In My Lifetime

Father and son
My dad was a military man.

The Craziness In Our World

We were having a gathering of friends last Wednesday. The younger members were asking why there was so much craziness in our world. For them, it had never been like that before. It got me to thinking. Briefly, here’s what happened in my lifetime.

When I was born, WWII had ended. My parents married. They were in their twenties. They had survived WWII and the great depression of the 30’s.

I Grew Up In The Army

My father was a military man. I was born in the Army. Before I was in school, the Korean War started. For the record, the press referred to it as a “Conflict.” The politicians called it a “police action”. Thirty-four thousand Americans died. Truman dismissed one of the greatest generals in history, Douglas MacArthur. Political expediency had trumped common sense regarding land wars on the Asian continent. MacArthur would prove prophetic.

Our Big Fear

The big fear of that time was the threat of nuclear annihilation by the atomic bomb. Next up was the hydrogen bomb. It was like the atomic bomb on steroids. We practiced ‘duck and cover’ drills in school where we all hid under our desks, (like that would help.) It’s another example of political symbolism over real substance. Kind of how wearing masks symbolizes that same concept today. At least, we’re doing something, right?

The Heir To Mass Murder

The heir to one of the greatest mass murders of the 20th century, Joseph Stalin, was the new head dick of Russia, Nikita Khrushchev. He came to the UN in NYC to address the general assembly and maniacally banged his shoe on the desktop and screamed at us, “We will bury you!” TV news was the coming thing and blasted this show of dangerous juvenile petulance from sea to shining sea.

The decade ended while I was living in Frankfurt Germany with the rise of the Berlin Wall. People were dying daily. They wanted out at any cost. The East German and Russian police shot them dead. No open borders for them. We feared we could not get back to America. Our military hit the dusty trail for the Fulda Gap. World war was threatening. I was quickly learning to spreche Deutsch.

Then Camelot

By the start of middle school, Camelot arrived along with the Kennedys. The election was the first one televised on TV. John Kennedy was prepared. Richard Nixon was not. There was a lot of hubbub over the Kennedys being Catholic. Many believed he would take orders from a foreign leader, the pope. Sound familiar?

Instead, Kennedy took us to war in Viet Nam. It was another so-called conflict. It turned out to be the longest conflict in American history at that time. He also came within a hair’s breadth of getting us into a nuclear war with Russia. The Cuban missile crisis happened 90 miles off the Florida coast. The school kids were under their desks once again. His assassination happened when I was a sophomore in high school. We thought it was the beginning of the end of the world.

Then Came The Great Society And Viet Nam

That brought about the ascension of Lyndon Baines Johnson. He was a career politician with moxie and a personal agenda. The Viet Nam war continued unabated. It became daily fodder for the television news. Everybody watched it every night at dinner. There were riots in the streets in many American cities. The Watts riots in California were so severe they are still talked about today. There were marches in Washington by war protesters. National Guardsmen gunned students down on a college campus in Ohio. By the end of his administration, Johnson had created the greatest welfare state since the Roman empire with his ‘Great Society’ program.

A Decade Of Assinations And Burning Cities

That decade ended with the riots at the Democrat National Convention in Chicago. They protested the war. In Viet Nam, we had the press announcing that the Tet Offensive by the enemy was a terrible defeat for us. It was fake news that polarized our country. Much like today. More than a hundred cities burned, businesses were looted. There were major riots in Washington D.C. and Detroit burned. Even Tampa had riots. TV sensationalized it. Political unrest was the word of the day. Martin Luther King was murdered. Riots tore cities apart. Bobby Kennedy was murdered by a Muslim terrorist. A sense of doom prevailed.

Political Scandals

The worst political scandal in modern history happened during the Nixon years. A bunch of cartoon characters bungled a break in at the Democrat National Committee headquarters and got caught. The ensuing scandal spread to the Whitehouse, bringing down the President. We wondered if our country would ever recover.

And Political disasters

I will never forget the disaster of the Carter administration. We had inflation of 18%. That meant your money would lose all of its current purchasing power in four years. Think about that. Before this started, you could buy a six pack of beer for less than a buck. Milk was a buck a gallon. What changed? Not the beer, not the milk.

There was no work, there was high unemployment, prices of food and gas went up weekly. We ran out of gas. There were lines blocks long at every gas station. The media buzzword for it was ‘Stagflation.’ End of the world stuff again.

Carter’s administration ended with the crazies in Iran overthrowing their leader and taking our people in our American embassy hostage. A military fiasco in the deserts of the Middle East needlessly killed American soldiers. We thought the end was neigh. Sound familiar?

Then Came Regan

In March of 1981 after being president for not quite three months, a madman shot Ronald Reagan. Days went by with him hovering between life and death. Regan was no Washington insider. He was a successful actor and businessman. He spent the next eight years being vilified by the Washington establishment and the media because he was not one of them.  Sound familiar?

A New Kind Of Bomb

We also learned about the neutron bomb. It was ‘The different bomb.’ It destroyed people, not property. The idea was the winner could move into bombed cities and not have to rebuild the infrastructure. I would imagine they would have to wait a while for the smell to abate. There were no duck and cover drills for that one.

A Banking Collapse, Go Figure

The latter part of the 1980’s brought a banking debacle that destroyed the savings and loan industry, created millions of foreclosures, and crippled the housing market. Billions of dollars were given to the S&Ls to bail them out. It didn’t work.

Wars And More Wars

We went to war in Panama, then we went to war in Kuwait. Next, We went to war with the tiny island nation of Grenada. A U.S. Marine barracks was bombed in Beirut Lebanon. Hundreds of American Marines died. We had the largest oil spill ever in Alaska. The environment was never expected to recover.  Lame stream media made sure it was in all our living rooms every day. The Chicoms slaughtered their own people who were peacefully demonstrating in Tiananmen Square. There was no spray paint, no bricks no looting. They still died.

By 1991 we were at war again in the Middle East. Operation Desert Storm started. TV showed us Bagdad being pounded nightly by our bombs. Wolf Blitzer became a household name.

Riots and unequal justice

1992 Brought new riots in LA. with the death of Rodney King at the hands of the police. Riots broke out when the cops were acquitted.

We suffered through the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Being a black nominee didn’t stop Democrats in Congress from assassinating his character. The latest came into our homes every day, live. It all proved to be fake news and lies. Any conservative black Americans were considered Uncle Toms and fair game. There was nothing fair about it.

More Bombings, Dying, And War

With days to go before he left office, President Bush sent troops into Somalia to die. We watched it on TV.

The early 1990’s brought the first bombing of the World Trade Center by Muslim Terrorists.

Federal law enforcement destroyed a religious cult’s compound in Texas killing 75 men, women, and children. The Feds dragged it out for nearly two months. The people were exercising their First Amendment rights in the middle of nowhere Texas. There was no due process. Thank you, Bill Clinton and Janet Reno.

We were still at war in the Middle East. The Navy shot tomahawk missiles into Bagdad regularly. It got a sound bite on the news.

Another incursion found us back in Somalia. Previous warnings about staying out of Somalia went unheeded. American troops died again.

In 1995 A maniac bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 innocent people.

We send troops into the Balkans to intercede in a war between Christians and Muslims in Bosnia.

September 9, 2001. The World Trade Center was destroyed by Muslim terrorists. The world comes to a standstill. Our economy was in tatters. We invade Afghanistan. Many thought it was the beginning of the end of the world.

Bank Failures Again, They Never Learn

Shortly after the middle of the decade, the economy crashed just like it did in the middle eighties and for the same reason. Bank failure. Foreclosures rose, jobs were lost, and things looked bleak. The government’s answer to that was to destroy the private mortgage industry in our country, putting tens of thousands more people out of work and unable to feed and shelter their families. No matter 99% of them were guilty of nothing.

Another Oil Spill

Don’t forget, in 2010 there was the Deepwater Horizon crude oil spill. The devastation far superseded the Exon Valdez spill in Alaska. We saw dead birds and dead fish nightly for weeks. A sense of doom prevailed.

It Seems Like Nothing Changes

The next year Representative Gabby Giffords was giving a speech in Tucson when a madman shot her in the head and shot 19 bystanders.

The government’s answer to that was to attempt to take all firearms away from law abiding citizens who had shot nobody ever. Another case of ‘do something, anything’ instead of doing the right thing. The result was nothing changed. I’m noticing a trend here.

Seven Decades Of Drama

That brings us up to modern memory for even my younger colleagues. This pretty much covers most of the dramatic things that happened in the first seven decades of my life. There was a lifetime of good as well. I will save that for another time.

There is a Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”