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Opinion

The Big Show


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jan. 22, 2021 - 4:41 PM

The Big Show

Alex McRae is a writer and ghostwriter and author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: alexmmcrae@gmail.com.

We all draw the line somewhere. I once declined an offer to chase wild hogs in south Alabama. I have also said “no” to a second helping of boiled chitlins.

But I have never passed up the chance to watch a U.S. presidential inauguration. The January 20, 2021 event was no exception.

I’m glad I watched. It was nice to see D.C all shined up and looking its best. The US version of pomp and circumstance was performed flawlessly, thanks largely to members of the US military, who are unequaled at such tasks.

My biggest complaint was that a nervous Congress banned citizens that pay the taxes and fight the wars from attending the ceremony.

If our leaders truly represent “The land of the brave,” that should never happen again.

President Biden’s remarks were measured, calm and I hope, sincere. His policies will be embraced by many and opposed by an equal number. That’s how the system works.

I was glad the president didn’t stoop to saying “2020 has been the worst year in our nation’s history.”

He probably knows better. I sure do. Take COVID out of the equation and 2020 was a walk in the park compared to the worst year in my personal history.

That year was 1968. Consider this…

America suffered a pandemic in 1968, too. Mercifully, the Hong Kong Flu “only” took an estimated 100,000 American lives.

In January of 1968, North Vietnamese troops launched the Tet Offensive, which was the opening act of the deadliest year of that war for American troops.

Back home, In February 1968, two Memphis sanitation workers were killed by a malfunctioning garbage truck and civil protests started to grow.

On March 16, JFK’s brother, Bobby Kennedy announced he was running for president. Two weeks later, President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for re-election.

On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis to attend a rally in support of striking sanitation workers. He checked into the Lorraine Motel. The next day, on his way to meet a local minister he stepped out of his motel room and was assassinated. Riots broke out in more than 100 cities, leaving 39 people dead, and more than 2,600 injured.

Just two months later, on June 5, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated during a presidential campaign event in Los Angeles.

In August of 1968, Chicago was in the spotlight as it hosted the Democratic Presidential Convention. Rioters protesting the Vietnam War filled the streets and in an effort to restore order, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley ordered Chicago cops and Illinois National Guardsmen to beat and gas hundreds of demonstrators. The carnage was captured on live TV.

To the fair, the news wasn’t all bad. In July, the first-ever Special Olympics was held in Chicago. People loved the event. They still do.

On November 5, 1968, Shirley Chisholm of New York became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. That same month Yale agreed to allow female students. Thanks, fellas.

I’ll always remember 1968 as the year my father called from Los Angeles to my apartment in Troy, Alabama to tell me he had been diagnosed with leukemia. He was optimistic. Three years later he was gone.

2020 was bad. No argument here. But 1968 was proof we can get through bad times and come back stronger. I’ve no doubt we’ll do it again.

Have faith. Pray hard. Hang on. We’ll be fine.

Alex McRae is a writer and ghostwriter and author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: alexmmcrae@gmail.com.