As a boy, even the very word American instilled a welling pride from within me. I was indeed proud. I loved to recite the pledge of allegiance with my hand over my heart each morning to start the days class. The word "liberty", although at the time I didn't really understand it, sounded so important. We learned all the songs; America the Beautiful, My Country Tis of Thee, The Star Spangled Banner. Each and every one of my classmates, myself included, sang these songs from the heart with great passion, we were all true blue Americans, together. We didn't fight, we were courteous, especially to the girls, and we all knew that we were on the same team, the best team.
I will never forget that day, one that remains a turning point in the lives of everyone from 5 years old on up. It brought an uncertainty that I will always remember very clearly. We were sent home early from school that day, all the teachers were very somber in their voices as they scurried us off to our homes. I remember that when my sister and I got there, my mother was crying. She wouldn't say what was wrong, but that everything was ok, and sent us out to play. All the neighborhood kids were out, it was really cool at first. Home early, sent out to play without chores first, but as we watched our moms begin to gather, they hugged each other in greating, we knew then that something was terribly wrong because they never did that.
As everyones dads began to get home from work, we knew it would soon be supper time and we all headed home. I took my seat at the table and thats when they decided to tell us that the President had been shot and killed. Wow, I felt an anger rise within me, I wanted to know who had invaded us and if I could go to the war. I was 7 at the time, I had my BB gun and was a damn good shot and there was no way that I was going to let anyone get away with killing my President! My mom and my sister cried, they were terrified, my dad just shook his head.
Things were just not the same after that day, what I had thought to be a paradise of sorts, now became threatened, people were scared and uncertain and I knew that I had to stand up and fight for America!
The Vietnam war was daily news, I really hadn't noticed it before that day. Maybe it was because Lyndon Johnson was so scary looking that it caught my curiosity, I didn't trust him at all. Anti war protests were happening all over the country, the people looked really angry. Martin Luther King and civil rights marchers were making headlines as were the KKK. Robert Kennedy was on his way to being president, the Hippie cultural revolution was well underway, and suburban life was growing. These were truly times of change. Then over 2 short months in 1968, MLK and RFK were shot down. WTF!!!
As I watched friends and family ship out to Nam, I couldn't shake the fact that although, the true patriot that I was, I was completely against this war. I found out that LBJ had investments in Michelin Corp. which sourced alot of it's rubber from that region, it was all beginning to come clear. Radical groups were springing up across the country, they had become increasingly passionate in their forms of protests, the establishment government was looking more and more like the real enemies of the people. Yet life in suburbia was seemingly untouched. Good folks, working, owning homes, stay at home moms raising children and one could feel safe on the streets at night. No-one would have suspected back then that we were being conditioned by the most advanced propaganda machine the world would ever come to know.
As a child I can remember going to church almost every Sunday. Little by little, the frequency of church going diminished. When of age we all attended catecihism and each of us completed the sacraments with the catholic church. I personally did not care for worshipping publicly, but I kind of owe it to the church for my "awakening". While the Socio/Military/Politico events were on every news channel, the church was pretty much considered untouchable by the evident corruption in the world. Was I mistaken. I look back at the naivety in this country back then and smile, but I can't understand why it is still so prevalent today. I guess we Americans are too trusting of a peoples, a good virtue, but it is probably our downfall. Anyway, at one of the last Sunday services I attended, the sermon was more of a scolding because apparently the people were not donating enough of there income. I never knew until that day that the parish was asking for 10% of each persons income to be a parishoner. Now all the Robin Hood movies and Zorro episodes made a bit more sense. It was then, in those turbulent times, that I started my quest for the truth.
freeman lomax III