Thanksgiving week brought Lynn and I to Washington D.C. and a great time with our three grandchildren and extended families. One of the real highlights was the trip to Arlington National Cemetery with my daughter Lisa’s husband Seemesh Anandan, who took the photo below on our visit that day. Seemesh was born in India and is now a global executive with a major pharmaceutical company. The weather was perfect and, arriving early ahead of the crowds, we had a fantastic experience.
This was a solemn, peaceful, and reflective time. Being there, one could not help but think about all the men and women who have served this nation in the military, many giving their lives in defense of our democracy and the rule of law. Men and women of all colors, creeds, and backgrounds responded to the call to serve at times of crisis, and they did so for the benefit of us all as well as generations that would follow.
One of the highlights for us and for many visitors to the cemetery was the gravesite of former President John F. Kennedy and the eternal flame. Memorialized in stone are six quotes from his Inaugural Address on January 20th, 1961. I selected this one to represent my thoughts and concerns on that special day.
only a few generations have been granted
the role of defending freedom
in its hour of maximum danger.
I do not shrink from this responsibility.
I welcome it.
Why has January 6th not been a huge wakeup call to all Americans? That in no way was a celebration of our democracy. Yes, there are flaws in our system. That has always been the case, but in previous times, the bulk of our focus was on positive changes that needed to be made, not on ways to blow up our system.
But that is not true today, and there are reasons why. Fake news is far too dominant and has a significant influence on folks that have little time to connect with what is going on. Fox News, not alone, makes little or no effort to tell the truth but instead are clearly aiding and abetting the enemies of democracy. This is especially true as it relates to their long campaign to downplay the significance of an attempted insurrection against our government.
As the U.S. Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol are revealing, viewing this as just a rally that spontaneously got out of control does not hold water. Thanks to Congresswoman Llz Cheney, this bipartisan effort I believe will lay out the facts of who was responsible for planning and funding that tragic day—and might be a significant step towards getting our democracy back on track. But if Americans don’t in large numbers see the Select Committee’s work as factual and helpful, then what?
Do we teach so little world history that we no longer really understand what happens when tyranny prevails? Most folks I fear have little or no understanding of how our system of government works and should function to serve the best interests of all our people. So today, we need heroes—not just one, but millions—rising to the challenge in new ways to make our system work. And to prove it still holds promise for a brighter, more just, more peaceful, more prosperous world.
I close with this quote on another stone at the Kennedy gravesite.
not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need
not as a call to battle, though embattled we are
but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle
a struggle against the common enemies of man
tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.