It seems easier every day to wonder if America has lost its memory. And it seems even easier to believe that what many of us thought and felt about our country 42 months ago is different today as we sit in July of an election year.
Growing up, a lot of us took it for granted that we lived in the greatest country on Earth. It was an automatic—didn’t the Greatest Generation survive the Great Depression, defeat Japan and Hitler’s Germany, and leave Europe without claiming any territory? We came home, implemented the Marshall Plan, rebuilt whole nations, passed the G.I. Bill, signed a national highway act that opened up the country, helped create suburbs, defeated polio, matched Sputnik, went to the moon, applauded Elvis, said hello to The Beatles and good-bye to JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy while so many had so much dignity stolen from them in places like Birmingham, Alabama, Mississippi, and Massachusetts, and as too many lives and part of our soul disappeared in Vietnam.
We got through Nixon, Watergate, gas lines and huge inflation. Reagan, Bush, the first Gulf War; Clinton “never had sex with that woman” and never explained why he pardoned Marc Rich. The Supreme Court elected George W. Bush and we nearly elected John F. Kerry.