All lives matter

I have been thinking a lot during my pandemic incarceration. In January of 1961, President Kennedy with Vice-President Johnson, said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

In October of 1961, that very same President sent me a letter asking me to wear a green uniform for 2 years to eradicate socialism. With my new wife and $400 dollars, we drove my 1953 Mercury (100k odometer), to Ft. Hood, Texas. I spent the next 2 years training, eating, commiserating, laughing, with men of every race, color and creed. Even before President Johnson’s Civil Rights Act, we all got along without thinking that one of our lives mattered more or less than the other’s.

Necessity brought us together, but decency and morals created bonds of brotherhood and friendship. The Black Southerner along with the Hispanic Texan, the Asian Californian and the White Midwesterner realized that all lives mattered. Nowadays, Kennedy’s famous slogan might be labeled as white supremacy by certain groups.

I see those sacrificial days in the military as building blocks of a nation that, once again, came together to fight for the right of all human flourishing.

We relied more on common sense rather than higher education, so that kept us grounded in 10 important laws of human flourishing, the Ten Commandments. I think us soldiers understood deep in our souls that the flag was a unifying symbol that was paid with the blood of the selfless heroic and courageous.

After the military, my wife and I came to Waunakee to start my Barber business and raise our children. My shanty Irish family was quickly welcomed into this German stronghold. As Waunakee grew, so did my family. We brought in new family members from socialist countries. They fled from tyrannical governments in pursuit of “life, liberty and happiness.”

Over the years, I learned about barbering and business, keeping an eye on that front window for the next customer. I didn’t learn about politics, mostly because I didn’t care to. I did have an education in humanity, 60 years of cutting hair, one person at a time. From that experience, I can conclude that Americans, with a well-formed conscience, agree that all lives, from conception to natural death, matter, and that we should kneel only to Almighty God and stand before our flag.

Bernard Cleary

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