To the Editor:

Who are we anyway? Being an old geezer, I can remember growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s when that question seemed a lot easier to answer. As a nation we all shared in the belief that America was capable of anything.

I watched President Kennedy give his inaugural speech when he announced that America would put a man on the moon and bring him safely home. Having no idea how to do that, within a decade we had it done. President Kennedy said: “We choose to put a man on the moon and do these other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

That was who we were. That was what we did. Today’s hard task is agreeing on how to move forward as a nation. Our founders anticipated this and wisely made room for dissent in the public forum. So when someone in our country takes a knee, holds a sign, makes a speech or writes a letter, rather than denigrating them, we should be crowing to the rest of the world “See, this is how we do it here in America!”

Try taking a knee in North Korea and your whole family ends up in a prison camp. Do the same in Russia and you just disappear or some weird poison finds you out. Take a knee in China and they just roll out the tanks. If someone exercising their free speech makes me uncomfortable I remind myself, dissent is proof that our system is working. Be proud of that!

Getting back to the question of who we really are, I think of the latest natural disaster. What you see are people hauling their boat towards the flood. You see the farmer hooking up his disc to make a fire line around his neighbors’ crop. Garden hoses are used to spray the neighbors’ roof during the fire, people put up shelters and kitchens after the tornado or earthquake all the while never asking those in need where they worship, where they were born, who they love or how many guns they own. When asked why they do these things the universal answer is, “Well, that’s just how we do things around here, it’s who we are.”

You want to know who we really are? Ask the woman steering the boat, the guy with the hose, or the folks preparing meals in the kitchen.

David Hazlett



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