Monday, September 03, 2012
Our Full Duty
According to A History of Vermont (1916), almost immediately after Fort Sumter was fired upon and the Civil War began:
Towns voted to raise money on their grand list, and subscribed to equip the militia and support the families of volunteers...[The Legislature] voted seven dollars per month pay in addition to the thirteen dollars offered by the [Federal] government ; had provided for the relief of the families of volunteers in cases of destitution, and had laid the first war tax, — ten cents on the dollar of the grand list.
Vermonters could have shrugged their shoulders and said it wasn't their problem. Our little state was far away from the fighting, yet we responded to the call with great aplomb and sacrifice so that we might preserve the Union and, true to our abolitionist history, set other people free.
While we're perhaps known for a certain amount of rugged individualism, we don't shirk our responsibility to each other. Sometimes it takes the form of helping replace the cemetery fence. Or dropping off canned goods at the food pantry. Or holding special events to raise money for people whose children are sick.
That's all well and good, though sometimes things happen that require more concerted effort from a larger community to deal with. For instance, right now our tax dollars are helping victims of Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana. Last year they helped Vermonters hit by Hurricane Irene.
We were lucky in Franklin County, feeling very little of Irene's fury, but people headed down south to help out folks who lost their homes and businesses. And when Fletcher suffered from road washouts a few months before that, state government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave us a boost when our relatively small Town budget would have been overwhelmed by necessary repairs.
Our Founders established the Constitution to “form a more perfect Union”—which Vermonters died defending a couple generations later—and to “promote the general Welfare.” They recognized we're all in this together, and we honor their foresight as we take care of our neighbors just down the road and far to the south of us.
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