Charles H. (Chuck) Norris, 88, of rural Mason City, Iowa, was born July 23, 1925 -- just four years after the birth of my 93-years-young mother. Chuck was born in the small town of Earlham, Iowa (whose population today is 1,450), and raised there and in Plad, Missouri, before moving to Mason City at 14 years of age.
Herein lie the four critical virtues of this great American that could restore our country if we all modeled them, too, especially because they seem to be fading fast from the American landscape.
1) Chuck was patriotic and fought for his country.
He didn't nod at globalism while pledging the flag. He didn't point out the country's problems without being a part of the solutions. Mason City's Globe Gazette said, "He served two years in the United States Army, serving in Japan during the occupation of World War II."
I commend all who have served and serve. And even if you couldn't or didn't, that shouldn't prohibit you from being a freedom fighter on multiple fronts. Like Chuck, let's continue to stand up tall and proud for our Founding Fathers' principles and the red, white and blue.
2) Chuck had a strong work ethic his whole life.
After his military service ended in 1947, Chuck returned to Mason City and started his farming career with the personal aid of Gen. Hanford MacNider, an "Iowa farm boy" himself who was born in Mason City and transformed into one of Iowa's best-known war heroes.
Chuck initially rented a farm just outside of town owned by another Mason City family. But in 1961, after he was married and had kids, he purchased his own family farm between Mason City and Clear Lake. His and his family's farming career spanned over 60 years!
The Globe Gazette said: "He was truly a lifetime farmer and talked about checking the crops on the farm he loved until the day he died. ... Chuck liked trying new things and he was always an early adopter of technologies that would improve his farm operation."
Chuck had many interests and hobbies, including gardening, collecting antique tractors, going with others on tractor rides and taking fishing trips to northern Minnesota and Canada.
3) Chuck loved his neighbors and built up his community.
The Globe Gazette explained: "Chuck was involved in the community as a Lincoln Township Trustee, ASCS township committeeman, served on committees of the Clear Lake United Methodist Church and served on the Cerro Gordo County Farm Bureau board of directors. He was a DeKalb seed dealer along with his son Charlie for 30 years. He was a member of the Clear Lake United Methodist Church."
This is where Chuck, like a good leader, knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. It may be the greatest way to fix America. Yet it is also where I see most have dropped the ball, even those with the best intent -- that is, being community-focused and involved.
No doubt, Washington has been messing up royally for decades -- foremost by its inexhaustible overreach to solve each of our own community and household difficulties. The problem is that in response, we've often either thrown up our arms in some form of defeat or relinquished and enabled the federal government to do what states and -- even more -- community residents used to rally together to do for the first 150 years of our republic. (Let's be honest; it's much easier to critique Washington at a distance than to love your neighbor next door.)
The reason I have hope for America is definitely not built on the sinking sands of Washington politics. It is that I believe in the men, women and God who started our republic and I believe their spirit alone can rekindle the sparks of a renewed nation in all of us.
I truly believe that if America is to regain its standing as the greatest nation on earth, it will be because we have reignited the economic and communal fires of small towns and local communities across our country -- allowing them to once again handle their own problems and issues without Washington's intervention. In the past, they might not have had all the technological advances we do today, but they sure knew how to take care of their own.
4) Chuck was a good family man and role model.
On June 19, 1948, Chuck married the love of his life, Ruth M. Ransom, at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Mason City. They had two children, Linda and Charlie. Together, Chuck and Ruth enjoyed 66 years of marriage and life together.
The Globe Gazette reported that "he was happiest when his entire family was busy working on the farm and during the family gatherings around the kitchen table at the farm." And his family included four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
His son, Charlie, echoed similar sentiment to a member of my research staff, saying his father was "a great guy, farmer and a good family man." Then he paused and said, "He was a good role model."
Aren't those the type of accolades you want others to say about you at the end of life?
(Chuck is a great example of the type of father I describe in Chapter 8 of my book "Black Belt Patriotism," on "Honor and Care for the Family.")
Chuck left to his heavenly home July 8. A celebration of his life was held July 12 at the Clear Lake United Methodist Church.
In the end, it wasn't some supra-normal ability or achievement that made Chuck stand out as extraordinary in today's world. It was his good ol' American grit, grind and good character that set him -- and those like him -- apart from everyone else. Sound like anyone you know? I hope so!
Chuck's early life ended, but his legacy didn't. Indeed, the American dream and drive were passed on to him from his parents and were handed down from him to his posterity, maybe just as someone did for you.
Thomas Jefferson was right on the money when he wrote, "The cement of this Union is in the heart-blood of every American."