Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The name's not Bubba ... it's Braveheart

Former SECNAV James Webb has just published a book that I can relate to -- literally:

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America

I've looked at
this "preview" of Webb's analysis, and it is whetting my appetite for the "full version" -- not only for myself, but as a possible Christmas gift for my father.

(Hat tips to -- guess who? )

I've often joked about how I am doubly challenged, genetrically speaking -- the offspring of hillbillies, one from Appalachian Kentucky, the other from the Missouri Ozarks. Going back beyond that, however, my heritage (according to my mother -- I'm not a genaology buff by any means) is the very Scots-Irish heritage described by Webb ... a heritage prevalent in both the Ozarks and (particularly) in Appalachia.

Many of the characteristics that have served my extended family well -- our work ethic, self-reliance, willingness to migrate to build better lives, and faith -- are reflected with great accuracy in Webb's writing. I certainly saw it in the lives of both my parents -- to the point that I created "The Riley Test" during the last Presidential campaign.

I can definitely attest to the migration of the Scots-Irish into Ohio and Michigan in the 20th century, seeking the industrial jobs that grew up greatly there with the advent of the automobile, the airplane, and other technologies. My father and his siblings were part of that migration ... and I was along for that ride, as a teenager who came of age just west of Wilmington, OH.

However, they never forgot where they came from ... Friday nights in Cincinnati would see the "Briarhopper 500" on Interstate 75, where cars from Detroit and points south would jam up as they crossed the Ohio River on their way back to the home folks for the weekend.

Another offspring of this heritage that I admire is a son of West Virginia who "flew" from there to make history -- Chuck Yeager. I'm sure y'all can find many more great men and women who came from this line of humanity.

I also find it interesting that the faith of the Scots-Irish was permeated with a fierce independence which is reflected in the autonomy of both believers and churches even today, in the regions where the Scots-Irish settled -- and continues to confound the critics of such faith.

I have to ask, however ... if I am attacked, will my Scots-Irish heritage give me an uncontrollable urge to moon my enemies?

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