It's hard for me to wear my patriotism on my sleeve. I've been studying American Government since the 1932 election. When FDR declared a bank holiday in March of the next year, I sensed my future was impacted. With the help of the FDIC, our bank in Gillette, Wyoming didn't fold. My dad got to keep the land he homesteaded in 1918.
Right up to 1940, when I graduated high school, war clouds hovered. With a leap of faith, some family help, and part time work, I was able to make it to the University of Iowa. After Pearl Harbor, it was just a matter of time until VJ Day and a shot at Washington, D.C.
Of course, the empires I studied were all disintegrating by that time. As I watched General's receiving homage as we all stood on Pennsylvania Avenue, I started to feel betrayed.
In 1946, the rumbles of dissension were all too apparent. McCarthyism was alive and foreboding even before the first election after FDR's administrations. I asked the same question I had asked myself since I was a schoolgirl: Why can't people get along?
We are formed by the environment of our young years. In my case, I could look out the window and see the Big Horn Mountains a hundred miles away.
That was proof enough that the world was not flat. Sitting in the old one-room schoolhouse on summer Sunday afternoons, I'd look at the globe and think something was missing. Black lines divided areas portrayed in pastel shades. I noticed the position of a country and then headed for the World Book to see what those people were like. Let me tell you. It's burdensome for a young girl to figure out how the Chinese were different from us. Things got clearer in college when I joined the Cosmopolitan Club.
Foreign students and some of us American oddballs enjoyed monthly meetings, including a dinner before Christmas. I did freshmanly duty by putting the place cards around. The president told me I shouldn't put the fellow from Japan next to the fellow from China. Greenhorn that I was, I learned an important lesson about nationalism. Nationality can trump common sense.
I welcomed FDR's postwar plans. Already we had the TVA, as I learned to appreciate when I moved to East Tennessee 30 years ago. We also had, and still have, ORNL. It's hard to think about the US without thinking of the bomb. So I really welcomed the United Nations and its various departments.
I was still stuck on Nationhood as being the ogre to tame. It's true that new protocols have arrived which make speaking of world views easier. But it also has made us redesign our thinking on what worldwide relations are. I should have remembered what I thought I had discovered as a child-- we are all in the world together.
It's heartwarming to realize that globalization is now being discussed in ways greater than the exchange of currency and goods.
So here we are, looking forward to a year of Olympics and American politics.
It's nice we can talk about a biracial Senator as a portrayer of ideas he picked up at Harvard and the inner city. I can so identify with the one who bootstrapped it out of a dying textile mill into the Senate. I think of 22 years in Chicagoland, and recognize a Senator who sat in the oval office, if not yet elected.
Of all, I really connect with the one I call "World Wide Wanderer" who reminds me of the years I spent lauding the Good Neighbor policy.
What I like this go-around is that there are young people who have tools of communication and travel to see how they can encircle the globe. My wish for them is that they look at history and don't pay too much attention to the flavor of the moment.