On US Independence Day, praise Mr. Smith who didn’t go to Washington

Image: Flag NYC parade circa 1916; George Grantham Bain Collection, US Library of Congress.

July 4 is a big day in our family because it’s a holiday bringing us together to enjoy the outdoors, grill some great food, and pop off fireworks. We do all this, and we say a blessing of thanks for the country we live in. When I think of gratitude, I’m not thinking of gratitude to the government. I think of gratitude to everyday Americans who make this country what it is. On this July 4, I’m thinking of a non-celebrity hero who took it upon himself to help others, and it had nothing to do with a government mandate or lobbying some politician in Washington for federal dollars.

Rodney Smith,Jr., still shot, WZDX video; Raising Men Lawn Care Service
Photo of Rodney Smith, Jr., founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, snipped from video produced by WZDX.

Rodney Smith, Jr., of Alabama,  founded R.M.L.C.S.—Raising Men Lawn Care Service.

That simple statement doesn’t set off fireworks in your brain unless you know his story.

Smith saw an older man mowing his lawn, and ultimately that led Smith to found his organization dedicated to “mowing lawns, shoveling snow, raking leaves, and more, free of charge.” This sounds so simple, but as someone who has mowed a large lawn in Florida heat for years, I can attest to how much harder it gets as you get older.

Where I live, it’s not so much the physical aspect of mowing (without a riding mower), it’s the heat index that can be lethal to the elderly.

In 2016 Smith launched his effort “to provide free lawn care services for the elderly, disabled or single mothers in need who lacked the time, ability or resources to maintain their own yards.” Since that time, he’s mowed lawns for people in need in every US state.

Smith’s organization has a broader mission now, and it’s funded by private donations. The mission is published on Smith’s Raising Men Lawn Care Service website:

“Raising Men Lawn Care Service is designed to promote awareness for the youth of the future. It is a platform where the younger members of the community can give back to the community. This includes veterans, the elderly, the  disabled and even single mothers. They get the chance to offer services such as mowing lawns, shoveling snow, raking leaves and more, free of charge. The youths who we work with are able to experience a great sense of achievement while also developing their social skills and lawn care experience.”

To me, this is the essence of America. Many of us choose to help others not because of a mandate or a law or because some politico forces us to. We help others because we want to.

So this year when my family gathers to swim, grill, knock back a few cold ones, and enjoy each other’s company, I’ll raise a glass to Rodney Smith, Jr. His initiative and drive demonstrate the best qualities in us.

Happy birthday, USA, and best of wishes to Mr. Smith who didn’t go to Washington to get his idea in motion, but relied on the time proven method of individualism.

Learn more by watching a video created by WZDX News in Huntsville, AL. Smith’s organization also maintains a Facebook page with regular updates about his efforts.

(Kay B. Day/July 3, 2019)

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