When I was growing up, we spent much time studying history. I was in the first grade when Pearl Harbor happened. Almost all of my uncles and my oldest cousin entered the military in each of the services. They were gone for the entire war except for my cousin who was seriously wounded on Iwo Jima and returned to the United States. At that particular time, divorce was relatively rare, churches had an abundance of followers, and schools were concerned with the fundamentals of an education. Movies during the war years were very patriotic and foul language was not used. Remember when Clark Gable said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” during a scene in “Gone With the Wind?” The population went wild because of it. How could he use such foul language?
During those war years, the entire country mobilized and aimed for one thing: Victory. Sacrifice was the norm and we all managed to live with the rationing, shortages, and any other discomfort in order to win. The 1950s were a time of consumption as our industries shifted from war products to consumer products. Since most of the world had been damaged or destroyed during the war, our industries prospered. The Korean War did not interfere with civilian life except for those who had to serve. Unlike World War II, Korea ended with an armistice and we have had troops there ever since.
The 1960s began with a new president who arrived with a promise of challenges and the hope of a great future. That came to a terrible end when President Kennedy was assassinated. President Johnson assumed the office and under him, the Civil Rights bill was signed and he implemented the war on poverty that dramatically increased welfare spending. The government came under attack during the 1960s with the emphasis on civil rights and the Vietnam War. Many of our cities were in turmoil as civil unrest grew and both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. In addition to all of this turmoil, the sexual revolution contributed to unrest. Divorce rates increased as did illegitimate births. Gang participation increased as young boys with no male adult models or supervision looked for acceptance anywhere.
None of this is new to those who are old enough to have lived through it, but memories are short. This is background for what has been happening since the 60s. Government trust plummeted and reached a nadir when President Nixon had to resign. President Reagan returned a pride in this country and turned the economy around, but divorce, poor education, and illegitimacy continued to move in the wrong direction.
Today, our Congress has the lowest approval rating in history and when one looks at what it has been doing or not doing, it is justly deserved. President Obama lied to the people for years about his healthcare bill and his approval ratings are also in the dumper. The Veterans Administration fiasco concerning veterans dying while waiting to see doctors and the trading of five terrorists for one of our soldiers are just the latest in a number of missteps by the administration. Far too many people do not believe that this is a great country or that the American dream is alive. That dream is alive and the proof is in the number of foreigners who continue to desire to come to this country. Our youth are searching for a direction and will respond positively when it is provided. I saw that during my time in the Marine Corps and in civilian organizations following retirement. Everyone wants to belong to a family, organization or any type of group that shows concern for them as an individual. Gang membership grows because the gang takes the place of the missing family with a male in it. Church participation seems to be increasing in new churches that create more of a sense of fellowship. As a country, we remain the most Christian population in the western world. It seems obvious that as humans we desire to belong to a group that we respect and one that looks out for its members. Organizations that consistently do that have low turnover and high morale. Superb leaders provide that.
Donald Myers is a retired Marine colonel and regular contributor to Hernando Today. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.