Monday, October 17, 2016

Looking Backward

Certain years pop out right off the page.

Starting with 2016 which shall warrant future study for pondering whether it be a hiccup of history or a point of no return in which we fall on our sword as a nation of decency.  
2010 Arab Spring, now many seasons later is back in its winter of discontent. The road to self-determination is a bumpy one with pot holes, detours and dead ends. Still too tribal for civil discourse especially in countries created by Western Europe while carving the turkey at Versailles.
2001 will be remembered for 9/11, the time when globalization meant the two oceans no longer granted us immunity from the clash of civilizations. Legitimate grievances fell into the hands of demagogues and thugs. The have nots of the world still have not.  
2000 stands out as the year when the judiciary usurped the power of the electorate and deposited a frat boy with diminished capacity into the Oval Office.
1989 saw the crumbling of the Berlin wall and other such curtains. Revolutions were fortunately velvet. A creative burst was unleashed in Eastern Europe with Gorbachev as a poster boy. The USSR got trimmed by 25% to merely Russia.
1975 was the year of the grand and messy pullout from Saigon ending the dumbest war since WWI. 52, 220 U.S. soldiers died for we know-not-what. The fall of Saigon for us was the liberation of Ho Chi Minh City for them.
1964-65- LBJ pushed through long overdue civil rights legislation as well as New Deal entitlements which the people were entitled. And all this with blood on his hands conducting a tragic war.
1963- JFK is gunned down by either a single nut case or the Mafia or Cuban exiles or the CIA or God knows who. He asked us to ask not… That day in Dallas led to a decade of assassinations. 
1945- FDR dies in April, the demi-God whose intonations I mistook for Yahweh’s. V-Day in May and V-J Day in August and everything changed when we dropped the two bombs.
1941- That Sunday of infamy followed by a gift from Hitler with his invitation for us to join the Allies followed by, I’ll Be Seeing You, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree and They’ll be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover.
1933- FDR takes office and I take my first breath. Umbilically speaking I’d been hearing his voice before in that embryonic sea. I knew everything would be all right from then on even though I didn’t understand why I had nothing to fear but fear.
1929- Dow chokes Jones and both come crashing down. Uncle Max is wiped out when someone on Wall St. jumps out of a window and lands on his pushcart. Executives become hobos and few people could spare a dime.
1920-21 130 years tardy, woman finally win voting rights correcting an outrage. Yet another shame of America. The Lost Generation is already lost but Peggy finds her blessed way and nothing will be the same again.
1918- Armistice declared ending the crime against humanity called the Great War. But not soon enough to save poets Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke or a generation of men in Europe.
1908- The Chicago Cubs not only won the World Series but were considered so good they would be a dynasty and dominate baseball for years to come. Prognosticators also declared this was to become a century of peace, prosperity and enlightenment. So much for predictions. I attended one or two games with my good friends, Mark Twain and the James brothers…not Jesse and Frank but Henry and William who we called Hank and Bill. My mother was also there wondering why they left those pillows on the field. I tried to explain they weren’t pillows, they were bases but after all I was minus 25 at the time.

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