I love the song "The Way We Were." The lyrics were written by Bergman and Bergman, and the music by Marvin Hamlisch. It most famously was performed by Barbra Streisand, winning several awards and topping the charts in 1974.
And so I remember:
"Memories ... Light the corners of my mind ... Misty watercolor memories ... Of the way we were."
I remember when our children would play outside or on the vacant lot, or walk home from school without the fear of predators who would do them harm. Parents did not fear a deranged gunman would enter schools and kill innocent children and staff. School began with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and, yes, God was not dismissed from school.
"Scattered pictures ... Of the smiles we left behind ... Smiles we gave to one another ... For the way we were."
Our neighbors visited across the fence after they hung their wash out on the lines to dry.
They would share stories of how their children were doing in school, how they could read really well, and maybe even got the award for good behavior in school. (I don't think they shared how Johnnie got sent home with the report of sassing the teacher. And that what they got at home was not the statement of "Not my child!" but reinforcement that the teacher was to be respected -- or else! And the "else" was carried out by the parents.) Teachers, parents and all human life was respected and cherished.
"Can it be that it was all so simple then ... Or has time rewritten every line ... If we had the chance to do it all again ... Tell me, would we? Could we?"
Now as I listen to newscasts, I hear opinions and not necessarily the facts. The pundits say, "It is not like Walter Cronkite. He told it like it is." Now it is the crime and encroachment on people's property and the media's sometimes-slanted approach to the world news. Reports of white-collar crime have eroded our trust in economic institutions -- and those who were supposed to serve us betrayed us.
"Memories ... May be beautiful and yet ... What's too painful to remember ... We simply choose to forget."
The right to vote, which was eagerly sought after by African-Americans and by women, now is more frequently forgotten or ignored as evidenced by the poor turnout for elections. The following statement occurs: "Why vote? It does not make a difference." That is not so; it does make a difference.
Have we forgotten it is God who instituted marriage? New definitions of marriage and life are proposed to meet demands and to get votes but this is not for legislators to determine.
"So it's the laughter ... We will remember ... Whenever we remember ... The way we were."
Yes, we laughed together, we talked together -- face-to-face and not just with our electronic toys. I admit they are handy, but remember the TV shows we could enjoy with the whole family, from Grandma to the little children? The content was clean and did not cause us to blush and turn it off. We all were in the same room, not spread about the entire house, each person, including the children, with their own electronic choice to view. How did TV shows get so smutty anyway?
Have the times changed as much as I feel they have? And is there any way we could recapture some of those elements we look back on -- those times we treasure? If so, we had better see about it or one day it might not be possible to even recognize our country with the values that once set us apart as the greatest nation on earth.
What happened to the true spirit of compromise? On Dec. 10, 2010, former President Bill Clinton reminded the American people, "In times of political polarization, compromise represents the best possible solution for most people impacted. This has been the case throughout American history, beginning with the 1787 Constitutional Convention."
In the formation of the United States, when George Washington was asked by the Continental Congress to be the first president of the United States, he modestly apologized for his inadequacies and lack of qualifications.
In fact, one member of that congress thought the convention "was on the verge of dissolution, scarce held together by the strength of a hair."
Washington was so frustrated over the deadlock of that congress he even regretted being involved in the proceedings and called the opponents of a strong central government "narrow-minded politicians." But compromise they did, even though it was with difficulty.
During that time of setting the framework for our country's governance, diverse opinions would have caused the end of that congress except for the compromises that came about with difficulty and grueling work in the historic summer of 1787.
Their work completed, the delegates, weary from weeks of intense pressure, shared a farewell dinner at City Tavern. I am so glad they did not just go home early saying, "They refused to compromise!"
I am reminded of Harry S. Truman who was not particularly highly thought of until it was recognized that he truly served the nation and not himself.
How refreshing to recall his statement which really characterized his service -- "The buck stops here!" -- instead of the statement "It's the fault of Congress," which resounds pitifully as "My way is the only way!"
"If we had the chance to do it all again ... Tell me, would we? Could we?"
We need more than memories, we need to be "One nation under God."
God Bless America. We truly need it.
Ruth Moriarity is a member of The Hays Daily News Generations advisory group.