“You need to call your mother,” my wife Tonette said to me, “Something happened at the Waukesha Christmas Parade.” I quickly looked online and saw that a red sports utility vehicle (SUV) had plowed through the streets of downtown Waukesha during the annual event.
My mother loves to watch the Christmas Parade as it is in her neighborhood, and she loves parades. I swear that my mom and dad went to nearly every parade I’ve been in — from my time as a Cub Scout to the high band and the football team to campaigns for State Assembly, County Executive, and Governor. They are parade groupies.
When I spoke with her on Sunday, she explained that she watched the parade and this red vehicle came racing by her seat. She was upset as she thought that the driver could hit someone along the parade route. As it was cold, she was already starting to head home.
Soon after her departure, people came running past her. They were screaming about what took place a few blocks away from where she sat to watch the parade. She said it reminded her of the images of people running away from the World Trade Center buildings on Sept. 11, 2001.
My mother told me she cried when she realized the driver had hurt children and others along the route and in the parade itself. My nieces had both been in the band in the past, and one of them had marched that same route before now. Thankfully, our family is safe. Yet that is all the more reason to pray for the grieving families of those killed and others who were seriously injured by the force of the driver’s vehicle.
Both of my nieces passed on GoFundMe pages for some of the victims’ families that go to school with them at Waukesha South. I posted links on my social media at Twitter.com/ScottWalker and Facebook.com/ScottKWalker.
Beyond being thankful that my loved ones were safe, it was a jarring reminder to be thankful for my family and not take them for granted. Tonette, my wife, who puts up with my crazy travel schedule, propensity for trying to fix difficult challenges, and a willingness to talk to everyone in any given room. She is a saint.
My sons Matt and Alex have spent countless hours with me traveling the state and nation. Thankfully, they have grown into two amazing young men who are leaders in each of their career paths. Tonette and I are so proud of them.
Despite a painful sciatic nerve, my mother continues to bake cookies, send notes, make calls, and send pictures to friends, family, and those in need of a bit of cheering up. She is particularly pleased to be a new Great Grandmother — or GG, as she likes to be called — as one of our nieces had a beautiful baby boy last month.
Our nieces, my brother, and sister-in-law are doing well. Although, they are rattled by the tragedy in Waukesha, as many people along the route and in the parade were.
The rest of our family and friends are doing well. We are even more thankful for all of them after nearly two years of the pandemic.
I am particularly thankful for a job that allows me to go to President Ronald Reagan’s ranch nearly every month, particularly in the winter months, in California. It is a joy to share this national treasure with students and supporters alike.
The students, supporters, staff, and boards at Young America’s Foundation are remarkable. I am thankful to be a part of their team. It is a privilege to help train the next generation of freedom fighters.
As Mr. Reagan said, “If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.” We must defend it. I am proud to be a part of that effort and prepare the next generation to do the same.
Despite the past year’s challenges, I am pleased to see parents stepping up to take control of their children’s education. So many were frustrated that their students could not go back to school last year. Many more are concerned about the things being taught to their sons and daughters. They don’t want them to be told to hate America, and they certainly don’t want them to be instructed to judge people by the color of their skin. I am thankful that parents across America are taking action.
Most of all, I am thankful for God’s grace. Moments of tragedy and challenge should remind us of the most important things in our lives. For me, that is God and country, and family and friends. Blessings to you this Thanksgiving as you spend time with those you love.
• Scott Walker is the president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th Governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019.