My August article, Requiem for Gus Mayer, drew more comments and support than any article I have written. I received heartfelt stories of others losing their best friends. Some wanted to know more about Gus Mayer and our relationship. One reader made a gracious offer to replace Gus Mayer with a registered beagle puppy from a coming litter. There were stories of relationships with pet-friends. I also heard a number of people express that the connection with their dog was one of the few things they could count on in such an uncertain world, full of dissension and trouble.
Five months later, I still miss Gus Mayer. I still expect him to meet me at the door. He will never be replaced and will always have a special place in my heart. But I have to move forward and will have a new yellow Labrador in mid-November. I look forward to having a new friend.
I understand most people would rather read personal stories about dogs than articles on global warming or political issues, but you need to know of things that could affect your electric bill or electric reliability.
I look forward to relating some stories about my new friend in the future. But as I write this article on Sunday, Sept. 11, my mind turns to that day 15 years ago when the world changed.
Everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001. The day’s events changed our lives, our country, our outlook and confidence in our future. They pulled us together as a country and as a people against those who attacked us.
As I watch the Sunday morning news (not Fox News, either) I wonder what happened to that unity, that togetherness, that focus against those who harmed us. What has turned us as a nation against each other since then?
I grew up in the 1960’s and remember the social divisions and prejudices that defined life in Mississippi. I remember the violence that was too common. I remember school integration. I remember playing high school sports with black kids for the first time and trusting them as teammates. I remember the peaceful voice of the civil rights movement, and I saw the progress.
This morning the news stories contain reports of NFL players protesting the country’s national anthem because they do not agree with social issues in the country. Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, said about his protest, ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.’
However, he didn’t acknowledge his support for a country that provides the opportunity for a backup quarterback to make $15.8 million this year to play a game. There are injustices in the world, and they affect people of different races in different ways. Yes, he has contributed a portion of his salary to support social issues, but he is still more interested in pointing out things that divide people than those that bring us together.
I support Kaepernick’s right of free speech, and if he decides to protest our national anthem, it is fine with me. If we start drawing lines of what can be said and the messages people can send, none of us will like the placement of the lines. It is the basis of the freedoms our country was founded on.
Our two presidential candidates are also in the news this morning. They are very involved in driving people farther apart. Hillary Clinton said, ‘I place half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.’ She criticizes the fundamental rights of those people to express their right of free speech by supporting Donald Trump. He, on the other hand, criticizes everyone who has a different opinion or heritage than his. He would deny those people their fundamental rights.
What happened to the national unity and patriotism that was so strong after 9/11? What is needed to regain that unity? We apparently can’t count on politicians to get it done. Just like I can’t stand to lose another dog to have an article everyone appreciates, we can’t stand another 9/11 to bring people together.
I hope you have a good month.