By Jim Hunt
After an extremely busy week, I was hit with a case of writer’s block as I searched for a subject for my weekly column. I thought about some of the issues that have been in the news. School shootings, bank shootings, a move to expel three legislators in Tennessee for protesting school shootings and the specter of a Missouri Republican legislator explaining his vote to allow twelve-year old children to marry. It was then that my son texted me a picture of our granddaughter watching a rainbow. A tear came to my eye when I thought about her future and the world we are leaving for her to live in. Even the symbolism of the rainbow may one day be outlawed, like the uproar over a beer company proclaiming that they support the LBGTQ community.
I grew up in the turbulent times of the Vietnam War and was at West Virginia University during the protests of the war. Four students were shot to death at Kent State in 1970 and thousands of young soldiers returned home in body bags. I wore a silver bracelet with the name of a prisoner of war and watched as men like John McClain were released with lifelong injuries and memories of the horrific treatment at the hands of the Viet Cong. The national political environment was as chaotic as anything in the past decade. In 1964, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas and a string of leaders were gunned down in a bloody succession. Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis and Bobby Kennedy in Los Angeles lost their lives, and it seemed that America was in the twilight of its existence.
Add to that the racial unrest and the riots in Newark, Detroit and Los Angeles and I had to wonder what my father and mother were thinking when they thought about the future lives that their children and grandchildren would live. My dad worked for the city in the public works department and my mother worked as a medical technician. They never owned a new car and scraped together enough money to buy band instruments and tennis shoes for their four children. With that backdrop, I would not have blamed my parents if they lost hope. What I remember however, is that they had an infinite well of optimism. They knew that they had done their part in raising a family and putting in a full day of work, followed by hours of clipping coupons and investing their earnings in the future lives of their children.
My parents did not have all the answers for society’s challenges in the 60s, but they never let us believe that their sacrifices were in vain. When the thunder roared and the rain fell, they gathered their little minions and ran to the back porch to look for the rainbow. I don’t want to take that from my grandchildren, no matter how difficult it becomes. I want them to believe that one day, some brave young leaders will rise up and solve the gun issue that seems to have so many of the gray-haired, pseudo patriots at a standstill. I want them to believe that who you love or what beer you drink is simply a choice that is guaranteed by the blood and sacrifice of their forefathers.
A favorite quote by an unknown author captured the essence of a rainbow. “A rainbow is a promise of sunshine after rain. Of calm after storms. Of joy after sadness. Of peace after pain. Of love after loss.”