By Andrea Elliott. Chair, Delaware County
I spent 6 years of my early life living on an Air Force base in Anchorage, Alaska. My dad was a pilot who flew search and rescue missions along the vulnerable coastlines of Alaska. We were there when the big earthquake devastated the state in the early 60’s. My dad shot some amazing footage from the plane as he flew over the destruction caused by this event. While we were safe on the base, the outskirts took a huge hit. It was then that I realized how powerful nature was, and that we had no control over it, whatsoever. Alaska was and is still rugged country. Wildlife and weather are your biggest challenges. Not just military personnel had a firearms collection, all Alaskans did, because moose and grizzlies were both plentiful and bold. Having a high powered rifle, a shotgun and a few pistols were standard necessities, like your toothbrush. I remember my dad going on hunting and fishing trips when he had time off and bringing home duck, ptarmigan, moose, caribou, salmon, trout and huge king crab. We smoked the fish, and made moose burgers and caribou hot dogs, as well as various sausages and canned goods. I even remember picking the buckshot out of duck before I ate it. My dad made us a swing in the basement with the huge antlers from one of his trophies. We would sit around while he cleaned the guns and explained the whys and hows along with the safety rules. We never touched his guns – they were off limits – or else! We all grew up with a respect for guns and being a military family we didn’t question a command. Sometimes he would take us fishing and sometimes I would get to hold the rifle (we were always on the look out for bears). He would teach me how to use the sights but I didn’t shoot as I was only 6 years old and that gun was huge.
Memories like that stay with a kid, and I was glad my dad took the time to familiarize me with firearms and firearm safety. Girls usually didn’t get that luxury back in the day, unless you lived in the woods or on a farm. We led a fairly safe life on the base, so needing a gun for protection from intruders wasn’t why we had them, but after dad retired and we began living as civilians we noticed that not all people were nice.
Personal defense was now a priority. Times were changing and not for the better. We moved to NY when I was in High School. The small town was still a farming community where it was ok to be late to school on opening day, and the guys had their guns in the trucks right on school grounds. Heck they even had a “Bring your gun to school day”. We had a range in the school basement and a pistol club. Girls were good with that and some were members of the team. That was in the ‘70’s.
Soon that was phased out, guns weren’t allowed on school property, and kids lost interest in hunting. What happened? I think it was electronics. Everyone got so addicted to games and computers and rarely got off the couch. Sports teams dwindled and some schools barely had enough turn out to make a team. Parents didn’t hunt anymore as they were wrapped up in careers trying to make ends meet. But now we live in a different world. Evil is everywhere, and everyone should be taking steps to keep themselves and their families safe. Women and children, especially, are now taking self defense training and more women are becoming pistol permit holders. There is much talk today about empowering women and how we need a voice.
Ladies, our voices do not have to be loud, offensive, or vulgar to make a point. Teach our children to use their minds and not their mouths, especially not in the fashion of the Hollywood elite and music icons that many seem to put on a pedestal; teach them to choose better heroes. The noise in the media is such a poor message to be sending our young women. The best way to empower our girls is to teach them self-defense. Teach them to honor their lives and the lives of others. Teach them to honor their body and protect it. Teach them to be respectable leaders, not mindless followers. Teach them to be patriotic, stand for the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance along with you. Teach them to put down their phones, take up arms and do some target shooting. Teach them survival skills. Have them join competitive shooting teams. Support local sporting clubs and participate in outdoor activities that get kids away from the chaos of school and questionable influences. When I see dads and their daughters in full gear going out on a hunt it makes me smile, as the joy on their faces is what I remember feeling when my dad took me with him to hunt. And very importantly, teach them about the Constitution and how important it is, especially the 2nd Amendment. They won’t learn it in school. Teach them about voting, and how to vet a candidate. Take them to meet elected officials and ask them questions in a respectful manner. Let’s set a good example for the next generation.
You will not see me or any of my family wearing fake vaginas on our heads to protest how unfair life is. We will pull on our boots, roll up our sleeves and get to work – mostly behind the scenes at a grassroots level- because that is where a good foundation starts. Our best voice is our quiet confidence and willingness to step outside our comfort zone, educate ourselves and others in what really matters, and working together to protect ourselves, our families, and our Country. Never waste a teaching moment, our future depends on the time we put into raising our children, and our sons and daughters are depending on us to show them the way and give them a firm foundation to build on. Take extra time with your daughters, because they are the future mothers, and the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world!