People like my parents were what made America great. They both came from lower working-class families with limited financial resources. They both finished their basic education and got married on June 1, 1952 the day after my mother graduated from high school. Dad spent 2 years at the University of Tulsa, in pre-med and served for two years in the Naval Reserves as a medic on a destroyer (all of this during the Korean conflict). After his two years at TU, dad was accepted into both medical school at The University of Oklahoma and veterinary school at what was then, Oklahoma A&M, but by the time he finished veterinary school, was Oklahoma State University. They worked hard getting dad through school, mother working as a secretary in one of the departments at the university, and dad working as a taxi driver. They were poor students, but they never described themselves as "struggling". Fortunately for them, they weren't saddled with mounds of student loan debt, for then, paying for college was possible by getting good scholarships and working while going to school. Our country had not yet become corporatized and our state schools, while still relatively expensive, were still reasonably cost-efficient. Soon after dad graduated, they bought a practice in northwestern Oklahoma, in a little town called Cherokee. I was born there, three years later.
I grew up in the tumultuous and tragic decade of the 60s and came of age in the late 1970s. I don't remember a day until I was about 12 years old that the news wasn't plastered with images and footage of the Vietnam war. The generation just ahead of me was emaciated because of it. I remember the war protests, hippies, flower children, The Beatles, the campus riots, the massacre at Kent State, the civil rights movement, the Charlie Manson murders, and all the fear and confusion the era brought with it. I remember the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and later of Bobby Kennedy, and I was mesmerized while watching his funeral on television and impressed with the fact that they sang Handel's The Halleluia Chorus from Messiah. I sat in front of my television set in awe and wonder as Neil Armstrong set foot, for the first time, on the moon. I worried and fretted with the rest of the nation as the crew of Apollo 13 narrowly escaped death on their ill-fated moon mission, and I cried in fear and confusion as I watched Nixon board an Air Force One helicopter for the last time, in shame and defeat over the Watergate Scandal.
It is my hope that we wake up and work towards achieving the ideals that our forefathers had for this country, and that this great experiment in democracy will be the success that they envisioned.
The following is a clip from the opening scene of the pilot episode of the HBO series, The Newsroom.