It was 1946…World War II was over, and a new era began in America…the year of the “war babies” or the “baby boomers.” Soldiers came home from the war, and there was a population explosion in the United States. I happened to be one of those babies born that year. The end of the war ushered in modern day history.
I’ve seen many things come and go in this great country during my life time. President Harry Truman was our Commander in Chief when I was born. The country was still reeling from the effects of that great war. Lives were lost and many young men did not return home. A neighboring lady, Collie Benson, often told me stories of her dear husband who died in that war. Since I grew up in the parsonage at Wilson Grove Baptist Church, the cemetery for the church was just across the road from our house. Often I would slip off and go to the graveyard. I remember that man’s picture being on his grave marker. As a little girl, I would stand fascinated looking at his tombstone wondering what a war was like and why he had to die.
I have watched thirteen great men over my lifetime occupy the high office of President of the United States. I definitely don’t recollect anything about President Truman, but I learned later in school that the war came to a close after Hiroshima. My first memory of Dwight David Eisenhower goes back to 1954 when I was in third grade. He came to Freedom Park in Charlotte. One of my little classmates at Clear Creek Elementary School was able to go to the park and see him…I was so jealous…why not me?
My memories of John F. Kennedy go back to the early 1960s when he was chosen to be the Democratic nominee, and I sat in front of our old black and white television fascinated by his youth and beautiful wife. I didn’t know much about politics back then, but I was fascinated by Camelot. I vividly remember his senseless assassination and where I was that day. I was typing a term paper in the typing room at Parkwood High School.
Then, the whole world watched with sadness as Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as Kennedy’s replacement aboard Air Force One, and Mrs. Kennedy stood beside him in blood stained clothes. It was during that administration that Hoyle and I were married. We watched with dread and fear as the draft was put into place. All the while, the conflict in Viet Nam escalated. In 1966 we moved into our first home.
America watched as thousands of her finest young men were sent to that war-torn country…South Viet Nam. In 1967 I watched my husband sign up, and he was in the mass deployment that took place between 1965 to 1967 under the Johnson administration. That was one of the most difficult times in my life, and I blamed President Johnson for the war. We had to rent our home during that time to keep from losing it. As time went on, I understood more about the war. I soon realized that the United States actually entered the conflict under President Eisenhower in 1955 when he sent military advisors to South Viet Nam to train the army there. That caused me to rethink the hard feelings toward the president. I then watched as my husband, along with his comrades, come home to a nation that didn’t really appreciate their sacrifice.
Then came Richard Nixon, and set into motion the end of the war in Vietnam, but he will long be remembered by Watergate and his resignation. He resigned before he could be impeached. Gerald Ford then became our Commander in Chief, and one of his first acts as president was to pardon Nixon. He then carried out the process of ending the Viet Nam war. Jimmy Carter became our next president, and will be remembered as a peanut farmer from Georgia who reformed the welfare system, and my memory of him is his strong faith in God.
Next was Ronald Reagan who will long be remembered for his famous one-liner, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” He was followed by George H. W. Bush. During his presidency the fall of the Berlin Wall took place. After four years of service, he was followed by Bill Clinton and the scandal that took place in the White House. He was the second president in the history of our nation to be impeached. He did many great things; it’s sad that the scandal overshadows his term in office.
When I think of George W. Bush, my mind goes back to 9-11 and the devastation in New York City. But he will be remember for instituting the largest tax cut in American history. Then came our first African-American Commander in Chief, Barack Obama. He will be remember for bringing an end to the Great Recession and the death of Osama bin Laden.
Now we are in the present day administration of Donald Trump, a multimillionaire and business man. He came on the scene with his “Make America Great Again” tagline. He is still in his first term of office, and we will only know his important accomplishments at the end of his presidency. So far he has created thousand of jobs, and the Dow Jones has reached record highs.
All of these great men have been a part of my life for 72 years. I’ve not always agreed with their policies or their lifestyles, but they were “MY PRESIDENT.” I highly respect that office, and each man has contributed much to our country over the years. I’m truly proud to be an American.