“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” So spoke Franklin D. Roosevelt in his acceptance speech before the 1936 Democratic Convention.
Historian Barbara Tuchman titled her book on World War I “The Guns of August,” for it was on the first of that month 109 years ago that Germany declared war on Russia. Over the course of four years, appalling horrors emerged: 20 million deaths during a war whose front extended from the English Channel to Switzerland.
There appears to be no end to the drama of our 45th president. He did not begin the political polarization that Americans are undergoing, but he did elevate it to new heights. Former president Donald Trump is facing a host of investigations, including his most recent indictment on June 8 for mishandling classified documents that he took with him when leaving the presidency and then lying about it. One of his former attorneys general, Robert Barr – who so effectively defended his boss in other matters – was moved to say that even if only half of the charges in the indictment hold, “Trump is toast.”
Every day we see evidence of polarization in American politics and culture. And yet, a majority of us actually agree on dozens of matters. Last fall, YouGov polling data published the results of several 2022 surveys, polls and trackers involving an admixture of 1,500 people whose ages, gender and race reflected U.S. demographics.
“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Warren Buffet’s words identify the focus of this column: Arbor Day, when we honor the importance of trees on planet Earth – and in our neighborhood. The official day falls on the last Friday of April, the 28th this year, though some states use a different day that’s better for their planting seasons.
When I attended high school and college during the 1950s, about half of all Americans regularly attended church services on Sunday. Today, according to a recent poll, the figure is 22 percent. And another 21 percent of Americans count themselves as being among the “nones,” those who don’t identify with any religion.
“We need a national divorce,” tweeted Marjorie Taylor Greene on President’s Day.
Has there been a politician with a more glaring history of lying than George Santos from Long Island, who in November won a U.S. congressional race? There seems no limit to the fantasies of his mind.
Several years ago, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was preparing to meet teachers to discuss the origins of constitutional government in the United States. After reading about the American South and slavery, he noted to two historians that he read only books by well-known established scholars – but nothing by “revisionists.” Such works were not worth his time, he added. History, once written, was largely factual and static; little of significance remained to be said.
Aficionados of Mount Rushmore have said that October should be designated as the month of Mount Rushmore. The actual carving of the famous monument began October 1927 and was completed in October 1941. Keen observers deem October as the best month in which to view the popular monument that immortalizes presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, but summer is the most popular time for visitors, 2.5 million of whom chose to visit Rushmore last year.