Being American

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?

Lest We Forget – 9/11/2001

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

It seemed to be a quiet, sunny day in the dwindling hours of summer. People going about their business. Children rushed off to school. Flights of pleasure, business and fancy were seemingly soaring the skies peacefully.

Tranquility and a sense of safety were shattered in an instant as a commercial jetliner plowed into the World Trade Center (WTC). What first seemed to be nothing more than a tragic accident was quickly revealed to be more diabolic in nature.

The world watched horror-struck as a second jetliner in live airtime was shown deliberately crashing into the second tower of the WTC.

The unthinkable, that which seemed to only be comprehensible in a movie script, lifted from the page of fiction into the horrifying fact of reality. Life changed forever.

9-11-2

I rolled over. Opened my eyes. With blurred vision, I looked at the clock. 10:48 a.m. I sprang out of bed, shaking my head, wondering why I had slept so late.

I grabbed my robe, moving between my loveseats to turn on the television. I made my way back around what I called, my loveseat, to make my morning coffee.

Strangely I heard the voices of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. In disbelief, disconcerted and shocked, I listened and learned about the attack on America.

Nearly spilling the water, I finished making my coffee. I stumbled back to my loveseat to watch and listen to the unfolding events.

I yelled at the troubled young man sleeping on my other loveseat, “Wake up! We’ve been attacked!

Frightened, not knowing what to do, how to react, what to say, the young man took off on his bike. Running, trying to find comfort, peace and some sense of what was happening.

I stayed glued to the TV.

Not only had two commercial planes been used as guided missiles exploding into the WTC, but another had been fatally directed at the Pentagon.

But, this was not the end.

The news revealed a fourth jetliner, its objective still unknown, was deflected from further mass destruction by the heroics of passengers. Passengers, who followed the highest law of Love.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV)

The unthinkable had become a deliberate, thought-out scheme of murder, destruction, mayhem, pain and suffering.

What had happened to America’s tranquility and safety?

Gone in moments.

What were and are we to do?

What could and can our leaders do?

What was and is America to do?

Life changed forever.

From the Cornfield, we pause, as we do each year, and remember the lives lost, the heroes, the resolve of a nation to not back down, to rise from the ashes and press on for a better day filled with peace, liberty and justice for all.

We will never forget.

We will never crumble.

We will stand tall.

We will cross any valley, climb any mountain, ford any stream and remain forever that shining city on a hill to which the world looks to find light in the darkness of ignorance, fear, intolerance and injustice.

And Therein Is the Problem

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is scheduled to speak on the nation’s largest black-owned Christian television network.

This should be positive news for the candidate who is barely in single digits with support from the African-American community as he faces the fall election.

Trump has been blasted by members of the community, the campaign of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and pundits for reaching out to black voters while speaking in front of predominantly white audiences.

Trump has been ridiculed for not going into black churches or before such groups as the NAACP to speak when invited.

The Trump campaign and surrogates have pushed back saying that the audience does not matter since the speeches are televised nationwide. They say that Trump is not speaking to the audience in the hall, but to the television audience and thus directly to African-Americans.

The campaign and surrogates have said Trump was trying to be respectful and did not want to go into areas where his presence would result in riots such as what occurred earlier this year when Trump spoke in California.

When it was announced today that Trump would go on the Christian network, owned by blacks and targeting a black viewership, this was a step in the right direction.

Not so say critics and pundits.

One black pastor was on CNN today and made it clear that Trump was not welcome to go into and speak to the black community or in black churches.

The pastor said he would be in the studio to protest Trump being on the network and beaming out to African-American Christians.

The pastor said straight out that Trump was not welcome nor should he be allowed to speak.

And therein is the problem.

How can we have an honest discussion when one side is ready to lock the door, batten the hatches, board up the windows and not allow for an open discussion?

From the Cornfield, I am not a fan of either Trump nor Clinton.

I am guilty of not understanding the perspective of those of color as I am an old, white man.

But in life, if we are ever to get along, we must be willing to tolerate each others’ opinions and views, though we disagree.

We must learn how to live in tolerant co-existence with one another.

To govern properly and do what is best for the nation we must learn compromise.

The same is true for getting along with others – even in our own families.

How can we learn or move forward when we close our minds to all competing thoughts?

As has been so often said throughout the years, I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Race Determines Race Perspectives

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This election cycle race has become a major topic of discussion. Adding fuel to the emphasis on race has been the number of people of color killed in confrontation of police.

Yet, for all the news headlines about race, the protests, the riots, the upheaval in big cities across the country, Pew Research has uncovered some interesting information. How people talk about and view race relations in the nation is largely determined by one’s race.

For the majority of whites, race seldom if ever enters the conversation on social media. For the majority of blacks, race occupies a majority focus on social media.

Check out this chart:

socialmediaraceAs is readily seen, for whites race is something of an afterthought. For blacks, race is an integral part of life on and off the web. The saying goes that perception is reality.

For most blacks, the perception is that life in the US of A is pitted with systemic racism. For most whites, the perception is that the race issue was long settled and not worth discussing.

It is our perceptions, whether from the Cornfield or from the inner city, which taints our reality to one view or the other. Thus our reality is skewed toward what we see when we look out the door. This also has an impact on what we hear from and see on the campaign trail from the candidates.

Another saying is you cannot have your own facts, but the fact is the facts are even colored by our perception which is also colored by our color or race.

Because of our perspectives being different, do our perspectives end up being self-fulfilling prophecies?

From the Cornfield, whites believe we are well on our way to that color blind society where people are accepted as people without a regard to race. Blacks believe the mountain is still far off in the distance.

Can the two perceptions ever meet and become a reality for all?

Or will we continue to struggle day by day in either ignorant bliss or fearful existence?

Read more about the Pew study: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/08/15/social-media-conversations-about-race/

Principles I Carry Over into 2016

cornfieldlogoAs we enter into this New Year of 2016, many make resolutions to change some facet of life or to promise to do this or that.

What we should never do, however, is resolve to change our core principles for the sake of change and without rhyme or reason.

For me, as I have stated for the past several years in various reports, there are certain principles which I have maintained and have consistently stood on and behind. That has not changed as we have left 2015 to history and entered the “brave new world” yet explored called, “2016”.

There are those who say that a moderate independent is a fence straddler or wishy washy, without root. I would beg to differ. I once more reaffirm the principles upon which my political philosophy is based and has been steadfast.

I may be open to discussion, open to modifications and even at times change in where I stand as new information is revealed, but I am firm on who I am and where I stand.

The Cornfield Political Platform

1. Size of Federal GovernmentI am for a leaner, streamlined federal government with more power and authority vested in local and state governments.

2. TaxesThe tax code needs simplified. Close tax loopholes and get rid of deductions. I am not opposed to a flat tax, a value added tax or national sales tax.

3. Government SpendingI believe in spending what you have. Only in rare emergencies should government borrow to pay bills. Unnecessary or redundant government programs, agencies, bureaus, departments should be eliminated to cut the cost of government spending on all levels: local, state and federal.

4. Government RevenueWhen necessary to keep vital programs, agencies, bureaus and departments operating, an increase in revenue (taxes) may be necessary, but should be rare, not the norm. Pledges to never raise taxes should be eliminated. It is at times necessary to pass limited taxation adjustment upward.

5. Safety NetsShould be there only for the elderly, the infirm and disabled. Most other assistance to others can be provided traditionally on the local level through families, communities, churches, charities and local and state government as needed.

6. Social SecurityNeeds revamped and overhauled for the future. Current recipients should have option of current program or a new overhauled program. Social Security Trust Funds should be off limits to Congress with hefty fines on individual members of Congress who attempt to “borrow” from the SSTF.

7. MedicareNeeds revamped and overhauled for the future. Perhaps an individual medical savings account is the route to go. Current recipients should have the option of the current program or the new system.

8. MedicaidThis should go directly back to the states and implemented as outlined in #5.

9. Supplemental Security IncomeShould be given back to the states to administer in a manner as outlined in #5.

10. Military/DefenseWe must ensure that we have the best equipped, best trained military in the world. We must be sure we stay ahead of the world in defense weapons and technology including cyber security. We do need to assess our commitments and global locations. Closing those bases that are not necessary, consolidating our forces and bases where feasible.

11. EducationBelongs on the local level. Local school boards should have more say over the curriculum and evaluation. Bad teachers should be weeded out without regard to tenure. Parents must become more involved. No federal oversight, only state and local administration.

12. Laws and RegulationsA complete study and analysis of all federal laws. Get redundant, outdated, overly cumbersome laws and regulations off the books. We must make sure our laws are concise and fair.

13. Environment and EnergyWe must become independent for our energy needs. We must explore all avenues. We must approach new technologies with common sense. We must ensure we do the best for the enviroment, but measured and with common sense without being overly burdensome. We will move from fossil fuels to newer, greener energy once that technology is developed and affordable. We must weigh the needs of jobs and the economy against rules and regulations put in place which would place an undue hardship on families and individuals.

14. EqualityWe must ensure that all our citizens are treated equally under the law. No one class or group of individuals or couples should be granted any rights and benefits not afforded to every other group of individuals and couples.

15. ImmigrationWe must stop the fear mongering and address the issue with common sense. Mass deportation will not work. Children who have grown up in the US all or the majority of their lives and who are here, not of their own free will, should be afforded a path to residence, but not citizenship, by serving in the military or upon completion of college giving back to the community in such areas as medicine, research and development. Immigration laws need enforced and streamlined and overhauled with quotas reassessed every 5 years.

16. The National DebtAs I stated, government should spend only what it brings in through taxation and fees. To pay down our unsustainable national debt, 10% of revenue should be used explicitly to cut the debt balance. Government will have to live with the 90% left to meet its expenditures, making cuts to stay within that amount. This 10% should be used until the national debt is liquidated. Once liquidated, the 10% should be set aside and build a surplus in the event of an emergency to prevent the need for borrowing in the future. If God and religious organizations can make it on 10%, the government can do without 10% to address the national debt and buld an emergency fund for the future.

17. Jobs and LaborThe federal government needs to get out of the way and let the market work. Except for ensuring workers are not abused and safety concerns are dealt with, government should be in the position of enhancing an environment that is conducive to job creation – not an impediment to work and business expansion.

18. Unemployment InsuranceThis should be returned to the states with full authority. Benefits should be limited to encourage individuals to actively seek work. Training classes and assistance in finding work should be provided and required. All of this should be managed and administered at the local/state level.

19. Food AssistanceThis again should be a state/local activity and not a way of life. This can be done successfully as was done traditionally as outlined in #5.

20. Financial and BankingThe federal government should ensure that proper oversight is in place to prevent those in the financial markets or banks from predatory practices. Banks or other financial institutions which run into trouble should be allowed to fail and let the market make corrections, while ensuring that customers are protected against loss. Regulators, inspectors and members of the Federal Reserve Boards should not be past or current employees of financial institutions or banks. Regulators, Federal Reserve Board members and inspectors must be completely independent of the industry.

21. AbortionAbortion should not be banned in its entirety. There should be exemptions for rape, incest and medical necessity (the life of the mother or viability of the unborn).

22. Campaign FinancesCampaign financing reform is drastically needed. All political campaigns should be funded on all levels (local, state, nationally) by the people through a fund set-up specifically for that purpose, placing all campaigns on equal footing with equal funding based on type of campaign (local, state, national). No funding of political ads by any other entity or individuals should be allowed and only publically-financed ads should be allowed. This will take Congress having the guts to cut off any and all outside influences.

23. The US of A in the WorldAmerica must accept and understand its position of leadership in the world along with its responsibility as being a beacon of freedom. However, the US of A must not become entangled in every outbreak or unrest that occurs. We must choose our battles carefully. When our government (the Executive and Legislative Branches acting in unison) does choose to intervene, we must ensure that our military forces are not hampered by politics or changing public mood. Rather when our military forces are unleashed it must be with one objective – to win and then withdraw from the battlefield. The US of A must not be in the business of nation building and must eschew the path of “winning the hearts and minds” of the enemy. The enemy is the enemy.

24. Voter ID LawsVoter photo identification seems logical and practical from where I sit in the Cornfield. We have had the law requiring a photo ID in the Hoosier State since 2005 with no disruption nor suppression of the vote. From my perspective, all the talk about voter fraud and voter suppression is all hooey. The practicality of having a photo ID to vote, to me, is that in order to receive government benefits, to purchase alcohol or cigarettes, to pick up prescriptions, to cash a check and the list goes on, a photo ID is required. Doesn’t it just make common sense if an ID is required for these things an ID would be appropriate before casting a vote? Think about it, you even have to have identification to have a job. Isn’t the most important function in our free society choosing our elected officials? So why not provide a photo ID, which under Supreme Court rulings must be free of charge?

That’s just a bit of The Cornfield Political Platform. It is not all inclusive nor does it address all issues. It is just a sampling of where I stand politically on the issues.

From the Cornfield, I stand flat-footed, my feet planted by the water. I may sway with the storms of life, but I will not be deterred by those who attempt to demagogue or cast aspersions on those who may think differently.

We are Americans.

Part of our legacy is our independence and liberty, not just from a foreign power, but free to think, reason and live with the least amount of interference and influence of government and special interest groups. It is our freedom to be ourselves, individuals united as one, which is our strength.

Our national motto says it best: “Out of many, one” – E pluribus unum.

Debate Take-Aways

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Human nature is such that each of us hears what we want to hear and see what we want to see in most situations. This is definitely true when it comes to the realm of politics and political debates. Often our mindset and preconceived notions determine what we perceive.

Last night’s two Republican debates among the 13 candidates for president who participated is a case in point. For supporters of each of the wannabes, they were not disappointed in their candidates’ performance.

For the undecided, each of us heard and saw different things which stood out the most.

There were one-liners and sound bytes galore to choose from in each of the two debates. But it is not the one-liners which stood out the most for me.

For me, my take-aways from both events were: 

1. Americans are scared

2. The would-be commander-in-chiefs are not sure what to do to calm Americans fears

3. There will be no 3rd party runs

4. Time to cut and run

More than angry, Americans and the candidates are afraid of what shoe will drop next.

Which city, community will be targeted next by radicals?

How do we stop it or can we?

We have suggestions of carpet bombing, negotiations, walls, deportation, banning a religion, troops on the ground with disagreement on how to do any of these things.

Do we disregard the Constitution and personal liberty for the sake of security?

The candidates primarily played to Americans’ fears rather than a call to their more noble natures.

Whether the war on terror, immigration, refugees, the siren call was to strike first rather than being hit at home. Yet our greatest danger appears to be from within more than from without.

It did appear evident to me that the follow candidates need to suspend their candidacies. Now is not their time. Time to leave:

1. George Pataki 

2. Mike Huckabee

3. Rick Santorum

4. Rand Paul

5. John Kasich

6. Carly Fiorina 

Jim Gilmore, who has been absent from the debates, should have already said, “bye-bye“.

If no good placement in Iowa and New Hampshire in February then these should be cut:

1. Jeb Bush

2. Lindsey Graham

3. Ben Carson

4. Chris Christie

Going forward after the two early states would have three contenders:

1. Donald Trump

2. Ted Cruz

3. Marco Rubio

This is crunch time. It is time to assess and re-evaluate.

While Graham is having no traction in the polls, he continues to best the field in debate performances. Trouble is – no one is listening.

Jeb came alive – finally.

Trump showed humility.

The young bulls – Cruz and Rubio – are the most likely to be on the stage for years to come.

Christie is mounting a come-back.

Rand is Rand, but he is not his father.

Carly is banking too much on her gender.

The doctor is not so good with an audience though great with house calls.

Kasich is from yesterday.

Pataki – who?

Huckabee and Santorum are yesterday’s news.

From the Cornfield, that’s the way it looked as I peered through the corn stalks last night.

Next up on Friday night, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have their snooze fest.

Campaigning Versus Reality – Rhetoric Can Be Dangerous

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

Most Americans realize that candidates, no matter the office, will say anything to get elected to office. This is very evident with the 2016 presidential campaign – especially with Donald Trump.

Trump’s most outrageous statement to-date is calling for a total, but temporary, ban on allowing any Muslim to enter the US of A – which would be patently unconstitutional. But reaction from his supporters is, “Do it!”

Trump is tapping into the phobia – irrational fear – of anyone who happens to be followers of the Islamic faith. It is not unheard tactic in US politics.

George Wallace, in this third party bid in 1968, used it. He garnered 13.53% of the national vote and won five Southern states giving him 45 electoral votes.

But – he lost the general election.

Trump and his supporters should take note.

The rhetoric on the campaign trail can be harsh, can be borderline insanity, but can also cause rifts and scars on the American psyche. The words spoken can pierce to the marrow of the American spirit.

Most Americans surely know by now also that what candidates say and pledge when faced with the reality of governing usually come to naught.

Take for example President Barack Obama, then Senator, vowing to close the military prison at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba. With a year left to be President, Obama has finally admitted Gitmo will not be closed on his watch, if ever.

What one promises on the campaign trail and what one is able to do once in the job often become empty words spoken in the heat of the race.

Should Trump emerge as the Republican nominee to run for President in 2016, if history is an indicator, the GOP will hand the keys to the White House to the Democrats in an unprecedented outcome.

Should Trump defy history and be elected, he will learn quickly as did Obama, that being President and running for President are worlds apart.

From the Cornfield, while I strongly denounce much of what Trump has said, I also know that the institution of the Presidency will and can survive even a Donald Trump. It has survived and will survive a Barack Obama.

Wake Up Republican Base

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

As each day passes in the current race for the White House, I find myself shaking my head over and over again. Some of the statements from the wannabes border on the insane.

This is especially true when it comes to Donald Trump. Back in the summer I opined: The Trump Effect Or How to Lose an Election.

That article seems to be more relevant and more on target today than it did back on July 12th. But, I don’t blame Trump for being Trump. I blame the base of voters who determine who will be the GOP nominee for president. No matter how outrageous Trump’s statements, he stays at the top of the polls.

When are the Republican hardliners going to wake up and realize that while it may sound great to hear someone who is so politically incorrect, it will not result in a win on November 8, 2016.

If a candidate cannot win, why keep backing him?

The purpose of an election is to win – not be an also-ran. The strong talk, the ego, the never backing down, the never saying, “sorry”, will not play in Peoria.

It is sort of like a guilty pleasure, instant gratification or eating certain foods. For a moment it feels or tastes so good. Then a short time later, you are left with an empty feeling.

How are GOP primary and caucus voters going to feel if they continue down this ludicrous path of not holding Trump accountable when they wake on November 9 to find Hillary Clinton picking out drapes for the Oval Office?

From the Cornfield, I do not understand why people are throwing reason and logic out the window in a rebellion against political correctness run amok.

Whatever happened to plain old manners?

Yes, too many of our society in the US of A are overly sensitive and need to grow up. But the current path is a path to nowhere.

The Day the World Stopped – 11/22/63

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

It was a mild, sunny Friday afternoon in the Cornfield. As usual on a school day, I was sitting in Mrs. Smith’s 4th grade class. Thoughts of the upcoming weekend filled my mind with revelry.

The daydream, as Mrs. Smith droned on about Indiana history, came to an abrupt halt when the principal’s trembling voice came out of the wooden box mounted in the top center of the wall behind the teacher’s desk.

The halting voice, filled with sorrow, announced that our beloved President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had been struck down by an assassin’s bullet and was dead. Mrs. Smith’s eyes began to tear. Shock was on her face.

The class seemed transfixed as if turned to stone by Medusa’s stare. One by one, starting with the girls in the class, weeping and crying took over.

The girl sitting next to me (I think her name was Sally) was bawling her eyes out. My 8-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend why Sally was crying. I began to laugh at her and make fun of her, not understanding what the principal’s words meant. Mrs. Smith came over to chide me and explain in terms my immature mind could comprehend what had happened.

As she spoke, my laughter turned to tears as well.

My mind went back in time to that dark night in the parsonage in Anderson, Indiana where my Dad was pastoring, watching the black-and-white television and listening as President Kennedy demanded the Russians to remove the missiles from Cuba or risk all out war. I recalled the Russian leader, Nikita Kruschev, taking his shoe off and pounding it on the table at the United Nations threatening to bury the United States in the ashes.

The man who had stood up to the red threat and made the Ruskies back down was dead. The King of Camelot was dead. His queen, Jackie, and the young princess and prince, Caroline and John-John, were left without a husband or father.

None of us rushed out of school, frolicking in the fall sunshine as we normally would with the weekend beckoning. With slow steps we made our way home.

Life was not the same. Childhood was not the same.

The world stopped at 12:30 (CT) that afternoon in Dallas, Texas.

Over the next few days, not only did Americans mourn, but the peoples of the Earth lamented the loss of the Leader of the Free World. Even our enemies, the Russians and Chinese, expressed condolences and disbelief that JFK was gone.

A few days later on live television, I watched in horror as Jack Ruby, gun drawn, walked up to Lee Harvey Oswald, the President’s assassin, and shot him dead. The police officers surrounding Oswald seemed to not see or did not care that the two-bit hoodlum Ruby had a gun out, pointed and walking quickly up to Oswald.

A half century later and another image that remains etched into my mind is that of a 4-year-old John-John in a short-pants suit standing smartly on Pennsylvania Avenue saluting as the horse-drawn wagon bearing his father’s casket came down the street, surrounded by a weeping throng. The young prince was the picture of strength in time of trouble and hope in an hour of despair.

The fabric of the World was torn that day. Life was changed for an entire generation. The end of an era had come to a sudden and deadly halt.

Conspiracy theories continue.

The question of “What if?” still dominates the conversation when anyone pauses to remember that fateful November day.

From the Cornfield, that day is as real today as it was a life time ago.

‘Ask Not…’

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

As the 52th anniversary of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s death at the hands of an assassin in Dallas, Texas on November 22 approaches, across the Cornfield and across the nation, many people are remembering the years of Camelot, when a young, charismatic politician stole the hearts of Americans.

At the time, though many throughout the nation still were at odds with the President on policy issues, he had managed to capture the people’s hearts as had his wife, Jackie, and children, Caroline and John-John. Speeches would denounce his politics and yes, even his religion, but would in the next breath extol what a determined, caring man and war hero JFK was.

A phrase which has become synonymous with the Kennedy years and the course of a nation was his appeal during his inaugural address on January 20, 1961: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

Today that concept, that idea, seems to be alien to many Americans and especially lost on most of our national elected officials.

The concept and its origin is steeped in debate. Some arguing it goes back a thousand years or more to Plato or Juvenal. Others cite President Warren G. Harding who made a similar statement to the Republican National Convention decades before. Others cite JFK’s former school headmaster.

No matter the origin, the sentiment of the line is rooted in a belief shared since the foundation of this great nation – the idea of individual responsibility, individual fortitude, individual enterprise and individual ingenuity to build and sustain a nation unlike any other before it.

Ronald Reagan voiced a similar sentiment with his quip that government is the problem and not the answer. Kennedy recognized this. Kennedy knew government was only as effective as the people and what the people were willing to do for themselves and for country.

While JFK in his “New Frontier” speech to the 1960 Democratic National Convention made known his desire to expand on the more social platform instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he also was a pragmatist who understood the need for the individual doing his or her part and not relying solely on taking from or asking for government to provide the solutions and answers.

That concept, that sentiment, appears so lost in the political climate of today. It is lost not just with the Democratic Party of which JFK is a legacy, but also with Republicans who are far afield of either Abraham Lincoln or Reagan.

From the Cornfield, as we remember Kennedy, let us once more look inward and say with him, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

And let it begin in the halls of Congress and in the White House.