A Few Minutes with the Mayor – August 2016
East Side, West Side, all around the town…
Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O’Rourke
Tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York
Things have changed since those times, some are up in “G”
Others they are wand’rers but they all feel just like me
They’d part with all they’ve got, could they once more walk
With their best girl and have a twirl on the sidewalks of New York
The above lyrics are part of a once immensely popular song, but one forgotten today. Written in the 1890’s, they reflect an innocent time in our history… a time long before two terrible World Wars, a horrendous depression, and a current state of world affairs dominated by incompetent world and national leaders too intent on protecting their own interests while unable to cope with a rising tide of violence matching anything in Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia, or Tojo’s Imperial Japan. The German concentration camps may be long gone in the pages of history, but the bigotry and hatred that helped create them is still alive… though under different banners.
I mean no disrespect to God when I say I would like to bring all the fallen soldiers on Omaha Beach back to life… long enough at least just to march on our nation’s Capital with signs saying SHAME! Shame on all those of you who seem to have forgotten that it is the People who run this country while you are merely representing us! We did not send you there to call one another names or to denounce each other in public. We did not send you there to lie to us and to enrich yourselves by selling your favors to any who would bid a high price.
I have never forgotten the images of those brave Americans falling like leaves from a tree when they landed on that beach. Did any set foot on that sand for personal profit… or because of allegiance to some political party… or to advance the fortune of an international corporation with absolutely NO allegiance to our flag, or any other flag? Of course not! They were fighting “the enemy.” An enemy determined to destroy any vestige of a free democracy wherever they ruled. The battle can best be defined by the “isms” they struggled against… Germany’s fascism, Japan’s imperialism, and later, even Stalin’s form of communism. It was their struggle, their sacrifice, and their success, that enabled America to grow into a prosperous world leader.
Not that I wish to sound despondent about our nation’s current condition for I am not. Perhaps it’s the American in me… but I look around our community and I see common everyday folks whom I know have not forgotten who we are. They recite the Pledge of Allegiance at every City Council meeting… and vigorously, at that. They volunteer for myriads of local tasks, CERT, Commissions, Committees, the Boosters, the Kiwanians, Rotary, Food & Friends and Access… these are all alive, building and strengthening our community. They clean up our cemetery, hang the flags out on July 4th. They volunteer for traffic control during our parades. And let’s not forget all the volunteers who help during Britt performances.
These are not the people we read or hear about in our news each day. Retired or employed, these are our neighbors helping make our City a better community. Caring people such as these have been around since the first covered wagon arrived here more than a century and a half ago. Somehow, I think the fellows who died on that beach would salute these who have followed and preceded them.
As for the national and international crowd that we hear of every waking moment in our lives… Lily Tomlin said it best, “Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then—we elected them.”