This is the year…the world changed forever.

With the celebration on July 4, 2021, of our nation's 245 years, it's become apparent how much we've lost during 2020 to 2021. Freedoms once taken for granted were taken away, a way of life that celebrated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness seeming a notion of a long lost era as the year wore on and on and on. We've lost lives and livelihoods. The independent American spirit became squashed beneath new and ever-changing rules and regulations. Stay home! Wear your mask (two to three even better)! Keep your kids home from school and away from friends!

Had we not been blindsided, we could have thought of it as an abundant opportunity. If we could only have predicted that this isolation would last over a year, we could have engaged an army of grandparents to teach neighborhood kids about life's lessons out of garages across the land. Parents could have gathered children at the end of the cul-de-sac (appropriately distanced of course) to teach lessons on science, math, reading, whatever subject a parent or friend would be proficient in. Art and music programs could have been taught in front yards. We have many talented and educated people right in our own neighborhoods.

We've also gained great insight and knowledge. With the kids out of school and parents doing their best to teach at makeshift classrooms, we tried to fit homework, Zoom and our own working situations into the confines of modest American homes. What our kids had actually been learning in school hit the kitchen table with an awakening, loud thump. You know something is wrong when the school demands you sign an agreement not to participate in Zoom classes, not even to watch.

Underlying that unseen creature we were hiding from at home, behind our masks and hand sanitizer lurked creatures much more virulent and dangerous than the virus itself. We've been manipulated, lied to and commanded to abandon life as usual, quite possibly forever. The very definition of liberty is being stripped from us, from the way and what we prefer our children be taught about sensitive subjects, patriotism, and love for country and fellow man to communication with friends and colleagues via social media platforms where, if we don't choose our words carefully, we run the risk of being cancelled. The word "opinion" has become erroneously one-sided. Anyone read Nineteen-Eighty Four recently?

We cannot stand as a country divided. All men are created equal and never in the history of the earth has there been a time and a place with more opportunity for advancement and enlightenment than in the United States of America. It is our history that makes us unique amongst countries, that made us the freest and most powerful country in the world in just 245 years. We are the most generous of people. When a disaster hits a foreign land, we are the first to offer assistance. We the people donate charitably to causes around the world. We have dutifully delved out our taxes, trusting that our hard-earned dollars would be put to good use. The flag we once flew proudly around the land has become a symbol of oppression, its very sight upsetting to some individuals who no longer identify as Americans but as hyphenated tribal groups and a litany of abbreviations.

If we do not come together as one people, and soon, We the People will cease to exist as a free nation founded under Liberty and Justice for All.
G. L. Lawson from California