2001

The Partly Cloudy Patriot - Simon & Schuster - 2002 - 197 pages

Sarah Vowell is a history buff.  She has participated in every election since she was eight years old.  She takes walking vacations in historical locations.  Her title essay in this book ("The Partly Cloudy Patriot") is the best essay that I have ever read on the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11/2001.  My mother-in-law (Aileen Shrum) was watching television that morning.  I could see a smoking building but did not know where it was.  And then, the second airplane hit the other building.  But, I had to get dressed and ready for work.  It was an eerie day.  Osama bin Laden had demonstrated the differences between East and West in a manner that could never be forgotten.  However, life goes on.  One of Vowell's paragraphs was especially significant to me:

"Time passed, laws passed and, five student loans later, I made a nice little life for myself.  I can feel it with every passing year, how I'm that much farther away from the sacrifices of the cast-off Indians and Okie farmers I descend from.  As recently as fifty years ago my grandmother was picking cotton with bleeding fingers.  I think about her all the time while I'm getting overpaid to sit at a computer, eat Chinese takeout, and think things up in my pajamas.  The half century separating my fingers, which are moisturized with cucumber lotion and type eighty words per minute, and her bloody digits is an ordinary Land of Opportunity parable, and don't think I don't appreciate it."

My generation (Boomers) in California was the last of which the average students could get a college education without mounds of student debt.  Ronald Reagan changed all of that, for the worse.  Then, he went Washington, D.C. and spread his misguided ideology throughout the country.  I believe that bin Laden was attacking our leaders not our students.  [JAM 12/15/2019]