WHY I CONTINUE TO WORK TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Date: Wednesday, October 05 @ 22:28:09 CDT
Sooner or later, we all come to the dawning realization we live in a world where all things in our lives are affected, for better or for worse, by the people who are elected to "serve" in various offices through their actions or inactions. One way or another, directly or indirectly, eventually those who seek and win public office habitually want to change things. As voter apathy grows and fewer folks involve themselves in the political process, as fewer and fewer percentages of the population eligible to vote actually do, little do they know that danger lurks just around the corner. Could the horrors of Nazi concentrations camps under Hitler and even greater mass murders under the communist regime of Stalin happen again, I suggest a scary answer - YES.
Two years ago, my wife and I flew to London and thence to Amsterdam after visiting our daughter and her family who, at the time, lived in Sligo, Ireland. After landing in the country from whence my ancestors came to America, we spent the next month driving though the area. This was the same area, not all that many decades ago, where the Greatest Generation did battle with the Nazis, then confronted the Soviets.
The greater number of Germans and Russians, however, probably had no more desire to kill our soldiers than we had to kill theirs. Only around three percent of the German people were members of the Nazi Party that dominated and controlled the other ninety-seven percent. Around the same percentage of the population of the former Soviet Union were members of the Communist Party and kept the rest "in line."
We visited a place called Berchtesgaden (Hitler's Eagle's Nest) in the Bavarian mountains above Salzburg, Austria where high-ranking German officials and military officers wined and dined in the splendor of the beautiful area where the Sound of Music was filmed. Not all that many miles to the west is Munich, Germany and a short distance north of there the town of Dachau. Only fifty-five years ago, the infamous concentration camp located in Dachau was the place where over a quarter of a million political prisoners, Catholics, Jews and a variety of other categories of humans the Nazi deemed to be a threat to their plan were exterminated and burned to ashes. I will be writing more on these places in later articles, but for now I want to focus on three things.
First, the people of that time were no different than people in our country are apparently becoming. They just didn't care enough at first to do anything about it. Then, they became afraid to do anything to stop it. Think about that the next time you fail to vote!
Second, the distance between Berchtesgaden and Dachau is not very far. In one place, laughter and sumptuous dining, in the other, anguish, tears and dying.
Third, the very person who introduced me to "politics" as a later candidate for the Oklahoma House of Representatives - Don Coulson, my uncle, was a political prisoner at that horrible death camp. It was there, I believe, he resolved that if he lived to return home, he would do his part in some small way to promote and stand fast for the freedoms we take for granted in a land where today, judges and justices in our courts, for the moment, have blocked prosecution of those who feel it is their right to burn The Star Spangled Banner. More also on that subject later.
I met my Uncle Don at the bus station in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma the night he returned from "the war." For hours I sat on the steps of the Y.M.C.A. which was then, across the street from where the bus would arrive. Little did I know then that my uncle who dreamed of the "beans and cornbread" and "a cold glass of milk" while he daily dealt with the stench of death in a land far away, would become the one who has motivated me to get involved and stay involved in politics.
Back then, when I accompanied him out to candidate debates and when we went all over the district in which he ran for office pasting campaign posters to telephone poles and every other conceivable place (both legal and illegal). In his first venture into politics, he nearly unseated a Tulsa attorney who had held the seat for a number of years. He didn't win that race, but he did win a special place in my life. All four of my Mom's brothers served in World War II, each in a different service. My Dad's brothers were older and only his "kid brother" served in the war. As a young man, I was proud of them then, and I'm still proud of all of them for doing "their part."
Of all of those guys, only my Uncle Don still lives and we share our political thoughts from time to time on the telephone. He is still as ornery as he was way back then and I spar with him about his partisan affiliation. There are a lot of things we disagree on, but on those, which are important, we seldom have differing thoughts. Our country and the American way of life are still worth fighting for.
When I retired as a senior military officer after over thirty years of full-time and reserve service in the U.S. Army we seldom if ever talk about that part of our lives. On political subjects, well, that's something different. His example was a factor in my taking a shot or two at public office and getting whacked, but his example also of not giving up the battle is still a part of me decades later.
Whether or not I win any future campaign, if there is one, for any office that I might seek, I sincerely hope that I can motivate a number of good people to become involved. If enough people take the time and perhaps donate a few bucks, they can make a difference - a positive difference. In the weeks ahead, I plan to go back to Tulsa and motivate a number of people who are disgruntled with their congressman to unite and make a positive difference.
If my uncle happens to read this, I want him to know, the boy who met him at the station, is a man who has and will continue to stand up and be counted!
In the words of a graduate of Tulsa Central High School who proceeded me by several years - Paul Harvey - "And now you know, the rest of the story."