Where has my America gone?
And so the years have rolled by. Events, now considered commonplace, used to be unsuitable for discussion in “mixed company”! Now births, deaths, violence, joy, graft, corruption, incest, porn ~ you name it and as the year’s end glimmers on the horizon we shake our heads and say, “How the hell did we get here?” “What happened to accountability, integrity, gentility, decorum, decency, responsibility, morals?” I wonder where My America has gone? What has become of my Land of the Free, Home of the Brave? My America, to which I pledged allegiance every morning of my school-life and hundreds of times more in the decades that whizzed past. My America, held high like a glowing, shining star as an example for other Nations to follow? Was that Her I saw torn and tattered, sitting on a street corner, impoverished, with a sign in hand that read, ‘Please help. Will work for food. Homeless. Broke. God Bless You.” Oh, My America…I want to put my arms around you and hold you close. I want to pat you on the back, give you comfort and whisper in your ear that everything will be okay. I know we’ve seen rough times before, but we’ve soldiered on together. With strength, courage and determination we fortified our backbones, anchored our stance and severed the chains hampering our freedom, strangling our liberty and mutilating our independence. The difference between battles then and the viciousness now raging, is we are not on foreign shores aiding our allies in recapturing their homeland, preventing coups or rebellions, genocides, massacres or slaughters…we are here in the thick of the battle. Here in the land where freedom was born and bravery was your middle name, doing our best to hold tight to the inalienable rights laid at our feet by the Founding Fathers of this invincible Nation, never to be trod upon, trampled, unsustainable, insignificant, meaningless, or pointless.
I want to live in My America, not a den of iniquity! That 1947 model that may not have been fancy and we didn’t have much in the way of things that weren’t necessities, but we had a roof over our heads and food on the table and if someone stopped by unexpected at suppertime, Mama just threw a few more vegetables in the pot ~ there was plenty to go around. This time of year, Mama would tuck away a few pennies out of the grocery money, planning ahead for the birthday cake she’d be makin’ me in mid-December and later a nickel or two would buy a sack of sugar for a little fudge or divinity she’d fix up for Christmas company. We had holiday spirit and a house full of love. Up in the woods, Daddy would keep his eyes peeled for just the right tree to bring home on my birthday and after supper, when the dishes were done and the kitchen swept, he’d bring it. Sometimes it had to be wired to the wall to make it stand up, but when we got it decorated with the few ornaments we had, we stood back and thought it was the most wonderful tree ever. That was how we lived in My America, but things were changing . . .
Time and politics were pretty tame in My America (1953 to 1961) … Everybody liked Ike, he had little grandkids about my age, always gathered around him, so I figured he must be a nice man and he smiled a lot, too. His wife was a real fancy lady who seemed to always wear a dead animal around her neck and I thought she must not feed it much cause it was always chewin’ on its own foot! (She really needed to do something about those “bangs” too!)
When I was in the sixth grade and a little more aware, I noticed there was a big ruckus about who would be the next President … a young Catholic man named John or a guy with a ski-jump for a nose named Richard. Some people in town called him “Tricky Dick” but I don’t think Ike called him that. People who were old enough to vote really chose sides and that’s when I first remember My America getting cranky. The young guy, John, won and Dick was real p.o.’ed, waving his arms and things, acting like life wasn’t fair! He took his dog named Checkers and his family and headed back to California. He said his wife didn’t have a fancy fur coat, that she wore a “Nice Republican cloth coat”, I didn’t understand that remark because I thought that California was too hot for either kind of coat. My America changed fast after that and there were lots of nasty things said about the new President. Some people even called him Catholic like it was a naughty word, but I didn’t think God would have minded where he went to church. He wasn’t around long enough for it to be a real problem though because one day he decided to take his wife on a trip to Texas to get her out of the house for a while and maybe do a little shopping (though I thought she always looked nice in her old clothes). Well, there were some bad guys that showed up in Texas that day too and they shot John and killed him. The bad guy also shot a police officer that day too, but you didn’t hear much about him or his family after that, not like you heard about John’s family. Then the next day at the police station, a dance hall guy shot and killed the fella who shot John. It was right on live TV just before supper! There was so much confusion, even nowadays, people aren’t sure what happened or who did what, but I’ll tell you that was 1963 and My American was spinnin’ like a top. Who would have ever thought something like that would happen? Everyone was so upset and people didn’t even care anymore whether John was Catholic or not. I was a high school freshman by then and the news came during first period band class. Our band director, Mr. Sobek, got handed a message, he put it in his pocket, raised his arms signaling attention and said, “The President is dead. We’ll play the Star Spangled Banner.” You could hear a pin drop afterward. My America had again, taken a turn and ran smack dab into violence.
Death and destruction came on the heels of John’s passing. Before you knew it, the substitute President, Lyndon, was walkin’ tall and talkin’ War … well not War precisely, just a “conflict” he said, a little clean up. Soon though, kids I went to school with were being called up. Some had deferments because of college, some because they got married and had instant families, but thousands across My America were drafted. Not even old enough to vote, they were handed a rifle and sent half way around the world to defend a country that didn’t even want us there. It wasn’t long before the streets of every major city filled with protesting teenagers and young adults. “Hell no we won’t go!” There was public violence, but nothing like today. The SDS dynamited the Administrative Building porch at the UW and students marched from Campus, up the new freeway, onto the “Express Lanes” and to the Federal Building. Anger prevailed. Hatred. Police in riot gear. It was no longer that 1947 America I knew. Chaos reigned and more of our boys came home in body bags than upright. Those that did walk off the plane were badgered, scorned, spat upon, jeered and hated. Hated over something for which they had no control … like they wanted to go?! The grip I felt I had on My America was slipping and I was old enough and smart enough to see the evolution in progress ~ 1947, Ike, John, Tricky Dick, Pat’s nice cloth coat, Mamie’s bangs nor the dead animal around her neck would never chew his foot again. My America would never be the same.
She had changed drastically. Instead of that cozy post World War II feeling of a chicken in ever pot, a job for anyone who wanted to work or resting assured that the President would take care of us all would never, ever happen again. We had morphed into a society who refused to believe anyone over thirty, less was more, the government was out to pull the wool over your eyes, truth was a characteristic left far behind in the dust of politics and the abyss became a depth of despair.
Now, in My America 2013 not a day passes without mass murder, kidnapping, rape, robbery, vicious brutality, theft, man’s inhumanity to man. Cheating is a way of life … take a look at A-Rod the baseball wunderkind pumped and plumped with steroids and biogenesis dope or Lance Armstrong the Tour de France phenomenon who doped and changed out his blood faster than Jiffy Lube on a warm summer day! Why? Fame? Bucks? Celebrity? I’m curious if these mega-million dollar-doozies are proud of themselves? None of those involved in cheating will ever be able to prove they had “the stuff” it takes to be a winner! It’s obvious they have no ethics, principles, morals or integrity. Heck it’s not just them ~ take a quick peek at those steering the boat down the Potomac! Bill Clinton claimed he didn’t have sex with that woman, Miss Monica Lewinski; Anthony Weiner was shamed out of office when he flashed a picture of his tube steak and sent it to a raft of admirers; Jessie Jackson “the younger”, is in prison for lying about his income and misusing funds and the list goes on. The common mantra is “cheat until you get caught then lie yurassoff!”
In My America today, elected officials demand you open up your life for all to see, lock up your gun for no one to touch, have a permit, a license, authorization or a certificate to exercise an inalienable right outlined by the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights! “BHO,” (President at Large) says, “…sign up for the Affordable Health Care Act/Obamacare even if you have insurance which suits your needs and a physician with whom you feel comfortable and trust. Oh! You already have insurance? Well then, if like your insurance or your doctor … keep it! “Already have adequate coverage that you can afford? Too damned bad! I’ll make sure your policy is cancelled AND while I’m at it, I’ll double the cost that you had before AND add coverage you not only don’t want, but can’t use!” “Don’t like them apples? Get a load of this … You say someone can’t make you buy insurance? ! Hah! I’m the President! The buck stops with me! You’ll either buy insurance OR I’ll take whatever fine I feel is appropriate out of your Income Tax Return! What? You don’t have enough money to file Income Tax? Well then you don’t have to pay the fine! That’ll teach ya!” (“What chu mean, Willis, it’s not fair to make people purchase extra premiums and coverage?”) Like I tole you before, “Obie-med” isn’t going to cost the gov’ment nuthin’! And by nuthin’ I mean ME … this is the “peeples plan” and y’all are gonna be spending more money to cover the peeple who are too poor to pay, but I got that figured out, too. The young’uns comin’ up can pay for the insurance the junior leaguers will need while they are spendin’ their money on the ol’ folks, now (and by ol folks, I mean them that think they are gonna be gittin’ Social Security at retirement age! They don’t know I gave all them illegal immigrants a free ride on the Social Security Train and by the way, there ain’t no more ‘retirement age’ either!) I know it’s tough to understand all this, but one day y’all will catch on. It’s easy for ME to understand cuz I was an “organizer” back in Chick-aw-go, before I got this job! Just trust me and I’ll make sure you all git what’s comin to ya!”
Ah, My Dear America 2013. I know it’s a frightening time for you (and for us too), but please have Faith. There are plenty of us doing our best to right the ship. We are raising the mainsail and holding the bow into the wind, come aboard Lady America and rest your weary bones. With a full company at your back have no fear of Black Jack Savage, his cutthroat crew or his one hundred-life quota. We will come around strong on My America 2014 with nary a butt being scuttled!
by / Sherrie Bond
(Sherrie Bond serves as Director of the Northwest Log Truckers’ Cooperative. She can be reached via email at BONDTRUCK@aol.com)