Can I tell you a little story about my dad, opportunity, the GI Bill, and public education?
My dad was born and raised in a steel mill and coal mining community in southwestern Pennsylvania. His mom and dad worked hard and sacrificed to provide for their 8 children.
As was the culture of the community, my dad was expected to graduate high school and spend his life either working in the coal mines or steel mills. College was not supposed to be an option since it wasn’t affordable. After high school, he enlisted in the Navy and served during the Korean War. When he returned home, his dream was to play pro baseball. Even though he was pretty darn good, it just wasn’t in the cards.
So this one day, he was sitting at the bar at the local Russian Club. By this time, he was 24 years old. There was this guy at the bar having a beer that dad knew from his days as a 10-year-old setting pins at the local bowling alley. This gentleman just looked at him and said, “Why are you sitting here in this bar in the middle of the afternoon drinking a beer? You should be in college. You are a veteran. Take advantage of the G.I. bill, get yourself a degree.” (He did say it a little more colorfully and if you see me in person, I will tell you the exact words.)
My dad enrolled and graduated from California State Teachers College in Pennsylvania. He received a degree in teaching and taught public school for decades; met my mom in the same school district; had two children – me and my brother; and was awarded a Doctorate in Education. He retired as an assistant superintendent of a public school system in Pennsylvania. That one single moment in a bar, and his Navy service, changed his future forever.
My family is where it is today due to public schools, military service, the GI Bill, and unions. His story and my mom’s (which will come soon), have provided the foundation for who I am, what I plan for the future, and my values in this race for County Commissioner. Working people, education, equity, and opportunity are the foundation of our economy and our country.
Today, my 85-year old dad and I were able to go to the Lenten Fish Fry at the American Legion Post 902 in my small hometown of Houston, Pennsylvania and visit with people I have known my entire life. I am grateful for family, community, opportunity, hard work, and public education. I am thankful for my dad and all of those who served and worked hard so that we can have opportunities and choice.
Cheers to my dad, Clarence McCullough, and to everyone who has worked so hard to build this country. These are the folks whose shoulders we stand upon and lift us up.