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We Are Better Than This

Memo Pad

We Are Better Than This


In June 1944, polio was sweeping across the country with devastating swiftness.

Children would leap out of bed in the morning, and by nightfall, they were unable to feed themselves. It was only a matter of time before it swept through Hickory, NC “like a tidal wave.”

“Youngsters with painful, useless limbs,” Life magazine reported at the time, “some unable to swallow or scarcely able to breathe, they came from mining villages up in the hills, mill towns in the valley, from outlying farms and urban centers.”

Fear reigned, but it was no match for the citizens of Hickory.

The lives of their children were at risk. They could lock up their homes, isolate their children and hope for the best. Or they could spring into action to fight a peril with no known cause and no certain outcome.

David M. Oshinsky, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Polio: An American Story, describes what happened next in the Miracle of Hickory:

“A call went out for volunteers. Hundreds showed up, ‘hiding the fear,’ said one, ‘that had [us] quaking in our boots.’ Merchants donated building material made scarce by wartime rationing. Carpenters, plumbers and electricians brought their own tools to the site.

“Floodlights were installed to allow round-the-clock construction. The telephone company installed a switchboard. Families loaned their electric washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Carloads of toys appeared. Farmers trucked in meat and vegetables. County convicts cleared brush and dug water mains, watched by shotgun-toting guards. The governor paroled 32 female prisoners to help with the domestic chores.

“It was up and running in 54 hours: a ‘rough pine board hospital’ containing an admissions center, a kitchen, and a laundry; a laboratory and an operating room; isolation wards, dormitories and a therapy wing …”

The hospital treated 454 patients before closing its doors at the end of summer. Two-thirds of them, Oshinsky writes, “were said to have ‘recovered completely.'”

The people of Hickory were scared, but they harnessed their fears to save their children.

We are still that America. We just have to act like it.

Our country is facing a new epidemic. President Obama described it in a news conference Wednesday as an “epidemic of gun violence.” We must learn many lessons from the massacre of those young children in Connecticut, but the immediate threat is clear: If this can happen in Newtown, it can happen anywhere.

Once again, we face tough choices. We can throw up our hands and surrender to a gun culture fueled by one of the most powerful lobbies in the country, or we can spring into action. By “we,” I mean we the citizens, because it is up to us to embolden our legislators to stand up to the National Rifle Association and make them pay if they don’t.

Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicated. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has also published two books: Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths -- a collection of her previously published columns -- and ...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, which chronicled her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

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  1. Sand_Cat December 20, 2012

    All very inspiring, but I still have to answer your title with “No, we’re not.”

    1. nancy December 21, 2012

      Until one of those people who are again gun control have a taste of the same medecine that those parents of those youngs children have, they will not do anything about guns control. I have a nephew who was victime of gun violence. I watch my sister leave in pain. The senseless act destroy her life. Those so call people call themself CHRISTIAN they do not even know the meaning of the word.

  2. MRD1056 December 21, 2012

    What people should think about is “DON”T LET THESE KIDS DIE FOR NOTHING” with all tradgedy there is oppurtunity. God bless all those children and teachers but if we get meaniful gun legislation then at least those kids will be remembered for pushing this country in the right direction instead of just remembered as on of this nations darkest moments. This is my motivation to call my representatives, email, and speak out. Please do the same!!!! LETS DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN!

    1. freedomringsforall October 27, 2015

      We should outlaw gun free zones until the rich mouthy liberals that believe in them start putting “gun free zone” signs in their front yards to protect their kids and their families and friends .

      Then when they prove that it works for their kids and families, and only then, should we allow “gun free zones” again for schools.

      Praise God!
      Long Live the Republic!

  3. ObozoMustGo December 21, 2012

    For all of you so willing to trade in your liberty for perceived safety, take a look at the path that gun control takes and ask yourself if you really think more laws will stop crazy people.


    You’re sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers.

    At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way.

    With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it. In the darkness, you make out two shadows. One holds something that looks like a crowbar.

    When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire. The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside.

    As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you’re in trouble. In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few that are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless..

    Yours was never registered. Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a Firearm.

    When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter. “What kind of sentence will I get?” you ask. “Only ten-to-twelve years,” he replies, as if that’s nothing. “Behave yourself, and you’ll be out in seven.”

    The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper. Somehow, you’re portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men you shot are represented as choirboys. Their friends and relatives can’t find an unkind word to say about them..

    Buried deep down in the article, authorities acknowledge that both “victims” have been arrested numerous times. But the next day’s headline says it all:

    “Lovable Rogue Son Didn’t Deserve to Die.”

    The thieves have been transformed from career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters..

    As the days wear on, the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero. Your attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he’ll probably win.

    The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several times in the past and that you’ve been critical of local police for their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait for the burglars.

    A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven’t been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently predicted. When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you.. Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn’t take long for the jury to convict you of all charges. The judge sentences you to life in prison.

    This case really happened.

    On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk , England , killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life term..

    How did it become a crime to defend one’s own life in the once great British Empire ?

    It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a license.

    The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only handguns but all firearms except shotguns..

    Later laws passed in 1953 and 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and mandated the registration of all shotguns.

    Momentum for total handgun confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987.Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed man with a Kalashnikov rifle, walked down the streets shooting everyone he saw. When the smoke cleared, 17 people were dead.

    The British public, already de-sensitized by eighty years of “gun control”, demanded even tougher restrictions. (The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even though Ryan used a rifle.)

    Nine years later, at Dunblane , Scotland , Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a teacher at a public school.

    For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as mentally unstable, or worse, criminals. Now the press had a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners.
    Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane Inquiry, a few months later, sealed the fate of the few sidearms still owned by private citizens.

    During the years in which the British government incrementally took away most gun rights, the notion that a citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a reason to own a gun. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists were charged while the real criminals were released.

    Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as saying, “We cannot have people take the law into their own hands.”

    All of Martin’s neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had no fear of the consequences.
    Martin himself, a collector of antiques, had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars.

    When the Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn’t were visited by police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn’t comply.

    Police later bragged that they’d taken nearly 200,000 handguns from private citizens.

    How did the authorities know who had handguns? The guns had been registered and licensed. Kind of like cars. Sound familiar?


    Merry Christmas to all!

    “…It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds..” — Samuel Adams

    1. MJRinPA December 22, 2012

      “ou’re sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers.

      At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way.

      With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it. In the darkness, you make out two shadows. One holds something that looks like a crowbar.

      When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire.”

      You turn on the light and discover that it was your two children, with plastic light sabers.
      Let’s be more reasonable. More guns are not the answer. Arming teachers is not the answer. A “well-regulated militia” is the only people who should have assault weapons. Background checks should be done on all gun sales. Extensive training should be required. Then licensing, and regular renew. Like your cars, and driver’s licensing.

      1. ObozoMustGo December 24, 2012

        MJ… First off, the story I posted is 100% true and happened in England. it also covers how England progressed over time from a society that allowed possession of guns to one that did not allow it.

        Second, your example, while tragic because such things do happen, they happen so rarely as to not make them actually relevant in considering why I need to give up my liberties. It’s far more common that parents get behind the wheel and drive recklessly resulting in the death of their children. Are you going to outlaw cars? It’s far more common that a parent shake a crying baby to death. Are you going to outlaw holding infants without a permit? Knowing you leftist freaks and your desire and capacity to control man through legislation that eliminates all harm and failure from society, you probably would support a slick-tongued politician who swindled you on the merits of such a law.

        Third, if you’re gonna bitch about parents killing their kids, why not bitch about the millions of children murdered in their mothers wombs every year?

        Fourth, while we are on the 2nd Amendment, the entire purpose of it was to recognize that citizens have the God given right to protect their lives, property, AND liberty against a tyrannical government. That’s what it is meant for, and that’s why the reference to “militia” is in there. It wasn’t put in so you could go hunting or shoot targets. It’s odd how the very people that want to restrict and ultimately take away those rights are the very people (the government) the 2nd Amendment was intended to protect against. Don’t you think? And while I don’t foresee in my lifetime the need to take up arms against government as some of the fringe may see, I do see the importance of NOT infringing on citizens’ God given rights to prevent such an occurrence from ever being necessary. And gun control is not just instituted over night, as the true story about how it was implemented England demonstrates. It’s done little by little over time. So I follow the camels nose in the tent philosophy. Any time it sticks its nose in there, it’s gonna get smacked hard. No exceptions.

        Merry Christmas!

        “Gun control isn’t about guns… it’s about control.” – I forget who said it

  4. Ed December 21, 2012

    The problem is deeper than gun control and tougher laws will not stop it. We have to look at ourselves as a society. We have to stop the constant rain of tv, movies and books that glorify violence as the first response to the slighgtesst slight. We have to develop a sense of community. We have to begin CIVIL discourse. We have to work together to rebuild the society which created the greatest country in the world.

  5. bchrista December 24, 2012

    In answer to the asshole that calls himself (inthenameofliberty) I think that I have lived a little longer that you, I am 82yrs old and have worked all my life in the field of construction from the time I was 16yrs and have seen what my country become under the Republican rule, I didn’t duck paying my taxes and I don’t remember begging you for a handout. I worked both union and open shop and I know where I was better off, I can also remember open shop workers earning as much as I did had it not been for the union they would have mostlikely would have been paid 1/2 that much and they were as arrogant as you seem to be instead of thanking us for their good fortune. you say I have no call to use the word bastards what would call a person that sends jobs over seas and knocks americans out of work so they can profit and thanks to Bush and his tax cuts they are making millions without lifting a fingerand this is a known fact and you don’t even know and you have the balls to tell me to go get a job you must be one of those sorry ass lawyers I was talking about that helped the 1% steal their hard earned millions LoL go get a life!!!!

  6. Budjob December 25, 2012

    This country faces a multitude of problems concerning firearms.There is over 310,000,ooo firearms in the US.I am by no means a gun advocate,(I don’t even own one.)But how do you corral that many weapons without offending individuals 2nd amendment rights?It is a conundrum that doesn’t have a viable answer.Maybe we should limit the production of ammunition or.levy an over the top tax on said armaments and ammunition.Restricting the sale of ammunition would be a start.

  7. clarenceswinney January 4, 2013

    Who Dug the Deep Hole? Who Fumbled the ball?
    Numbers rounded

    Clinton left Bush an 1800B Budget
    Bush Left Obama a 3500 Budget

    Clinton left Bush a 240B Surplus as far as the eye can see
    Bush left Obama a 1400B Deficit as far as the eye can see

    Clinton left Bush 5,700B of Debt
    Bush left Obama 11,800B of Debt

    Clinton left Bush a 237,000 net new jobs created per month
    Bush left Obama a 31,000 lowest number since Hoover.

    Clinton left Bush 17 Million Manufacturing Jobs
    Bush left Obama 11 Million Manufacturing Jobs

    Clinton left Bush a 10,800 Dow
    Bush left Obama an 8028 Dow

    Clinton left Bush Peace on Earth Good Will From Most Men
    Bush left Obama Hell on Earth Two disastrous wars. Enmity of 1500 Million Muslims

    Clinton left Bush a President most highly rated of any peacetime President in Asia, Africa, Europe.
    Bush left Obama the most hated President in history
    Bush left Obama an Housing Tsunami and Financial Volcano
    Bush left Obama, in 2008, an 8500B Bail out commitment Yes! 8500 not just 700
    Bush left Obama his Takeover of Fannie/Freddie, AIG, and first bailout of Chrysler
    Bush increased maximum loan by Fannie/Freddie from $153,000 in 2000 to $300,000 then to $729,000
    That is how F&F got stuck with so many toxic mortgages. Bush gift to Big Bank pals.
    Bush increased FDIC maximum deposit coverage from $100,000 to $250,000. Help the rich.


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