West Asheville. Hank Williams, Jr., David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Iron Ladies

1991-1992--Samford Celebrates 150th Birthday. Chartered in 1841 and opening its doors in early 1842, Samford celebrated its sesquicentennial with a two-year observance highlighted by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's visit April 7, 1992.  SOURCE
An article in the Gadsden Times about Thatcher's visit to Samford.
Yesterday, when I heard about the death of Margaret Thatcher, some thoughts came to mind.  There's my brother Mark, who was very into politics long before I was.  He adored Reagan and Thatcher.  So I probably first really heard about the Iron Lady from him. 

And, as a bit of an aside: I was probably not even ten years old when Mark pulled out the S encyclopedia, quizzed me on which countries were the world's strongest and which ones had the biggest armies.  He then flipped to the Soviet Union, and pointed to a  page that had a picture of St. Basil's Cathedral, and proceeded to explain to me about the Soviet Union and just how big their military was.  Quite funny, but shows the influence of the times, and the Cold War political rhetoric, and the influence that TV and news had on him as a young boy.  And, for me, who knows, maybe this "lesson" planted that seed to want to know more about the USSR, and prompted me later to take those trips to Russia and become more and more fascinated with World War II  history. 

But back to Thatcher.  In the early 90s, shortly after her resignation as British PM, she went on speaking engagements in the United States.  Samford University was one of her stops.  The day she came to Samford, I had awareness of it, of course, but it was not something that excited me.  I actually had an appointment to meet my "Discipleship Leader" in the library to go over my weekly schedule, talk about Bible studies and do all the other Campus Outreach (a student Christian ministry) related tasks that consumed a large part of my time in those days.  I remember sitting there with him, and we got confirmaton that the Iron Lady, arguably one of the most powerful and influential figures of the 20th Century was about to arrive at the Centennial Walk, just outside the library.  And we sat there, and made a conscious decision not to get up and go outside - just a mere one minute walk from where we were.   Looking back, now it just seems so ridiculous that I didn't try to see her.  My Uzbek friends who were studying at Samford were savvy enough, and cultural engaged enough, and politically aware enough.....they made seeing the Iron Lady a priority.  Politics and the Thatcher "message" aside, you have to admire her force of nature and her willingness to stand up and battle for her convictions.  She was controversial, bold, decisive, and determined to fight the status quo.  She earned the Iron Lady label, a nickname incidentally given to her by the Soviets. 

My mother and her mother (my grandmother) were cut from the same cloth as Margeret Thatcher - Iron Ladies.  They were both very formidable women, passionate about their ideas, willing to tell you like it is and let the chips fall where they may, ready to do battle for themselves and others - ladies undoubtedly built of iron.  They were no pushovers.  Being raised by these strong women - women who also radiated more than ample warmth and affection - gave me a deep respect and appreciation for women who fit this mold.  These forces of iron were "leaning in" a long time ago.  When I see a Margaret Thatcher or hear of an Aung San Suu Kyi or read about a Coco Chanel, my mother springs to mind.  And she got this trait from her own mother.  Iron truly sharpens iron.

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