vermont was the first state to establish rural free delivery in the world. James Harkness of Springfield invented the first turret lathe that revolutionized the machinery industry throughout the world.
The voting record of Vermonters has been also outstanding from its very beginning, Vermonters who then and now appreciate one of the most precious gifts from God, passionately defended by our Constitution and for which much blood has been spilled, too many young lives lost in war to ensure us the right to vote freely.
Also to be noted voted in local elections, school boards membership, county, state, and national elections.
I am reminded that many countries have no elections and new emerging ones where citizens have walked for hours and then stood in line for hours for the privilege to vote. Indeed how blessed to be free to be able to express how we feel about matters of great importance, again an expression of I am Vermont strong.
I close with words expressed by Calvin Coolidge in an extemporaneous speech he made in Bennington in the fall of 1928. Cal, who was known as silent Cal, offered us words that are an expression obviously of his love for Vermont, an expression that is almost poetic and in which we can refer to from time to time to express the spirit the words, "I AM VERMONT STRONG."
"Vermont is a state I love. I could not look upon the peaks of the, Killington, Mansfield, and Equinox without being moved in a way that no other scenes could move me. It was here that I first saw the light of day. Here I received my bride. Here are my dead pillowed on the loving breast of our everlasting hills.
I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, but most of all because of her indomitable People. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the union and support of our institution should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont."
Hal DeBona lives in Dorset.