Cambrian: Opinion

John Brannon: You can't choose your ancestors

Gift of life: Carole Wilson, at left in the photo at right, meets with Beverly Cohen, the widow of the man whose donation of vital organs after his 2003 death brought new life to four people on organ wait lists. Wilson met with Beverly three years after Bob Cohen’s death. The story appeared in this space in the Jan. 7 Cambrian, and is available online at http://bit. ly/lungdonor.
Gift of life: Carole Wilson, at left in the photo at right, meets with Beverly Cohen, the widow of the man whose donation of vital organs after his 2003 death brought new life to four people on organ wait lists. Wilson met with Beverly three years after Bob Cohen’s death. The story appeared in this space in the Jan. 7 Cambrian, and is available online at http://bit. ly/lungdonor. COURTESY PHOTO

With all the political divisiveness in the air since the election in 2009, one continues hearing comments about our “founding fathers.”

With the Republican base leaning more and more to the right, I thought I might offer some insight into the First Amendment to the Constitution. Those who drafted the Constitution of the United States of America wanted to make sure that no one misunderstood what their intent was at this very vital time in the history of our burgeoning nation, so they emphasized the most important points as The Bill of Rights. The first and most essential right to them was: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This inclusion was the result of Roger Williams earlier pressing for such a controversial restriction. Williams was born in England on Dec. 21, 1603. He was a theologian and a notable proponent of religious toleration. As one of the founders of the Baptist Church in America (not the Southern Baptist Church), he was deeply religious, but insisted that a “wall of separation” be established between church and state in our new country. His controversial views resulted in Williams being banished from Massachusetts in 1634. In 1644, he received a charter creating the colony of Rhode Island and he lived there for the rest of his life.

Later, Thomas Jefferson began using the “wall of separation” phrase.

With leaves beginning to fall from my tree of life, I decided to write some material for my children as to where our family came from before it gets too late.

My father’s name was Roger Williams Brannon; my name is John Roger Brannon and my son’s name is Roger Brannon –yes, that Roger Williams is a shirttail relative.

When I completed my research and composed my file about my distant relative, I noticed an addendum at the end of the Web site; it listed the names of some current descendants of Roger Williams.

My name was not included. But there were two names that caught my attention: Garrison Keillor was one of them. That fact pleases me immensely. But Lady Fate must have had a good laugh when she included the other name — I am related to Sarah Palin.

E-mail John Brannon at jrogb1433@yahoo.com

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