A few years ago I went to my nephew’s wedding in Iowa–the little brown church in the vale –truly–the very one the song is about. It was sweet, a sisters trip is always fun, and my nephews treat me like royalty–coming all the way from California, as if it’s the other side of the world. But what has really stayed with me was having breakfast at a restaurant the next morning.
Just a local restaurant in one of many small towns, but I couldn’t get over the people, especially the teenagers, that came in while we were there. They were so down to earth, so congenial. No, they weren’t rednecks or hillbillies, and they didn’t come up and talk to us; they were just comfortable with themselves. Yes, they might have been slightly conspicuous without tons of jewelry or makeup, no body piercings, and no pink, green or blue hair. They looked so normal and they laughed and talked and teased as though they genuinely liked each other. They looked so wholesome, so just real, so comfortable. It made me wish we could raise our kids there, even though they were all grown.
I remembered it again tonight when I watched “60 Minutes” interview Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta, the latest recipient of the highest honor the military bestows. He was raised in small town Iowa. And he says he only did what anyone would have done in his position–he’s just a mediocre soldier, nothing great, he knows who he is. Those are the kind of people who rise to greatness.
Sal’s company lived through “hell on earth.” But Sal went into enemy territory after one of their own, and came out to say the honor should go to all the guys who were with him as well. Thanks, Sal, for reminding us that we are all in this together, that we are all needed… Thanks for modeling true, solid humility.