I’ve often said that my parents were “New Deal” Democrats. Products of the Great Depression, they believed–rightly or wrongly–that Franklin D. Roosevelt “got us out of the Depression.” They voted Democrat all their lives. There was a time that a reasonable case could be made that the Democrat Party was “the Party of the little guy.” The purpose of this post is not to argue for or against that notion. And at least I can say that the party was pro-American citizen. Back in those days, people came here from all over the world, like they do now. The difference is that then they were screened–through Ellis Island. My dad was a World War II Navy vet. We learned he joined the Navy when he was already married, and in his thirties. He served on an aircraft carrier called the USS Wasp in the Pacific. He told us his job was to bring out the large cables that stopped the planes after they landed on deck. He said he lost buddies in the Pacific when Japanese kamikaze pilots used their planes as weapons (a tactic employed many decades before 9-11), crashing them into the deck of the Wasp. The Wasp was put to work in historic and harrowing missions during the war as detailed here. Later, it went to the sidelines and was reprovisioned. “Returning to the front lines on Tuesday September 15th, 1942 the Wasp, USS Hornet (CV-8) and the Battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55) along with 10 other warships were escorting amphibious transports carrying the 7th Marine Regiment to Guadalcanal as reinforcements…” It was during this mission that the Wasp was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine, losing 193 souls, with many wounded. Some of the sailors were able to get off the ship. Here’s a more brief story of the Wasp’s sinking. A great mystery is suddenly on me–when did my dad leave the Wasp? Was it during the reprovision period? Was he actually on the ship when it was hit? I don’t think so, because I never knew until today that my dad’s carrier was sunk in the Pacific. My dad did tell us heartbreaking stories of visiting the homes of some of his shipmates who didn’t make it and of seeing their parents. I distinctly remember the story of my dad visiting the family of one deceased shipmate, and his family had left his room exactly as it was when he left it to go to war. He told me one family wouldn’t talk to him. My father flew the American flag on every national holiday without fail, for as long as I lived at his house. He–like many of his contemporaries–was patriotic through and through. No self-respecting friend of my father would ever think about taking a knee during the national anthem. My dad’s birthday was yesterday. He’d be 110 or 111 if he’d lived. I guarantee you that my dad and his friends thought America was a great country. It wasn’t even up for discussion, it was just a fact, like the sunrise. This afternoon I was driving and listening to the top-of-the-hour news. I’ve been conditioned to do this since I was a kid. My dad was a news junkie–radio, newspapers (yes, more than one, and he was no intellectual), and TV. I heard a sound bite of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, giving a speech in which he actually said the words, “America was never that great.” Wow. This man is the Governor of a populous, productive state, and one of the leaders in his party. After audible gasps from attendees, Cuomo went on to attempt to tie the statement into the “fact” that we won’t be great until we supposedly stop holding women down. Pandering comes so second nature to most politicians these days. In a moment, the great fall of the Democrat Party was official. My father’s Democrat Party is dead. The new Democrat Party has turned President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” tagline on its head–and they somehow think it’s an improvement! What I think the scariest part is, though, is the fact that there will likely be little outcry against Governor Cuomo in his own party, unless America reacts with revulsion, as it should. I’m mourning an era of real “bipartisanship”–in terms of how people got along with each other. That time is gone. Just gone. I guess the bigger question is, “what in the hell happened to us?” How could we allow ourselves to become so degraded, that we’re likely to accept the leader of one of our most populous states degrading our country? I’m not writing this post to pick on my Democrat friends, but how do you square this? Does the governor’s statement shock you, sadden you, or perhaps is he singing your tune? Are you thinking, “Finally someone has the guts to say it.” And if you agree with him, do you know what it is that makes you agree with him? I’d really like to know, because it helps me better understand how we somehow ended up here. And it may illuminate some ways we can go forward. I wish I could show you the America I grew up in. It was far from perfect, but it was one nation. And I don’t remember hearing a lot of spiritual talk either. The women may have gone to church, but men like my father just attended to keep up appearances. In those days men were known by their action, not their words. Because faced with the Depression or war–you acted–there was no point in talking about it. I have said that one of the reasons I started this blog, is because I see a coming second Civil War unless people of reason work to prevent it. It would have been something truly special if we could have avoided the first Civil War. We have the knowledge of history now to see an avalanche of carnage–everything and everybody ripped apart. It took decades to recover. And perhaps in some ways, we never fully did. I hope we can find the wisdom now that we did not find the first time. And yeah, I miss my father. He’s the embodiment of my memory of a more civil, patriotic, unified time. Happy Birthday, Dad! Was America great? You bet it was! I welcome your comments.
Patrick Rooney is the Founder of OldSchoolUs.com, a website that believes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Its focus is Health, Success, and Freedom—yeah, in that order. Patrick is the author of GREEK PHYSIQUE: The Simple, Satisfying Way to Sculpt Your Body—Even if You’re Old, Weak, or Broken Down; and is also the creator of Greek Yoga™ and the Greek Yoga for Beginners video. To reach Patrick, email him at[email protected].