“Tear Down This Wall,” and Other Moments of Which *I* am Proud

Reagan stood in Berlin, Germany on June tenth of 1987 and challenged Gorby to “tear down this wall.”

In August of that same year, back home the FCC was allowing capitalism and the First Amendment to finally work together by getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine.

In October, Jesse Jackson announced his plans to run for president, again. Days later, the country was riveted by the story of “Baby Jessica” and mobilized to establish a trust fund for her that was rumored to be worth over a million dollars.

Feb 88 brought further strengthening of the the First Amendment when the Supremes found for Flynt in Hustler Magazine, Inc. v Falwell. Any time the Supremes get something right about constitutional law you gotta be proud.

Evan Mecham was booted out of office, proving that the system could indeed work.

In August, the Cubbies finally played a night game at Wrigley.

In September, Space Shuttle flights resumed.

In November, the B-2 is rolled out to the public for the first time.

In 1989, history and pride combined in the Gulf of Sidra incident on January fourth. I was there, and my pilots did good.

In Feb, Ron Brown, a black man, became the head of the DNC and Barbara Harris became the first female bishop in the Episcopal Church.

In May, the world watched Chinese students stand up for American-style rights, even unveiling a strangely familiar statue. In June, the world watched as these liberty and freedom loving students showed that they knew what price needed to be paid to achieve what they craved.

In November, the Wall did indeed come down.

By the end of the year, the Iron Curtain was shredded.

1990 started with the arrest of Noriega in Panama, Marion Barry arrested in D.C., and Hazelwood on trial.

The Soviet Union collapsed, German Reunification was underway, and the Sandinistas were voted out in Feb.

With freedom breaking out all over the planet, I found myself again in the Mid-East by the end of this year, to help Kuwait kick a bully out of their sandbox.

From ’91 to ’94, I was at the Fleet HQ for the Atlantic Fleet, doing a job that only one other person in the Navy was doing, plus going through physical therapy for injuries sustained in the sandbox. Highlights include Desert Storm to free Kuwait, Albania and Georgia had free elections, the DOW closed over 3,000, this tech thingy called the internet was being built, Clarence Thomas got appointed to the Supremes, and David Duke is put to political rest; Ross Perot, a third party guy, got his name on the ballot for all fifty states, the mall of America was built, and U.S. troops were asked by the UN to help out in Somalia; the second START was signed, Janet Reno became Atty Gen for the US, two Iraqis tried to kill Bush 41, and China held a nuke test; the Kremlin Accords were signed, South Africa held its first fully multi-racial elections, Aristide wes restored to power due to US assistance, and Newt led the Republican Party to dominance in both the House and Senate.

1995 had Steve Fossett setting records, Belfast free of British troops, Scott O’Grady showing that even zoomies can be tough, and Bernard A. Harris. Jr., a black man, walking in space. Ebay was founded. The Million Man March was strangely not the scene of race riots or face warfare.

1996 had the summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA. Hazel and I took the day off so we could watch the Torch make its way through town.

1997 had a few firsts, like Madeleine Albright becoming the first female Sec of State, Tara Lipinski became the youngest ever womens figure skating world champion, and IBM’s Deep Blue beating Kasparov. Pathfinder landed on Mars, Old Ironsides celebrated 200 years, and the F-22 underwent flight testing.

1998 put John Glenn back into space, the Lunar Prospector into orbit around the moon, and data from space about liquid oceans on Europa and ice on the Moon. The iMac was unveiled. Google was founded.

1999 saw the best in us all. Many were worried about the Y2K bug, Lewinsky, and Columbine. But Americans rose to the challenges, put our lives back together as best we could, and carried on. Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France, the Liberty Bell 7 was raised from the ocean floor, and the United States kept it’s promise to turn over the Panama Canal Zone, proving that we were an honorable nation.

And surely in the past seven years, there are things in which you too are proud, yes? Things or people or accomplishments of your friends and neighbors?

One thing I will remember to to the day I die happened in 1987, but you won’t find it in wikipedia:

I was a young enlisted sailor in Virginia, when my duty day rolled around. The chief handed me a shovel and told me to grab another kid and follow him outside. We followed. He marched us around to the back of our barracks and opened the access door on the thirty foot dumpster. Beside that dumpster he placed a tape deck on the ground. When he pressed play it was a repeating loop of Lee Greenwood singing “Proud to be an American.” (Edited to correct title: “God Bless the U.S.A.” is what it should be. Thanks Jeff from the comments.) Me and my buddy cleaned out a dumpster for our country, singing at the top of our lungs, and laughing our asses off. The chief gave us the rest of the day off and we never stood a watch again.

I’m not sure, but maybe there is a lesson there.

I think pride in the country doesn’t come from what the government or the military or even our heroes do; I think it comes from realizing that every day, in every thing we do, we are making our country into something new. If you don’t believe in where we came from, how can you expect to get to someplace worthwhile?

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23 Responses to ““Tear Down This Wall,” and Other Moments of Which *I* am Proud”

  1. zombyboy Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Can I get a hallelujah?

    I’ve never been a total rah-rah guy when it comes to my country–that isn’t because I don’t love it, it’s because I don’t want to be blind to its faults. But I’ll be damned if I’ll let that blind me to the good things–and I still believe that there is more good than bad here, regardless of our problems and our disagreements.

    Nice list.

    ReplyReply
  2. Retread Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Thanks for a nice trip down memory lane.

    It’s good to have a reminder now and then that the country isn’t the government, it’s the people, and we’ve been lucky to have many of the best.

    Heh. I’ll never hear Lee Greenwood’s song the same way again.

    ReplyReply
  3. anonymous coward Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    “With a new Prez, 1997 had a few firsts”

    Bill Clinton began his second term — or 5th year in office — in 1997.

    ReplyReply
  4. Hazel Stone Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Good gods, why would you post that as “anonymous coward”? We get corrected all the time and they live to tell the tale.

    Ted’s eyes looked like peeled tomatoes at about 11PM last night while workin’ on this so we can cut him a little slack.

    ReplyReply
  5. Hazel Stone Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    There, I feex.

    ReplyReply
  6. Dave Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Great stuff. Anyone who can’t see that America is on balance a good thing is, in my view, twisted. Someone with that warped a viewpoint is very very hard to talk to, upside down in a rightside up world.

    Michelle Obama is privileged and wealthy and a top 1% gal, but she is twisted. She doesn’t thank God every morning for another great day in America. She hates us and wants us under her thumb, wants to tell us all how to live and set the moral guidelines for everyone. Morality is, in her view, handing over all your money so the wise ones like her can spend it on other people.

    Ugly stuff.

    ReplyReply
  7. Harry Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    I am extremely proud to be an American. I have lived almost 20 years outside the USA. What most people do not realize is that what is basic to most Americans; the goodness, the intelligence, the strength, the courage, the vision that most Americans start with; are things that many others can only hope for. The strong American character is something to be proud of. I will go on to say that the leftist elements in the USA are trashing that basic American character. I hate to see it.

    ReplyReply
  8. Interesting Times: The Ratnest Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    [...] prompted a lot of commentary but I find this to be particularly accurate.  There’s a lot of attention these days on what America got wrong [...]

  9. JimBob Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Mecham was cleared by the courts of all charges, unlike Symington who led the fight against him (along with the AZ republic). Legislators that voted to impeach Mecham have since apologized to him. Mecham said some dumb things while in office, but his impeachment is the exact opposite of proving the system worked, especially considering people like you still think he was guilty.

    ReplyReply
  10. I do believe, this is for you Mrs. Hussein Obama. “Tear Down This Wall,” and Other Moments of Which *I* am Proud « Tizona’s Weblog Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    [...] The Line Is Here [...]

  11. Ted Bronson Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    JimBob, thanks for the update on that matter. I was trying to illustrate that the system seemed to be working to the satisfaction of the people of AZ at the time. Later exoneration shows that system can indeed correct itself.

    O.J. was aquitted of criminal charges but got hammered in the civil arena. Sometimes justice is only as good as the people who we hire to administer it.

    ReplyReply
  12. GM Roper Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Ted, fabulous post! Damn well done and over the last 61 years of my life I’ve been very proud of a whole lot of things, and ashamed of a few, but mostly, “Proud To Be An American.”

    ReplyReply
  13. Jeff Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    I hate to nitpick, but the Lee Greenwood song is “God Bless the U.S.A.”.

    I would also like to note that the song was released in 1984. The reason this is significant is that I have seen many instances in blogs and comboxes of people accusing Mr. Greenwood of trying to profit on the first gulf war. The song was written long before that time.

    ReplyReply
  14. Joan of Argghh! Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    We were living in Mexico City when the wall came down. We watched it, live, in the classroom of our charter school there.

    We wept for joy, for Germany, for Freedom.

    It wasn’t that long ago, kids.

    ReplyReply
  15. JimBob Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Ted,

    The fact remains he was removed from office on false charges. A recall election was set, but many believed he wouldn’t be removed from office by the voters, so just a few months before that re-call election was set to occur the legislature voted to impeach him. So i disagree with the statement that it was “to the satisfaction of the people of AZ”. The legislature made sure the people of Arizona didn’t have a say. They were tired of the bad publicity due to the Martin Luther King holiday issue and wanted him gone and he made enemies of many in the legistlature. The system didn’t correct itself, the impeachment still stands and Mecham wasn’t restored to office and his name is still defamed in the minds of most people. Had the legislature unethical actions not influenced public opinion against Mecham who knows how things would have turned out. The legislature didn’t like the results of the election, so they took matters into there hands. For the record I don’t think Mecham was a good governor, I just have a hard time swallowing that process was in anyway a moment to be proud of. If anything it teaches that desired political results can be successfully achieved by spreading lies about your opponents and bringing false charges in the courts.

    Here is a quote from a National Review article on May 19, 1989

    “There are many Republicans who, although they may agree with Mecham on economic issues, have been embarrassed by his remarks about minorities, by his stooping to argue with journalists, and by his injection of religion into the affairs of state. That’s why Mecham was impeached by a Republican-controlled legislature, on two specious charges which would have been swept under the rug for a more popular governor. The first charge was that he obstructed an investigation into a death threat on a state employee. No one was ever arrested, let alone prosecuted and convicted, on the alleged threat. The second charge was that he loaned state funds to his auto dealership. Mecham claims the money was from his campaign fund, not part of the state treasury. Today, the money sits in his campaign bank account, despite the best efforts over the past year of Attorney General Bob Corbin.

    In the criminal courts, Mecham was acquitted of violating campaign laws. The jury returned the verdict in three hours; afterward, several jurors hugged Mecham.”

    ReplyReply
  16. The Democrats Do Not Like America « Tai-Chi Policy Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    [...] blame America first mindset of so much of the left. The rest of us are proud of our country and its accomplishments in the past 20 years(and earlier) [...]

  17. Maggie45 Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    “God Bless the USA” is sung by the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders before every mission. We are all totally proud of our soldiers and their families.

    ReplyReply
  18. Steve in Houston Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    There’s a very obvious American success story for which Michelle Obama should be extraordinarily proud: The phenomenon that is Oprah Winfrey.

    In fact, Ms. Obama would not likely be in a position to gripe about not being proud of her country if it weren’t for her country producing Oprah.

    ReplyReply
  19. Jon Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Awesome job putting the Cubs in there – I guess for most of the world that was irrelevant, but definitely a historic moment for us Cubs fans…

    ReplyReply
  20. Ted Bronson Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Jon, I used to watch the Cubbies or the Braves every chance I got. I HAD to include the first night game. Back then, baseball was still fun.

    ReplyReply
  21. Ian Hamet Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    To pick one nit, I wouldn’t put John Glenn’s return to space on the list. It was arguably a political payoff for taking the “right” side in the impeachment, loudly and often. That is not the way things are supposed to work.

    ReplyReply
  22. Ted Bronson Says:
    February 20th, 2008

    Ian, first, thanks for reading. Second, at the time, all we knew was that the first American to orbit the Earth was going back to space and was going to be the oldest human to ever do so. Even then, after all that had happened, it seemed like something wonderful to witness.

    ReplyReply
  23. Joan of Argghh! Says:
    February 22nd, 2008

    Everything our country affords that was in place for her success is still working as of today. What IS her problem?

    ReplyReply

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