MISSOURI, October 4, 2017 – In the 1930’s, unemployment and poverty dominated the lives of many Americans. Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in 1932 after campaigning on a “new deal” for Americans through a wide-ranging recovery program.
Dust storms in the Midwestern states starting in 1933 forced many farmers to abandon their lands and move on.
In Europe, political turmoil led to the rise of the extremely nationalist and racist Nazi Party in Germany. The end of the decade saw the onset of the Second World War within 25 years.
There were some bright spots in the news; the building of the Empire State Building which put an army of laborers to work; the opening of a nationwide bus service provided by the Greyhound Company; the offering of federal aid to the Dust Bowl states; and the forming of a national farm policy.
During the depression, people worked for their government checks. Work projects included building dams, our interstate highway, bridges and so much more. While American’s received government aid, they gave as much as they got, often leaving their families to find work.
One such project was here, in Missouri. Construction started on the Bagnall Dam in 1929 and was completed in 1931. The damn created the reservoir Lake of the Ozarks that covers 55,000 acres with 1,150 miles of shoreline and is the largest man-made lake in the United States.
At the time, many thought the $30 million project would be a disaster coming on the heels of the stock market crash of 1929, but it proved to be a boost to many families in the area as well as the hundreds who traveled across the country seeking work. The construction of Bagnell Dam was completed and Lake of the Ozarks was a full reservoir in fewer than two years. They say that planned repairs to the damn, even with all our new technology and tools, will take many years to complete.
The American spirit that built the Bagnall Damn, literally by hand and using primitive tools, has waned. Today we have families who have, for generations, lived on welfare via programs that have little managerial control over who is getting what or for how long.
Today we have replaced the pride that had men walking hundreds of miles to work with the welfare state that provides much more than housing and food. Few homes in urban cities do not have dishwashers, flat screen TVs, and everyone, it seems, has a smartphone.
For the survivors of the traumatic thirties, the outlook was always of the better times to come. The traumatic events shaped the character of those who lived through this decade. Much can be learned by listening to their stories.
From those years of struggle did come great progress. College became more accessible via the G.I. Bill where one could serve their country, go to college and find the financial help to buy a home.
This generation was rightfully tagged “The Greatest Generation,” not just because of the heroism of those that stepped up to serve in World War II, but also the women who stepped into traditionally men’s jobs to keep America working during the war.
Do you remember, or have you learned about, Rosie the Riveter?
Our country has moved from the days of rampant National patriotism, personal integrity that meant working for your money and contributing to your community to a society of political divisiveness, questionable moral conduct, illegal immigration, crime, drugs, and so much more.
Today, burning the flag is a right of free speech, despite its immorality. We have been forced to eliminate prayers at sporting events, both professional and on the high school football field.
While we provide prayer rooms for followers of Islam, Democratic Congresswoman Diane Feinstein attacked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Coney Barrett for her Roman Catholic faith.
Feinstein asserted that her religious views will prevent her from judging fairly.
“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”
Patriotism is at an all-time low, as evidenced by the behavior of millionaire football players and the liberal media groups, like ESPN, who really seem to dislike America, despise our president and have a general contempt for those who identify as “White.”
America is now in a state of chaos due to a lack of personal integrity and commitment to themselves and the country.
In Elbridge Paige’s book of Short Patent Sermons, 1841 he writes of [Those people] who would rather ride to hell in a hand-cart than walk to heaven supported by the staff of industry.
Which may be the 19th-century version of the present day phrase that we are “going to hell in a handbasket” unless we quickly change our course.
However, that is a time and place that I am from.