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America, it’s time to grow up!

Today is June 5, 2020. It is a bittersweet day for me, because it was another June 5, one back in 1953, that an angel, Josephine, was born. Nineteen years later, in 1972, we were officially united in marriage, but the true reality was we were united in soul and spirit the day we met.

Most of you do not know Josie, but most likely you do. If you have someone in your life who loves you unconditionally, cares about others more than self, and will be with you through the adventure of life, then you not only already know Josie, but you are truly blessed.

We were only 19 when we got married. Josie was already grown up. She was responsible, caring, loving, and intelligent. I, on the other hand, was still was a ways off from those adult characteristics. Only a few days would pass between her regular warnings of, “Greg, grow up!”

Dear Josie passed away in 2018 and, although I eventually did grow up, I find still find myself doing things that make me say, “Greg, grow up!”

Times were different back then, but not so different from today. There were protests back then, too. The 1967 Detroit riots over accusations of racial profiling and police brutality left 43 people dead over the five-day riot. The 1968 political protests at the Democratic convention in Chicago. The tragic 1970 Kent State protest in Ohio, where the National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War.

Now, 50 years later, we see our nation rioting and protesting over nearly the same things, and have to ask ourselves, “Have we learned nothing over these last five decades?”

What the hell is wrong with us?

If Josie was here today, I guarantee you she would be saying, “America, grow up!”

Here we are facing a national tragedy in the form of a virus that has taken the lives of over 106,000 Americans, twice the number who died in the Vietnam War. Isn’t that enough alone to make us unite and overcome this pandemic? Apparently not, because we refuse to learn from lessons past and still find ourselves struggling with the same unbelievable stories of race and isolated cases of police brutality.

George Floyd should not have died under the knee of a police officer.

Were protests out of line over that tragedy? No.

Were the vandalism, fires and looting out of line? Absolutely.

Breaking-and-entering to steal televisions and setting fire to police stations lays a blinding dark drape over the unnecessary death of Mr. Floyd. I can hear Josie now, “Grow up America!”

A week ago, I told a dear friend that I hardly recognize America today. But, upon reflection, I guess I do recognize it. The similarities of today and the late 60s and early 70s are sadly very much alike. That should make us wonder out loud, what are we doing? What have we missed? Is this the world we want our children to grow up in? What are we teaching them about the fragility of life, the sanctity of each and every person, regardless of race, gender, economics, religion or political persuasion?

June 5, 2070 is 50 years away. I won’t be here, but I wonder if a similar columnist will be writing abut the same things then. Will there still be race riots in Detroit? Will we still have accusations of police brutality? Will we be civilized enough by then to have outgrown war?

Is there a better time to take heed of Josie’s warning, “America grow up!”? If so, when? If not, why?

Folks, we have a nation of incredible wealth, millions upon millions of hardworking Americans, natural resources that are the envy of many nations, and literally limitless potential.

But, if we intend to have a future filled with promise and peace, with equality and freedom, with liberty and responsibility, then we must unite in a common vision to improve not only our nation, but ourselves. We must look in the mirror and ask ourselves if our generation has the strength and wisdom to overcome the societal changes necessary to leave a county better off than the one the Greatest Generation left to us.

America, GROW UP!

Happy birthday, Dear Josie, and yes, I did pass along your wisdom today.

Your thoughts, as always are welcome at gregawtry@awtry.com.

Greg Awtry is the former publisher of the Scottsbluff (Neb.) Star-Herald and Nebraska’s York News-Times. He is now retired and living in Hubbard Lake. Greg can be contacted at gregawtry@awtry.com.

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