Thu, Jun

Rediscovering the America I Grew Up In


MAGA CORNER - When I say Make America Great Again, I’m not trying to yank anyone’s chain.  I’m talking about my lived experience, about the America I grew up in. I realize it wasn’t everyone’s lived experience, especially if you came of age after 1990 but it was real, and I want it back.

The America I grew up in was an economic and manufacturing powerhouse and Made in America was the envy of the world. The US Dollar, backed by Gold, was the king of currencies. It was a time when my dad could buy a starter home in the suburbs of Washington DC and raise 7 kids on his steamfitters’ pay. You could go to work for a company knowing that if you worked hard and didn’t get into trouble you had a job for life. The owner of the local business lived in the same neighborhood with his employee’s. He might drive a top-of-the-line Buick or Caddy while they drove Chevy’s and Fords, but their cars would be parked side by side at local little league games which his business sponsored. Everything was about neighborhood. 

Back then family was important. It was the center of your life. School and sports were a big part of growing up and education was super important. Failing a grade, being kept back a year was a catastrophe, so everyone pitched in to get the grade up and if that failed, summer school was mandatory.

We were taught the difference between right and wrong and that actions had consequences. Respect for our elders, and for law and order was a given. No one talked back to the police, and no one struck a teacher. Schools were safe zones because parents, teachers and students demanded it and sometimes enforced it. It was our school, our neighborhood school and everyone had a stake in it.

It was a time when neighbors and neighborhoods mattered. Looking out for the little guy was not just a slogan in our home. We were working class, part of a growing muscular middle class and each tradesman chipped in his expertise to help someone in his neighborhood who didn’t have that skill. Each family believed all things were possible if you worked hard. Parents made great sacrifices to ensure that they handed their children a better life than the one they knew growing up.

In truth my parents didn’t hand me anything, they showed me everything. When my mother laced up my dad’s work boots because he couldn’t bend over one day I learned about responsibility and love. Responsibility because people, not just his family were depending on him, and he demonstrated what is required of a man. Love because I saw the silent communications between them that spoke of a bond I had yet to learn about and experience.  Sending us to parochial school for our education, rounding us up to go to church on Sundays. Demonstrating their belief and faith in God. Their involvement in groups to help those less fortunate is what they showed us. Everyone took care of each other, no one was thrown away. You certainly did not expect a stranger or the government to take care of your own.

That is what made America great. It was her people and their willingness to sacrifice and endure for their children, their family, friends, and neighbors. 

All was not perfect. We still had to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Rights Amendment of 1972 and take other steps towards a more perfect union but if you were coming of age then there was a lot to be grateful for.  As we grew up and moved out of our parents’ house to pursue our dreams each of us 7 children were able to buy our own homes. You were able to do that up until the early 90’s when all our jobs were shipped to China.

As a society we are floundering. As a people we know something is fundamentally wrong and we have to get our heads out of the sand and face it. We can’t have children running wild in our cities destroying everything in their path. We can’t allow Evil or demonstrations in support of evil to stand.  We cannot allow the exploitation of children to continue. We must make our neighborhoods safe for everyone again.

This is not about left or right, democrat or republican. This is good versus evil, love versus hate. We cannot allow evil and hate to win. I know there is a lot of hate towards MAGA and Christians out there today. I am both and have not changed in the last 25 years I have been involved in my community. I have just been quiet about it lately. I can’t do that anymore.  I am the same guy who for years gave information and help to anyone who asked. I did that for fun and for free and in the spirit of service.  I hope we can get to know one another again.

(James O’Sullivan is the retired ex-president (25 years) and current ex-officio of the Miracle Mile Residential Association. He is Vice President of Fix The City Inc., currently in court with the City over their adoption of the Hollywood Community Plan and pushing the City to be more transparent with RSO units.)