By virtue of having been born on the soil of the United States of American at Welborn Baptist Memorial Hospital in Evansville, Indiana, I can proudly proclaim I am an American.
But – what does it mean beyond being an offspring fortunate enough for my nativity to be in this country?
What distinguishes a person as an American other than the site of birth?
How can we tell who is an American versus who may be, say, a Canadian, who speaks and looks like most Americans?
There is no singular ethnicity to set us apart as American.
There is no particular racial classification, but a hodgepodge of all races and sub-sections.
There is no single country of colonization of this portion of the North American continent.
There is no official language.
There is no particular genetic marker to trace who is and is not an American – such as eye or hair color, skin pigmentation. An American, as the words in a children’s song, may be red and yellow, black or white.
Physical characteristics, speech and dialects, none of the usual suspects define an American.
New Americans come into the world almost every day – and not – by birth.
Americans are not persuaded or aligned with a state religion or practice of faith and spirituality. In fact, one can be an American without any belief system that envisions a power greater than ourselves.
Other than a predominance of democracy and federalism, Americans do not pledge allegiance to a universal ideology or political persuasion. Political leanings are all over the map.
Some Americans amble through life with no basis in the alter-verse of politics or ideology.
From the Cornfield, I can beat my chest and swell with pride by virtue of birth to be an American.
But what other than that marks me as an American?
Some can lay hold to the honor of being an American through the process of naturalization, denouncing any and all allegiance to the country of their birth or country of last residence.
Many of these Americans are more patriotic and willing to lay down their lives for their adopted country than those who are homegrown, to their shame.
The belief in and living up to the radical idea ascribed by the Founding Fathers that an American will defend to the death, pledging honor and fortune to protect and uphold the belief that all humans are endowed by their Creator with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is what makes me able to crow, “I am American.”
Not – because I was born in the Cornfield.
If you are an American, what makes you – other than birth – an American?
The refrain from the classic song by Argent has added meaning, not just for me, but Americans everywhere today.
For me on a personal levels hearing, Hold your head up,” pushes me to keep up the fight.
For the millions of us Americans, following senseless mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, the words us the strength to not be cowed by a madman.
We will weep.
We will mourn.
We will struggle with survivor’s guilt. We will not quit living.
We will not back down.
We are Americans!
Not getting enough bang for your hard-earned buck?
Lord knows I am not in the Cornfield! And yet compared to the rest of the nation, the Ohio River Valley states do better. That is all, but liberal Illinois.
Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio have more healthy bangs for bucks.
From the Cornfield, make your dollar go farther – move to a conservative state in the Heartland.
When you are wrong, you are wrong.
Mr. President, you are wrong.
Yes, hate is hate and violence is violence.
No, you cannot equate the hatred of Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan with the hate of those on extreme left.
A complete renunciation of these bigots and racists elements who seek to corrupt history and to divide us must be done without any equivalency.
Your failure, Mr. President, to offer condolences and to reach out to the family of the woman, Heather Heyer, who was brutally murdered by a deranged man, advocating the destruction of those not like him, is a monumental fail on your part.
Heather Heyer died a martyr to the cause of freedom on which this nation was built.
Mr. President, you are President of ALL the people, not just your base or those who spew hatred and advocate violence among the races and those of differing religious adherents.
If you expect to be a strong, successful President, it is time, Mr. President to take a look in the mirror.
It is time, Mr. President, to reflect on what it truly means to be an American.
It is time, Mr. President, to rise to the office to which you have been elected. It is time, Mr. President, to offer a sincere apology to the American people for failing to be the man you should be in occupying the Oval Office.
If, Mr. President, your interest is purely self-serving, it is time, Mr. President, to hand the reins to someone else.
From the Cornfield, when you’re wrong, you’re wrong.
There is time to rectify the situation, but that time is running out.
Soon the sands will have run out.
Today, the US of A celebrates its 241st birthday.
It was, like with any birth, one that was born out of travail, crying, shouts of glee, bloodshed and even death. Truly the continent was in heavy labor as the push and screams of thousands were heard around the world.
That sorrow and agony gave way, however, to jubilation as the nation emerged scathed and covered with the scars and trappings of nativity. But as difficult as that birth was, the struggle was not over.
There would be growing pains, illnesses and diseases to overcome. There would be those who would attempt to reclaim and to destroy that life which was born out of a pledge to devote honor, lives and fortunes to see this epic birth come to be and last through all time.
Through the years, as with any baby maturing to toddler to child to teen to adult, this great nation of states joined to form a “more perfect union” had to go through its share of perils, tests and trials. In each instance, in the end, the US of A emerged on the other side a better nation.
The most trying time is undisputed, which is what occurred during what I would call the teenage years, puberty, when literally brother was pitted against brother, sister against sister, sons and daughters against mothers and fathers. The greatest and most costly toll of lives and bloodshed threatened to tear the nation apart. Yet through the trauma of the Civil War, the War Between the States, a united and stronger country came of age.
Dark days still lay ahead, but it seemed the worst had passed.
Through more battles and more wars, we find ourselves today celebrating the nation we’ve become and feeling the pain of the mistakes we have made. We honor the lives who gave their all to keep this nation the home of the brave and the land of the free.
Now, we look forward to the days and years ahead.
We are traveling the rough and choppy sea of economic uncertainty, but which seems to be slowly recovering.
The ship of state must traverse the gulf as the skipper maneuvers the ship to avoid crashing on the rocks of lost hope, despair, keeping an eye on the course and the port of serenity which lies in the distance.
The tides of global unrest threaten to engulf us. We must stay resolute and strong. Together we can ride the waves and dock in safe harbor.
Many have lost hope.
Many no longer aspire to the American Dream.
Many wonder if the flag will still wave for much longer.
But we are Americans.
We will survive.
From the Cornfield, America, may she always be that shining city on a hill to which others seek to aspire.
Happy Independence Day!
In my most recent unscientific survey from Cornfield Polls, trust was the thrust.
Not many participated, but from the results it is clear that we remain deeply divided.
So what are we to do?
Does it matter whether we are buying into facts or fiction?
Are Americans doomed to what the Scripture refers to as “believing a lie and being damned?”
Was the Apostle Paul right when he wrote about “ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth?”
From the Cornfield, our 16th and perhaps greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, cited the words of Christ when he intoned, “A house divided cannot stand.”
How can we as a nation hope to stand when we remain so divided even over whom to trust?
Today we are witness to an historic event unlike any other.
For the 44th time in nearly 230 years, we watched the peaceful transition of power from one President to the next President.
Contrast what is happening in Washington DC today to what is happening across the Atlantic Ocean in the West African nation of Gambia.
In that nation a President who came to power in a military coup in 1994 is refusing to leave after he was defeated in an election by the people. The new President was sworn into office in neighboring Senegal.
Last night Senegalese troops moved into Gambia to force the defeated by the voters President from office. Three other West Africa nations also have troops poised to assist.
Back here in the US of A, even though about 1/3 of the Democrats in the House of Representatives boycotted the inauguration of Donald John Trump as the 45th President of the United States and nearly a million protesters marching on the Capitol, the reins of power were handed over by President Barack Obama to his successor without troops or riots.
This is more than just an American tradition. It is the embodiment of what it means to be America. This transferal of power is the very essence that makes our nation, who it is.
Politics, ideological differences, angst over the outcome of the election all pale compared to the significance of this day which is the life blood of our great nation.
From the Cornfield, you may disagree with the politics, the ideology, the party – another right as Americans – but what matters is that we are all Americans.
Congratulations to President Donald J. Trump!
Mr. President Elect Donald J. Trump, you are wrong in ignoring, maligning and falsely accusing a member of the national press corps because you are miffed and transferring your hurt ego in a way which goes against the spirit of the First Amendment.
I watched the first press conference by the President Elect since July on Wednesday.
Often during the campaign at such events I thought the national press corps was biased or had a jaundiced attitude coloring their freedom of the press duties. But yesterday, it was the man who will be sworn in to the highest office of the land in eight days from today who slighted not only the press, but the American people.
Trump was rightly upset with Buzzfeed publishing an unsubstantiated dossier, which has already seen portions debunked, in its entirety on its web site in the false sentiment of being transparent.
Where Trump went wrong was singling out CNN and its reporter Jim Acosta and applying the breach by Buzzfeed to CNN and Acosta. Referring to the network and Acosta as “fake news” was completely false and inaccurate.
Yes, during the campaign, at times, CNN did have a holier-than-thou attitude that was unbecoming and often seemed to be personally combative with the President Elect and his surrogates. I wrote and complained about it at the time – ‘Fess Up, Brianna.
This was not that case.
The network rightly reported that there was a two-page addendum to the intelligence briefing Trump and President Barack Obama received last week which noted there were allegations that Russia had obtained information and date on the President Elect in hopes of compromising his presidency and casting its legitimacy in doubt.
CNN steered clear of the scurrilous allegations.
It is one thing to refuse to answer a question, you do not like. It is quite another to throw a reporter out and bar him or her from their constitutional right to report and gather information to inform the public.
From the Cornfield, Mr. President Elect, in this case, you do owe both Acosta and CNN, the American public, an apology.
You allowed your mouth to run off before your brain was in gear.
My ex-in-laws were at Pearl Harbor on that “Day of Infamy.”
My ex-mother-in law wrote about her experience so her daughter who was 9 months old at the time would know what it was like.
When she finally got to leave Hawaii for the mainland they spent a month aboard a ship from Hawaii to the east coast.
Here is what she wrote:
December 7, 1941
Indelibly Etched in My Mind
by Margaret Huey
Each year around December seventh, countless individuals recall, with unerring detail, exactly what they were doing when the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred. For those of us who were there, the events of that and succeeding days are indelibly etched in our minds.
I was twenty years old, the wife of a Marine Corps Lieutenant, and mother of a five month old baby girl, Kay. Today, I am seventy, wife of the same Lieutenant, now a retired Colonel, mother of seven children and grandmother to sixteen. The fifty year old memory is as vivid in my mind as if it happened last Sunday.
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, my husband had taken our 1940 Ford and driven the fifteen miles from our home in Honolulu to the base at Pearl Harbor. He was to assume his post as Duty Officer of the Day, beginning at eight o’clock.
I left Kay with my neighbor, Amy Jean, wife one of my husband’s classmates, to attend mass. She was alone with her 15 month old son, Tommy, as her husband was on Midway Island. I walked the nine blocks to Waikiki Avenue to church for the seven thirty mass. At approximately seven fifty-five the mass was interrupted by noise which was reminiscent of the finale of a Forth of July fireworks display. The priest intuitively knew something was wrong. He gave us a quick blessing and told us we could leave but to proceed in the manner of a fire drill. Everyone was stunned but there was no panic. With God’s blessing, I wanted to return home as quickly as possible, but had no car.
I had put all my change in the collection plate and entered a phone booth in hopes someone had forgotten to pick up a nickel from the coin return slot. I found it empty. I dumped the contents of my purse on the floor. Luckily I found a nickel to make a call to Amy Jean. She tried to assure me everything was okay, saying the disturbance was nothing more than maneuvers off Sand Island. I looked at the sky and saw it peppered with flack and large gray puffs of smoke from anti-aircraft guns. I begged her to bring the babies and pick me up.
She arrived with the babies and a neighbor, a sailor who had come home for shore leave Saturday, December 6th. His ship was the U.S.S Arizona. She felt if there was trouble, we could take him to his ship.
The Hawaiian National Guardsmen were on the streets and the traffic was getting horrendous. We drove as far as Hickam Field, near the prison, when a guardman told us we could go no further. I argued saying my husband was Lt. Huey and Duty Officer of the Day at the Marine Corps Base. “Lady,” he shouted, “I don’t care if he is Admiral Dewey, you cannot proceed. This is war! I am sure he will be busy all day.” He told us to drive the car into the old sugar cane field to our right and take cover. He instructed our neighbor, the sailor, to go with him, joining other sailors in a truck to Pearl Harbor.
We sat in the car with our babies and wondered what would happen next. We were not afraid, only angry we could not proceed to Pearl Harbor, or go home. We had the car radio on and all stations were broadcasting, “This is not a drill, this is war! Stay in your homes.” Requests were being made for motorcycles, delivery trucks and ambulances. Doctors and nurses were told to report to their hospitals.
Within a few minutes, army trucks, filled with soldiers, were proceeding from Hickam Field to Pearl Harbor. They seemed like a happy lot, yelling and waving. It was like watching a parade. They too knew little of what they would see at Pearl Harbor.
Not far from us, about two city blocks, a plane descended and strafed some cars. We could see the red ball markings and knew it was not our plane. In truth, we did not know whose plane it was. We saw more coming and, for the first time, we were scared. Funny how one automatically ducks when something flies overhead. We soon raised our heads to see what was happening. We saw very little except for the large black puffs of smoke. The sound of bombs was deafening.
It was one o’clock before we were able to leave. The exodus from the sugar cane field was like traffic pouring out of a parking lot after a world series game. The return to Honolulu was very slow. We had to take many detours through the city as the streets were closed. King Street and Waikiki Avenue were closed. We lived just off of Waikiki Avenue. The traffic was so heavy that I did not really see any damage. The policemen, almost like a broken record, said, “keep moving”.
It was after three in the afternoon when we finally arrived home. The babies were starving and crying. We were physically and mentally exhausted, but filled with that natural supply of adrenaline which accompanies fear. When I went home, I found a bullet had, at sometime, entered the corner of the living room and lodged into the bedroom wall. This so unnerved me that I took Kay and went to Amy Jean’s to spend the night.
I could not get a call through to Pearl Harbor to find out about my husband. Amy Jean’s husband was on Midway. She was sure they had been hit too. We tried to call our families in the states but were told to keep the lines clear and stay off the phones.
Instructions from Civil Defense were repeated continually on the radio. We were to maintain total blackout and stay off the streets. If a light was needed, we were to cover a flashlight with blue paper or cloth.
We could think of nothing but the fate of our husbands. We tried to occupy our minds. We thought we should make some identification markers for the babies in case we should be separated if another attack should occur. I took a large strip of adhesive tape and printed Kay’s name, age blood type, address in the states and the fact that she was breast fed. I put it down the middle of her back, thinking she might possibly lose a leg or arm. I shivered at the thought and knew our attempts to put the fate of our husbands out of our minds was only being replaced with equally morbid thoughts.
We finally got the babies to sleep. We could not sleep. We crawled out of the bathroom window on to the carport roof to watch the red glowing skies and listen to the off and off explosions from the ships being hit in the harbor. In the distance it looked as though a forest was on fire. I remember thinking we were like cats on a roof, not afraid, but filled with curiosity.
While climbing out the window, the screen hit the back of my head and cut badly enough that I felt the hair sticking to my neck. We went back into the house to check the babies. I went into a closet and used a flashlight to see how badly I was cut. I was sure I needed a stitch or two, but we were not allowed on the streets. I applied a cold wet washcloth and returned to the roof to watch the glow from the fires most of the night. When we finally went to bed, we were still unable to sleep. The heavy trucks from Fort Ruger, three blocks away, thundered down our street throughout the night.
We were glad to see daylight and fully expected our husbands to come home. My husband finally returned on Tuesday, December ninth, at two thirty in the afternoon, in a jeep. He was wearing a steel helmet and a pistol was on his hip. For the first time I saw the career Marine I married. He brought home rolls of black tar paper to black out our windows. While working on a ladder covering the windows, I noticed he had a bad cut on his leg. He explained it happened while unloading ammunition boxes. One had fallen on his leg. I showed him the cut on my head. We both realized how lucky we were to have only superficial wounds.
We learned later in the day Amy Jean’s husband, and our sailor friend were safe. I did not realize how fortunate we all were until a few days later when I took a bus to King Street and saw hundreds of wooden coffins piled six feet high in front of mortuaries.
The following weeks were hectic. My husband put in long hours at the base. Amy Jean and I occupied ourselves building a bomb shelter, which was never more than three feet deep and could not accommodate more than one person, much less two women and two babies. It did keep us busy.
At the Punahou High School we were given gas masks and instructed how to use them. Babies were not given masks. Mothers were told to carry a washcloth and a bottle of boric acid solution for them. we were worried about what we would do if we had to wear masks when the babies had none.
My husband was sent to the Island of Palmyra, about a thousand miles southwest of Honolulu, on December 23rd, two days before Christmas. We were told to pack all of our personal effects for evacuation at a moment’s notice. I sold our 1940 Ford to Army Procurement for $650, and felt fortunate as others were getting about $250 for the same year on used car lots in Honolulu.
Kay spent her first Christmas and several succeeding months in a packing box lined with quilts as all of our furniture was packed for evacuation. We finally evacuated the ship to San Francisco in late March. I arrived in Washington, D.C.,on April 11, 1942, the day before my 21st birthday.
My sister lived in Indian Head, Maryland. She had saved their Christmas tree for Kay and me. I knew my nine month old daughter would remember neither the tree or Pearl Harbor, though I would all my life.
In the years that followed, every December 7th, Amy Jean and I talked to each other on the telephone no matter where we were stationed. On December 7, 1989, Amy Jean called from Bakersfield to say “Aloha dear friend.” Her cancer was in an advanced stage. She passed away December 28, 1989.
Amy Jean was a model of courage. She taught me to remain cheerful and hopeful in spite of adversity. I am grateful to have been with her.