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To the editor:

Some of the values that once were so important to our way of life have declined to the point that divisiveness, hatred and widespread corruption prevail in our country today. 

We were a proud country when I graduated from high school in 1957. We had emerged from the Great Depression some 20 years earlier and had won what we all believed was a righteous war against evil aggressors in 1945. We were a proud people; we believed in America and we believed in ourselves. We generally had high self-esteem as individuals and as a country.

Attitudes started rapidly changing starting with the assassination of President Kennedy in 1962. Some people started mistrusting our political leaders. Even then, however, most everyone I knew did not mistrust or malign our country. We were still proud to be Americans.

Things got worse; Kent State, Vietnam, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Vietnam was devastating. We didn’t understand why we were there or what we were fighting for. Young people began actively protesting the war, burning their draft cards and going to Canada to avoid being drafted. Our returning GIs were terribly maligned, sometimes called horrible names like “baby killers” and “savages.” The attitudes and values of the people were so different in this regard than they were at the end of World War Two, when our returning GIs received heros’ welcomes. 

I believe that many of the policies of the “Great Society” which started in the mid ’60s negatively changed our culture and values almost as much as Vietnam. The increase in poverty and the ineffective, morally degenerative social welfare programs; unpopular wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan; and fake news continued to drag us down. The nature of many of our universities changed from a place to get a basic education to a social commentary. Suddenly, it seemed like young college students were protesting almost everything. Rampant racism reared its ugly head. There was mass violence and wanton destruction in major cities across the country.

It’s no wonder that our attitudes and feelings about our country changed to the extent that socialism is actively discussed as a viable option and violent, radical left-wing movements like BLM, Antifa and NFAC can gain traction.

Even with all our mistakes, however, we still have the best system of government in the world. How, then, are we failing?

Our system of government is brilliant. We are actually not only a democracy but rather a democratic republic, which means that we elect officials to represent and promote our beliefs. The success of our government relies on the premise that most of our citizens will vote and our leaders will honestly work in our best interest. This, unfortunately, is not always the case. Too many of our citizens neglect to vote and too many times we allow dishonest or incompetent politicians to stay in office. Thus, it is us, the people, and not our way of governing, that is mostly at fault.

We are at a critical time in the history of our country. If our way of life is to survive, we must become more active in our political process. As a society, we have gotten easily diverted and take for granted the most valuable gift our forefathers gave us; the right to have a voice in our government. We must educate ourselves on the important issues in our society, communicate our beliefs as much as possible with our elected officials, do our best to make them accountable and fulfill our duty as responsible Americans and VOTE! 

Don McCullough