Friday, February 24, 2017

My Birthday Wish in a Time of Crisis

I was born 75 years ago on this date. Two and a half months before my birth, on Dec. 8, 1941, the President of the United States declared war, and my father enlisted to fight in it

He became a flight surgeon on B-29s bombing Japanese targets is China.

Among his duties was salvaging the charred remains of his buddies after their battered “Super-Fortresses” crash landed on their home runways. He watched as the planes exploded, burned and consumed his friends.

Back in the States, I was a toddler, the approximate age of three of my four grandchildren today.

Many years later, my mother told me my father came home from war “a different man.” “Not the man I married,” she said. Only on rare occasions did I see the man I presume she fell in love with.

Today, the President of the United States has declared war on me, a journalist and a former teacher of journalism. He has declared me, my former students and my colleagues the “enemy of the American people.”

He has also, in effect, declared war on millions of others far more vulnerable than we are.

The battles in this war are already changing me … and you. We are already witnessing the flaming, hate-filled wreckage of his deeds.

My own engagement certainly is not and will not be as an “enemy of the American people.” I seek to be the “enemy” of no fellow human, but I will fervently oppose the nefarious deeds of this deranged president.

My father came home from war embittered and hardened. There are already days when I myself feel consumed by bitterness and even hatred. I must not surrender to these feelings if I am to help create a world of peace for my grandchildren.

Today these children know me as the old man who reads and sings to them, who pushes their swings in the park and holds their hands firmly as we cross the street.

I want to remain that man even as I fight to secure a future of promise for them, this nation and this planet.

I want these and other children to remember me — and us — for hope and change, for joy and love.

This is my birthday wish.

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