There is a Great America Out There
This weekend I went out to my favorite outdoor range in Southern California to run some rounds down range. What I found at the range that day was America.
Since I was alone, I decided to relax, just observe people, and take it all in.
This range is a place where the owners are women, the daughters of the founder. These are highly successful business people, with a very large, very well oiled operation. They are also accomplished shooters in their own right with one of them making the US Olympic team. This is a strong family, a good family, a patriotic family. Even though they see thousands of people a week, they know me and they know my girlfriend. We give them gifts every couple months, maybe something we make or something that we found that we thought they would like. We feel like they are family and they treat us the same.
After I checked in and said hello to the ladies in charge, I waited in the line to get to the private shooting bays. There was a pick up truck in front of me with a father and two kids inside. The father got out and let the kids out. He had the tattoo's on his arm that told me he was ex-military, probably a Marine. The two little kids, a boy and a girl, were about 6 and 7 years old. They had on camouflage hunting pants and orange baseball hats. I swear they were the cutest damn kids...well behaved and you could tell this was a father that took good care of them. The boy had been given a .22 rifle for his birthday in May he proudly told me. Can you remember what it was like when you're father told you that you were now grown up enough to have your own rifle? What a day that was! That young kid, reminding me of what that day felt like, gave me the gift of flashing back and feeling that same feeling, but through him this time with his beaming face and proud chest-out stance. I smile every time I think of him now.
I had the opportunity to simply observe, so I did. I could see that he had been careful to make sure that both kids were well outfitted. Their clothes were new and fit properly. His truck was clean, and he had all the firearms gear. He made use of the wait time by cleaning some small part to a gun. The kids watched him and occasionally asked him a question, which he patiently answered or showed something to them. You could tell that they both adored this guy. He was their super hero, you could see it in the way they looked up at him.
Behind me was the Asian caravan. About 10 cars filled with Asians who just could not wait to get out there and blaze away. So to recap the scene: Ahead of me I had a guy who looked like ex-marine Alex Rodriguez with his two kids, and the Asians behind me. I'm white, and I think there were maybe a couple other white guys in cars scattered around in the line. A black guy walked by to get a hot dog. He was there with his girlfriend because he was teaching her to get comfortable with her handgun which he had bought for her last Christmas. As usual we had a strong contingent of Latino's, who I have found not only love their guns, but whom are also very patriotic...love the USA, with many of them being ex-military.
What I saw at the range that day was America at its best. I then realized how important this place is, not just to me, but to all of us. People of every color, probably lots of different religious beliefs, guys and girls on a date, friends spending time together, families being together, fathers teaching children, women becoming empowered by learning how to defend themselves, old guys like me soaking it in and smiling. All of us getting along, laughing at jokes, being courteous and kind to one another, supporting one another like I supported that father for what he was doing, like I supported that boyfriend for teaching his girlfriend to shoot and defend herself. Like they supported me by being respectful to an old guy who still likes to blaze once in a while. This is the Great America that I know exists out there! I was looking at it, experiencing it. With all the crap we've been subjected to by crooked, lying, cheating, and stealing politicians lately, I'm sure some of us started to wonder if the good old and great USA was still out there. I know listening to the media was starting to get me down.
I'm glad to report to you that America, in all its GOODNESS, is still out there. A Great America, that is. It's hanging on by a thread, being held up by fathers like the one I observed today and old men like me. He's doing his part, and I'm doing my part, and I yearn to have others experience that powerful sense of pride in our nation that I felt in the past under great leaders that made us proud, that drove our economy up and delivered on jobs for everyone. I want my kids to know THAT America. We cannot allow politicians take away our ability to have this shared experience of shooting with our friends and family, teaching our young kids how to take care of themselves in the outdoors. We have to put someone in office that gives us national pride, delivers on jobs for fathers like that ex-Marine so he can support his two awesome kids. We need a leader that we can be proud of. Let's make the best choice we can in November.