1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

Anguish: Excruciating mental or physical pain;
agony; torture.

The room was dark and dingy when I entered. The form on the bed was quite still. I was taken aback because I expected to see a crowd. Instead I was the one of only a few visitors. Even in the dim light you could tell he still had that strong character about him even though he is weak and close to death. My what a life he had lived. There were as many stories not told as there was told and even the most innocent of them had some excitement. I hated to see him like this. We had been told that he was close to death, but we just could not bring ourselves to the point of accepting it. Like a lot of us we expected him to live on forever and outlive us all. The reality was that it was happening much sooner than we expected.

In his younger day he stirred excitement everywhere he went. He was the one everyone looked up to. He had more money than most. He had more resources than most and a mind that could solve any problems or situations that came his way. There was nowhere he could not go and have a great influence on the surroundings. He loaned great sums of money to many and at times even forgave those loans when it became impossible to repay them. He sent people to help others. He took their burdens on himself and in many instances would not accept any more than a thank you for his trouble.

When a neighbor or a friend called for help he would respond in anyway he could to help. Even at the cost of life or limb he did not back down when asked for his aid. And believe me it came from all over and from every direction. He never backed down and he never gave in.

When he passes, I wonder what they will say of him? Will they do as many do and say what a great man he was and what great deeds he accomplished. It seems that no matter how people think of you in life, they always seem to find nice things to say about you when you are dead. I wonder more if there will be any one who will even speak at all of his passing. Isnít it funny how many friends we have when we have plenty of money and influence? Isnít it funny how few friends we have when we loose those things.

He wasnít without some problems. When he sent people to other places to help, some of them took advantage of the people they were supposed to be helping and after taking all they could, turned their back and refused to tell the old man what they had done. Some times later he would find out about it, but by then there would not be a venue whereby the old man could make amends. Soon it was apparent to many that they could not trust anyone sent by the old man and his name and his reputation was beyond repair.

Still the old man had a lot of influence and power and bathed in the riches he had accumulated. He was not aware of it, but many who worked for him had already begun to conspire as to how to rob him of his assets. They conspired from within his own organization to weaken his influence to the point that by the time he was aware of it his clout, his resources and his money were gone. The old man awoke one day to find that he was as broke and out of resources as a teenage mother on welfare.

They say the term for him had been around since the war of 1812 when soldiers would get rations with the boxes stamped US The real image came about in 1917 when the famous poster bearing his image appeared in front of Post Offices and Army recruiting station stating with that famous finger pointing to you "The Army wants you!".

Uncle Sam has been around for a lot of years and has weathered more storms than most and still survived. but he is no longer wanted or needed. Once the personification of this great nation, he is no longer wanted. His kind are no longer welcome here. We donít know what emblem he will be replaced with. Oh, some of the people will mildly protest, but before long they will follow the leaders down the road they have so carefully disguised for so long. The new image will appear as a new poster in front of the post office and soon what we see as alien and extreme will become common place.

I think I will sit here in the dim room with my old friend for a little longer. It is with great anguish that I must see him go. I, like my brothers and our sons and our grandson, heeded the call from this old man. Many became disillusioned by being asked to go off, to fight and die, but never given a chance to fight and win. Maybe with a little luck I will slip away into my next existence before he does. I am too old to fight, but much to proud to give in to this new order and new image.