Day: May 8, 2011

A Momentous Early May Fifty Years Ago!

In early May of 1961, two momentous events worthy of notice occurred, and it is now 50 years since those path breaking events!

On May 5, Alan Shepard was launched into space as the first American, astronaut, going up and down in a rocket in less than an hour, not as dramatic as Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union being launched into orbit 23 days earlier on April 12. Despite the Shepard launch being far less significant, it marked the beginning of the American manned space program, and later that month, on May 25, President John F. Kennedy would announce what seemed impossible at the time, the landing of Americans on the moon before 1970!

On May 9, the first Freedom Ride of black and white civil rights pioneers took place, the attempt to integrate interstate transportation on buses throughout Dixie, a daring and dangerous set of circumstances, which led to bloodshed and violence in Southern bus terminals and on the interstate highways, as Ku Klux Klan activists assaulted civil rights demonstrators and set buses on fire, along with other types of violence. But this reality led the US government to order federal marshals to enforce integration on interstate transportion, and also resulted later in 1961 in the issuance by the Interstate Commerce Commission of an integration order on all transportation within the United States!

The kind of pioneering spirit of Alan Shepard and other astronauts, and of civil rights activists who put their lives at risk to enforce equality, is worthy of notice and recognition and praise 50 years later!

May 8: V-E Day And Harry Truman Remembered!

Sixty six years ago today, in 1945, America celebrated V-E Day, victory in Europe, as Nazi Germany surrendered, one week after announcement of the suicide of Adolf Hitler. Time Magazine commemorated the death of Hitler with a cover portrait of him with a large X through his face!

Today, one week after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, regarded by most observers as the worst tyrant since Adolf Hitler, we should celebrate the removal of the world wide leader of terrorism, while being aware that the danger of further terrorist threats still exists. And note that Time Magazine has just published an issue with Bin Laden’s portrait on the cover, and an X through his face!

And also note that today is the anniversary of the birth of President Harry Truman, born in 1884, 127 years ago, and celebrating his 61st birthday on V-E Day, less than a month after inheriting the Presidency upon the sudden death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Great uncertainty about Truman existed at the time, and yet he went ahead and made tough decisions including the use of the atomic bomb on Japan three months later. Truman proved he could fill the shoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, despite those who were skeptical as to his credentials.

In much the same way, Barack Obama has now proved, despite many skeptics, that he can fill the shoes of the office of the Presidency, can make tough decisions, and has courage and guts much like Harry Truman is always portrayed as having possessed.

So today, let us remember the twin fights against Nazism and terrorism, and the courage, guts and decisiveness of Harry Truman and Barack Obama. Were Truman alive today, he would be very proud of Barack Obama!

Imagining If Medicare Had Never Become Law Under Lyndon Johnson

At a time when the Republican Party has advocated by a formal vote in the House of Representatives that they wish to privatize Medicare over the next decade, therefore ending a program that the vast majority of them voted against when it first passed in 1965 as a part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, let us just imagine that Medicare had never occurred. How would America be different?

The effects of NOT having Medicare pass and be part of the American safety net would be the following:

1. Millions of senior citizens, who were taken out of poverty by the security of their medical bills being paid, would have instead remained in poverty and become a burden on theiir children, if they had any, and if they were willing to put themselves in dire economic straits to help their parents.

2. The longevity rate for senior citizens would have been much lower, as many, being unable to pay for medical services at an advanced age, would have died instead. Therefore, the life span increase in America, which has advanced so much since 1965, would not have occurred for anyone but the elite wealthy.

3. The quality of life for older people, their state of mind and sense of security in older age, would have deteriorated through constant concern about money and health.

4. The family unit of parents and chldren, grandparents and grandchildren, so important as part of what makes America a sucess, would have been cut short by money standing in the way of good health and long life span.

5. The contributions of senior citizens to our economy, our workforce, and the real life accomplishments of many to our advancements as a society, in so many intangible ways, would not have happened. People do not stop being positive forces for change and for good when they reach the “golden years” of 65 plus.

Medicare helps make America a more humane society, giving dignity and a sense of mental relief to those who have done so much for this country, through producing their offspring and contributing in their work life to the advancement of the nation that they helped create.

Of course, there is no doubt that Medicare was created nearly fifty years ago with the expectaton that people would not live as long and healthy lives as has occurred. And of course, costs of the Medicare program have skyrocketed, and there are concerns over the long term health of the program. And, yes, there is corruption and fraud in the sytem which needs to be rooted out.

But the answer is to reform the system, not destroy it!

The answer is to recognize that the tax base for Medicare will have to go up, and that there must be methods developed to root out waste and fraud, and that some tinkering with the system of costs must be enacted, not an easy thing to do, but essentiial as future generations will want to have the same security and sense of dignity that their parents and grandparents have had for nearly a half century.

America will not be the same if our nation rejects the needs of senior citizens, and throws them to the wolves. A society which does not take care of its elderly in a decent way is a society which has lost its principles, its bearings, and its purpose!