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There it was at the top of the page in an issue of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A big headline: Nov. 22, 1963. I couldn't miss it. It reminded me of an incident in history that turned our nation upside-down and almost immediately brought us together as one big family. Do you remember that day? What does it mean to generations who arrived later? Is it just a few numbers in a history book? Or have old-timers told their children and grandchildren how they felt on that day?

Incidents or dates in history have a way of changing lives and they have a way of becoming a part of the legacy each person carries the rest of their lives and affecting the lives of all who follow. That is why it is important for each generation to pass along why a date/incident is important to remember.

What in the devil is he up to now? How about thinking of other dates that resulted in big black headlines. How about Dec. 7, 1941? Of course, that is still easy to remember as it was the day America was struck at Pearl Harbor -- the start of World War II. Do you remember what you were doing on April 19, 1995? That date is fresh in the memories of many who were affected by the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Does June 15, 1836, mean anything to you? It has affected all Arkansans since that was the day Arkansas became a state. Did you learn that in Arkansas history?

This could go on and on, couldn't it? How about important dates in our family or dates in our lives changed forever? Some may be best forgotten but even those are remembrances that result in changes which became positives. Did your grandparents settle in Northwest Arkansas many years ago and weather out hard-luck times but ... yep, in the long run, everything turned out and here you are, we are ... living in the place we call home.

Here's a date that some celebrate, August 9, because it is the birthday of the town of Gravette, but Aug. 9, 1945, had a history of its own. It was the day the Japanese surrendered. Official documents were signed later. The date the fourth of July has a history of its own even though the second of July was almost adopted to celebrate our independence. And Veteran's Day, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving are joined by celebrating parents, grandparents, secretaries days, etc., etc., etc. And aren't there two other special days which hold importance in our lives? One is observed/celebrated in either March or April, Easter Sunday ... depending on reasons ... and, of course, Dec. 25, Christmas Day, which we can always be thankful for and celebrate even though much has replaced the real meaning.

There is one other day that is lacking in much celebrating, Constitution Day. It is mentioned every year but, no doubt, very few take the time to read and learn just what that document which is our foundation means and how it has been added to and changed and how changes can be made. There is a very legal way to make changes, but they do not include protesting with criminal intentions, destructive action and, yes, even murdering and endangering people's lives. Doesn't our Constitution say there is a peaceful method to seek changes that in the past few months has developed into criminalism?

Why is this happening? There are many ways, aren't there, that our culture has slowly changed into a system of demanding, looting and killing to attract attention to get answers to problems that are affecting the thinking process of so many. Do you suppose that is being caused by not knowing ... or caring ... that this or that has to happen to satisfy someone who is dissatisfied or whose opinions are different in many ways that can occur in a free society?

How is it happening? The 'cuff has mentioned many times before, dating about 20 years, that Friedrich A. Hayek, Austrian economist, warned in his book, "The Road to Serfdom," that many countries of the world, including the United States, were drifting from a democratic government to a Socialist nation. He noted that Communism can be attractive to a liberal society because people "apathetically take for granted the improvements achieved through democracy" ... because "we are fighting for freedom to shape our lives according to our own ideas." That is where the conflict arises and, in a free society, they fall into wrong planning and a planning society. Then the social promised euphoricism evolves into an oligarchy or monarchy which drifts into a dictatorship (such as Germany).

What about that big headline, Nov. 22, 1963? It was the day President Jack Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Its cause is still being discussed and questions asked as to who was really responsible. And what about today? What date is being scrawled across the newspaper pages and continues as it has for the past ??? years as so many self-appointed experts say that January 2021 will go down, is going down already, into a history of today's generation.

As noted several times, socialism is being discussed and perused by many in powerful places. Won't it take much unity among strong Americans who have loved our system for so many years to overcome the challenges of the next several months and years? Such changes grow slowly but they spring up on occasions with demonstrations that are not peaceful as allowed by our Constitution ... but by burning, destructive and murderous actions that are making us ... well, a poor example today as a free democratic society. The ball is in our court. How will we be remembered?

Dodie Evans is the former owner and long-time editor of the "Gravette News Herald." Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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