GENDUSA COLUMN: Too big for our breeches?

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, August 24, 2022

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As eighth graders in middle Tennessee, our class traveled to Nashville for our big field trip before heading to high school.  We visited the State Capital building, where we were allowed to occupy congressional member’s chairs.  I settled into a wooden seat that was not only worn but creaked, so I dared not squirm as a member of the General Assembly began to speak. The orator scanned the young audience and then bellowed, pointing in my direction, “You, the young girl with the blonde hair in the plaid dress.”

“Me?” I responded with surprise.  “Do you know whose chair you are sitting in?” He asked. “You are occupying Representative Davy Crockett’s seat! The King of the Wild Frontier!”

I was elated because my family was also frontiersmen from Tennessee, and my roots run deep in the state’s rocky earth.

In “An Account of Col. Crockett’s Tour to the North and Down East,” written in 1835, Crockett is quoted as saying:

“I myself was one of the first to fire a gun under Andrew Jackson. I helped to give him all his glory. But I liked him well once: but when a man gets too big for his breeches, I say goodbye. “  During my youth, when I became sassy or errantly believed I knew everything, the expression, “You’re getting too big for your breeches!” was used at least once a week. Mama always said britches instead of breeches, but the meaning is the same.

So, do I blame Davy for starting a phrase used in my family for 187 years? Not only no, but a big NO!  I was taught early in life that humility is necessary to live an honorable life. And, when we become too proudful, boastful, or believe that only our thoughts are the correct ones, we face trouble. Also, in my house, apologies were a sign of strength, never weakness.

Let’s see, today, some are ready to kill the FBI, or maybe shoot up a town, or possibly stab a writer, blow up a synagogue, steal a few cars, run over a Democrat, and stomp a Republican.  We despise Trumpers, loathe Biden voters, and anyone who supports either. We are beginning to detest and distrust everything about our environment, economy, and ethics. Is our britches too tight for our own good? Yes, they are because when we split our pants, maybe no one will care to mend them.  With his raccoon-skinned hat, Davy Crockett left Andrew Jackson’s side because he could no longer stomach his old friend’s policies, especially regarding the treatment of Native Americans. He was the only member from Tennessee in the United States Congress to vote against the Indian Removal Act.  Afterward, Tennessee sent him home, but Davy never gave up. He returned to Congress two years later, continually believing in equality and justice. 

When he was voted out of office again by Tennessee voters, he made good on his promise to move to Texas. He never intended to fight for his new adopted home, but the King of the Wild Frontier could never resist a righteous cause. He was killed at the Alamo at age 49, doing what he did best … Being brave.

We should applaud those who go out on a limb to do what is right rather than sit under a shade tree, reap the rewards, and do nothing.

There is only one person I must answer to when I leave this ground. It is not a political party, a president, a friend, or a foe, but God almighty. Generations will pass after me, and I pray this country will be here to house them, but it will not be if we don’t wear britches that fit. Pants made of integrity and stitched with courage. For those leaders who promote vengeance, contempt, and fear to gain power, please, for the sake of tomorrow’s America, stop. It does not matter what political party we belong to, but if any of us believe hatred and party politics will mend America, perhaps study the Bible. 

When I was a young girl, I sat in an old seat in the halls of the Tennessee General Assembly, and it was there, I believe, a voice whispered in my ear…

“I am at liberty to vote as my conscience and judgment dictates to be right, without the yoke of any party on me…. Look at my arms; you will find no party handcuff on them.” The Honorable David Crockett Under that old hat and behind that long rifle lived a wise, fearless mountain man wearing breeches that fit.