THE KEYSTONE STATE IS NOT IN DIXIE
TODAY PENNSYLVANIANS GET TO TALK BACK
From The Land That Brought Us Hershey Bars And Milano Cookies, Something Sweet?
America began as a place for change. The vehicles of new ideas were often religious, back in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. The English were glad to get rid of their squabbling sects, and gave them their own separate colonies: Puritans to Massachusetts, Quakers to Pennsylvania, Catholics to Maryland, and the Baptists got their own little island, called Rhode.
After a few generations, the radical notions of freedom of conscience and the right to peaceably assemble began to percolate on up throughout society, and flavor every aspect of the Americans' daily lives. Structures outside the churches sprang up, social and political organizations, business and legal institutions. Modern life began to take shape.
Massachusetts and Virginia were great centers of ideas, and the places where the inevitable War of Independence began and ended. But much of the real work of the Revolution took place in Pennsylvania. The practical folk of William Penn's little plot of land hosted the Continental Congress, framed the Constitution, and broke the Liberty Bell. In taverns in Philadelphia, the Continental, later United States Navy and Marine Corps were founded. In the frozen fields of Montgomery County, the men of the rebel army established a precedent of voluntary national service even in the worst of conditions, citizen-soldiers always ready to defend democracy. And just as ready to put down their arms and go home to their families when the job was done.
The practical descendants of those hardy patriots are still there today in Pennsylvania. Lately they have been set upon by two great armies of door-knockers and phone-bankers, leafletters and junkmailers. TV and radio, newspapers and magazines, town meetings and rock concerts, hand-shakers and baby-kissers, they've invaded. The nation, and history, are calling upon the good folk of Penn's Woods: The world needs PA once again to effect change.
It must weigh heavy upon them. They're getting kind of tired of it, I'll betchya. They seem to be making up their minds, though. They don't say much, by day. If you listen carefully, you can hear them chanting, silently, in their sleep. They're thinking of change: "O-BA-MA, O-BA-MA, O-BA-MA.' Just trying it out, mentally, not out loud yet. In a dream. Subconsciously, like. Still, you can hear the echoes of it in the Alleghenneys and the Poconos. Rolling down the moonlit valleys of the Lackawanna and the Susquehanna, the Monongahela and the Potomac. From the Ohio to the Delaware, from Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean, Pennsylvanians are dreaming of their place in history, tonight.
Always the Keystone State, stretching from the East Coast to the Midwest, from New York to Virginia. The original home of the brave and the land of the free. Quakers, to begin with, but ready to fight when forced to. At Valley Forge and Gettysburg, turning the tides of history. Then going back to their fields and farms, firms and factories, friends and family, to enjoy the peace and get a bit of work done.
Industrious people, the Pennsylvanians. Pennsy was the original home to many heavy industries. Coal miners and oil drillers. Ironworkers and steelworkers. Builders of cars and planes, ships and trains. Setting up small print-shops and giant presses, cranking out newspapers and magazines, building turnpikes and corduroy roads, canals and bridges, all to tie the nation together.
Real Americans. Oldest families in the nation. Dutch and German, Scottish and English. French and Irish. Welsh and Danish. Swedes and Norwegians. Poles and Slovaks. Austrians and Belgians. Romanian and Swiss. Czechs and Hungarians. Latvians and Lithuanians. Estonians and Russians. Ukranians and Yugoslavs. Greeks and Italians. Portuguese and Spaniards. Blacks, Latinos, Indians, Asians, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists. Anybody and anybody who could swing a hammer, work a shovel, plant corn, pick apples, run a drill press, operate a crane, calculate, program, keep books or write them. Anybody who could do any useful work.
Now they're about the work of change. Like Pennsylvanians before them, Daniel Boone and Rachel Carson, Commodore Perry and Margaret Meade, Alexander Calder and Pearl Buck, Gene Kelly and Martha Graham, WC Fields and Katherine Hepburn, R. Crumb and Tina Fey, Edgar Allen Poe and Ida Tarbell, Man Ray and Gertrude Stein, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross, Thomas Paine and Nellie Bly, George C. Marshall and Lucretia Mott, Robert Fulton and Stephanie Louise Kwolek, S. S. Kresge and Margaret Rudkin. Industrious folk. People who do things, change things. Like today.
Really. It's not Alabama.
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