By Bill Ward
---- — What ever happened to that country of my youth? When politics was more or less civil, our elected officials knew what compromise meant. That country had just managed to survive the Great Depression with a lot of pain, but survive we did. A country that desperately wanted not to go to war again, but also knew it was coming like it or not. A country that wanted peace, but also instituted the draft; a country being dragged into yet another European war that was the country of my youth.
We had managed to do so many things yet felt so far behind. The population as a whole was very much anti-war even when they felt it was inevitable. Our economy was once again starting to be the thriving economy it was but still had a ways to go. We had family, we had peace and best of all we had spunk. We were far from ready for a war yet we felt it was something we would try to stay out of. We had spent millions of dollars and thousands of lives once before in a war in Europe and had no desire to do it again. Our society had changed drastically; we were rapidly becoming a nation of social experimentation. A nation that had seen problems and had tried to alleviate some of them anyway with mixed results.
We felt the worse was over, now it looked much better for us all. Then Dec. 7, 1941 changed everything. Our peaceful notions rapidly became war like and we rolled up our sleeves, dug in our heels and went to war. Japan and Germany made a huge mistake when they declared war on us, the 800 pound gorilla of the day. Our country was pretty much safe from either Hitler or Tojo and because of that we could and did become the benefactor of the allies all over the world. We went to war blissfully unaware of what we were in for, but also ready for what ever it was. We made mistakes, and learned from them. We rationed many things, and lived without a lot of others.
Our men and women went to war all over the world. The ladies at home fast showed that they could and would replace those men needed to be soldiers. Conservatives, Liberals and all other political feelings were all together all ready to fight and win this war. We had family scattered all over the world, family members doing things we never felt anyone in our family would ever be able to do. We learned we could do some things we never thought we could or even should do. We saw carnage beyond what we ever felt could ever come about.
We certainly did not want war but we got it and did our best to win it. We were the arsenal of the free world and at the end of the war we were the economy that was still intact, one of a few still able to help others. And when we won that war we did something that had never been done before. We helped not only our allies, but also our enemies to regain their footing and become members of the world community - something we were sadly lacking at the end of WWI. We gave our soldiers, sailors and airmen the opportunity of college something not everyone could do before. We gave loans for homes to our veterans we seemed to do a lot of right things. And yes we also made mistakes, and again learned from them.
Our country was together more so than ever before. We were cocky and sure we had the answer to about every problem that came along. We helped much more than we hurt and for that I was and still am glad. Our country was the guiding light of the world for a long time thereafter. Our elected officials listened to those of us who elected them. We as the electorate actually looked into things and voiced our opinions. We made up our own minds we had no need of a talking head telling us what we had just heard; we were smart enough to know what we heard and what we thought of it. We were not led by the nose by the media, we led the media by our actions and opinions, which we were not afraid to voice.
We have lost so many things since the end of WWII it is sad. We listen to people who are no more than opportunists who make a living out of their ethnic or political or social background. Organizations who are minor players in the world who loudly voice their opinions and force or attempt to force them on the rest of us whether we like it or not. We allow the fringe of society place their ideology in the forefront today and we the majority allow it to happen. Our attitude of live and let live seems to have become do it my way or no way. We have allowed those who espouse ideas contrary to ours to brow beat us into submission, we have lost our ability to fight back. We have become a nation of individuals who are more interested in what will the government do for us rather than what can we do for the government.
Our politicians are more interested in remaining senators or congressmen than representing their constituents. They are more interested in making the lobbyist with the deep pockets happy not those who put them there. Industry is more interested in circumventing rules and regulations than by adhering to them. Our government seems more interested in making rules for us to follow, then exempting themselves than doing the right thing. Politicians see themselves as the chosen ones to make us live the way they want us to, not the way we want to. And all this is our fault for not doing something about the situation.
I really miss the civility, reality and cooperation and compromise of my youth. I miss our government actually paying attention to our Constitution. Our judicial aspect of the government not being politically active, but actually interrupting the Constitution not seeing how they can circumvent it. I miss the political compromise of old. I miss a heck of a lot of things I have lost in my life time.