You may have enjoyed these memories, but you may be wondering why I am sharing these stars from 1976 with you. To explain, a friend, who knows my interest in history, discovered a Wichita Eagle & Beacon newspaper following his father's death, kept for all these years. After looking through the old newspaper, he passed it along to my husband and me. I used the three personalities from the 1976 era to help transport you back in time before quoting a segment from the front page of the newspaper our friend shared.
The Wichita Eagle and Beacon, Sunday, July 4, 1976, a Commentary by Davis Merritt Jr., Executive Editor:
"We have been working at it for 200 years now, this nation, and after another 200 it still won't be perfect. We've been through war (and victory), depression (and recovery), despair (and vaulting optimism). We'll do it all over again as many times as it takes.
And it will take forever, if we are successful. For self-government is not an arriving at a constant. ...
For 200 years now, we have managed to keep our national course running between the unchanging and deadly rock cliffs of oppression and the open, uncontrolled sea of anarchy. We have done it arguing all the while over just where we were in that perilous strait. Our national mood at this moment of 200th anniversary, for instance, is clearly not one of confidence that we are in command. ..."
Near the conclusion of his Commentary, Mr. Merritt reminded his readers to consider the achievements of America. "And look where we have come since then, arguing all the while. ..."
I began the blog with personalities that may have recalled happy memories, but 1976 was not all pretty pin ups, gold medals, nor love songs. Editor Merritt pointed out that never in our national history have we managed to reach perfection. Are you curious about what was happening the year of 1976 when we celebrated our Bicentennial?
There was a gale that caused 82 deaths and cost the U.S. $1.3 billion in damages. A Swine Flu outbreak began at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The Teton Dam in Idaho collapsed. The "Son of Sam" began his murderous rampage. The yearly inflation rate was 5.75%. And in Viet Nam, where so many American soldiers had given their lives and bodies, South Vietnam fell and North Vietnam declared their union to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
In contrast, Apple Inc. was formed by Steve Jobs, Concord service began between London and Washington, D.C., and America's 'Viking 2' spacecraft landed on Mars, as America celebrated its 200th Birthday year.
Today, nearly 45 years since David Merritt Jr. wrote his newspaper Commentary, we continue to keep our nation "between the unchanging and deadly rock cliffs of oppression and the open, uncontrolled sea of anarchy" he described, but it isn't always easy. As he warned, the genius of the American system depends on each of us to "have the patience and courage to steer that difficult course, rather than surrender to the rocks or the open sea." As Thanksgiving of 2021 passed, perhaps some of us reflected on the troubled times of Covid, school shootings, and political strife and found thankfulness difficult. Perhaps it will help us keep some perspective to reflect on what America faced in the year of our Bicentennial Yet, as Mr. Meritt reminded us, no one guaranteed that preserving a democracy is easy. The challenges of freedom may be the very thing for which we should be thankful.