Wow! It has been amazing how our class forum went from a half dozen entries a month to a dozen a day. Penny is right, Phil, you stirred it up and all for the good-congratulations. I was tempted MANY times to jump into the foray,however; when the name calling started I backed off. That, unfortunately, is a sign of the times as the entire country has been pitted against each other for the first time, I believe, in our lives. Now it appears that there is discussion on the forum and exchanging of ideas which I feel is healthy. Congrats to Donald Dewess and James Flanagan too, as you all seem to keep the engine fired up. Don I congratulate you for your articulate and careful presentation of your positions and Phil I love your passion.
OK I'm ready to share!
Growing up in Mt. Lebanon we were certainly fortunate in so many ways. We appreciated where we lived, more than what we had. I don't remember any racial, religious, class or envy issues. Heck, the Catholics from St Bernards and the "Farmers" from Upper St Clair were welcome with open arms. More beautiful women to add to our fabulous gals and athletes that helped make Mt. Lebanon the powerhouse it became. Sure we loved visiting our freinds in Virginia Manor but I never felt like my family was a victim, as a matter of fact, I was happy for them and hoped someday I could earn enough to live there. It was something to strive for. Unknowingly, we did kind of live in a bubble. Miine burst when I attended The Citadel in Charleston S.C., my first step into the real world. My education became much more than classes, track and military disipline. My room mates father had been the Grand Wizzard of the KKK in his small town outside of Columbia S.C. Bill lived on a pecan plantation and black families, whose ancestors had been slaves, still lived on the "back forty." For the first time in my life I heard the "N" --word almost every day from my southern classmates. As cadets we rode the bus downtown on leave. The black people rode in the back. One time I stood up to give a black lady a seat and I was roundly chastized by 15 other riders. I stayed standing and she seating, but it wasn't pretty. There were public drinking fountains for black and white all over Charleston. Folks, my eyes were opened to Two Americas that DID exist in 1959.
Some of you may remember, I ran track. Other than my team mates my best friend and fiersest competitor was Joe Thomas from Uniontown. I admired him as a runner, a friend and a man--that was part of the core values we learned at Mt. Lebanon. My plebe year, Joe sent me a letter. When I opened the letter his picture fell out on the floor. Three of my Southern classmates called me a "N"--lover. One of my classmates had been the 1959 S.C. State Champion running the mile---his winning time was 4 minutes and 55 seconds, just under five minutes. Not bad ,but I told him Joe had run the fastest highschool mile in the United States in 1959 in 4 minutes 11 seconds---he would have beaten my classmate by over 200 yards. That was the beginning of OUR college education.
As the four years went by in Charleston, it changed, so did the United States.By graduation, I NEVER heard the "N"---word used. Our country was changing fast and for the better--so did my classmates. There was no question in my Northern "Yankee" mind there were issues that had to be addressed regarding black people. I graduated and went into the Army and saw a nearly perfect union. Color, race nor religion mattered and there was respect for rank no matter who you were. It didn't take long ,however: for my first glimpse of unqualified burocrats in Washington doing their best to lose a war BECAUSE OF POLITICS. I had never cared one way or the other for politics and trusted our leaders to do the right thing. My classmates from The Citadel were being killed because Washington was countering the Generals decisions. As a Company Commander I witnessed the most outrageous wastful spending & corruption and politics in the system. Another bubble was burst and my eyes were opened wider. When I got out five years later I was very distrustful of my own Federal Government and felt they were NOT looking out for us--it was all about partisian politics and themselves.
I realize this is way to long--I'm sorry.My personal experiences I am sharing kind of represent what has happened to the country--in my opinion. So I would like to share if you don't mind.
As I worked my way through my business life starting as a "management trainee" with PPG Industries we went through all of the racial, social and gender "issues" of the 60's, 70's and 80's. Affirmative Action had leveled the playing field--mostly for the good. By 1990, it seemed to me the world had changed for the better from 1959. I became President of a 100 year old company in Richmond, Va. It seemed to me the United States had come full circle and "racial and genders" issues were pretty even--even in Southern--- Richmond. WE were no longer TWO AMERICAS--we had become one. When I took over my company we had a manufacturing plant, 10 company stores and a sales force caring for 250 dealers---losing money! Over the next ten years we quadrupled our gross sales, doubled our work force and Life was Good for my employees, my stockholders and me. The greatest satisfaction, other than my family, was building that company. When I retired in 2000, salaries had doubled and for many tripled. Profits were excellent, not because the Government did it for us, but because my employees and I worked our butts off. WE set goals and achieved them---and shared the wealth. I searched for employees that were self motivated, showed initiative, would take personal accountability and self responsibility and transferred that to the companies best interest and in turn theirs. In 2000 I saw the pendulum swinging backwards. Affirmative Action became reverse discrimination. The Federal government was taxing and regulating my company to death. The business climate had run amuck, the fun of running a business was gone. Banking, interest rates, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc. It was obvious we were heading for a crash as a nation. Leadership at the top in Washington, or lack there of, was again letting us down.
When was the last time you witnessed or heard a Washington politician project or propose Ethics, Principle, Virtue, Ingenuity, Initiative, Personal Responsibility, Self Motivation, Incentive and encouragement. They instead are telling us "we are victims, they are smarter than us, vote for us and we will take care of you." We should reward virtue, initiative,achievement,&success. We should punish greed, lying, stealing and vice. They are the poster children for the latter.
We have forgotten outr Traditional culture and Conservative values. We had come soooo far. We had become the envy of the world because WE WERE EXCEPTIONAL. But not any more. We became apathetic, we trusted our Federal Government to do the right thing and they have betrayed us. Many in our class played by the rules only to have their retirements destroyed.
We now have a Federal government, RIGHT and LEFT, that just wants to grow Government. In my opinion, we are again not two Americas but four or five. They have skillfully divided us by race, religion, gender, class and wealth, like never before in this country. We have become secular, terrible work ethics, they want us arguing, calling each other names, staying away from our churches. Our Federal Government wants us dependent on Them.
OK I'm done. Some of you are the Best Friends I have on earth. Let's pull ourselves back together. Life is SO GOOD and we don't have much left. Let's make it happen togehter.
Most sincerely and respectfully