Readers Say, “Get Your Shots”

I am always pleased to hear from readers–even those who disagree with me.  But lately, every one I hear from is just like I am–dismayed that people have resisted getting vaccinated against covid-19.  Many are old enough to recall when polio swept the countryside.

Richard Davis of north Alabama recalls,  “I had polio in the fall of ’48 and spent 18 months in Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Left shoulder and arm severely limited. In the fall of ’54-55 school year the Salk polio became available. I was the first child in Marion Co to get the vaccine and was the poster child for polio vaccines. NO BODY turned down the shot whether old or young. What is the mental condition of all these people?”

Dr.  Brytney Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, answers this question in an excellent article on AL.com.

They tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

How does one stoop so low as to try and convince fellow citizens that a life or death situation is just a “hoax” or only “political?”  How can you be so self-centered that your own well-being supersedes anyone else’s?

No doubt the people who do this consider that they should be at the head of the line of so-called “patriots.”  I strongly disagree with that.

 

 

 

How Did A Health Pandemic Become A Political Pandemic?

In the spring of 2020, when Americans realized the severity of Coronavirus, we did what we have always done.  We went into action.  Overworked health care workers were genuinely saluted as heroes. ladies all over the country pulled out sewing machines and began hand-crafting face masks, ordinary citizens lined up to volunteer any way they could.

As we watched numbers of infections and deaths soar, we stayed at home, wore our masks and prayed.

It was the country at its finest.  When one is in danger, we are all in danger and we rallied to the cause, in whatever small way we could.  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER in my wildest notion did I think that those more interested in making political points and boosting their own egos would soon convolute this tragedy into some very warped political statement.

Almost overnight we had political opportunists show their true colors.  To hell with this country, let’s twist facts, attack scientists and put quacks with far-fetched treatments on TV to spread their propaganda.  So some people might die, who cared?

We went from a country that deeply cares about ALL its citizens to one that thrives on mis-information, dissent and deceit.. To one where a speaker in Dallas last weekend was roundly cheered when he bragged about how many American HAVE NOT been vaccinated.

Sadly these people love to boast about how American they are.  How every drop of their blood is devoted to being a true patriot.

It is all a myth.  These people are not patriots, they are simply sick.  Too bad we don’t have a vaccine for that..

My retired teacher friend Bea Ishler writes from Mobile.  Like me, she can not understand today’s foolishness about vaccines

“As someone who had friends with polio and who remembers being in a dark room when I had measles, I too know about the efficacy of vaccines.  I don’t understand why people are now putting them down.

As to public health workers going door to door, when I was a child in the 50s some neighborhood children came down with whooping cough.  Health workers were in our neighborhood going door to door checking who had been vaccinated for whooping cough.  Mother had a yellow vaccine book which had our small pox vaccine, and any other vaccines he had. noted.
Guess that was our vaccine passport.  Anybody who hadn’t been vaccinated was either vaccinated then or quarantined for two weeks.”

Like me, Bea also remembers when we were truly neighbors, not just members of blue and red tribes.

Fox News Has No Shame, No Soul, No Scruples

Lord have mercy on those misguided souls who honestly believe there is value in watching Fox News.  There is none since the truth is the farthest thing from their mind.

The Fox business mantra is obviously, “there is a suckier born every minute”  who will believe anything we tell them–the more outlandish, the better.  So they fill the screen with a collection of air-heads, some of whom may actually think they are journalists and act offended when another network calls their bluff..

A year ago the country was making great progress on containing coronavirus through the development of vaccines.  President Trump was busy patting himself on the back for his Warp Speed vaccine program.  All we had to do was get as many people vaccinated as quickly s possible.

Not an easy task at best, but doable.

Then the “naysayers” showed up.  Many of them seeking their own 15 seconds of fame by telling us why vaccines won’t work.  And since these are the kind of folks Fox like to put front and center, the stage was set.

This burst into the open a few days ago when “personalities” Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade squared off on the air.  Doocy reminded the audience that 99 percent of covid infections right now are occurring in people who have not been vaccinated.  Unbelievably, Kilmeade replied that not getting a vaccine is a personal choice and that the government has no role in protecting the population

How can you be this stupid?  For goodness sakes would someone immediately pull his driver’s license because he doesn’t think someone in a car should obey a speed limit and it’s OK for him to go 70 miles per hour in a school zone.

What about the hundreds of first responders who rushed to the crushed condo in Florida the other day?  By Kilmeade’s logic they should have been walking on the beach and not looking for survivors.

Fox has been the most vocal of the “anti-vaxers” on the air waves.  This is especially true of Tucker Carlson.  But magically, earlier this week other Fox voices, such as Sean Hannity, begin telling viewers to get the vaccine.  And we now know that Fox News has a strict covid-19 protocol that requires employees to show proof of vaccination.

No Shame.  No Soul.  No Scruples.

That sums up Fox News.

 

 

Tucker Carlson Has Never Been To Bushfield Cemetery

While Bushfield Cemetery is in Covington County, it lies hard against the Butler County line about three miles southeast of McKenzie. It’s been the final resting place for settlers for more than 150 years,. All four of my grandparents are there.  Grandpa Lee’s daddy, Janes Kenyard Lee is there. His daddy, James Madison Lee is not there because he marched off to Vicksburg in the Civil War and never made it home.

I’ve been there many times, some times to attend a grave side service, often just to wander and look.  As long as I can remember, I have always marveled at the scores of infant graves I see.  One being daddy’s only sister.

They are a sober reminder that childhood was once a treacherous time for children, especially during the Great Depression when poverty, lack of sanitation and lack of medical care was a fertile ground for yellow fever, malaria, hookworm and pellagra  Then thanks in large measure to programs begun by the federal government during the New Deal, childhood became safer.  In fact, the four diseases just mentioned were largely under control by 1950.

With this point of reference, it is STUNNING to me that there are now people working tirelessly to belittle efforts in this country of public health workers to encourage citizens to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

I place Fox News media darling Tucker Carson at the top of this list.

Who tries to make a name for themselves by casting stones at scientists and touting misinformation that could have life or death implications for our citizens?

Of course there have been mistakes made by scientists in their work to slow the pandemic.  That is simply the nature of dealing frantically with unknowns.  But that in no way can be construed with being inept, or purposefully giving out erroneous information on purpose.

But to hear Tucker Carlson spew and spray his nightly attacks on the value of a covid vaccine is sickening.

No, he has never been to Bushfield cemetery–not does he have empathy for families whose circumstances once put them in this neighborhood..

We know that vaccines work.  Of all the new cases of covid being found today, 99 percent of them are in patients who were never vaccinated.  And where are the largest percent of such people?  Alabama, unfortunately, leads the entire nation.  Only 22 percent of our 67 counties have reached the 30 percent vaccination threshold.

Which clearly says that Carlson could care less about the good folks of Alabama.  We need vaccinations more than any other state.  But Carlson and his fellow travelers at Fox News have concluded that we are not worthy of getting help.  What a despicable human being.

Editor’s note: Several years ago Carlson made an appearance on Dancing with the Stars.  He was horrible and was soon sent packing.  He could not walk and chew gum at the same time.  Now we know that he knows as much about epidemiology as he does about dancing.

A Truth About Schools Too Many Refuse To Accept

Krista Johnson, who covers education for The Montgomery Advertiser, did a recent story about the funding of schools in the Montgomery County public school system.

She looked at funding for the 2018-2019 school year.  The system includes both magnet nd traditional schools.  None of the magnets qualify for Title 1 Federal funding  because they do not meet the guidelines of at least 40 percent of students considered poverty.

And tucked away in the article was this sentence, “Nixon Elementary–where 83% of students were considered economically disadvantaged–received the largest level of federal funding, at $3,698 per student, compared to $507 per student at Forest Avenue Academic Magnet.”

Later, the article points out that at Forest Avenue, the PTA consistently touts a 100% participation rate among families and teachers.

A few years ago I asked the then principal at Nixon how many PTA members they had.  “One,” was her reply.

BINGO.

I have written article after article on this topic.  About how we too often throw money at classrooms in high-poverty schools and expect teachers to solve all their problems  I have said over and over that we don’t have “falling” schools, instead, we have “failing school communities.”

I even did an article about E. D. Nixon after it was picked for a pilot community school effort in Montgomery.

Unfortunately, Mike Sentance was picked to be the state school superintendent in 2016, he soon declared that the state would assume control of the Montgomery County system and the Nixon pilot program would be halted.  (Thank goodness it only took about one year for the state school board to figure out what a disaster Sentance was and they parted ways.)

There is no mystery involved in knowing how this all works.  We’ve known it for decades.  They mystery is trying to figure out why we will not do the things we know must be done.

 

 

 

Don’t Look Now, But Here Comes Critical Race Theory.

Since I try to maintain a certain sense of civility on this blog (a standard I sometimes don’t meet) I will not tell your my exact reaction when I saw the AL.com article about the state school board’s discussion about something called Critical Race Theory..

I know little abut CRT other than it’s been around for about 40 years and taught at a graduate level by some universities.  But it appears to be an ideal candidate for a topic that certain political types can quickly escalate into a culture issue largely driven by fear of the unknown.  (Can you say Common Core?)

For instance, House member Chris Pringle of Mobile pre-filed a bill about CRT weeks ago to be introduced in 2022.  However, when a reporter for AL/com asked him what CRT involves, he had no answer.

Joe Windle recently retired as superintendent of the Tallapoosa County school system.  Here was his answer to the above AL.com article about the school. board discussion.

“Not aware of any school systems teaching CRT.  Damn.  Let’s teach kids in public education to read, communicate verbally and in writing and math.  Leave this theory stuff to the colleges and universities.”

All of which circles me back to a recent column by longtime friend and former editorial page editor of The Mobile Press-Register, Frances Coleman.

“I remember when I realized I did not want to be a schoolteacher. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I had signed up to be a teacher’s aide in our small-town public school system.

When I arrived bright and early on the first Monday of the system’s new Head Start program, which would last three hours a day, five days a week, for six weeks — two teachers met me with concerned looks on their faces. There were three sections of 5-year-old pupils, they explained, but only two teachers. The third one had resigned over the weekend.

Which meant that I, an earnest and bright but inexperienced 16-year-old girl, would have to teach the third section. “Don’t worry; we’ll help you,” the two teachers assured me.

And they did help me, and I survived, but still, it was the longest six weeks of my life, in which I learned that: I did not have a knack for controlling large groups of small children, lovable though they might be; I did not have the imagination to keep preschoolers engaged and engrossed for more than two or three minutes at a time; I had zero arts-and-crafts skills; and teaching is a lot harder than it looks.

As best I can tell from the outside looking in, teaching is even harder now than it was many decades ago. One of the reasons, if not the reason, is that politicians won’t let teachers do their jobs without incessantly trying to micromanage their classrooms. Whether it’s pitting evolution against creationism, forbidding the teaching of yoga and sex education, politicizing the federal “Goals 2000” and “Common Core” initiatives or, now, demonizing the so-called Critical Race Theory, state legislatures won’t keep their hands off of our schools.

Their job is to fund public education and to create the appropriate laws to govern it. But too many politicians cannot resist the temptation to embroil schools in the “culture wars” that they love to foment as a way to enrage certain groups of their constituents.

Thus, some legislatures are attempting to tightly control how the history of slavery and race relations in America is taught, and especially how the after-effects of slavery affect our nation to this day. Lest the honest teaching of America’s racial struggles unduly traumatize white children, lawmakers in Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory.

There are many definitions and explanations of CRT. Florida’s legislation defines it as “the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.”

Maybe you agree that racism is embedded in American society. Maybe you believe it’s not. But why on earth would we tell teachers that they can’t even promote the discussion of that fundamental question in their classrooms? Isn’t that what education is for — to teach young people to be critical thinkers, to research and read about and debate important questions and issues, and to formulate thoughtful opinions based on the facts they’ve gleaned? And, especially, to be unafraid of the truth?

I say yes, that is what education is for. And I have a modest proposal: that we allow teachers to teach, unburdened — to the extent that’s possible — by bureaucracy, by politics, by culture wars, by fanatics, and by people who have personal agendas that have little to do with ensuring the success of our public schools.

I learned a lot in that Head Start classroom many years ago, including how to recognize when a little kid needs to go to the bathroom, even though he or she may not realize it; and how it’s possible for a little boy to smuggle his new puppy into the classroom so he can surprise his teenage teacher. (And yes, hilarious pandemonium ensued for several minutes, until his mother could be summoned to retrieve the little pup.)

Most of all, although I did not fully appreciate or understand what I was seeing at the time, I got a closeup look at a couple of dedicated teachers who, in addition to managing their own classrooms, made sure their young aide did not fail herself or her pupils.

God bless the thousands upon thousands of teachers like them, who do their best to nurture and educate America’s children. And for God’s sake, let’s let them do their jobs.”

She hit this nail on the head.

Katie Boyd Britt Shows Her Backbone

At the moment, there are four declared candidates running in the May 2022 Republican primary to replace Senator Richard Shelby.

One is Huntsville congressman Mo Brooks who is known more for his loud mouth than any legislative accomplishments.  He is the epitome of a political “gadfly.”  A shining example of “all hat, no cows.”

Another is Montgomery businesswoman Lynda Blanchard who contributed a LOT of money to Donald Trump in 2016 and was rewarded with the ambassadorship to Slovenia.

Another is Jessica Taylor who ran for congress last year in the wiregrass and failed to make the runoff.

The fourth is Katie Boyd Britt, former CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and former chief of staff for Senator Shelby.

At this point, political handicappers think it will come down to a two-person race between Brooks and Britt.  A recent news release from Donald Trump, who has endorsed Brooks, gives credence to this line of thought.

Even though the election is more than nine months away, Trump has already attacked Britt.  Here is the essence of Trump’s statement according to AL.com:

“Former President Donald Trump today reaffirmed his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Richard Shelby and attacked Shelby’s former chief of staff, Katie Britt.

Trump, in a statement, said Britt, who formerly served as president of the Business Council of Alabama, is “not what Alabama wants” for the Senate.

“She is not in any way qualified and is certainly not what our country needs,” Trump’s statement continued. “For Mitch McConnell to be wasting money on her campaign is absolutely outrageous. Vote for Mo Brooks!”

Responding to Trump’s statement, Britt said: “I don’t need anyone else to fight my battles, and as Alabama’s next U.S. Senator, I won’t be a rubber stamp for anyone. I am proud that over 90% of the $2.24 million we raised in June came from Alabamians, because that’s who I’ll be going to work for and representing every single day.

“What we’re seeing now is a reaction to the incredible momentum that continues to build for our campaign. My opponent (Brooks) is obviously panicked; he’s been in elected office for 40 years, but the people of Alabama are eager for a real conservative choice and someone who’s going to bring change to D.C. My opponent lost statewide in 2006. He lost again statewide in 2017. And he’s going to lose in 2022, because our Alabama First team is on the road to victory.”

Bully for Katie.

It’s high time we elect people in Alabama who stand on their own two feet and put the people of this state first.  As to “what Alabama wants,” I dare say that Kattie Boyd Britt, knows the needs and challenges of this state far better than Donald Trump does.

 

 

Another Candidate For U.S. Senate

The Republican primary to replace Senator Richard Shelby picked up another candidate this past week.  Jessica Taylor, a failed candidate in 2020 for the state’s open Second Congressional District, has decided to join Mo Brooks, Lynda Blanchard and Katie Boyd Britt.

          Go here to see Taylor’s video announcement.

While Taylor may have the best of intentions. her video leaves you screaming, IS THIS THE BEST WE CAN DO?

It is hokey. amateurish and relies on a well-worn message of hate to sow division–not cohesion.   In a nutshell, it is a                       example of once again drawing a line in the sand to appeal to our most base instincts, instead of being uplifting and                         appealing to our better angels.

Taylor obviously wants to be a Trump clone and “drain the swamp.”   But didn’t Trump already do that?  Or maybe I’m                       confusing draining the swamp with the wall at the southern border that Mexico paid for.

She also tells us she will be Vice-President Kamala Harris’  “worst nightmare.”  Which no doubt sent a chill through the V-P’s           spine when she heard it.  Taylor also intends to send the Democratic liberal agenda into outer space which includes $2                     billion. earmarked for Alabama public schools from Covid relief.  I’m sure your local school superintendent will be excited to             know Taylor does not support public education.

When Martha Roby stepped down from Congress recently, Taylor ran for her seat, finishing third in the GOP primary.  At that           time, she said she lived in Prattville.  However, she now says she is a businesswoman in Birmingham

In a time when this country is more divided at any time in decades, candidates like Taylor are the last thing we need.

 

Mo Brooks’ Ever-Changing Jan. 6 Story

Editor’s note: Republican Congressman Mo Brooks from Huntsville desperately wants to replace Senator Richard Shelby in
Washington.  He has had a vary lackluster career as a U.S. Housie member and is known more for his loud mouth than any good works.  The problem for him is that he tells so many lies, he has a hard time keeping trach of them.

Josh Moon, investigative reporter for The Alabama Political Reporter, details below how Brooks has continually changed his tale of what happened on Jan. 6th and his role in it all:

“In a court filing last Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks laid blame, at least partly, on former President Donald Trump for Brooks’ fiery speech at a Jan. 6 rally, at which Brooks told the crowd it was time to “take names and kick ass.” The filing claimed Brooks would not have been speaking at the rally if not for Trump’s invitation and said the content of the speech was cleared by the White House.

That filing came in response to a lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell against Brooks and three others, including Trump, for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in five deaths — including the death of a Capitol Police officer — and saw lawmakers fleeing for their lives as rioters roamed through the House and Senate chambers and rummaged through lawmakers’ offices.

Thanks to his speech, his involvement in the planning of the Trump rally and his insistence on pushing the “Big Lie” claim of massive voting fraud, Brooks has been a central figure in the national outrage over what was one of the ugliest scenes in the history of the country.

Brooks has run from the heat, offering an ever-changing list of excuses and explanations and blaming an odd assortment of people. Here’s how his story has shifted and changed over the past six months.

  • Antifa did it: The day after the Capitol attack, Brooks began pushing the bogus claim that antifa or some other “leftists” were responsible. His claim, which he tweeted, was this: “Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.” Of course, this fiction has been debunked numerous times, including by the FBI and by many of the rioters who were later arrested. Even right-wing media outlets pushed back on the absurd claim and Brooks soon after stopped saying it.
  • That’s right, I said it: Two days after the antifa lie, on Jan. 9, Brooks tried a new tactic — defiance: “I make no apology for doing my absolute best to inspire patriotic Americans to not give up on our country and to fight back against anti-Christian socialists in the 2022 and 2024 elections,” Brooks wrote to AL.com in a text message. The defiance would be short-lived.
  • I was talking about Democrats: During his defiant period, Brooks also landed on another talking point that he leaned on a few times: Claiming that his reference to an “ass” in his “kick ass” rally comments was referring to Democrats. The Democratic Party’s mascot is a donkey. Brooks claimed in the text to AL.com, and later in a lengthy statement rebutting a Democratic censure resolution, that he meant only that he wanted to beat Democrats — “kick ass” — at the polls. This angle would also be short-lived.
  • Proud Boys did it: In an abrupt 180, a month after proclaiming that he was proud to inspire “patriots” to act, Brooks claimed in a C-SPAN interview that the insurrection really wasn’t that bad — “… if you had 20 or 30 al-Qaeda suicidal types in there, it could have been a horrible scene,” he said — and that good MAGAs had been infiltrated by bad MAGAs. Specifically, Brooks said the Proud Boys, Boogaloo Bois and Oath Keepers were involved and that the attack was planned well in advance. He didn’t mention his reported role in planning the rally, but he did admit that antifa played no role.
  • Those fools did it: Later in March, Brooks told AL.com that the attack wasn’t his fault, but was instead “fools” who stormed the Capitol. Gone were the references to antifa and leftists. Brooks was no longer proud and defiant about his speech. In late March, Brooks said the rioters “hurt the Republican Party” and said “those fools” disrupted a debate about the election results. In reality, a group of people angered by repeated lies fed to them by Brooks and others temporarily disrupted the certification of the Electoral College results.
  • My constituents did it: In a court filing responding to Swalwell’s lawsuit, Brooks said his involvement in the Jan. 6 rally and riot was merely his way of best representing his constituents. Brooks claimed in the filing that he was only doing his job and representing “the will of my constituents” when he spread lies about voter fraud and encouraged the Jan. 6 mob to “kick ass” and be ready to fight and shed blood like our founders.
  • Trump did it: In the same court filing, Brooks also blamed the former president for his fiery speech. Brooks said in the court documents that he never would have been at that rally speaking had it not been for an invitation from the Trump White House. He also said that White House officials reviewed the contents of his speech. So, really, it was their fault for asking him to say what they knew he was going to say.”

A Special Fourth Of July

Editor’s note:  Ken White of California wears a number of hats.  A writer, criminal defense attorney and civil litigator,  As he says, he is “Fascinated by the intersection of law and society.  How does the law work, compared to how it is supposed to work?  How does the law shape culture and vice versa?”

At this season, here is an article he did years ago that is especially fitting.  My writer son, Kevin, brought it to my attention.

“Thirty years ago, in the hot summer of 1992, I was working as an extern for Judge Ronald S.W. Lew, a federal judge in Los Angeles. One day in early July he abruptly walked into my office and said without preamble “Get your coat.” Somewhat concerned that I was about to be shown the door, I grabbed my blazer and followed him out of chambers into the hallway. I saw he had already assembled his two law clerks and his other summer extern there. Exchanging puzzled glances, we followed him into the art-deco judge’s elevator of the old Spring Street Courthouse, then into the cavernous judicial parking garage. He piled us into his spotless Cadillac and drove out of the garage without another word.

Within ten awkward, quiet minutes we arrived at one of the largest VFW posts in Los Angeles. Great throngs of people, dressed in Sunday best, were filing into the building. It was clear that they were families — babes in arms, small children running about, young and middle-aged parents. And in each family group there was a man — an elderly man, dressed in a military uniform, many stooped with age but all with the bearing of men who belonged in that VFW hall. They were all, I would learn later, Filipinos. Their children and grandchildren were Filipino-American; they were not. Yet.

Judge Lew — the first Chinese-American district court judge in the continental United States — grabbed his robe from the trunk and walked briskly into the VFW hall with his externs and clerks trailing behind him. We paused in the foyer and he introduced us to some of the VFW officers, who greeted him warmly. He donned his robe and peered through a window in a door to see hundreds of people sitting in the main hall, talking excitedly, the children waving small American flags and streamers about. One of the VFW officers whispered in his ear, and he nodded and said “I’ll see them first.” The clerks and my fellow extern were chatting to some immigration officials, and so he beckoned me. I followed him through a doorway to a small anteroom.

There, in a dark and baroquely decorated room, we found eight elderly men. These were too infirm to stand. Three were on stretchers, several were in wheelchairs, two had oxygen tanks. One had no right arm. A few relatives, beaming, stood near each one. One by one, Judge Lew administered the naturalization oath to them — closely, sometimes touching their hands, speaking loudly so they could hear him, like a priest administering extreme unction. They smiled, grasped his hand, spoke the oath as loudly as they could with evident pride. Some wept. I may have as well. One said, not with anger but with the tone of a dream finally realized, “We’ve waited so long for this.”

And oh, how they had waited. These men, born Filipinos, answered America’s call in World War II and fought for us. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the men of the Philippines to fight, promising them United States citizenship and veterans benefits in return. 200,000 fought. Tens of thousands died. They weathered the brutal conditions under Japanese occupation, fought a valiant guerrilla war, and in some cases survived the Bataan death march.

In 1946, Congress reneged on FDR’s promise. Filipino solders who fought for us and their families were not given their promised citizenship, let alone benefits. Many came here anyway, had children who were born U.S. citizens, and some even became citizens through the process available to any immigrant. But many others, remembering the promise, asked that it be kept. And they waited.

They waited 54 years, until after most of them were dead. It was not until 1990 that Congress finally addressed this particular stain on our honor and granted them citizenship. (Their promised benefits were not even brought to a vote until 2008, when most of the happy men I saw that day were dead.)

Hence this July naturalization ceremony. After Judge Lew naturalized the veterans who were too infirm to stand in the main ceremony, he quickly took the stage in the main room. A frantic, joyous hush descended, and the dozens of veterans stood up and took the oath. Many wept. I kept getting something in my eye. And when Judge Lew declared them citizens, the families whooped and hugged their fathers and grandfathers and the children waved the little flags like maniacs.

I had the opportunity to congratulate a number of families and hear them greet Judge Lew. I heard expressions of great satisfaction. I heard more comments about how long they had waited. But I did not hear bitterness on this day. These men and their children had good cause to be bitter, and perhaps on other days they indulged in it. On this day they were proud to be Americans at last. Without forgetting the wrongs that had been done to them, they believed in an America that was more of the sum of its wrongs. Without forgetting 54 years of injustice, they believed in an America that had the potential to transcend its injustices. I don’t know if these men forgave the Congress that betrayed them and dishonored their service in 1946, or the subsequent Congresses and administrations too weak or indifferent to remedy that wrong. I don’t think that I could expect them to do so. But whether or not they forgave the sins of America, they loved the sinner, and were obviously enormously proud to become her citizens.

I am grateful to Judge Lew for taking me to that ceremony, and count myself privileged to have seen it. I think about it every Fourth of July, and more often than that. It reminds me that people have experienced far greater injustice than I ever will at this country’s hands, and yet are proud of it and determined to be part of it. They are moved by what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature to believe in the shared idea of what America should be without abandoning the struggle to right its wrongs. I want to be one of them”