Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fly-Over States

Back in my days as a college student I took a graduate class entitled Mass Media & Society. It was an election year and I tend not to align myself politically with the same people that journalists do so there was animated discourse in class, shall we say. As part of my introduction to the media hoity-toity (not sure if that's a real world but it fits) I learned what a fly-over state was. For those, like myself, that are not civilized it basically refers to the Midwest. Some lady in class introduced me to the term "fly-over states" when she was trying to figure out why some Americans were stupid enough to vote Republican. Meanwhile I was trying to figure out why a 40-something mother was in my graduate class as a student and not an instructor. Anyway, I was slightly caught off guard by her advanced intellectual thought since a large portion my family lives in Iowa.

Let's fast-forward to the present day. Due to a death in the family I recently spent a couple of days in Iowa. I really love the place even if esteemed Journalism Schools across the country disregard it. As an aside, the funniest part is that my entire family in Iowa is blue-blooded Democrat. For most of them "Bush" is the fiercest of the four-letter words. It should come as no surprise that I love my family and therefore Iowa but it is the other people in the Midwest that put a smile on my face.On the way from the church to the cemetery we were a part of about a 15-car processional that meandered through town for a couple of miles. The respect other people showed my grandmother was nothing short of astounding. To our family she was a woman worthy of a national holiday but she really was just a regular lady from Iowa, which makes the reaction our processional received all the more impressive. There were not many people outside but those that were will remain vividly in my memory forever.

One lady stopped mowing her lawn, took off her hat and solemnly watched us all pass. Now that was awesome! Then a little bit later a couple stopped eating lunch on their porch and appeared to pray as we passed by. Throughout the entire drive the policemen leading the processional through town would step out of their patrol cars and put their hats over their hearts at every intersection they blocked.

Maybe these events are run-of-the-mill wherever you go in America but the heart of a person from a fly-over state is different from the rest. No matter your religious or political affiliation, you have to appreciate the respect for life shown by people in a very small Midwestern town. I love you and miss you Grandma. Now do your part and help your beloved Cubbies win the World Series!


KP said...

That's awesome Joel. I've been in more than my fair share of processionals and I don't have any memories of the people we passed showing that kind of respect. They definitely is something special about Midwesterners.

J Smith said...

It has been brought to my attention that KP would like to change the first word of the last sentence from the above comment to "There." If you did not know that was the intended word in that spot then you may not be able to read.