All Commentary
Tuesday, May 1, 1973

The Passing Parade

Mr. Demers is a vocational counselor in Veneta, Oregon.

Too frequently too many of us ignore the clear, concise lesson to be learned by incidents and situations which we view only as passing commonplace, and principally a source of boredom or delay, or both.

Consider the situation which has surely confronted us all on frequent occasions — a long, rumbling freight train has crossed our path, and what is our usual reaction? We wait, of necessity, but we are impatient, irritable, and aggravated at the inconvenience this rolling behemoth has imposed upon us. What might have been, or could still be, a much more fruitful reaction? Could we not find a wealth of concrete, specific examples of the amazing success formula which has blessed us as the most free and independent of all people? As the cars roll by, starting with the chugging diesels to the rickety caboose, we have a graphic, demonstrative testimony to the genius and industry of free enterprise, acting in concert across a vast span of miles.

Long refrigerated cars bearing perishable citrus fruits from the sub-tropical climes of Florida, Arizona and Southern California to tiered flat cars loaded with the gleaming, shining bodies of new cars and trucks from Detroit and the various assembly plants across the land. Huge earth-moving rolling stock lashed to swaying flat beds in their multicolored coverings of paint, and defying imagination as to the nature and variety of their uses. Open-top cars, revealing their cargo and destination by the streamers of sawdust and wood chips as they bump and clatter across the rails. All sorts of cars with letters, titles, codes, and destinations from a host of railways across the length and breadth of the U.S.A., challenging the imagination as to what cargo, if any, fills their interiors. Stacks of plywood, huge timbers, and sheets of gypsum. Sacks of grain, lime, cement. Tanks of milk, oil, gasoline, and acid. Dump cars of sand, stone, scrap iron, and coal. These and many, many more all followed by a swaying, creaking caboose, with wisps of smoke from its peaked smoke stack and a friendly face and a waving hand from one of the trainmen as it terminates our passing parade.

Is all this to you just a noisy interlude of annoyance and inconvenience? Have you joined the ranks of the brainwashed who can no longer feel goose flesh shoot up and down their spines as the whistles blast, and the bells ring, and the thunder of the rolling wheels become a glorious overture to the wondrous symphony of free and competitive production?

The trains will still roll, the machines will still operate, the fields will still grow, under the heel of an omnipotent government; but the days will be dull and grey, the production will be inadequate, weak, in decay; and a cold, chilling shroud will be drawn over the light and spirit of free man.

Unless we awaken and realize that the festive table of plenty at which we feast is the result of hard-working, frugal, honest, trustworthy, God-fearing, free individuals, we may find our table swept clean and the bright lamp of freedom extinguished.