Thomas Jefferson: Written in Stone
The worst of the pandemic, perhaps, in the rear view; a nation tired and shaken looks for a way to celebrate its birthday in public for the first time in two years.
We spent the morning in Springfield Center, delighted and refreshed as the crowd grew in happy anticipation of the return of the Town’s rightfully heralded Fourth of July Parade. A joy to behold, a joy to talk with the participants as they lined up for the 11 a.m. step-off. Moms and dads, children and grandparents, friends and neighbors coming together on a postcard-perfect morning to celebrate the nation and salute the first responders, the veterans, the children, the bands so proudly marching by.
Then, the drive back to Cooperstown brings news of a wholly different parade experience in Highland Park, Illinois, one in which seven died and dozens were injured because this country has failed, repeatedly, to ban the sale of assault weapons. Because it was more important for Congress to pull a muscle patting itself on the back last week for passing “groundbreaking gun safety legislation” strong enough to barely break a pencil in half. Good job, Congress. You blew it, again.
With the news this week that the Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville was going to “pause” operations of its maternity services because of the resignations of several members of that department who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the not unexpected consequences of the recent New York state and federal mandates for healthcare workers suddenly hit very close to home. While it is certainly difficult to envision both the future of these workers when no other work options exist under the circumstances and the potentially disastrous impact of the mandates on a notoriously understaffed profession, one cannot help but wonder what possible reason these workers have for surrendering their professions by refusing a vaccine that has been well proven as safe and effective, and is without question saving millions of people from a devastating disease and a gruesome, untimely death.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
(After retiring, one-term President John) Adams led a quiet life, tending to his farm, while Jefferson’s presidency came and went. Twelve years after he left Washington, Adams finally snapped out of his funk and sent a letter to his old rival…
Jefferson wrote back immediately, remembering the long years in which “we were fellow laborers in the same cause.” For the next 14 years, a fountain of prose gushed from these two master stylists, divided in politics but reunited in friendship.
Much of it was personal – proud parents discussing their children and grandchildren, lamenting losses, complaining of small ailments as they aged. In his last letter, Jefferson used the Greek word “Argonaut” to describe their long journey together, and their correspondence retained a grandeur befitting two patriarchs who had weathered so much on behalf of the same cause.
Adams and Jefferson died, with startling fidelity to the cause and to each other, on the same day: July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration on which they had labored together…
Even before their unforgettable joint exit, the two former rivals had done a great deal to deepen democracy. We often think of their earlier contributions – the first stirrings of independence and the presidencies that helped a young country to find its footing.
Yet the friendship that Adams and Jefferson formed in their old age was just as meaningful and showed the world that Americans could lose gracefully and find comfort in their commitment to shared principles.
Prof. TED WIDMER
Wall Street Journal
Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 5 – 6
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, AUGUST 27
GLIMPSE – 5:30 p.m. Enjoy first look at ‘From The Diary of Sally Hemmings’ a dramatic song cycle that imagines the experience of Sally Hemmings, who was the slave of Thomas Jefferson, as told through fictional diary entries. Presented by Glimmerglass Festival. Visit glimmerglass.org/events/glimpse-from-the-diary-of-sally-hemings/ for info.
COVID-19 TESTING – 9 a.m. – Noon. Healthy individuals are invited to drive-thru testing for Covid-19, free to Otsego County residents courtesy of the Otsego County Department of Health. Registration required. Greenie’s, 2591 St. Hwy. 7, Otego. 607-547-4279.