By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist
Do politicians read their mail? It depends.
A recent New Yorker article on Christopher Steele, the British espionage expert, scored a direct hit on Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from our neighboring state to the south. Steele, you may recall, put his livelihood and perhaps his life at risk in helping to alert our intelligence agencies to Russia’s covert — and continuing — subversion of our election process. Among other things, Steele wrote the memo that raised the question of whether the Kremlin has seriously compromising information regarding Donald Trump’s personal conduct during a visit to Moscow.
As President Trump’s administration continues to descend further into chaos with each passing week, there are a few truths that we will have to reckon with when it comes to an end, whether that occurs in a few years, a few months or a few weeks. The biggest of these is also the most obvious: we are a nation divided. Though polls show that Trump’s support is dwindling slightly, there remains a solid core of Trump voters who still support him and believe that his problems are essentially the fault of the media and of sore-loser liberals, who in their view refused to accept the legitimacy of his presidency and are thus undermining any chance he has of being productive or successful.
As I sit to write a day before Independence Day, it seems I keep hearing voices questioning whether the shared American identity that has driven this country through so many travails will survive what the modern world is throwing at us.
It’s hard to define just what that shared identity is. Is it our very basic belief in freedom and the will to protect it at all costs? Is it that every person should have the opportunity to rise to the level of his or her ability? Or the belief that honor, justice and morality as enshrined by the founders set us apart from other nations? Corny as it sounds, those statements ring true for me.
America has never been great.
Let’s just get that out of the way. Sure, we’ve had plenty of high points, moments solidified in time as historic milestones for humanity. But, all in all, we do right now live in, what many could say (myself included) is the greatest era of our country.
Veterans Day is a time set aside each year to honor the people who have put their lives on the line to protect the freedom of others. Each veteran, whether they served in World War II or Iraq, have a different story to tell. This year, a female veteran and one Cherokee tribal elder share their experiences of serving in WWII while leaders of veteran organizations discuss the challenges of staying relevant to younger generations of service men and women.
When Bobby Rathbone came home from Vietnam over 40 years ago, joining a veterans group was the last thing on his mind. Drafted into war, fighting in Vietnam was hardly something to celebrate or wear on his sleeve.
Three military relics on display in the mountains honor the nation’s long and fabled history of duty and service to country.
Jerry Wolfe is a storyteller. Whether he’s telling a story of his people at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian or retelling his years spent in the U.S. Navy, the 91-year-old remembers every detail.
When 91-year-old Gertrude Mashburn tells strangers she’s a World War II veteran — a topic she usually brings up early in a conversation — she’s often met with skepticism.
If we are ever going to have any hope of stemming the bloody tide of mass shootings — which happens in our country with such depressing regularity that we might pause for a day to shake our heads before moving on with the awful knowledge that absolutely nothing will be done about it — then we must first agree with the all-powerful gun lobby that no single piece of gun legislation is going to make much of a difference in stopping the bloodshed.
They are right — we do not need one piece of gun legislation. Or two. Or three. We need to change the entire gun culture, and not just the gun culture, but the “culture of me.”