The America I once knew

By Bill Shepard

I am not comfortable when I am writing about politics! I feel inadequate to do so. I am more comfortable when I am writing about Swift Creek, fishing, swimming and hunting for small game in the swamp lands that the small stream had created.

I prefer writing about the little boy who skipped across open fields and pasture lands in pursuit of grasshoppers, wild crickets and mosquito hawks. I prefer to reminisce about going in search of wild berries, ripening along ditch-banks or for wild plums, along country roads or for hickory nuts and muscadines (wild grapes), hiding in the tops of the tallest trees in the forests.

I prefer to write about long days spent inside the large red-brick school building where I went to learn to read and write. I had no fear of being a target for a wild terrorist. I prefer to write about men who made our country truly great — Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelt and others. Yes, I was proud of my homeland and I long for those days to return. I ask, “Are these days gone forever?” The answer comes back that time will tell!

Comfortable in doing so or not, it is hard to stay silent when so much is happening in the land that I have called “home” for all of my years. The things that I was taught early in life, while attending St. John’s school in the big red brick building—as small children, we were taught of the hardships, sufferings and sacrifices of those who pioneered this great land at its early beginning.

I would be so proud when I would carry home pictures I had colored at school, depicting some story out of history I had learned that day. I was made to feel the greatness of men like Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and others from both political parties. I was made to be proud of my country and the leaders who guided it through many troubled waters.

When I was old enough and our country was attacked by an enemy bent on robbing us of our freedom, I could not wait to enter the military and offer my services in defense of the land that I had been taught to love and respect. I did just that and when that war was ended and I returned home, I continued to hold my greatest respect for those at the helm of our government. I must admit that little by little and year by year, I watched the enemy of our beloved country eat away at the very foundation of our democracy!

Other wars followed – the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan and the skirmishes and uprisings in between. After each, instead of becoming more united, it seems we became more divided!

Today, after all that the nation has suffered, we have become more divided than any other time in our history.

Disrespect among those elected to guide our nation is at a level never seen before! Quarreling back and forth between political parties is at a high never seen before. We seem to have lost the respect and trust of some of our allies around the world. In the eyes of many, the once beautiful America has become the Ugly Duckling, even here in our homeland.

We remember the phrase coined long ago – “United we stand, divided we fall.” Apply that age-old statement to most any situation you wish and its truth holds fast.

The battle being fought in the political halls of this nation cannot be won with the greatest Army and Navy we can boast of. No, not even when we add the strength of our Marines and the Air Force. The sooner our divided politicians learn that, the better our nation will be!

Read it again! “United we stand, divided we fall!”

Author: Rachel Howell

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