I enjoy the regular “Today in History” feature in our local newspaper. Today, three items caught my eye.
· In 1864, Union General William T. Sherman occupied Atlanta.
· Today in 1945, aboard the USS Missouri, General Douglas MacArthur conducted the signing of the formal treaty concluding the war with Japan
· In 1944 on this date, George H.W. Bush survived when the Japanese shot down his plane in the Pacific.
So why did these events nudge my brain, and how are they related? The obvious common denominator is war. But another is survival.
· Atlanta—and the people of the South, though starved and brutalized in many instances—rose from the ashes of defeat to again become a thriving city.
· The good ship Missouri survives, and I was privileged to tread its decks in 2012, thanks to a friend who has time shares in Hawaii and invited me to accompany her there. When I stand where history has been made, I always feel a part of it.
· Finally, George Bush survived to become the 41st President of the United States after marrying and fathering a family much involved in public life. And, of course, his son became President, too, a historical “second” as John Quincy Adams, son of our second President John Adams, was also elected to the office.
Outside of being interesting historical trivia, these events speak to the resilience of the United States and its people. In a time when it is too easy to feel discouraged about our country in the face of current policies and events which divide us, we should remember the past—the good and the bad—and resolve to turn things around for the better.
We are citizens with responsibilities, not the least of which is to get out and vote—not only in national elections but in local ones as well. If we believe we are indeed “one nation under God, indivisible” we must stand up to bully organization which are finding it all too easy to trample our constitutional right of religious freedom. If we believe in the rule of law, “innocent until proven guilty”, we must let go of racial and ethnic prejudices and stand for true justice for every person.
The United States of America is nothing without its citizens. We can’t just live here and reap the benefits.
America, America! God shed His grace on thee--
and crown thy good with brotherhood
from sea to shining sea!