Before my recent book signing tour, several Clintonians from across the nation asked me to report back on how I saw the city of Clinton.

I can say unequivocally that in these challenging times Clinton is on the move. The obvious indicators are Clinton’s new bypass, which will provide residential and commercial growth to follow the design. Already, there is a striking new grammar school soon to be opened in Lyons, as well as a Prince of Peace Catholic church under construction in the body of the bypass. ADM, Clinton’s major industry, is expanding with a new access road parallel to it under construction on Liberty Avenue. This will make Camanche Avenue a two-way thoroughfare.

Homes and businesses everywhere are in various states of construction or renovation, and the Clinton County Courthouse, the center of my novel, “In the Shadow of the Courthouse,” is technologically modern without modifying its historic authenticity.

That said I was reminded of the words of Alexis de Tocqueville in “Democracy in America” that volunteerism is the soul of America, and that soul is especially healthy in Clinton.

How do I know?

It was such volunteer organizations as Wa-Tan-Ye-Club of Clinton, First Congregational Church, the Clinton Women’s Club, Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions International that gave me an opportunity to discuss my new book “A Look Back to See Ahead.”

Guzzardo’s Hallmark Gift Shop, the resolute anchor store of downtown Clinton, also provided me with two book-signing Saturdays. And the Clinton Herald could not have been more generous in giving this former Clintonian exposure to the community.

These volunteer organizations with busy people with full-time lives were not too busy to do for others what they cannot do for themselves, nor were they too busy to discuss a serious book with an author who argues we as a nation are stuck and our society is sick.

The irony is that these people that listened to me are not stuck, nor are they sick but hitting on all cylinders keeping the soul of Clinton healthy.

It reminds me of a period more than 50 years ago when everything was not all about us but about the challenges of a nation at war (World War II). We as a country have lost that focus, but not these Clinton volunteers.

Several people wondered why I was not discussing such a serious book of ideas and intellectual capital with Clinton Community College and Ashford University.

I could have demurred and said nothing, but that would not have been true.

We tried, God how we tried, but our efforts fell on deaf ears.

That is all right. Ideas are not sacrosanct to higher education nor academics but belong to everyman and everywoman.

That is the thesis of “A Look Back to See Ahead,” as the world tomorrow no longer belongs to specialists.

Dr. James R. Fisher Jr.,

Tampa, Fla.

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