America is a work in progress and tremendous achievements have been made over the last 244 years. Sure, the United States has warts, policy debacles and setback after setback, but we soldier on making incremental improvements in our society and setting good examples for the rest of the world. They can only be achieved because of our founding documents, and the men who wrote them.
I enlisted in the U.S. Army, but in April 1967 I had a very hard time in basic training only to be saved from being “recycled” to start over while in the hospital at Fort Bragg. One of my Black drill sergeants was a giant of a man by the name of SSG Crawford. He came to see me in the hospital and said, “Gray, I can help you get in shape and finish with your platoon and company.” Through individual attention to me and the physical conditioning he helped me achieve in the red dirt of North Carolina, I graduated. I have never forgotten the influence he had on me and I believe even though he was not my friend I have considered him a mentor because I cannot forget him or his not-so-nice partner, Black Drill Sgt. Sheffield, who I certainly respected but did not like.
Serving in Germany for two and a half years in a non-combat role with many Black fellow soldiers, I remember we got along well. There was no animosity because it was just not part of our thinking.
Now, in my late years, I watch this disaster of disrespect, riots and the gutless leadership of various cities and municipalities and wonder just why? It is all politically driven to achieve a certain goal, many of which I don’t agree with. But I always look back to the wisdom of others like Martin Luther King Jr., who preached his sermon “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life” in 1967, where he said, “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep the streets like Michelangelo painted pictures.”
Andrew Jackson, on July 10, 1832, one hundred and thirty-five years earlier, said “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions.”
These writings of two men who lived centuries apart are saying the same thing, essentially defending the common man. Today, I am not thrilled by many of the Republican leaders in the House and Senate, but I am totally disgusted with the Democrats. I never though we would see 1968 again, but here we are.