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From the colors of autumn to freedom of expression, we are indeed blessed

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Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2007 10:00 pm

For all the rightful worry about rain, we have been treated to a gloriously long-lasting fall. One morning, there was a glorious pink sunrise that set off a morning song of color in three trees. One was a light orange pink, the violin of the crowd. The second was a deeper tone, the cello. The third, largest tree was a deep lively wine color, like a convivial group of string basses. This last tree was a whole orchestra of color in itself for weeks - green, yellow, orange and scarlet. Now the leaves and the songs have gone on, but they will be long remembered.

Although this column is appearing in early December, it is really the November column, and November was memorable for Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. (Notice - there is no apostrophe in Veterans; too many people write it as Veteran's, when it should be Veterans', so its easier just to leave the apostrophe out of such possessives. The same goes for Secretaries Week, etc.)

We have many veterans of several wars, and we are, and will be, getting a lot more. I was appalled to learn how many homeless vets there are; of all people, they should be cared for. They should not continue paying a price for the rest of us who have not had to fight in a world of danger, fear and pain. It would be nice if there were no wars, but, humankind being what it is, there is always someone on an ego trip somewhere who stirs other egos up - and there you have it. Right now, there is a disease of antagonism in the world, spreading like a virulent case of measles - but a lot more dangerous.

Unfortunately, warmongers have to be severely spoken to in their own language, and taken out to the woodshed and whupped. But, somewhere, the lesson isn't learned, and a new upstart begins the whole process again.

Nowhere was the devastation of war more obvious than in Ken Burns' documentary, "The War." I would make that film required viewing for every high school senior class for two reasons: one, to show the utter waste and destruction that can result from just one man's mad ambition, and two, to show how this country pulled together in a way that the current generation seems to have no idea about. They got a glimpse of it right after 9/11, but patriotism seems to have been lost in a welter of preoccupation with self-gratification. Some people don't even want to bother pledging allegiance to the flag, or standing in respect while others do so. Shame on them; the flag is the symbol of our country, and there have been a lot people in a lot of places who would have given anything to see that flag flying. Those people are still out there, too.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving, no longer celebrated for much more than a big meal. Thank goodness, it also means a time for family to be together in most cases and for the acts of many unselfish people who devote themselves to caring for those who otherwise would not eat. But the day after - I cannot help but contrast the long lines waiting to buy more readily available things with the long lines in other places where people are waiting for a day's food airlifted from somewhere else. We are fortunate, indeed.

We all need to be thankful for this country; we here are better off than just about any other people in the world, generally speaking, and we all need to recognize that fact and do what we can to preserve it. No, the United States is not perfect because humans are not perfect, but we should believe in our country and in each other and act for the best.

Many people are doing just that, and God bless them. Unfortunately, they are usually quieter than those who denigrate anybody and any idea that they don't agree with, and these latter types always seem to make the news. Unfortunately, negative reporting seems to be a trend in the major media; in a sense, they are reporting what goes on in the world, but they are putting editorial spin on what should be impartial reporting of facts. Lately, there are signs that this kind of thing is being amended, and a more positive approach is taking place here and there.

We read about countries where people don't dare speak their minds about anything - or even name Teddy bears - for fear of severe reprisal. Ever consider just how restricting political correctness can be?

Gwin Mitchell Paden has been a Lodi resident since 1957.

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