Editor’s note: Chuck Norris’ weekly political column debuts each Monday in WND and is then syndicated by Creators News Service for publication elsewhere. His column in WND often runs hundreds of words longer than the subsequent release to other media.
I discovered someone this week who embodied the practices that I believe would restore our republic to its former heights of glory. He’s not a politician – no surprise there. He’s not a television pundit. He hasn’t written a book. He’s not a household name. He wasn’t a war hero, but he did serve in the U.S. military and was a culture and community warrior who bore a few classic American characteristics that our country needs now more than ever before.
Charles H. (Chuck) Norris, 88, of rural Mason City, Iowa, was born on July 23, 1925 – just four years after the birth of my own 93-years-young mother. Chuck was born in the small town of Earlham, Iowa (still with only a population of 1,450 in 2000) and raised there and in Plad, Missouri, before moving to Mason City at 14 years of age.
Herein lie the three critical virtues of this great American that could restore our country if we all modeled them, too, especially because they seem to be fading fast from the American landscape.
1) Chuck was patriotic and fought for his country. He didn’t nod at globalism while pledging the flag. He didn’t point out the country’s problems without being a part of the solutions. Mason City’s Globe Gazette said, “He served two years in the United States Army, serving in Japan during the occupation of World War II.”
I commend all who have served and continue to serve. And even if you couldn’t or didn’t, that doesn’t prohibit us from all being freedom fighters on multiple fronts. Like Chuck, let’s continue to stand up, tall and proud, for our founders’ principles and the red, white and blue.
2) Chuck had a strong work ethic his whole life.
After his military service ended in 1947, Chuck returned to Mason City and started his farming career with the personal aid of Gen. Hanford MacNider, an “Iowa farm boy” himself who was born in Mason City and transformed into one of Iowa’s best-known war heroes.
Chuck initially rented a farm just outside of town owned by another Mason City family. But in 1961, after he was married and had kids, they purchased their own farm between Mason City and Clear Lake. His and his family’s farming career spanned more than 60 years!
Again, the Gazette said, “He was truly a lifetime farmer and talked about checking the crops on the farm he loved until the day he died. … Chuck liked trying new things and he was always an early adopter of technologies that would improve his farm operation.”
Chuck had many interests and hobbies, including gardening, collecting antique tractors, going with others on tractor rides and taking fishing trips to northern Minnesota and Canada.
3) Chuck loved his neighbors and built up his community.
Again, the Gazette explained: “Chuck was involved in the community as a Lincoln Township Trustee, ASCS township committeeman, served on committees of the Clear Lake United Methodist Church and served on the Cerro Gordo County Farm Bureau board of directors. He was a DeKalb seed dealer along with his son, Charlie, for 30 years. He was a member of the Clear Lake United Methodist Church.”
Like a good leader, this is where Chuck knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. It may also be the greatest way to fix America. Yet it is also where I see most have dropped the ball, even those with the best intent: that is, being community focused and involved.
No doubt, Washington, D.C., has been messing up royally for decades – foremost by its inexhaustible overreach to solve each of our own community and household difficulties. The problem is, in response, we’ve often either thrown up our arms in some form of defeat or relinquished and enabled the federal government to do what states and – even more – community residents used to rally together to do for the first 150 years of our republic. (Let’s be honest: It’s much easier to critique Washington, D.C., at a distance than to love my neighbor next door.)
My hope for America is definitely not a hope built on the sinking sands of Washington politics. It’s because I believe in the men, women and God, who started our republic, and I believe their spirit alone can rekindle the sparks of a renewed nation in all of us.
I truly believe if America is to regain its standing as the greatest nation on earth, it will be because we have reignited the economic and communal fires of small towns and local communities across our country – like when they used to handle their own problems and issues without Washington’s intervention. Back then, they might not have had all the technological advances we do today, but they sure knew how to take care of their own.
My own 93-year-old mom wrote about it in her new autobiography, “Acts of Kindness: My Story,” when she was reflecting on our own rural Oklahoma roots:
Back during the Great Depression, we never quit helping others. Today, too many people are consumed with their own problems and only helping themselves. “What’s in it for me?” is the question most are asking. But back then, it was, “What can I do to help you?”
When times are tough, it is human nature to survive and not serve, but one of the secrets in life is that it’s actually in serving that we survive and even thrive. It is good exercise for the heart to bend down and help another person up.
If we help others, others will want to help us, too. But if we never reach out and no one else knows our needs, how can we help people or people help us?
Even if people needed medical care and didn’t have Medicare or Medicaid, they went to the hospital or clinic and someone took care of them. Most doctors made house calls.
Helping others often puts our own problems into proper perspective, too. Mama used to say, “If you think you’re having it rough, look over your shoulder at what others are going through.” I told the same to my children.
I believe giving our life to benefit others is the key to experiencing life to its fullest. That is why Jesus also said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It couldn’t get any clearer than that.
We didn’t just have one another to lean on, but we had God, too. In God we trust was not merely stamped on our money but embedded in our hearts. We all attended church and belonged to a faith community. Church was the hub of society, the community core and rallying point. We thought and worked in community. The way we saw it was: If one of us was chained, none of us was free.
4) Chuck was a good family man and role model
On June 19, 1948, Chuck married the love of his life, Ruth M. Ransom, at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Mason City, Iowa. They had two children, Linda and Charlie. Together, Chuck and Ruth enjoyed 66 years of marriage and life together.
The Gazette reported, “He was happiest when his entire family was busy working on the farm and during the family gatherings around the kitchen table at the farm.” His family included four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
His son, Charlie, echoed a similar sentiment to one of my research staff, saying his father was “a great guy, farmer and a good family man.” Then he paused and said, “He was a good role model.”
Aren’t those the type of accolades you want others to say about you at the end of life?
(Chuck is a great example of the type of father I describe in Chapter 7 of my book, “Black Belt Patriotism,” on “Honor and care for the traditional family.”)
Chuck left to his earthly home on July 8, 2014. A celebration of his life was held July 12, 2014, at the Clear Lake United Methodist Church.
In the end, it wasn’t some supra-normal ability or achievement that made Chuck stand out as unique in today’s world. It was his good ol’ American grit, grind and good character that set him – and those like him – apart from everyone else. Sound like anyone you know? I hope so!
Chuck’s early life ended, but his legacy didn’t. Indeed, the American dream and drive was passed on to him from his parents and was handed down from him to his posterity, maybe just like someone did for you.
Thomas Jefferson was right on the money when he said, “The cement of this union is the heart-blood of every American.”