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Monday, April 14, 2014

Remembering America...Looking Back One Year Later

*May 5 marks the first anniversary of the release of what I believe is my best book so far. In the year that has passed, I have learned a lot. I decided to re-release the book with a spruced up cover and the following post other changes were made to content.

                              Remembering America...Looking Back at the Last Innocent Age

A year has passed since I sat down at a Panera on a gloomy Saturday morning in May, in Franklin, TN. and uploaded this book to the publishing world. A long, grinding, difficult, heartbreaking year. So much has happened in that span. So many tears and so many smiles. Along the way, I learned some things.
     I learned how broken we are as a country, as a people. Our spirits are bent, our pockets are empty and our dreams have been replaced with the relentless, harsh minutiae of merely surviving. Surviving policy that chokes off industry and eventually, kills personal achievement. Surviving the cold grip of isolation we feel more and more each day, even as the internet shrinks the world to fit on a fourteen inch computer screen, or a cell phone display no bigger than a credit card.
     We can find out anything we want to about anyone we wish...but we don’t really take the time to know anyone anymore. That has made us angry, short tempered, volatile and exhausted. We left something very important behind when we turned the page on the innocence of the world I wrote about in this book. And we are very, very much worse off for it.
      We have a government that has gone from being big, lethargic, and difficult, to being an industry all it’s own, with a language all it’s own, answering to no one. We the people have been usurped by Me...the ruler. That’s dangerous. That’s frightening.

                                                                  That’s not America.

     I never wrote this book intending to make a political statement. It wasn't necessary and the stories weren't about politics. But they are about Americanism. They are about Patriotism as a way of life, and respect for our heritage and our history and for each other. They are stories about personal greatness, and drive and ambition and desire and none of those things being frowned upon as something bad. They were celebrated as the very things that made us great. Really, truly, great.
      We have removed God not only from schools, but from the lexicon, the public square, and even the sale papers at Christmas. And why? This nation was founded by Christians, upon Christian principles, with Christian ideals, and the goal of allowing all to live here but recognizing what the Founders saw as the superiority of Christianity. We were never a “Christian Nation,” not in the model of a Theocracy, but we were definitely intended to be a predominantly Christian society. We have killed that, and condemned it’s remnants to the scrap heap. Are we better for it?
     Are we better for political correctness or are we more divided? When we strip one group of their right to believe and practice their heritage, and do it in the name of “tolerance” aren't we then being intolerant of that group? When we label every single word we disagree with as “hate” we find ourselves isolated and surrounded only by those who think exactly like we do. That’s tragic.
     Kids are being bullied at a record clip, and the answer is, sadly, more and more kids being pushed to the brink and responding with a gun or a knife. Why? Because political correctness has stripped bare the natural response to “teach a bully a lesson” behind the school yard, or in the bathroom at school. I did it. You did it. In another time in this country, that was part of moving from boy to man, and in almost every case, the two protagonists wound up becoming lifelong friends. Not anymore. Now we press charges, teach anti-bullying classes and merely supress the anger deeper into the psyche of the parties involved.
     Somehow, in the years since the Innocent Age ended, we have attached shame to success, derision to diligence, and we've come to view fierce independence and something akin to madness. Entitlement has stripped us of the rock-ribbed determination to succeed -and succeed our way-  that brought this country the greatness she enjoyed. Why? What is so intrinsically evil about a man refusing a handout and standing on his own, facing the winds of difficulty, and digging in to make another go of it?
     Not every discovery in this past year has been bad. I am homeless again. The house I was renting was sold and this economy still won’t bend enough to let me get back on my feet. But I learned how much I can take in the name of loving my daughter and staying in her life. And it’s a lot. I learned that a real man doesn't look for a handout as much as he looks for another deck to build, or a wall to paint, or a room to remodel. So he does those things and keeps pushing forward...most of the time through tears and sweat and the fear of defeat. 
     I also learned one very sweet lesson, about the power of words and memories. About a month after releasing this book, I sent a copy to Mrs. Messick, Sheila's mom, whom I describe in the opening chapter and whose death inspired, in many ways, the memories of Monroe Avenue and the joys we all shared. I had not talked to Mrs. Messick in a couple of years. It was wonderful as we spoke for an hour or so about the stories in the book, and the times our families had shared. There was laughter, joy, and a few tears. Laughter made the still-fresh pain of losing Sheila just a little more tolerable, if only for a moment. And that was enough.
     I want my daughter to have a chance at this world. What will that take? I think it will take a return to God, to Patriotism, to Americanism, and to a place where we once again force the leaders we elect to feel responsible to us, and not to themselves and their self-interests. Can we do it? I don’t know. But if you’ve read this know that it’s worth the effort.

                                                             God Bless America.

                                                                Craig Daliessio


Sunday, March 16, 2014

A letter to my daughter...

     I suppose I’m writing this to give you hope. Or to explain things as they are right now, because things don’t make sense. Or to let you know that your dad hasn't given up, despite all his best efforts going for naught, (so far.)
     More than anything, I’m writing this because we don’t talk as much as we used to. You’re growing up and you've become a wonderful, brilliant, beautiful, intelligent, talented, passionate, wise young woman, despite the circumstances that have surrounded your dad. You've hung in there as life dealt some cruel blows and you've seen the worst that a person can go through. You're older now and hanging with Dad isn't cool like it once was. 
     I want you to know, first of all, how very proud I am of you. I am proud of who you are and what you have become. I am proud of the fierce loyalty you show your friends. I am proud of your moral standards, and your deep devotion to Jesus, and to this Faith we claim. I am proud that you have stuck by me and never once voiced embarrassment, anger, disappointment, or distrust as I walked through this dark desert God has seen fit to allow. You've believed, encouraged, and been thankful for everything I was able to do for you, and never voiced disappointment for what I could not do for you.
     Your sixteenth birthday approaches and for the second time in almost 6 years, your dad is homeless. I know I don’t have to explain it to you. I know you have been watching and you know how hard I am trying. I refuse to quit in the face of this calamity. When I was working on my degree and finally graduated in 2012, it was so you would see that your dad has forced something good from something so bad. I walked across that stage and got that diploma and the one person I cared about making proud was you. 
When I returned to carpentry after still no jobs were available, I made sure I showed you the work I was doing, because I wanted you to know I was working hard, and I was doing beautiful work, and I was trying. Trying to fix this disaster. I remember taking you to a job this winter, and the look of pride on your face when you saw an office I’d built. It was only a couple of walls and a door and some trim, but watching your dad do it and seeing him work made you proud. I could tell. And in return, it made me proud to.
      We've talked about it before...why I stayed here when I could have gone somewhere else and rebuilt my life. I know the feeling of having a dad somewhere else in the world different from where I am. I will never do that to you. When you go off to college or if you move away as an adult, that’s different. But while you are (technically) a child, you will never wake up in a town where your dad doesn't live. Even if “living” means he is sleeping in a truck.
      I am trying. I am working. You've seen the work I do. You know my life and my values. You know what happened. I am sorry. I’m sorry we don’t have our house anymore. I miss Bonnie and Cooper and Giacomo and Willy. They were more than pets, they were our family. I miss our garden. Caring for animals and growing things were just two of the many things you are good at and I miss doing those things with you.
     I am writing also, because I want to encourage you. No matter what has happened, God is still good. He is still righteous and somehow, some way, this is part of His plan, for you and for me. I question Him, I doubt Him sometimes, I even curse at Him occasionally. I suppose that’s not right, and I repent of it when it happens. But God understands us and He knows that we sometimes hit out limits. I have hit mine again and again. I try figuring this out. I try seeing good in it. But so much time has gone by now and still, every time I try to fix this, something happens to set me back. Dr. Falwell always said, “A man is not measured by what it takes to knock him down, but by what it takes to keep him down.” I wish you could have known Dr. Falwell. He was an amazing man. He was my hero, and heroes are what keep you moving when you want to stop.
      I hope I am your hero one day. I hope this story ends soon and the final chapter is wonderful and we look back and we are thankful for all we have endured together because it was all worth it. Sitting here’s hard to see that.
     I want you to know I am still trying, and I will not stop trying. I will not quit and I will not give up and I will not take the easy road if that road takes me away from you. Because a dad gives comfort and security and a dad is just supposed to be there. And I will. I’ll do what it takes and endure this difficulty because that’s what daddies do. They stand firm when others collapse. They dig in when others crumble.
     Maybe this will be the year for us. Maybe this will be the time when things turn around and stay turned around. Regardless, I will not stop trying. Because above all else...I love you. I fall asleep each night thinking of you and seeing your face in my mind. Most of the time it makes me cry. I’m man enough to admit that. I still have dreams for you and I still want them to come true. I pray for you every day. I still believe in prayer and in a God who answers them. We are not promised answers we like. We are only promised that if we accept the answer He gives us we will eventually be happier than if we fight the answers we don’t like.

     More than anything, I want to remind you how much I love you. How I have loved you since the moment we knew you’d be coming. How that love has endured, grown and gives me courage and strength in the face of this devastation. Because I love you...I will not quit. One day we’ll see the result of not quitting. Until then...remember that your dad loves you. And he’s doing his best for you.  Never give up hope.