I lived more than half of the 20th century, growing up during the sexual revolution, and hippies.  I am a veteran of the Vietnam War or conflict whichever you choose, for those of us there it was war.  I watched the Civil Rights Movement the Kennedy assignation and many other things some good and some not so good in the past century.  As the 21st century blossomed on the horizon we had the horrendous events of 9/11, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq not to mention the other conflicts that have erupted around the globe.  We’ve seen numerous mass shootings, some from deranged individuals and one at Fort Hood, Texas where a Muslim extremist murdered a host of people and wounded others.  Now, we have the latest terrorist act in Boston with the murder of three and the wounding of over 170 others.  Our world has changed dramatically since I discovered America before the mid-point of the last century.

             When I was growing up in rural East Texas hardly anyone locked the doors to their homes or the automobiles and there was little concern about theft.  Neighbors watched out for each other, knew each other, and helped each other unlike today where people live in communities and barely know their next door neighbors much less watch out for them and help them.  In the public schools that we attended the teachers were able to administer corporal punishment and if they called the parents about an issue the parents did not automatically take a defensive posture against the school and threaten lawsuits.  Truthfully, if disciplined at school I received even more discipline when I got home.  My parents informed us that misbehavior would not be tolerated and would be practiced with a severe penalty and I managed to discover first hand that they meant it.

             We grew up poor by most standards but never considered ourselves disadvantaged because of the work ethic and pride of our parents and grandparents.  They, as did most, believed that you should earn what you received.  I’m not saying that everyone on government subsistence today has no work ethic or pride but many do not.  Some have become professional, career welfare recipients and have raised a generation or two of the same and it is destroying this nation and propelling us into a condition that spells doom.

             Vietnam was not a popular war and I won’t get into the merits or demerits of that war but it happened and in my community in the 60’s to have burned my draft card or dodged the draft would have resulted in my being estranged from my family and ostracized in my community.  Patriotism was very high and many in that era had either served in WW II, Korea or both and when the nation called they would not understand refusing to serve.  I saw action and had friends wounded and knew people who did not make it home.  I realized soon after arriving in country that we were not really there with the commitment on the part of our government to win the war and although that was deeply troubling I continued to do my job as best I could in the interest of staying alive and keeping as many of my fellow warriors alive.  I fought because my country asked me to and my fellow members of the armed services needed me to do my job.  Today’s mindset is completely different on the part of the public regarding serving in the military and our commitment in various conflicts or wars.  Since WWII this nation has not shown the commitment to finish the job and possibly never will and that is a dramatic difference in the second half of the 20th century and is increasing in the 21st century.  We live in a very different world.

             In the 20th century the world either respected or feared America today few respect us and almost no one fears us and that has dramatically increased over the past four years.  I thought after 9/11 that we were going to turn the corner as a nation and have the cohesiveness that would be long-lasting and become the America that I grew up in again but just a few years later we have demonstrated that was not to be.  We have a border that is so porous that almost anyone at any time can enter this nation. It is amazing that we have not experienced more terrorism than we have.  I realize that the two identified in Boston had lived there for years and were influenced by extremist around the world from all reports.  In our 21st century politically correct world one cannot identify the source of terrorism without being labeled as a bigot, racist, or something equally derogatory and hurtful.  It is a changed world and on that front, not for the better.

             It is true that one could live with little fear or apprehension in the early second half of the 20th century that is not the case in 21st century America.  We could learn from the U.K., Israel and other parts of the world that have experienced more terrorist activities than we that the public has to become deeply involved in keeping us safe.  We have to cease being uninformed, unconcerned, and learn how to become observant.  I would prefer to live in a world where I could “mind my own business” and not pay any attention to what other people do but I realize that many in the world are so driven by radical ideology and have such a depraved value of human life that I do not have that luxury.  In Vietnam I observed everything and took nothing for granted.  I’ve worked in various jobs that required me to be vigilant, observant, and attentive at all times and confess that, to some degree, I’ve grown slack in that.  That has to change in me and in each of you.  If we see something that does not look right we have to pay attention, it might mean our lives or the lives of countless others if we fail or allow apathy to prevail.

             I do not want my Constitutional rights, freedoms, and liberties or yours infringed and am not suggesting that the government take them in the name of safety.  What I am suggesting is that we observe and respond accordingly.  We cannot prevent every act of evil that people want to inflict but we can, as citizens, prevent some of them by heightening our state of awareness and hone our skills of observation.  As a hunter I know the importance of being aware of my surroundings and noticing things that are out of the ordinary and change.  For years, it has been second nature for me to walk into a room and take mental note of the people in that room and I notice changes.  My wife and I visited New York City just prior to 9/11 and were in the 2nd Tower just a few days before the attack and it is indelibly imprinted upon our hearts and minds what we saw then and afterward.  As we walked the streets of Manhattan I repositioned my wife several times based on what I observed and she learned not to question me because on one of those occasions the person I moved her away from stole the purse of a woman a few feet behind us.  Today it is not uncommon to hear of drive by shootings, muggings, murders, rapes, and assaults in broad daylight.  We live in a dangerous world that is sinking lower and lower into depravity.

             We MUST individually, take steps to protect ourselves and those around us and whenever necessary alert law enforcement of potential or real danger.  Burying our heads in the sand and saying “it’s none of my business”, in this day, could result in grave harm coming to those we love or those we could help protect.  There is a thin line between infringing upon your rights and protecting mine and I am constantly seeking to find that line.  So I encourage each of you to be prayerful, observant, vigilant, and willing to speak up and speak out when you feel it is necessary and appropriate.

             May God bless you and may God bless America!

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