Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looking Back

I'm taking a Bible study course with a small group of ladies. We're studying the Book of Daniel. There's quite a bit of homework so I'm glad we're meeting every three weeks instead of weekly. Since civil leaders play a role in shaping culture today just as they did in Babylon in Daniel's time, the workbook suggests that we list the presidents who have served during our lifetime and write a brief statement describing how culture has changed in our lifetime. The workbook allows three lines for this statement.

You know you're getting old when you have to put a lot of thought into listing all the presidents you remember. I listed most of them without help. But there were two or three gaps that I couldn't fill and had to resort to Google for help. Here's the list:

Harry Truman (1945-53) Since I was born in 1946, I don't remember much about Mr. Truman, but I do remember my parents discussing him from time to time. When you're an only child, you hang around the adults a lot.

Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61) We got our first television when I was seven years old. I remember that we watched the convention where Eisenhower was nominated for president. The big thing I remember is that mother said when he was nominated that she was as afraid of Eisenhower in the White House as she would have been of Truman on the battlefield. She didn't change her mind when Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to force the local citizens to integrate their schools. There were racial injustices that needed to be corrected, but sending federal troops to oppose citizens of a sovereign state was a shocking thing.

John F. Kennedy (1961-63) I was sitting in Latin class in high school when the principal came on the intercom and announced that Kennedy had been assassinated. Two or three students cheered and got a lecture from the teacher which they richly deserved. Our household didn't support Kennedy, but it was frightening to think that our president had been murdered.

Lyndon Johnson (1963-69) He changed the course of our nation with his "Great Society." I wish presidents weren't so worried about their legacies. Sometimes I think they get up in the morning thinking, "I must come up with an idea that will be my legacy - even if it's a bad idea."

Richard Nixon (1969-74) In spite of Nixon's many shortcomings, I remember feeling compassion for him when he gave his farewell speech, ending his presidency in disgrace.

Gerald Ford (1974-77) I'll swear I don't remember much about Gerald Ford's presidency. Wonder why? I was busy raising kids, that's why!

Jimmy Carter (1977-81) He should have been a preacher, not a president.

Ronald Reagan (1981-89) I can't say enough good about Ronald Reagan. He entertained me in great movies when I was a kid, and he made me proud to be an American when he was president. It seemed like we barely survived Carter's lackluster presidency, and when Reagan took office, I had the feeling that we had a captain at the helm. And I wasn't disappointed. I was folding clothes when Reagan walked out on Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland. I was putting shellac on the laundry room door when he was shot. Some things you just don't forget.

George H. W. Bush (1989-93) George H. W. made me nervous with his talk about "a new world order."

William J. Clinton (1993-2001) If nothing else, his was a titillating presidency. When he questioned the meaning of the word "is" during his impeachment hearings, I thought the world had gone mad. And I'm not sure I was wrong. To think that the most powerful leader on the face of the planet would question the meaning of "is"!

George W. Bush (2001 - ) The jury is still out on G.W. God knows he's not perfect, but I think history may be kinder to him than a lot of people think.

Well, that's the list. As for a brief statement about how culture has changed in my lifetime - that will take a lot more than three lines!

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