Here’s to those who volunteer


These are the members of the Minnesota chapter of the Ninety-Nines, female aviators, doing something pretty ordinary, I suppose, and therein lies the meaning to consider on a weekend celebrating the founding of a country — people who do stuff.

Last evening, they were painting a compass rose on the airport tarmac at South St. Paul’s Fleming Field, the one they’d earlier painted having been destroyed by a resurfacing project.

IMAG0758Their handiwork is visible — from the sky anyway — at small airports all over Minnesota, pointing the way north, still a valuable navigational tool, even in the era of GPS.

It also honors the program of identifying airports to pilots. The National Air Marking Program was the first U.S. government program conceived, planned and directed by a woman with an all-woman staff.

But that’s not really the point.

They were doing it on a Friday evening of a long holiday weekend in Minnesota.They were doing it because it adds value to someone or to civic life. It’ll take two days.

IMG_20160626_104414I saw their similar handiwork down in Fairmont last Sunday when I stopped in to the pancake breakfast sponsored by the Lions Club there. The club was also collecting eyeglasses to be cleaned up and donated where people need them.

We struggle to define what makes a great country a great country. Perhaps that’s why we “ooh” and “aah” and are filled with pride at giant American flags and fighter jets swooping over sports stadiums.

I find pride in finding people — often older people– giving up a piece of a holiday weekend to do something for the benefit of someone else. Just because it’s what they do.

Who do you know who fits that description?