Wednesday, April 27

Marchand Chronicles: Lebanon

The Righteous Shall Flourish
Mike Marchand
The Marchand Chronicles
April 25, 2005

Last week I finally visited Lebanon. To tell the truth, I found it kind of . . . dull. It was oddly quiet and strangely peaceful. There were no horrific remnants of violence and no signs that anybody else in the world really cared about them.

I speak, of course, of Lebanon, Indiana.

Lebanon, Indiana is a half-hour's drive from Indianapolis northwest on Interstate 65. This puts it at about a 140-mile trip from Marchron World Headquarters, which can be done on less than half a tank of gas. As opposed to the country of Lebanon, which is more than 6000 miles and no less than three connecting flights away. Obviously, considering my budget, staying in-state was the way to go.

I was hoping Lebanon, Indiana would, given the linguistic tie, have established a relationship with the Middle Eastern country, or perhaps some sort of cultural liaison, so that I could, in effect, visit the budding Cedar democracy by proxy.

Instead, the whole place looked like it just fell out of a John Cougar Mellencamp music video.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy my brief stay; Lebanon's motto is "The Friendly City" and I did have a splendid time. But I went to find some similarities, something to compare to the country of Lebanon and found no obvious connections.

People have lived in the nation of Lebanon since the beginning of civilization. It was founded by the Phoenicians, who used its central location and Mediterranean coastline as the foundation for its trading culture. Lebanon, Indiana was founded in 1830 by two enterprising Indianapolis land speculators, one of whom, George L. Kinnard, was the surveyor for Marion County (Indianapolis). He guaranteed his fledgling city's viability by ensuring that the exploratory road between Indianapolis and Lafayette jogged slightly to the east, right through his land. Kinnard and his partner, James Perry Drake, also, essentially, assured that Lebanon would be the influential seat of Boone County by trading more than one-third of their land to the county for its use. So — central location and trade: check. No coastline in Lebanon, Indiana, though.

Because of its diverse demographics and rich history, Lebanon, specifically Beirut, is a vibrant cultural center. In contrast, the population of Lebanon, Indiana is nearly 98% white, and the most happening place appeared to be the Wal-Mart, though an ice cream stand did attract some attention on a warm late afternoon.

And of course, the reality of daily life in the Lebanons are much different. The Cedar Revolution, although not attracting as much attention as the first heady moments, is still ongoing. Through international pressure, but mostly due to the determination of the Lebanese people, Syria recently completed its military withdrawal from Lebanon. The last step, although not particularly fascinating, is a political withdrawal. With that in mind, the Lebanese protestors, who still occupy Martyr's Square in Beirut, and have ever since the February assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, have now focused their attention on demanding open elections on May 29. To that end, they are calling for the government to follow election law and announce the elections one month in advance, on April 29. The Tent City demonstrators have erected a large electronic sign counting down the number of days until the deadline. As of this writing, it's 4.

To the Lebanese, the threat of violence, whether from pro-Syrian factions of their own people, agents from Syria, or terrorist groups like Hezbollah, is a daily reality. Rafiq Hariri was killed by a car bomb, and several more have gone off since his assassination on February 14.

However, in Lebanon, Indiana, the most danger anyone lives with is the technically-illegal Texas Hold'em game on Sunday nights at Johnny's Spirits & Munchies on South Street (I lost $20). The most pressing political issue is the attempted bill that would finally bring Daylight Savings Time to the state of Indiana.

Despite all the differences between Lebanon and Lebanon, Indiana, there's not a person in Lebanon that wouldn't trade their lives, mostly filled with war and strife, for a quiet life like the one led in the Hoosier State. But they don't want to — and shouldn't have to — move to America to experience it.

Or, as the Pulse Of Freedom blog, set up live at Martyr's Square, puts it: "This is our country: the country that we live in, grew up in, studied in, dreamed in, fell in and out of love in . . . This is the country we are proud to represent and whose essence we carry with us, in our blood."

There is actually one real connection I could find between the Lebanons: the small Indiana town was given its name when one of the city's first commissioners called to mind Lebanon's cedar trees, which are an often-mentioned Biblical image and, of course, is Lebanon's national symbol to this day, and said, "The name of this town shall be Lebanon."

It's perhaps symbolic of the differences between them that that commissioner was looking at hickory trees, not cedars.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. — Psalm 92:12


Location: Mishawaka, Indiana, United States

I graduated with an English degree from the University Of Notre Dame in 2001, and in 2008 I have a day job that has nothing to do with my degree but gets the bills paid in a semi-regular fashion. (I have running water five days a week!) The idea is that once I get turned around on my bills, I go to grad school. I also have an idea for cold fusion. Anyone's guess which will be feasible first. In non-work mode, I'm usually reading columns by famous and well-read thinkers, blogs by critically praised writers, or sometimes blogs by overzealous cranks who make me laugh. I yearn to be all three at once; until then I'll settle for being the third. I also have an undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football. Praise them and I'll buy you a beer; curse them and I'll dump it over your head. If that's not enough, I'm becoming quite the fan of no-limit Texas Hold'em. My games have one of two results: I either win all the money or whine because I didn't win all the money.

marchandchronicles -at-

Fair warning: I reserve the right to post any and all criticisms and flames, in their entirety. Seriously. Just ask this guy.

July 2006
May 2006
April 2006
January 2006

January | February | March | April
May | June | July | August
September | October | November | December

Essays on whatever I feel like writing about.

August 8, 2005: High Gas Prices
August 1, 2005: Judge Roberts' Hearings
June 20, 2005: Senator Durbin's Comments
May 23, 2005: Newsweek & Pepsi
May 2, 2005: Al Gore's MoveOn Speech
April 25, 2005: Lebanon
April 18, 2005: The Nuclear Option
April 11, 2005: Pope John Paul II
March 5, 2005: The Domino Effect
January 31, 2005: Iraqi Elections
January 24, 2005: Bush's Inaugural
January 17, 2005: Roemer, Dean & The DNC

WARNING: links, comments & trackbacks may contain profanities or other items of unscruples. marchand chronicles does not endorse any comment/opinion expressed in any such addendum.

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marchand chronicles has such massive readership and influence that it makes me weep.
—Glenn Reynolds


Damn right.


What's Your Line?


I absolutely love the name of your site.

Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson, Power Line
Just the name? Not the content? . . . I'll take it.

You have something in common with Dave Barry, Hemingway, and Mark Steyn: I'm not linking to them, either.


That's good stuff there Mark.

Dean Barnett, Soxblog
Psst, it's "Mike."

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All text and original images © MMVI by Mike Marchand/Marchand Chronicles.

Okay, so I don't really have a copyright. But I still don't want you ripping me off. Reprint it all over the Internet if you like, but give me proper credit and link back to me. Besides, if you're going to plagiarize, steal from someone with some talent.

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