Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I am my father's son

I am possibly the world's second worst at maintaining a journal but we shall see. This entry marks the beginning of my journey into the world of blogging. My primary intent is to create a record for my grandchildren to read about my life. Anyone else that reads this, while I do hope that you enjoy it please understand that you're not the audience.

Who am I? I am the son of Shields Morgan Ragan, born in Vernon, Texas and Aree (maiden name with-held for obvious security reasons). I was born in the Republic of Singapore and lived there until the end of my 1st grade schooling. By birth, I am an American citizen though born on foreign soil. My mother was and is still a practicing Theravada Buddhist as was I until my teenage years. My father's family was Baptist but he never ascribed to that religion, instead he could be called a deist or even agnostic. He believed in a Creator but ascribed to that divine being no traits other than he knew that one day he and the Creator would meet, and then they would have a long chat. At the time of this writing, my mother still lives but my father has passed from this mortal vale to meet with his Creator.

The thought of writing the details of my life is a bit daunting. I am by no means perfect, I have pride issues and have lived several different lives in my not-quite three decades. I have not always kept my actions beyond reproach and the weight of my failings at times weigh heavily on my mind. I am human after all.

Who am I today? If I had to summarize I suppose I would say that first and foremost I am my father's son. I mean that both in the mortal sense and also in regard to my Heavenly Father. I am a Ragan. I am a Latter-day Saint. I am a Texan by choice and by virtue of it being the land of my youth and fondest memory. I am of Thai lineage. I am of Irish lineage. I am a student of history and of geology. I am a lover of the romantic, the epic, and the poetic - though that does not keep me from working with computers and programming web-pages or in the PHP web-programming language. Yin and Yang. East and West. Christian Faith and Buddhist Philosophy. Caucasian and Asian. Analog and Digital. Humanist and Technophile. All of these things are a part of who I am.

I'll begin with the thing I mentioned first, I am a Ragan.

When I was a boy, I had the opportunity to read a poem painted onto a wall hanger sold through one of those mail-order catalogs. I never, ever forgot that poem and when I think of the generations that will come after me I try to remember its words. I have read other versions in the intervening years but this is how I remember it. It is a poem about a young man's family name. It's a heavily modified version of the original by Edgar Guest.

You got it from your father,
It was all he had to give,
So now it's yours to use and cherish,
For as long as you may live.
If you lose the gifts he gave you,
They can always be replaced
But a black mark on your name my Son
Can never be erased.
It was clean the day you took it,
And a worthy name to bear,
When he got it from his father,
There was no dishonor there.
So make sure you guard it wisely,
After all is said and done,
You'll be glad the name is spotless,
When you give it to your son.

Shields Morgan Ragan is my father, his father was Clemon Shields Ragan (a retired Army MP). Before Clemon there was George Washington Ragan (a carpenter) who was the son of William Edward Ragan (a veteran of the Confederacy and fought for Missouri though his state of birth was Tennessee). William Edward was the son of Joseph Wesley Ragan of North Carolina. Joseph Wesley was William Ragan of North Carolina's son. Our then Nathan Ragan also of North Carolina, and so forth.

My direct lineage dates back to at least 1700 and for over 300 years we have lived on American soil. Our family legends tell us that once our name was spelled O'Reagan and then Reagan. Over a dispute about a woman, one brother kept the e and the other dropped it. Perhaps it was Nathan? Did Nathan fight with the Colonials against England? Did Nathan or his father fight for the king like many of the Appalacian mountain men did? Time and luck and some study will tell. It is likely we are descendants of Protestant Ulster Irish though we have yet been unable prove it one way or another. There are many names in my family tree, and of my father's lineage they are mostly English, Irish, Scots, and Welsh.

I am a Ragan, and I am my father's son.