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October 16, 2008

Family Reunion Traditional Values

Patricia A. Kelly

I had been to a funeral there just a week ago. Doris Grossnickle, a lovely woman, hard working, devoted to her family and her God, had died. She was 89 years old and had worked, helping her son with a painting job, and then cooking him dinner, on the day of her sudden death. The last time I saw her she was standing on the porch roof of a house in the city, helping him then, too.


Her death was quick and relatively painless, after a life of simplicity, love, hard work and devotion to God and family, in the finest American tradition.


Knowing she would be honored there, and at the invitation of her son, Monroe Grossnickle, I attended the 86th family reunion at the Grossnickle Church of the Brethren.


Peter Grossnickle came to America in 1743, on a ship from Europe. Familiar names in Frederick, such as Funck and Steiner, also appeared on the passenger list. Peter, some 260 years later, has thousands of descendents. A number of them grew up, playing freely on area farms near the church, near Harmony and Wolfsville Roads.


Lunch, a potluck provided by the many family members, was amazing. Fried chicken, green beans with ham, fresh greens, scalloped potatoes and delicious, moist cornbread with corn kernels in it…iced tea or cider, hot coffee, fresh fruit pies and pudding with cream desserts finished it off. Truly a meal to die for.


The Harmony Band played, just outside the church hall. I stood in the doorway, looking at the gorgeous blue sky, the hill behind the church filled with graves, the sign “Don’t ask who you are, but whose you are.”


I had stood on the top of that hill just a week ago watching the last burial prayers over the casket of Mrs. Grossnickle. Three pastors had officiated. Then Monroe, a convert to Messianic Judaism, added readings from the Old Testament and played the shofur, a traditional Jewish horn, as a call to God, an announcement that his mom was on her way to heaven. It was beautiful


As I stood in that doorway, I reflected on this family, their contribution to this country, and on their tradition, which also belongs to all of us.


This family reflects traditional American values, now threatened as never before.


We have a history-making election coming up, whoever wins. We’ll have a woman as vice president, or a man of color as president. To me, this is good change, and long overdue.


On the other hand, our country is in big trouble. Both sides have contributed to this, and both are doing a lot of tap dancing right now, attempting to shift blame. Our new mantra is “Change,” and it is definitely needed. Very importantly, however, are traditions of great value.


Are we nearing the end of the United States as a world leader?


Is our time of being a haven of personal independence, personal opportunity and personal responsibility at an end as well?


Is it time to relinquish independence, and move into a world government as well as a world economy?


Do our children have to give up on freedom and playfulness?


Must the government take over the medical industry as well as the banks and credit organizations?


Do we want to be starting wars with other countries that have not directly attacked us?


How many conditions must we impose before meeting with foreign leaders?


Should we be resorting to hateful, fear-enhancing attacks on our political opponents?


I think the answers to all these questions lie somewhere in the middle. I don’t know if either candidate is where we need to be. Let us consider the good in our traditions, and try to build on that.


Thanks to the Grossnickle family – for the reminder.


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