Over the last month a friend of mine, Matt Branson, has been reading the first half of Late Bird to his children. He sends me comments about how much they are enjoying the story. Last night he recorded his reading to them and sent me little snippets. I’ve lost track of how many people have read Late Bird but hearing from all of you each and every time is truly a wonderful experience. Thank you brother and congratulations again. Matt and his wife just had a little girl.
Although Late Bird is meant to awaken America and show a better way I gave some thought to the process of telling stories to children. The more thought this was given the more I decided to write a story today that could be read to children and hopefully entertain adults…who love America.
With that said let me introduce…Sam.
Now Sam was a good man. Always worked hard and looked out for others. In fact Sam was so successful people started calling him Uncle.
“Uncle Sam is the best!” “We love Uncle Sam!”.
When trouble landed on others around the world the call always went out to Uncle Sam. Sam, ever the stalwart, always answered those calls. Even when he was sick or tired. Or both.
Even when busy helping others Sam always kept his nose to the grindstone. He became so successful he couldn’t do all the work himself. So he brought people in who were willing to work and appreciated the opportunity Uncle Sam created. Sam also spoke differently than some of the people. He told them it was important that they learned to understand the things he was saying for safety and security. He also told them whomever understood him would have the best opportunities.
This made sense to all the new people. They looked around at how successful Sam was and decided the smart thing was “to be like Uncle Sam.” This worked great for everyone who was willing to work hard, be generous, and learn Sam’s language and ways.
In fact it worked so well, and Sam became so popular, “Uncle Sam’s” became the place where everyone wanted to be. But he didn’t have enough time to oversee everything personally. Because of this he knew he needed help.
Now this wasn’t the first time Sam had reached out for assistance. Many years ago he’d had two great friends named George and Abe. They gave Uncle Sam quite a hand when things were a little rocky.
Through the years he’d also received help from a rough rider named Theodore (Sam called him Teddy) and a quiet man named Harry.
Sam always liked Teddy. Teddy was responsible for setting aside beautiful parts of Sam’s land to always be enjoyed and beneficial to Uncle Sam. Sam thought highly of Harry too.
Harry had been called when Sam was going through a tough time. Harry squared up the problem, made some tough decisions, and then went home.
Through the ups and downs of Sam’s life he continued forward knowing the most important ingredient in life wasn’t popularity, good looks, money, or even intelligence. It was perseverance. Not that Uncle Sam wasn’t good looking. He was the best looking fellow on the block. He was popular, wealthy, and very smart. But he knew his success was always because he was willing to work hard and be kind to others. As everyone knew, Sam was a good man.
But eventually with success comes challenges. As much as Sam wanted to be everywhere, he couldn’t. So he hired some new help. He hired a Jimmy…but that didn’t work out too well.
He replaced Jimmy with a Ronnie and for while that seemed like a dandy idea. Sam met with Ronnie one day and they talked about Sam’s one rule set in stone.
“If you give a man a fish Ronnie, he may eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, my friend, and he may eat for a month. But require a man to fish and he will take care of his own family.”
Ronnie nodded and smiled. “But Sam we have so many fish already…wouldn’t it be compassionate of us to give them to others?”
Sam shook his head. “No Ronnie. You don’t help someone by giving them fish. You help them by giving them a job.”
“I agree Sam but sometimes people get sick. Shouldn’t we take care of them?”
Uncle Sam again shook his head. “You know Ronnie you seem like a good guy but you should know by now nothing is free.” Sam pointed to a strong towering Redwood standing close by. He walked over and a patted the tree. “This is a California Redwood. One of God’s greatest creations. The combination of beauty and strength is amazing. But even this incredible force will come crashing down if enough pressure is applied. You may be able to hit her ten thousands times. Over and over again. You may think nothing can hurt her. But if you weaken her enough she will collapse and because of her size will crush everything around her.”
Ronnie nodded. “I understand Sam.”
“Good Ronnie”. I have to be away for awhile. Your job is to make sure we take care of OUR Redwoods.”
But Ronnie didn’t listen. Ronnie had a good heart and nice hair and decided to ignore Uncle Sam’s Redwoods. While Sam was gone Ronnie was replaced by a George who was replaced by a Slick Willie, who gave way to a Bush, and eventually a Barry.
Finally Uncle Sam returned, dog tired, from his trip around the world trying to help others. As was his custom he strode over to the California Redwoods. They still appeared strong but had signs hammered into their trunks.
“For sale,” they read.
“For sale?” Uncle Sam muttered bewildered. “These are mine. You can’t sell these.”
Barry walked up from behind. “We have to Sam. We don’t have any money.”
“What do you mean we don’t have any money. I’ve worked my entire life, taken care of others, dealt with evil in the world…where is all my money…and who are you?”
Barry smiled, “I’m the guy they brought in when you were gone trying to save the world. I’m the guy they brought in after Bush.” Barry smiled. “You know Bush’s don’t like trees,” laughing at his own joke.
“So why are you selling my trees?”
Barry leaned in close and gestured for Sam to come closer. “I need some flexibility. I’m trying to make everything fair. I’m not going to sell them. I’m just borrowing against them.”
Uncle Sam stood up straight towering over Barry. “Borrowing!” he almost shouted. “You don’t borrow against our trees!” They are the backbone of everything! Who gave you this idea?”
Barry smiled wanly while stepping back. He realized although he’d been hired by Sam’s people these same people could fire him, and he wasn’t done creating his “fair” society.
“Well…it was first started by Slick Willie.”
“What’s a Slick Willie?”
Barry laughed to himself. Poor Sam. If you only knew.
“Then I watched Bush borrow against the Redwoods”
“How long has this been going on?” Uncle Sam wanted to know.
Barry ignored the question as was his wont. “Then it was my turn. I’ve borrowed as much as I could, and if everything goes well, will continue.”
Sam looked at his Redwoods. They still stood strong, but as he put his hand on one, the Redwood creaked in pain.
Barry laughed at the groaning of the Redwood and walked away saying over his shoulder, “It’s okay Uncle Sam. We don’t have anything to worry about…right now.”
Uncle Sam stood amongst his Redwoods as they swayed and teetered with the wind. “Hang in there,” he told them. “I’m going for help.”
As if on cue movement came from the forest and millions of Lions stood at the ready. Uncle Sam nodded. He hadn’t called on them for a while, and as usual, he didn’t need to call them at all. But he knew he needed a leader and as he had in the past with George and Abe, Teddy and Harry, he knew he needed strength.
He looked to the sky as a large shadow cast itself over the forest. The Lions didn’t bother to look up. They knew who it was. They’d sent for him. Uncle Sam smiled at the leader who now appeared when needed most.
The Lions met shoulder to shoulder ready to roar.
Uncle Sam tipped his cap to the sky, “Time to go to work.”
“A Falcon will lead us.”
“Late Bird” by Jason Kraus
Restoring a nation one voice at a time.