The Little White House in Warm Springs never fails to inspire a renewed sense of patriotism in my otherwise much dampened spirit. Most days it is just plain hard to feel uplifted by the sights and sounds that come out of our nation’s Capitol. The news that is broadcast from New York City and the ideals and questionable mores that slither out and across our country from the West Coast do even more to sadden me and make it so difficult to rejoice in this precious land of ours.
True, I was raised in a military home, where the President was a respected war hero; for a time General Eisenhower was my dad’s boss. I was fed on Norman Rockwell paintings while listening to Walter Cronkite and Billy Graham. We watched Father Knows Best, Lassie, and Leave it to Beaver, where parents Ward and June Cleaver would always be there to give their boys advice. Even a wildly popular early western provided valuable moral lessons for its viewers; The Lone Ranger in his own words “would shoot to wound, not to kill.” No one did not love Andy Griffith, Opie, and Aunt Bee; I dreamed of living in the town of Mayberry. And, well, I kind of do.
Bill’s sister Marge and his niece Philly were visiting our home for the first time this past weekend. They hadn’t come over from the small town in North Mississippi where they live for just years, not since we moved from Peachtree City to Senoia. Each time we rode around town in our open-air golf cart, they oohed and ahhed with delight over the homes, businesses, and streets in our historic community. As much as they enjoyed the shops, the many architectural treats–the library and many beautiful homes that are such a charming part of our little city—as well as the friendly neighbors—the thing that they constantly pointed out and exclaimed over the most were the American flags, large and small, flying from poles or brackets everywhere we looked.
I told them that this was nothing; just wait till Memorial Day weekend when Senoia would blossom into one giant patriotic Red, White, and Blue bunting-bedecked jewel of a town! Speeches, music, parades, and booths selling handcrafted goods, carnival food and a refreshing “homemade” lemonade by members of the Senoia Area Historical Society bring many visitors. More importantly, the SAHS also presents a “Memory Board” where families of veterans can write a memorial message identifying a loved one who died serving his or her country. Veteran organizations, of course, will participate in every aspect of the day which culminates in a fabulous fireworks display at Merrimac Lake.
Sounds like a place where Opie and his dad the sheriff might find right comfortable. I know we are. And proud to be a part of this celebration. My dad, husband, and both my sons-in-law have served in the Armed forces–they were all proud to have done so. I, too, like to think that I served alongside of my dad and alongside of Bill for a total of 21 years. On Army bases all over the world, when we heard the blast of the canon at 5 p.m., we stopped our cars, stepped outside of the automobile, and hand over hearts, we faced the giant flag waiting to be lowered but still waving some distance from us, and recited:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America / And to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God / With Liberty and Justice for All. “
On Saturday, Bill and I took our visitors to Franklin Roosevelt’s beautiful little cottage retreat in the town where the “warm springs” offered that President relief from the crippling effects of Polio. What solace and comfort he must have enjoyed not only in those healing waters, but also in the ability to visit, to talk frankly with members of the small rural community of farmers and laborers, but also to joyfully play with their children and with the children stricken by that horrible disease. You know he must have learned a great deal among those crowds of common folk.
I admit that I cried during the film showing pictures of depression-era Americans and of our soldiers fighting a scourge far from home, but who threatened our shores. I cried watching our 32nd President as he stood in leg braces speaking to the American people who watched and listened respectfully to a man not all had voted for, who many disliked greatly, but who the vast majority supported and who a very, very few ever mocked or harangued.
Shame on us for ignoring, allowing or taking part in any spiteful, hate-filled, malicious conversation that in any way would put our leaders or our soldiers in jeopardy. Shame on a press that would gleefully suggest that the shaky, but still-possible peace talks might not happen and that our President would then suffer defeat or embarrassment. Gleefully! Have we run so far off course that an important institution like the news media would openly “wish” for failure of peace talks? Are we complicit? Sad. No. Tragic.
As for me and my house, we pray that he succeeds.
“God Bless America. Land that I love. Stand beside Her, and Guide Her Through the night with the light from above.
God Bless America. My ‘Home Sweet Home.'”