By Lee Montgomery email@example.com
DYERSVILLE, Iowa – They built it, so I came.
My pain was eased, at least for a little while.
I went the distance.
OK, that’s enough Field of Dreams references. Well, not really. They’ll be more, I’m sure.
Yes, I went to the Field of Dreams Movie Site, where the field Ray Kinsella built out of his cornfield is located. The field is still in pristine shape, even 20-some years after it was built for the movie. Fathers and sons were playing on the field Tuesday, and my guess is they play on the field all the time.
I thought of my dad, of course, wishing he were here to play catch with. But I didn’t get too sad, for the joy in the smiles of the little kids – and their fathers – playing on this field on this day was worth the trip. Maybe someday I can bring my own son way up here.
And I do mean way up here. I had to drive the Buschmobile on some dirt roads to get here, roads carving through Iowa farms. But like I said, it was worth it. I had prepared myself to be underwhelmed, because like some things you look forward to, it doesn’t live up to the hype.
And, after all, it’s just a field for a movie. But, no, it’s more than that. Any man who has ever played catch (and it’s play catch, not have a catch, by the way) with his dad understands why.
And there’s something to be said for second chances, too. We all love the story of someone who, given a second chance, succeeds. We all get knocked down by life, but I can promise you, we all get second chances. Or millionth chances.
Herbert Hoover lost in his second chance, the presidential election of 1932. Hoover was born to meager means in West Branch, Iowa, and I got to visit the National Historic Site dedicated to our nation’s 31st president there.
Hoover happened to be the unlucky sap serving as president when the Great Depression hit in 1929. He even got blamed for the economic crisis in the country then, even as outside factors conspired against him in a mighty way.
Hoover lost the 1932 election to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who led the country out of the depression and through World War II. Looking back, however, many historians believe Hoover laid the groundwork for Roosevelt’s New Deal that helped get the country out of economic stagnation.
I’ll be honest, all I knew about Hoover was that he was a president, and that he was mentioned by Archie Bunker in the All in the Family intro. But he was a true American success story. After being raised to a Quaker family, Hoover went to Stanford (did you know it was called Leland Stanford Junior University?) to become an engineer, and became rich finding gold all across the world.
But Hoover didn’t just take his money and run. He was instrumental in famine relief all over the world, and later helped revamp the Commerce Department as its cabinet secretary. He was as popular a figure in the United States in the 1920s as anyone.
So what do Hoover, Field of Dreams and NASCAR have in common? Not a lot, but if you look, you can find something.
Maybe that’s the point. Maybe we should all stop looking for the bad in things and try to find the good.
And don’t forget, everyone deserves second chances. Or millionth. And even if you can’t give someone a second chance, believe me, God will. He does every day.