It has been a sad week for the Cherry family with the passing of my uncle, Joseph Dewees. A long time resident of Brown County, my uncle left an extraordinary mark on history and on all the lives of those that knew him.
When something tragic happens in anyone’s life, it provides you with an unfortunate opportunity to think, to reflect and, more importantly, to put things into perspective. If you have ever lost someone dear to you, you know exactly what I mean.
Uncle Joseph graduated from Purdue University, where he met my aunt, in 1935 with a degree in forestry. Upon graduation, he volunteered for active duty with the Air Force before moving to Nashville, Ind. to work for the post office for 25 years. When he retired as Postmaster, he got heavily involved with the Brown County Historical Society and he became an active member of the Bucks and Does Dance Club with his wife.
We celebrated his 100th birthday last April, where I was able to sit down with him and have an extensive conversation about the changes he has seen in his long life. It is amazing to think about what he had seen in his 100 years with so many changes in technology, education and the many other things that influence our daily lives—issues we often discuss at the Statehouse.
He was an avid reader, which helped him keep up with the changing times, and he could speak three languages. But his stories were the best part of who he was. He had lived through some trying times and could always manage to share what he learned from history.
Listening to him then and thinking about him now, makes me really think how amazing it is how so many people can touch and influence our lives. My Uncle Joseph was definitely one of those people that not only touched and influenced my life, but many others that knew him.
As I spent time my family this past weekend, it made me think about his mark on history and what my mark will be. As an active member of our community and serving as state representative, I have the a fortunate responsibility of helping others, influencing legislation and finding ways to make our state and our lives better. It is a responsibility I have never taken lightly.
But as I said my final goodbye to a man I have loved and respected dearly, I couldn’t help but think about things that are currently going on in my life.
To no one’s surprise, what is occurring at the Statehouse—with protesters, rallies and the Democrat walkout—it is all I think about and hear about. So it wouldn’t be too long before I used my current situation to reflect on what is going on in Indianapolis.
As I have said before, I understand the minority party using a walkout as a tool of expressing their disapproval of certain legislation. All parties have done it in the past. However, last session brought the term “walkout” to an unprecedented level. Then for them to begin this session by repeating the same actions as last year, it is embarrassing. It is embarrassing to the legislative process and to all those that work so hard to be a part of it.
Something that was always the closing line to my uncle’s stories was asking “what can we learn from this and how can we prevent it from happening again.” I was asked these questions as a boy and as an adult, I am still asking these questions.
As a state representative, you are given a profound responsibility of taking care of your community and your state. You are given the opportunity to make a positive mark on history, but only if you rise to the challenge. Saying that, I am here. I am here to work and to make my mark.
I refuse to let my mark on history to be someone who was given a job and failed to show up to do the work, no matter the consequences or the issue. I was elected 14 years ago and for that time, I have showed up and done the work that was necessary to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family—that will be my mark on history. Someone who did the job that was asked of them.