Friday, October 10, 2008

America Will Pull Through

When I was a kid, my brother brought home a 45-rpm vinyl recording of a tribute to the USA by Canadian commentator Gordon Sinclair (see text, hear recording). I had heard it many times on the old vacuum tube radio we had on the shelf in the bedroom we shared. Like all of the vinyl records we had back then, we listened to this one over and over.

Even as kids we knew that times were turbulent. We could often see the worry in our parents’ faces about what was happening in the nation and in the world. We were at war in Vietnam and opposition to the war was strident. We were experiencing rapid inflation. The scandals surrounding President Nixon seemed to get worse with each passing day. The counter culture was in full bloom everywhere. The whole world seemed to be coming apart.

On June 5, 1973, Gordon Sinclair spoke on nationwide Canadian radio about the many favors Americans had done over the years for other nations, calling us “the most generous and possibly the least-appreciated people in all the world.” He talked about the mess we were in and strongly chided “the many smug, self-righteous” people that were “gloating over [America’s] present troubles.” His chiding was somewhat saucy for that era.

Sinclair’s talk so struck a chord that it was set to patriotic background music and released as a single under the title, “The Americans.” My brother was one of many Americans that bought a copy.

Until today, it had been years since I had heard or even thought about Sinclair’s single. But somehow, current events took me back to 1973. I didn’t remember much of the recording, except that the commentator’s name was Gordon, he was Canadian, he talked about America’s problems, and he said that Americans would “come out of this thing with their flag high.” I had completely forgotten that he had added, “And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their noses at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles.”

A lot has changed since Gordon Sinclair spoke those words 35 years ago. We are no longer the only nation that produces decent commercial aircraft, for example. Although, we are still the only nation that has sent humans to the moon.

The reason current events took me back to 1973 is that conditions today are similarly ominous. We are now being bombarded on all sides with news of the dourest nature. It’s nearly impossible to glimpse any hint of sunshine on the other side of the gathering gloom.

Given the state of affairs, parts of Sinclair’s commentary are applicable today. Contrary to what the doom-and-gloomers say, I believe that we “will come out of this thing with [our] flag held high.” We’re Americans. It’s what we do.

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