I open my eyes to a pre-dawn morning and sit up on the side of my bed. It is not unusual to awaken while darkness still rules but today is different. This day is my birthday. Actually, this is not my birthday. That happy event occurred more than a month ago but most of what i am about to relate did play out on that day. The aroma of fresh coffee (delay brew is welcome addition to the many conveniences we enjoy) calls me to the kitchen. I pour a full mug, add sweetner and creamer–a habit dating back to my childhood when my Daddy brought a morning cup of “coffee milk” to me in bed. This is one of the few happy memories i have of my Father–but that is for another time. Coffee in hand i head for the sun room and my favorite chair. By now in the east a pale glow is waiting to give way to the rising sun. My birthday. I’ve had others celebrated with family and friends, cake and candles, happy birthday songs, gifts and cards. So would this one be celebrated later today but now I feel the need to reflect on my like. And I’ve had a long one.
When i was born Calvin Coolidge was in his first full term as president; in the year of my birth Winnie-the-Pooh was published, Houdini, the great magician died, and a woman, Gertrude Ederle, swam the English Channel. The year after my birth Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs–a record that was unbroken for 34 years. In the decade of my birth Henry Ford used his new assembly line method of building cars and made the Model T affordable for many people. Jazz was the music of the day and the charleston, the shimmy and the fox trot replaced the waltz and tango on the dance floor. It truly was a decade aptly named the “Roaring 20’s” as old ways of living gave way to a freedom and prosperity not seen before. Women began to challenge traditional thinking about marriage and motherhood as many of them broadened their out look as more and more people enjoyed radio, movies and an expanding economy.
In 1927 many countries of the world signed a treaty promising to never again settle their differences through war like the one fought in the last decade so people believed there would be peace, After all World War I was called the war to end all war.
In 1929 the world became enveloped in what was to be called “The Great Depression”. People who had put everything they had into the stock market lost it all and the prosperity of the Roaring Twenties came to an end. Unemployment and poverty rose. I remember my Mother giving simple meals to men, who were called hobos, traveling around the country seeking work. There was no work in our town so they ate their sandwich gratefully and moved on.
The treaty of 1927 was broken less than a dozen years later when wars broke out in Asia and Europe. Our country was drawn into that war when our naval base in Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec 7, 1941. i was 15 at the time and neither i, my friends nor my family even knew where Pearl Harbor was. All we knew was that our country was at war again. Soon after we entered the war, rationing of sugar, butter, and gasoline was imposed. These items were needed for our troops. Soon after that leather shoes were unavailable since all the leather went into the making of boots for our soldiers. But no one complained of any of this for we were willing to do what we could to help end this war. Our small town was shocked when we learned that one of our own young men was killed in a far away land. He was the only son of a prominent couple in our town. There were other casualties, too. How heart breaking for parents, wives, sisters, brothers and friends to lose loved ones in wars that are horrible and often senseless. i believe some wars are justified–most are not.
Since the end of that war there have been others: the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other less noted conflicts throughout the world. i once read that on any given day there is a war going on somewhere in the world. i suppose there will be conflict as long as men seek power over others.
So-o-o-o-o i have lived through wars, economic depressions and recessions, through the administrations of 15 presidents. i’ve seen the invention and spread of new things like radio, TV, cars, space ships, cell phones, computers, i-pads, smart phones etc. Through all of these years i have observed that in spite of his progress, or perhaps because of it, man has remained the same. From the highest to the lowest, the greatest to the least he is still jealous, greedy, resentful, self-absorbed, filled with pride, hatred, and desire for money and power. Underneath it all he longs for love and acceptance. Only some are secure enough within themselves to experience generosity of spirit, kindness, forgiveness, dignity, love and respect for mankind.There is only one thing that can change our hearts and enable us to live our lives in serenity, peace and love.
Well, my coffee is cold. My reflecting (and some PC research) has extended will beyond the rising of the sun. Another day on the remarkable journey of life has begun. i hope to see you next time. Until then, blessings and peace.