Happy Fourth of July!

I hope you find good ways to replace our longstanding community expressions of joy through parades and fireworks. It is going to be different, but I trust everyone can find a grill, a cool drink, and cornhole boards. A shade tree, kids playing in the yard, and no chores can make the day perfect.

But of course this Independence Day is clouded by the reality of 20 million people being out of work, some of whom will be part of another 20 million worried about losing health insurance if President Donald Trump has his way.

We have millions of Americans saying “enough already” with two standards of justice, and, finally, the unbelievable account of mob boss, and President of Russia, Vladimir Putin putting a bounty on the best of us.

Of these, we trust the economy rebounds, our scientists will find a cure, the courts will protect the people and at long last, the divisions between Black and white will begin to heal.

What will not happen is for those needlessly lost to COVID-19 to be resurrected. There was a time we collectively took offense when those diseased with AIDS carelessly, intentionally, passed the sickness on through unprotected activities. But today we have an uncaring president encouraging that same unkindness, of oblivious disease sharing, by discouraging the simplest of precautions: wearing a mask.

Nor can we revive the Marines lost because the Russians perhaps paid to have them killed.

There will be a number of folks who will feel satisfied with the White House’s disclaimers and deflections from responsibility. But how can it not be a problem that our Commander in Chief was not made aware of such a conceivable and worrisome threat?

We should want our president to have the benefit of the best intelligence in the world focused on that which threatens us the most. We should also want a leader who is willing to put down his golf clubs until assured a threat on our military personnel is 100% untrue. Finally, one could hope the nation could be directly and properly informed that if found true, the full brunt of this country’s power would back a demand of comrade Putin to cease and accept penalties, or be deceased.

When our brave young volunteer to serve, dutifully report where assigned, they must be assured that the nation is honor bound to stand with them.

The president has denied science, over and over again saying the pandemic would soon be over; while promoting snake oil cures. And now he is denying the Central Intelligence Agency’s suspicions, backed with evidence of bank transfers, that the Russians are paying to have our soldiers killed.

As with Russian election interference; Mr. Trump seems more comfortable in believing the assertions of Mr. Putin as opposed to interpretations of data and activities as offered by our threat experts.

Unlike the Trumps, less wealthy families proudly see their sons and daughters off to war but it is never without fear. Little sons and daughters may not understand why mommy or daddy are leaving but they know they miss them and look anxiously to their coming home.

When they do not return, or when the vibrant become the disabled, the hurt and harm is forever. It is perfectly understandable that those families interpret all combat news through a prism of concern.

Consider then how the folks back home felt to read Putin is offering a bounty on their service member, that the president says he is unaware, yet chooses his relaxation over action and reassurances.

It is said that when Henry David Thoreau was jailed for not paying a poll tax, Ralph Waldo Emerson asked, “Why are you in jail?”

To which Thoreau replied, “Why are you not here?”

I find myself thinking about this exchange when considering how many will feel about my criticizing the president. To which my response is “why are you not?”.

We have so many sick and dying, so many out of work, so many unwilling to continue living under fear, and now our soldiers under threat from a ruthless dictator, that none of us can afford to stay on the sidelines.

From the hospital rooms, from the unemployment lines, from the dying breaths of the marginalized, and from battlefield fallen, we are called to be of larger purposes. Our nation continues to be a work in process. Let that work lead to a more principled, more caring America.

Tracy Pyles, a former chairman and member of

the Augusta County Board of Supervisors who lives in

Augusta County, is a columnist for The News Virginian.

His column is published Saturdays.

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