Larry Anderson

Maryville pays tribute to its veterans with memorials on the courthouse lawn and with the awesome Freedom Rock in Franklin Park. These reflect the patriotism, sacrifice and service of those who did the most for freedom and country. We are fortunate to have them.

We recently drove through the small town of Albia, Iowa, located on Highway 34 between Chariton and Ottumwa. We had noticed an impressive veterans’ memorial on other trips but didn’t stop for one reason or another. This time we did.

The Welcome Home Soldier memorial cannot be adequately described here, so I will simply mention it is one of the finest recognitions of service I have ever seen. It is multi-faceted, immaculate, historical and important. If you happen to be in the area or need a place to go for an afternoon drive, it is more than worth your time. I’m still thinking about it.

I think about other things too.

 I think about how I got to be 70 so suddenly and what I have learned from life. I have accumulated experience, but Confucius I am not. Nevertheless, I will share a bit for what it’s worth.

I have learned the most important things in life are family and health. That’s hardly a stunning revelation, but if we don’t remind ourselves of this  from time to time, neglect can occur followed by regret.

I have come to recognize the importance of goals, planning and focus. People get themselves in trouble when they make poor decisions due to a lack of the aforementioned. Poor decisions lead to far more problems than anything systemic as our nation’s skeptics may claim. Thought should precede action.

This pattern works well: obtain the education or training you need for the field you are best suited; find the best job you can in the area where you want to live; marry if so inclined; then have kids if you want. Now, this doesn’t mean a person won’t succeed if the plan isn’t followed precisely, but if you switch the order around, you will notice success becomes more challenging. Order works.

My mother used to say, “Mind your own bee’s wax.” This is sage if quaint advice, but other people’s business isn’t mine and vice-versa. Privacy must be respected.

There are plenty of people who are willing to make their problems your problems. Don’t allow it and be firm on that point. Obviously, I am not talking about being charitable, volunteering or lending a hand. These are different matters. Americans are a giving people, but there are those who will take advantage if the door is open. Think about it.

Happiness is a state of mind, and money can’t buy it. Money, however, can provide security and peace of mind. There is nothing wrong with being financially successful, and there is nothing noble about poverty.

I have learned we value most what we earn. This is why I am skeptical of handouts and excuses. I donate to veterans’ organizations all the time, but I don’t hand cash to drug-addled people on a street corner.

Don’t spend all of what you earn. If you do, you will end up with a lot of stuff you don’t need and little of what you do need. That’s a fact of life.

It isn’t what you earn, folks; it’s what you keep. Having something to show at the end of the year for your labor is a satisfying conclusion for time sold on the job. Don’t let liberals tag you as selfish simply because you have acquired what you want. Property isn’t sin.

Never tolerate immaturity in an adult, but don’t expect a child to know as much as you do.

I know several couples who are wonderful parents. They are mature, are teachers and role models, and are good citizens. Children are an investment, and they will respond positively to those who treat them well and pay attention to them. Inclusion works; exclusion doesn‘t.

I have learned most politicians are good, sincere people who want to serve their country and its citizens, but they can’t always fulfill every goal  they set or every promise they make. Many variables come into play that are beyond their control.

Finally, I have learned the American system isn’t perfect and never will be, but it is grand to be where I am. I take nothing for granted, you see, especially the veterans who have risked far more than I.

Larry W. Anderson is a retired educator.