When the Smocks and Mumfords get together
Across the United States this month many annual family reunions are taking place. In communities as bucolic as tiny Cochranton, Pa., and as industrial as Pittsburgh, the ''nest'' again is full, the family again has gathered.
Wherever a reunion occurs, it is a past-and-present celebration of the vital force of the American family. After years of having been under stress the family once again is gaining support, as societal leaders increasingly talk of its importance and of the need to respect and reinvigorate it.
None so recognize this as reuniting family members.
In Cochranton, at their informal eighth annual reunion, three dozen Smocks and Mumfords fortify themselves against summer's searing sun with sideyard shade and just-unfrozen apple cider. They show affection and friendship for each other , and reflect again on the strengths of parents and grandparents.
The younger generation peers for the first time through the window at which their great-great-great grandfather, then a boy of seven, stood for hour on end in 1815 in an act of faith, never doubting that his father was alive and would return from the War of 1812. Weeks after the final battle his father, in worn and dusty uniform, finally strode into view.
In Pittsburgh 100 miles away, at the 33rd annual reunion of the Frisbie family, America's fourth-largest recorded family, the atmosphere is more formal but the meaning the same. The family has its own quarterly newsletter, with feature articles about past and present members, and its own formal organization; next year it will have its own headquarters. Hostess Marjorie Frisbie Lockard (''I never met a Frisbie I didn't like'') says warmly: ''We're proud of our heritage, we're proud of our family, we're proud of being Americans.''
Important as family reunions like these are, the family of man transcends ties of blood or marriage. One international ''family'' - the Boy Scout movement - is now holding its 15th World Jamboree. During the eight-day session in Alberta, Canada, many outdoor activities are planned for the 15,000 attending scouts.
More important than these scheduled doings are the informal communications that find scouts from hostile nations or religious groups getting to know and appreciate each other. Journalists present cite friendly relationships between blacks and whites from South Africa, Israelis and Arabs from the Middle East, Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland.
The American family - and the international family - is deserving of support. And it is heartening to see its strength.