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July 6, 2014

Our division is not as dire as some insist

DUNCAN — Am having an Independence Day hangover — and no, it’s not because of any libation I may have consumed during the holiday weekend.

What’s giving me a post-July 4th headache is the loud and shrill echo of those who’ve concluded the nation has slid into a new depth of division that threatens to unravel it at the seams. You know, the obsessed pundits, politicians, media mooks and disenchanted citizens who suggest — with growing volume and ire — that we’re more sharply split than at any time in American history.

Oh, puh-leez! What hyperbolic hogwash. Enough already!

Did the Loud Voices of Distress never hear of something called the Civil War, an internal bloodfest that resulted in a half-million Americans being slaughtered because of political and cultural differences?

Were none of the divisionists around in the 1960s, when Vietnam, civil rights, gender rights, fear of the Cold War and nuclear proliferation put the USofA at the threshold of anarchy?

Here in the 21st century, we may be more <ITALS>evenly divided<END ITALS> than at anytime before, but so what? Disagreement and diversity are the life blood of liberty and democracy.

With that in mind, here’s a few things we may agree are great about us and the U.S.

 Americans of all ages who don military uniforms and do their duty, protecting our freedom to debate how far their duty should extend.

 Public and private agencies like Women’s Haven and Narconon that support those at the edge of despair and help bring the lost back into the mainstream.

 Jimmy Webb and Leon Russell, Oklahoma’s finest songwriters of the Rock & Pop Age, who are still churning out wonderful music.

 Eating Italian food, while drinking German wine, and finishing it off with French pastries and Austrian chocolates. Now, there’s the real “melting pot.”

 Being 4,861 feet above sea level on a crisp, clear night on the peak of Spruce Knob in West Virginia.

 The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Portland, Maine and the Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.

 Middle class folks are struggling to remain middle class, but compared to many other countries America still provides an amazingly good life for ordinary folks.

 The gentle, warm wash of the surf on southern Mississippi beaches between Waveland and Pascagoula‚ when it’s not hurricane season.

 The Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum in Cleveland. The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The Chicago Blues Hall of Fame at Buddy Guy’s Legends Club in Chitown. The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in Tulsa.

 The voting booth, where you choose to participate and have a say in what type of nation shapes you’re nationalism.

 Architects Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei, Maya Lin and Louis Kahn, whose legacies are structural beauty and unique vision.

 Straddling the Continental Divide at sunset.

 Drinking lemonade from a paper cup you paid an 8-year-old a dime to fill. A defining moment in developing a young entrepreneur?

 Folks who do the grunge work many of us don’t want to endure, but it’s labor crucial in keeping the nation running.

 Homemade ice cream — hand-cranked, please!

 The late Woody Guthrie singing This Land is Your Land.

 Taking a tour through the mysterious and magnificent Mammoth Cave, a great place to be when it’s 105 on the first day of August.

 Chocolate chip cookies — homemade, not those refrigerated squares that should only be consumed when the real thing’s not available — and a big glass of cold milk.

 Free libraries, free public schools and scholarships to colleges.

 The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton and the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City.

 Celebrations of diversity, like Cinco de Mayo, Juneteenth and the Oktoberfest in Bartlesville.

 Western paintings by Frederic Remington, sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington, sidewalk chalk art by Julian Beever and illustrations by Jack Davis.

 A Constitution constructed with a solid foundation and expandable walls.

 In this country, the destiny of the young is not given to them but created by them.

 A porch, a shade tree, a cold drink, a good book and B.B. King playing guitar.

Ahhh! It’s good to be an American. Can’t we all at least agree about that?

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Duncan Vice Mayor Mike Nelson talks during Wednesday's Duncan Rotary meeting.

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