So What Happened to America?

Roger Schlesinger
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Posted: Aug 12, 2013 12:01 AM

I was out in the desert this weekend at our second home, where, borrowing the words from an old song "nothing is heard of a discouraging word" except if someone is discussing their round of golf.  While waking my dogs for their morning ride in my golf cart I got to 'thinking of what's going on in this country and all I could think of was What Happened? And when did it happen?

Let me start in the middle of this discussion to try to illustrate my point.  This part of my essay should be subtitled: “me and the Presidents” or for the English majors “the Presidents and I.” When I was under 10, and that is a close as I can pin it down, my father took us to the desert, which was Palm Springs and some interesting places surrounding Palm Springs.  One of them was the La Quinta Resort which I guess was in Indio at that time and we stopped for some food or drinks.

We went into a big room and my father said after looking across the room, “that's Eisenhower.” I can't remember whether he said President or General but I do remember the name.  The rest is much clearer than that.

1.  In the mid to late 50's I saw President Truman at a Rams game in Los Angeles walking up the aisle as everyone was yelling "Give them hell, Harry".

2.  In 1967 I believe, I got off the plane from Los Angeles to New York and went to the baggage claim and there was former Vice President & Governor Richard Nixon waiting with some people for his luggage.  He had flown first class and I obviously didn't.

3.  In the early 1990's my son and I were going to an office in Century City and as we turned the corner in the lobby my son walked into Ronald Reagan. The security guys with him laughed as my son said he was sorry.

4.   In the mid 2000's I went to a luncheon in Century City which was attended by Jimmy Carter.  When I parked in the building I had to open my trunk for an inspection.  I met him and had a picture taken with him as my company had built a house for Habitat for Humanity.

5.   In the middle 2000's Bill Clinton was the honored guest at a house in my gate guarded community and as I drove by the house he was going in so, I honked and waived and he waived back. I bring this up because none of it was a big deal.  Today, however, when the President travels, streets are closed, Freeways in Los Angeles are closed, sections of downtowns are closed.  WHY?

I grew up in the 50's and knew nobody who did drugs, smoked the funny stuff and basically didn't have respect.  In high school if you were in the hall during school hours without a written pass you were in for a bad day.  You might be suspended, given an invitation to spend an hour or two after school or on a weekend or maybe even paddled. Do I need to mention what most high schools look like now all day long?

In college our drug of choice was Beer.  That's right, beer.  There was some hard liquor around but very few drank it.  The only birth control we had was abstinence, condoms, rhythm or good luck.  I didn't know but a handful of girls who got in trouble (hersay) and I am not sure any of it was true.  There obviously were some rush marriages, then and now.

What really changed America, in my opinion, began with the Vietnam War. To say that it was unpopular was a real understatement. I was too young for Korea and had already been drafted and deferred during the German crisis, when Russia surrounded Berlin, so Vietnam didn't impact me.  But it did a lot to this country starting with the resistance to the draft, huge rallies and marches and the peace movement, although I am not sure I spelled it right.

The above mentioned war gave us the militant crowds of both men and women. With the advent of new forms of birth control we started expansion of the moral code and the rewriting of the America we knew.  From then to now things started going downhill.  Maybe it wasn't much different than earlier days, decades and centuries but we found out about what was going on with the evening news. Do you think we are all better off now?

It seems to me that what we lost is much dearer to the average American than what we gained.  Losers include    

1. Fun

2. Respect

3. Our Constitution

4. Faith in God

5. The American Dream

6. COMMON SENSE!

It doesn't seem worth it to me and it doesn't seem to be getting better.  We all need to become vocal, start voting for the person, not the party, and stand up for your beliefs. It's much easier for things to keep going the way they are unless a massive effort is put forth to change it.