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Growing Up in America

I was a kid of the 50s and 60s, a time that seems far away to me now, and makes me sad for those who didn’t experience it with me. Long before Stranger Danger, it was safe to walk to school or ride the bus. Bullying was rare, and was worked out by standing your ground, and one or both of you going home with a shiner you had to explain. It was handled, and it was done. There was none of this cowardly cyber bullying crap.

In grade school, we took turns leading the class in the pledge of allegiance and singing the National Anthem or the Battle Hymn of Republic. We pretended we hated it, but secretly, we couldn’t wait for our turn.

I was 8, when JFK was assassinated. Everyone was crying, grief was palpable. A nation was in shock and mourning. No one had openly threatened to kill or harm the POTUS, and no one celebrated. Folks still felt awe and respect for our president, and still trusted our leaders.

Five years later, Martin Luther King was shot, a nation again mourned, but grief turned to anger, with rioting in the streets, folks fighting with folks that only a day prior they either didn’t know at all, or considered friends. Major cities had a 6 p.m. curfew. Even the park where we all played ball wasn’t safe, now filled with an angry and armed mob. That was the day I first became aware of the world outside my circle of family and friends, and knew things would never be the same for any of us.

It was in junior high school when girls were allowed to wear pants to school, and even then, jeans were not acceptable for girls or boys. Boys still had to wear their shirts tucked and a belt. Now, pants are worn low enough to reveal behinds, belts are a memory, and nothing is off limits except a MAGA T-shirt, because apparently it’s more offensive than someone exposing their butt crack.

Childhood was fairly care-free. Parents were involved, helped with homework & actually read report cards. Many of us could recite the Golden Rule and 10 Commandments. We earned allowances by doing chores, had a healthy fear of consequences of not following rules, and knew the pride that comes from a job well done. There was no such thing as time-outs and participation trophies. Summers were glorious & carefree. We took off on our bikes for the day with a firm caution to be home when the street lights came on. In neighborhoods across America, kids gathered to play Hide and Seek or Tag after dark while adults visited on front steps or back porches. I knew no one with a phone of their own. Phones remained in our homes, shared by the family with time limits for use. We watched one TV in the house together, played Monopoly and Go Fish, and still looked people in the eye when we talked to them. Now, all I ever see is the top of someone’s head, distracted and unengaged.

The 60s, love, sex, rock n roll, man. There were protests, but it wasn’t about hate or shutting down speech, and consisted mostly of peace loving stoners, sit-ins and singing songs. Now, we have heroin and meth addicted folks, void of foreseeable goals or moral compass, easy prey to money of corrupted leaders and outside influences, violently rioting in our streets where cops and patriots are enemies, and our flag and Anthem are met with scorn.

August 1969 — Woodstock. 500,000 people gathered in a farmer’s field to celebrate music and peace, showcasing a line-up of performers unlike any other prior or since. Jim Hendrix, Santana, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, the Who, and others inherently phenomenally talented, unenhanced by electronically altered effects. I doubt we could get 500,000 people together now without a political agenda and Antifa insanity.

It was still affordable to attend pro sports games. Inside the stadium it was like a nation within nation, all united by one goal of victory. Together, we sang the songs, chanted the slogans, stood for the Anthem, and almost an entire stadium sang in unison. When a critical score was made, strangers hugged and high-fived, no one was thinking about politics. It was an amazing experience that sadly now caters almost exclusively to only those who can afford the exorbitant costs, and has been tarnished by self-indulgent behaviors that have breached the bonds of unity.

I enlisted in the Army with my best friend. Government school loans and free education didn’t exist. With very unimpressive grades, any effort to qualify for a scholarship would have been met with fits of laughter. I was on my own, scared witless, and home would never be the same again. About the time I began to get use to the Drill Instructor always screaming and calling us names, I began to understand the importance of that time, and how the experiences and friendships would shape my future and the person I would become.

I’d find it very difficult to be a kid or young adult today because the rules are blurred, and there are few boundaries. I’d have known little about our nation’s history because it’s no longer taught in school. I’d have been robbed of the pride in my heart when pledging allegiance to our flag, would not be able to grasp exactly why the National Anthem still moves me to tears. America has become a country I do not recognize, so I set out on a journey to find out exactly what the hell happened and it led me to Q and the Anons. Some days I’m overwhelmed with bitterness for the loss of what was, the very things that define what it means to me be American, but because I grew up when choices were clearer, the world more grateful, less self-absorbed, and made a hell of a lot more sense, this sentimental American Veteran does still, & will always place my hand on my heart when the Flag passes, and unapologetically shed tears of pride when I hear our National Anthem, and anyone who is offended by it can kiss my red, white, blue, and Army green ass.

~~ Robin ~~
May 30, 2018

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