This Thanksgiving season, while I was thinking of all I had to be thankful, I thought of the many friends who have enriched my life. I was raised in a rural area of Iowa. I was taught through my Christian upbringing that God loved all kinds and colors of people. But our county was mostly full of white folk of northern European ancestry. At the time there was only one black family in the county. So what I knew of people unlike myself was the caricatures I saw on TV shows or the news. It wasn’t that the news was false as that was the only “real world” view I had of other groups.
Thankfully I met good folks from across the spectrum while I was in the Army. I found out that folks are folks and are often a lot more similar about important things than different.
Jessie Riggs my Navajo buddy, Lanny Logan my black friend, Doc Litzmann an American of Jewish-German roots, Sam Rodriquez from Laredo, Guytano Collantonio our mail clerk, J. C. Carrierre the low rider from the west coast all helped me know, understand, and care for people different from myself. We cross-shared music, food, and perspectives and all served our country honorably.
After my initial service I lived in Tacoma then Bremerton Washington, meeting more varieties of folks I seemed to get on well with all kinds of folks unless they had a chip on their shoulders against white folk. My experience, though, is that if you treat folks with respect , they will reciprocate. I consider myself very rich because of the friends I have had.
When I attended grad school at Oral Roberts University we had a lot of folks there from around the world. I made many friends and thanks to social media I can contact my friends in Europe, Asia, and Australia. I also am blessed with friends from Mexico, the West Indies, Madagascar, Argentina, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda and more.
A country boy from Iowa has been blessed with many friends and many new experiences. I am indeed rich…white, black, brown, red…are out many hues of good folks. They there. Look for them. Be rich.