by Fred Wilder
I am 64 years old, the child of parents who lived through the Great Depression, fought in Europe and on the home front in World War II, fought for union rights in the post war years, had high school educations and managed to have 7 children all get higher education.
- I am old enough to remember when this was a fairer nation, when the feeling of despair was not everywhere I went.
- I am old enough to remember when what is normal behavior on Capitol Hill and Wall Street today was a crime, and when crooks got arrested, tried and if convicted jailed.
- I am old enough to remember when education was a right, not a commodity.
- I am old enough to remember what shared sacrifice really meant, when there was no debate about how to pay to help your fellow citizens out after a disaster.
- I am old enough to remember when the Republican Party put Country ahead of Party.
- I am old enough to remember when the Democratic Party represented working people.
- I am old enough to remember what I was taught in elementary school, secondary school and college and to use it to help make my community a better place to live rather than taking advantage of it as a resource to exploit.
- I am old enough to remember when tuition was free at the state colleges in Pennsylvania.
- I am old enough to remember when people were encouraged to vote rather than legally denied their right.
- I am old enough to remember a time when America had declared a War on Poverty and was actually winning it until another war took precedence.
- I am old enough to remember what that war was like for those who fought in it, as well as those who fought against it since I did both.
- I am old enough to remember the Governor of Pennsylvania, a moderate Republican (now extinct) stopping by to visit my dad, a union leader, whenever he was in town, simply because the two of them served in the same air crew in WWII.
- I am old enough to remember when America was truly a kinder and gentler nation, long before the birth of compassionate conservatism. When people actually cared about holes in the safety net.
- I’m old enough to remember where I was when Rosa Parks rode the bus, when Ike warned of the Military/Industrial Complex, when Dr. King had a dream, when 4 little girls were killed in Birmingham, when a President was shot in Dallas, when man landed on the moon, when a President resigned (was there for that one), and to see a black man elected President (helped out in that one). I am grateful that I have lived in interesting times, and shamed by the fact that my generation will be the first to leave our children and grandchildren a world worse off than we found it.
- I’m old enough and I hope wise enough to appreciate the history I’ve witnessed and to use that wisdom to help following generations use it to better mankind.
- I’m old enough to be cynical, yet I’m still an idealist.
- I’m old enough to not care about the consequences of my action enough to do what I believe is necessary (non-violently) to help assure my grandchildren a life of dignity.
I may be old, I may have slowed down physically, but my mind still works and my idealism is still strong and my motivation strong enough to say that the only way I will give up is when I breathe no more.