Have we Made America Great Again?


A run yesterday morning was not unusual for me. Low 20’s with a slight headwind which is not particularly cold for Vermont this time of year. In fact, it is good running weather.  It wasn’t enough however as I was not producing enough endorphins to help me process the day before. Struggling to know what to do with myself, unable to focus on writing or painting as the weight of the insurrection and pandemic were crippling. Pacing around our small home accomplishing not much more than a few mandatory household tasks. Busy work. Mindless work. The coziness and quaintness of our living room faded like my hope. Sedition. Insurrection. Violence. Intimidation. Death. The United States Capitol. January 6, 2021. 

Feeling more claustrophobic than at home in our little house on the hill. I needed to take a walk.  A very long walk. I needed to feel the cold. I needed to feel the cold on my face. I needed to feel something. Anything. Anything but the horror and sadness of what we all witnessed just the day before yesterday. There was a surrealness to what was playing out on our television screen and I tried to find some mental protection while witnessing the frightening storming of the Capitol. Waving Trump flags. A large Jesus 2020 flag strategically located out front and in camera view.  Blasphemous to bring Jesus into this. Bright red MAGA hats disrespectfully being worn in the US Capitol during a sacred ceremony. Mask less faces in the angry crowd. Is this really how we define “making America great again?”

 Our hospitals are already overburdened with Covid-19 cases. American Covid-19 deaths soaring with more than 4000 Americans losing their life just yesterday. Every 6 seconds an American dies a Covid-19 related death in our country. Based on the numbers of rioters filling the screen I suspect a new wave of virus-related illnesses and deaths are just days away. Are we great yet?

A confederate flag held high and carried through the US Capitol Rotunda where only months ago civil rights activist and Representative John Lewis lay in state. January should have been the celebration of more history breaking political news out of Georgia as Rev. Raphael Warnock was elected as Georgia’s first black senator. Representative Lewis couldn’t even rest in peace and posthumously revel in the great historical importance of the day. Representative Lewis’ years of hard work and “good trouble” were being actualized but sadly and tragically being stomped on by this disrespectful and heinous group waving their confederate flag in the people’s Capitol tainting the air and the memories of all that the sacred Rotunda represents. That definitely doesn’t feel “great again.”

It took a brisk half mile before I could stop my brain from racing. My brain was as crowded as pre-pandemic Boston rush hour traffic. My dog, Cub and I kept our pace swift as I chose to try to out walk my sadness. The landscape beautiful. Reassuring. Untarnished beauty. Our walk traveled along the river. We passed an access point to the Appalachian Trail where we paused to let a plow remove a few inches of snow from the small parking space for the trail enthusiasts. Normal. Something regular in January was happening. I slowed down and enjoyed every blissful moment of normalcy. I glanced over to the river flowing under the small wooden bridge on the AT noticing the cold blue-black water up against the pure white snow with dark fieldstones making their presence known. I looked to the burble of the river for calmness as we continued on. Mountain streams flowing into the rivers symbolizes life in literature. The river is never static and is everchanging. So too is our country. If we allow lies and hatred to dictate our direction our river will stagnate and run dry leaving only the memory of what was once there…democracy.

“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.” 
― David Brower

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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