“Democracy is Not Easy”

Courage. Patriotism. Heroism. Bravery. Right over wrong. Liberty.

My wife and I love going to Washington, D.C. to soak in history, learn more about the famous, not-so-famous and the infamous figures that have influenced the course of our great country.

We go from landmark to historic marker, from tribute to memorial absorbing the moments, times and people of impact. History captured in granite, marble, quotes, and photos.

The words, phrases, images and quotes etched into stone and metal transcend the centuries and generations, bringing tears and smiles, inspiration and humbleness, sadness and pride.  I marvel at the situations in which ordinary men and women rise to occasions. I marvel at the circumstances that lift and elevate the average to historic proportions. 

Our son recently began his service to the United States of America through the Army and has been assigned to 3rd US Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard” stationed at Fort Myer next to Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  SNAP! What a great bonus! We have another wonderful reason to make trips to Washington, D.C.

Recently, we made a visit to our “soldier” and spent a couple days exploring D.C. with him. Old sites or new, each provided a powerful imprint. We left with amazing, indelible memories of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, the Holocaust Museum, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial and more. 

Sacrifice. Pain. Grief. Solemnity. Gravity.

And yet I returned home with optimism. Optimism that we, as a society, can learn from our mistakes… our trials… our conflicts. We can find greater wisdom in interactions with people… people who may be the same or who may be different. Knowledge that the selfless sacrifices by so many leaders, citizens and no-names have made freedom a reality. Inspiration that justice and right will win in the end, though at great cost.

Democracy is not simple. Democracy is not easy. Democracy is not free.  And, democracy should never be taken for granted.

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Last month, I wrote about my first “Ride” and gave members an opportunity to share your first ride and what made it special.  I want to share what a couple members sent to me.

Gary from Hoffman Estates wrote: 

First car I bought for myself was a 1940 Nash. $100 in 1958. Top speed? About 35mph. Water pump leaked so if I drove it in the winter, had to drain it every night so the block wouldn't freeze and crack.

Growing up on the farm, you got to drive a lot of stuff because you were expected to "work." First thing I drove was a team of horses around 10 years old. Hay rack that dad used to pick up logs/trash that would flood the field after a big rain caused by two creeks on each side. I didn't volunteer to drive the team of horses, was told to get on the hay rack, we've got trash to clean off the field today. Next was a little Oliver tractor that was like a small bulldozer without a blade. Couldn't get it stuck in the mud and no fear of it turning over on the hillsides. Kid friendly but... No seat belts or helmet required in those days. Then the ton and a half truck at around 13? Dad bought it new but... He didn't pay for the optional heater and as I recall, he bought it in the spring so why add the heater option??? And dad had a rule, you had to back the truck into the barn once you got home. Barn wasn't made for parking the truck, you had about ten inches on each side for clearance. No lights in that area of the barn and no backup lights on trucks in '53. But as I recall, never hit the side of the barn and could do it on first attempt.

Richard from Northbrook wrote:

When I was in college (1952), I was living on dust so my first car purchase was lean to say the least. The 1928 Model A coupe I had had no starter motor so you had to either park on  an incline for a rolling jump the clutch start or have somebody with you to help push for a start. Another feature of Model A Fords was mechanical brakes ( pre -hydraulic ). The best were not great so you had to "anticipate stops and hope it did". There was also a slight leak in the fabric roof which was not great in rain but what do you expect for $50 bucks. It served me well but I didn't miss the experience when we parted.


Bob can be reached at brohrer@cookcfb.org.