Thanksgiving has traditionally been a time Americans set aside to reflect upon the blessings God has bestowed upon our families, communities and nation. On the Thanksgiving following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, I began reflecting on my own childhood and how our society had changed in that short time. As I pondered the status of our nation and its departure from the values that uniquely defined America, I determined I had to dedicate my life to giving my children a nation that was free, safe and full of opportunity.
After writing this letter over a decade ago, I became more intimately involved in the political process. I was elected to the State House and eventually to the State Senate. As I consider what has happened since I wrote this letter, it’s clear that we have experienced an even greater departure from our traditional ideals and values. The sentiments expressed in this letter, written all those years ago, is why I first ran for office and why I am running for U.S. Congress today. We must keep in the fight so our children and grandchildren will have a free nation in which to pursue their American Dream.
This Thanksgiving you might notice that things may be a little different. As in years past, I will once again stand before the dinner table and express my heartfelt thanks to God for our healthy family and good friends, a nice home and a good job, and for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. However, this year I realize there are certain blessings that I have taken for granted in the past, which now seem very important to me.
There are some blessings I have received that you might not understand. You see; childhood for me was a lot different than it is for you. When I was young, my greatest fears were attending the first day at school, going to the dentist, or getting a shot at the doctor. It was a time when a child could watch a jet airplane fly high up in the sky and feel a since of amazement and wonder, not think about hijackers and terrorists. It was a time when my friends and I could safely walk alone to the store, the theater, or to school; and when no one ever considered simply opening a letter could be deadly.
So many things have changed since that time, including entertainment. I remember when Barney Fife and Thelma Lou talking about going to the duck pond was the most risqué scene on television; and when Clark Gable used the “D” word in “Gone with the Wind,” everyone was shocked. Of course, there were only five television stations back then, and they all played our national anthem when they went off the air.
Our language was also very different. The word terror was almost never used, and no one had ever heard of a terrorist. We were taught that hate was a bad word, coke was a soft drink, pot was something we cooked food in, drugs were what our mom gave us for colds, and gay meant happy. During this time, most everyone considered cursing in public to be offensive, and talking about God to be admirable. It was a time when metal detectors were for finding treasures buried in the ground, and when every boy carried a pocketknife in his pocket without being condemned for wielding a weapon.
School was a lot different also. When I was young, the major discipline problems were chewing gum, talking in class, or playing “hooky.” During recess we would play cowboys and Indians using our fingers and sticks as guns, and believe it or not, no one saw anything wrong with it. Sometimes the cowboys won sometimes the Indians, but never were we accused of being insensitive or suppressive toward any other culture. American flags were proudly hung on the wall in every classroom, and wearing patriotic clothing was acceptable and encouraged. Things are certainly different now than they were then.
In those days, PTA meetings were opened in prayer, everyone liked the boy scouts, and neighbors watched out for the well-being of other neighbors. Guns owners were not considered extremists because most every family owned some type of gun. Everyone knew the words to the “Star Spangled Banner” and the “Pledge of Allegiance,” and only our harshest enemies in other countries burned our flag.
You might find it hard to believe that there could be such a place to live as I have described, but I promise you there was, and it was not that long ago. You will undoubtedly want to know what has happened, and who is responsible. Well, it wasn’t very noticeable at first, but slowly the American people began to take on new attitudes and ideas, which, at first, seemed harmless. We called it “having an open mind”. Over time, we became so indulged in this open-mindedness that we became tolerant of almost anything, no matter how perverted, obscene, or unpatriotic it was. Soon, being tolerant was more important than holding on to traditional American values; and those who still lived by them were harshly criticized. Next, we discarded the founding fathers idea of “Freedom of Religion” and replaced it with a policy of “Freedom from Religion.”
As to who is responsible…Well, I am sorry to say that, in part, I am to blame, because there were times I just stood by, afraid of criticism, and allowed things that I believed in to be compromised. But, I will not make that mistake again. No longer will your Mom and I sit idly by and watch this country deteriorate without a fight. If you have ever wondered why we no longer watch television, go to the movie theater, or support all the filth being produced in Hollywood, now you will understand. This is also the reason that we have been spending evenings and weekends attending school board meetings, city council meetings, political meetings, and election debates. The hours I have spent alone at the computer, writing letters to the editor, sending e-mails to Congressmen, or petitioning for something I believe is right, is all for you.
There are some blessings I have received that you might not understand. You see; childhood for me was a lot different than it is for you. When I was young, my greatest fears were attending the first day at school, going to the dentist, or getting a shot at the doctor. It was a time when a child could watch a jet airplane fly high up in the sky and feel a sense of amazement and wonder, not think about hijackers and terrorists. It was a time when my friends and I could safely walk alone to the store, the theater, or to school; and when no one ever considered that simply opening a letter could be deadly.
So many things have changed since that time, including entertainment. I remember when Barney Fife and Thelma Lou
© Copyright 2001 Barry Loudermilk