Around the time my age hit double digits, I recall marching in the Memorial Day Parade in my hometown. I was wearing my scout uniform and home movies verify a “shiner” received by missing a fly ball during Little League tryouts. During this time period, certain “things” seemed to be normal and etched into my brain as constants.
The ring of a telephone was always the same, unless it was a party line, and even then it was the length of the rings and not the tone that would differ. Stamps were licked in order to stick to envelopes. Men and boys opened doors for females of all ages and everyone opened doors for the elderly. Grocery stores provided as many cardboard boxes as anyone wanted for free and there was an art form to bagging groceries and carrying them to the customer’s vehicle. Gas stations sometimes gave away free toys to children and all of them were full service.
Many families had a “stay at home Mom” and these Moms would team up through some magic Mom force to make sure their children behaved at all times. As children we were expected to mow lawns, shovel driveways by hand, deliver newspapers, assist with taking garbage to the dump, and we weeded gardens, brought in the mail, and waited for the school bus without adult supervision. By the fourth grade I would ride my bike, by myself, the mile and a half to school and in the winter I was allowed to walk home if I wanted, without supervision.
When I sold Christmas cards one year I earned a Daisy BB gun which arrived through the mail. My Mom immediately informed my Dad that he was going to teach me the proper way to use it and care for it. There was no discussion of how I was able to obtain it because I had worked hard to earn my reward.
My Dad served in two wars and Memorial Day was very important in our house. We had a flag pole and I learned how to fold the flag, and was told it was never to touch the ground, would be raised in the morning, and taken down at sunset. I was informed that because of my Dad, and other men, I had freedom (despite my arguments against required school attendance). I learned to cherish freedom and the responsibility that came with it, and to hold Memorial Day in a safe place in my heart to honor all Americans who fought for our country.
Today I see retail stores open on this weekend, and I am performing remote work on Monday on a client’s computer system. My wife is working today and Monday at her sales job. I can no longer tell what a phone ring sounds like, stamps are no longer licked, BB guns are no longer sold or earned by children, lawn services, snow plow services, and garbage services deal with chores, and children now have parental supervision while waiting for the school bus.
We have build a society where personal responsibility has taken a back seat and adulthood has become a perpetual arguments over rights instead of being an example of doing the right thing. Our government is not only picking our pockets with taxes (which is normal) but has intruded on our freedom of travel without search (TSA), intruded into our bedrooms (same sex marriage), intruded into our physical appearance (racial profiling), and allows insurance companies to actively discriminate against the less economically fortunate by somehow associating the risk of having an automobile accident with a person’s bank account balance.
I believe we need to re-align our expectations to focus more on ourselves and what we can do to honor those who have gone before us, reaffirm pride in ourselves as individuals, keep our eyes in our own bedrooms, and better respect and appreciate those who may be different than ourselves instead of either putting them down or on a pedestal. We are all equal in biology so end special privileges and treat us all as brothers and sisters of humanity. We are a land of opportunity, not entitlement.