Rebuttle to a Politically Correct Mindset

I cannot agree with your harsh opinion. Being an astute lover of history, I can see where you and others can draw your conclusion. But, unfortunately, in a zeal to court the politically correct stance, you and others have forgotten to really study the actual motives of the Plymouth Plantation/Mayflower Compact members.

They were not employed to raise tobacco as Jamestown was. No matter what “Negative Neds” say, the Pilgrims did endure the long arduous trip to New England in order to establish a place to raise their families worry free from the oppressive rule of the king of England and his insistence on religion being the one and only religion.

The beautiful thing about the First Thanksgiving was that it was a celebration of the wonderful bounty of crops the Pilgrims were able to harvest at the advice given them by the Native American Indians who had already lived on North American soil for centuries.

The Plymouth Pilgrims had made and ceremonially agreed to a Treaty of Peace with the Wampanoag tribe. It was maintained for 50 years. Eventually, the clash of colonists vs the NA came to a head. Plus, England, France & Spain were starting to dip greedy fingers into the New England “pie”.

But I celebrate Thanksgiving for this heroic, historical event that is a marvelous testament to Mans’ ability to brace against the cruel forces of nature and survive. Their story is the stuff made of “Herculean” endeavor. It is also a story of complete trust in the good of God.

The Pilgrims, nor the Jamestown colonists didn’t come to America to infect the Native Americans with smallpox.

That was an accidental misfortune brought in by the the remaining Pilgrims & sailors from their voyage across a turbulent ocean. ( see •)

1620 and 1621 were years of brutal New England weather, which is still a hardship even today. Just to have survived those snowstorm blizzards, somehow find a safe port and somehow build a common house in such weather was a miracle. Any Indian corn remaining in buried baskets, helped sustain the starving Pilgrims. (The next spring they completely replenished the Indian stores there.) They were God- fearing Christian people with a true conscience and were made of mettle.

Squanto and Samoset were miracles in themselves. Having been kidnapped by previous, not so altruistic, seafaring merchant ships both Native Americans managed to learn English in order to eventually sail and find their way back home to America. Not only did they not hold a grudge, but they also utilized good intentions by teaching the Plymouth Pilgrims how to survive in New England. To me, the entire story is a heartfelt coming together of two worlds of two peoples of two fates and managing to see that we are all of this planet together. By the time the Green Corn Festival was about to happen, as it did every year in the tradition of Native American culture, the settlers were ready to harvest their bounteous crops. They invited the Natives, who brought not only 75 representatives, but also, 5 newly killed deer. The Plymouth Pilgrims feasted with the 75 Native Americans for 3 days. Red man and White man alike played sports, and the women shared skills. It was a beautiful thing I wish I could have experienced.

Remember: the peace lasted for 50 years. All of this is proven by documentation. And when one only has the small attitude to just believe the politically correct angle that’s been projected for the last 20 or so years, then it’s a tragic~~ very pitiful ~~oversight, on one’s part. I will never buy into it. In addition, I will continue to realize we are all a flawed species, no matter what our skin color or continent of origin. Just as two brothers cannot share the same bedroom in peace, so is the same for whole groups of people sharing land. Indeed this is true in America— because the very concept of what land is, and access to it, is controversial as each group of mankind firmly believes in their own philosophy.

All we can do is celebrate the good and acknowledge the bad- especially in a personal promise to not perseverate the negative.

Finally, being born into a family born from Vikings, the desire to travel and conquer is innate. We can court the romance of the explorers across the seas, and do our best to hold the need to establish power at bay. We must step down from our PC high horses and think in perspective, always. That is, we must respect the philosophies of others and be aware of the thinking of their time, and not berate them for it.

•Correction: The Mayflower sailors and Pilgrims were carriers of smallpox and did not know modern medicine nor how to effectively deal with it. Hence, they lost half of their voyagers along the way…and more once they landed.

But, previously, other ships from England and other countries also carried the disease. By the time Squanto and Samoset got back to their Massachusetts Cove, they found ALL their tribe died of the disease. Both men watched (in hiding), from a hidden distance, throughout the winter without approach until March. By then, they knew the settlers meant no harm. The forgiveness factor speaks volumes, and should continue to do so to this day. This in itself, is a poignant reason to fully celebrate the First Thanksgiving in America!


Lidia’s Children and Family,

We come to this day where we must all face the reality that a very beautiful person is no longer walking upon this earth. Today will not be an easy one to navigate emotionally, but it is a special one. In the past weeks, I like all of you, but only in my own small way, have gone through the metamorphosis of steps involved in grieving. For me, as only a friend and not part of Lidia Strong’s core family, the grieving has not been easy. Some days I don’t even face it and other days I do, too much. My most lingering, salient fear, is that I could have done more to ease her pain. I know I should have been a more consistent friend… but truthfully, I’m mostly just a coward. This last year, there were lots of times I was afraid to see my colleague and friend. It made me think of my own loved ones I have lost. It made me think of my own mortality. Anyway, that is my one regret, that I should have tried harder. But it’s too late to do anything about it now. What I can do, perhaps, is create some comfort for the living left behind. That would be all of you. Thus, I would like to say a few things about your remarkable Lidia.

Lidia and I were two teachers teaching in a school where it was easy to lose yourself in your work and not really engage in excess communication with working peers. I quickly recognized Lidia to be the kind of teacher who relished her own moments at lunch—she welcomed visitors to her classroom door, but, I knew she preferred to either read or listen to her favorite Japanese bands while eating her lunch. What I liked about Lidia was that she was a matter of fact person. She had a gifted way of listening to your quibbles and ailing thoughts, but as soon as such knowledge was dispensed unto her, she would shoot it right back with a positive alternative. Lidia was a terrific person to bounce your ideas off of, because her answers were unfettered and unadulterated— as they occurred she’d tell them to you in blatant, factual manner. She was a pretty wise person in my opinion. More than just I,  have said this. Lidia was a good solid thinker and solution finder. Other teachers at Valleydale had said from time to time, “Lidia is very smart”. What better compliment is there, coming from teachers? Her intelligence was utilized well in her classroom.

You see, Mrs. Strong, as we all knew her, came to school every day to simply teach. No politics, no bending to the latest whims in Education, no making excuses for children’s pitfalls or background history, she just simply came to teach and get her job done. This is no easy feat as any teacher can tell you. However, if anyone knew and lived the phrase “ Stay the course”, it was Lidia. That’s what I liked about her. She stayed true to her pedagogical philosophy and kept on keeping on. Thus, you could often see her listening to a child read to her at recess or after school. She had terrific patience and was to make it very clear, she was devoted to her students. She knew any way to get to a student was the best way.

Lidia had her own clever ideas for motivation. She made up her own games and incentives. She was constantly tweaking her craft. This kept her young charges under her control and in anticipation with what the next fun way to learn would be. Lidia also was in accordance with my own belief, that creativity is king, and opportunity to shine musically or artfully were just as important endeavors as conquering the writing of a perfect paragraph. I remember once when I was teaching recorder after school, she showed up on my classroom threshold and meekly asked if she could “watch”. She then plunked down on the floor with the rest of the kids and whipped out her own recorder. Lidia wanted to learn to play the recorder, too, so she could then guide her own students on the journey of music performing. One year she wanted to do a school program presentation of a Japanese song. She was driven to make it work, and she did. Mrs. Strong just dove right in and made a joyful thing out of it. Many children have benefited from her unique brand of teaching. Thank goodness.

What some of my colleagues in the teaching community may not know, is that Lidia lived her own creativity. She dabbled in painting and would never tell a single person she was an artist. I only discovered this later when I happened to go by her house. She was a fine painter. We had planned to drive up a local mountain road to a lookout point and set up an easle. Sorry to say, we never followed through. Lidia also, had a piano in one of her classrooms and I learned that she could play piano, as well. But in recent years, her passion lay in her love of living things- especially gardening. She often worked in her yard front and back, and it was a thrill for her last spring when shamrocks appeared to be blooming in a carpet of yellow on her front lawn area. One of the last things I knew of that she did in relation to horticulture, was to personally build an herb garden table. She was working on it in her garage; wood, nails, hammer and all. I thought that was very bold of her, and as I said before, she never minced words or goals, she just decided, and would do them. Lidia kept her sights straight and pure.

This last point I want to make, is perhaps the hardest to say. Lidia, my friend, was a true blue friend. You could count on her for anything, any time. If she couldn’t, she would just say she couldn’t. That almost never happened. But, Lidia helped me through many hurdles. When I was ever too ill to go teach, she would come by my house and pick up my lesson plans. Never complained or said no. If I needed a ride to pick up my car from the shop, she would come and get me and take me. I have been battling being overweight. She was always there to walk with me, to get me going. She would never push me too hard. I appreciated that. Do you know what a true blue friend is? Someone who says yes to the request of a friend who needs an early morning before the teaching day begins walking buddy. I actually was able to walk around the block before sunrise, knock on her door, and we’d proceed to walk a good brisk walk around several more city blocks. By the time we would be done, the sun would be up. Lidia, never put up a stink about such a request, but it was the only way I could keep my regimen going at the time. Eventually, we both mutually agreed enough with the cloak of dawn walking. I am forever grateful for her sacrifice in this regard. That is being a real friend.

All in all, Jason, Josh and Meghan, your mom was pretty wonderful. I feel privileged to have had her as a friend and colleague. I’m indebted to her walking with me on those seering hot mornings with her dogs in tow, last summer and fall when we had both retired. But, honestly, if she hadn’t walked with me, I might have died prematurely. Walking was crucial to my living a quality life. Her strong advice, has helped me immensely. Your mother was an excellent listener and an excellent solution finder. I’m sure you know that. I know she was devoted to you three just as much as she was to her pupils. She was really proud of your choices you have made as young adults and I’m sure will be with you over your shoulder every day for the rest of your life.

When I think of Lidia Strong, I think of a nurturer. She nurtured her plants, her pets, her students, her friends and her family. She brought appreciation of music and art to life. She was beautiful herself. I will miss her, always.


Julianne Cull