Read: Time to shake hands
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 It’s my favorite time of the year, once again, when all the stores are filled with patriotic supplies, making red, white and blue the colors of choice for the next couple of weeks. As we prepare to celebrate the 238th birthday of this country, everyone is making plans to have their own birthday bash in their own special way.

As we rapidly approach another 4th of July celebration, as well as another election year, I can’t help but wonder what our founding fathers would have thought about our current method of getting to know our candidates for some of the most important offices in government. With my being a candidate this year in my own county, it makes the celebration even more important to me.

It will not be long before a new commercial will show up each day on our televisions, with a different proposal of just how conservative government should be administered. If the television commercials are not enough to fill your viewing pleasure, then you can go to numerous web sites that will give you even more information on how tight we should run the government ship.

No new taxes, cut government spending and reform anything that has a tax on it are just a few of the things that are getting attention this year as we move closer to primary day voting on August 7, 2014, and general election time for me.

But, let me warn you, if you attend any public July 4th celebrations, prepare yourself for candidate smiles, handshakes and colorful hand fans to keep all of the hot air moving. I love this time of the year, but especially on election years! And now that I, too, get to kiss a few babies, as well as hug a lady or two, election time on the 4th looks even more exciting!

Our political system is what has made our country different from all of the others, and whenever we move from the candidates avoiding the one-on-one events to doing everything on the web or TV, we are asking for less input from the people. Give me a strong handshake and a look in the eye any day, instead of the person wanting my vote over a fancy mud-slinging TV commercial. My opponent has started after me on Facebook and I see that as just plain tacky.

I like seeing the candidates at the picnics, parades and group gatherings proving the point that they are one of us. I’m glad they see the need to get involved and be a part of the system that has worked these 238 years.

It is tough these days to find common sense individuals who do wish to get involved. I know, there are the criticisms and the continued second-guessing by those who stand on the sidelines and point fingers, but we need good people to take a deep breath and jump in and give government a try.

I got the urge several months ago to serve as a commissioner on my county’s commission. I have wondered why I have done this, but why shouldn’t I?

For years I have preached the importance of citizens getting involved in their local governments and doing the right thing for the good of all citizens. Just like some preaching that I have heard from pulpits, it is easy to point fingers at someone else, but when it comes your time to do the right thing, avoid the excuses of why you are too busy or why now is not the right time. I guess the time has become right for me, and I needed to practice what I preach.

Believe me, I’m stepping off into a citizenry job that many, if not most folks, would run from as fast as they could. Having to decide the future for a growing county and taking on the responsibility of being right or wrong for what may happen in the lives of people for the next several years is challenging to say the least. But, I look at it as a repayment to a county my ancestors traveled to over 225 years ago, that I might help make it a little bit better for the next several generations to live and make their homes - just like I did.

So often we feel that our opinion is not worth a lot, but it could make a difference in the future of a county, a state or even our country. Too many of us go about our everyday lives not becoming involved in what makes this country work. Those individuals who gave us the reason to celebrate our country’s birthday 238 years ago could just as easily have said I have other things to do, but I’m so glad they answered the call to speak up.

I jumped into the creek with both feet by saying “yes” to serve my county, and would like more of you to join me in the swim. It is easy to make judgment calls from the sideline if you are not taking any of the hits. Celebrate the 4th this year by being a patriot and get involved in the system. That way, you can really see the fireworks from up close. I’ll be at my Rockvale community’s 4-H celebration shaking hands. Hope to see you there!

-- Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.
He may be contacted by e-mail at


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