I grew up in the America where everyone had the right to say anything they wanted, and although you might disagree with the person, you defended his right to say it.

            I grew up in the America where the man who occupied the office of President was respected because the office itself was respected.

            I grew up in the America where Crockett County Trustee Wayne B. Parlow would end every financial report published in this newspaper with the words “respectfully submitted,” and he meant it.

            I grew up in the America where we were proud to be Americans, we were proud to be Southerners, we were proud to be free, we believed every problem would get better, and we knew the nation was strong.

            I grew up in the America where you may have the right to burn the flag, but in Alamo, Tennessee in my generation, it was unthinkable to do so.

            I grew up in the America where reading, writing (including cursive), arithmetic, and history were taught in school and you were expected to learn about the founding of the nation. All of us knew about the American colonies including how many there were, and you had to name them and find them on a map. You were expected to know how they were significantly different one from another; who the Puritans were; how the colonies conflicted with the native Indian tribes; what the Boston Tea Party was; and, the importance of the invention of the cotton gin by Connecticut Yankee Eli Whitney and how it affected the expansion of slavery, among many other things.

            I grew up in the America where no office holder or candidate with good sense would insult the citizens who support the other side. Instead, a good office holder or candidate would attempt to convert them to his or her particular platform or point of view.

            I grew up in the America where a man’s word was his bond, otherwise he was known as someone you can’t trust. A promise was something you kept, period.

            Thirty-five years ago the country music Mother/Daughter duo, “The Judds” hit it big with the melancholy song Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days). The song features a little girl’s plea to her granddaddy: “Grandpa, Take me back to yesterday, when the line between right and wrong didn’t seem so hazy.” That was back before our society got a little too complicated, a little too sophisticated, and a little too big for its britches.

            I grew up in the America where you were held accountable at school and especially at home, if you really messed up. You were under a higher authority and your parents and teachers were too. The little girl in the song asks her granddaddy, “Did families really bow their heads to pray?” She also asked a really tough question that affects a lot more of us today that it did back then: “Did lovers really fall in love to stay, stand beside each other come what may?” I’m not stepping on your toes with that rhetorical question – I’m stepping on mine!

            I grew up in the America where you showed up to work on time; you knew the customer was always right and you showed respect for every one of them. You knew better than to give lame excuses for the things you should have done but didn’t, and for the things you shouldn’t have done but did anyway.

            I grew up in the America where school children knew which restroom to go to.

            Where did that America go? There was nothing perfect about that America, but fast-forward to the present day. All those good things seem to have disappeared into an abyss of bickering, dissatisfaction, accusations, and demands that we all think and act alike. There are differences among us. One of the most important things that makes America great is the right for each of us to march to our own drum beat, and be left alone. I’ll see you on down the trail.


John Avery Emison is the Mayor of Alamo and author of two books.


  • Joe


    Trying this one for the second time

  • Josh Smith


    This is a great outlook on the topic.

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