Let’s Take the Wheel!


My last name is Freeland. I was born and raised in Independence, Missouri – recently moved but lived there my first 64 years. President Harry S Truman lived in Independence for 64 years as well, up to the day he died. Independence also boasts the start of the three trails to the west; the Oregon, California, and the Santa Fe Trails. My hometown is only 22 minutes by car away from Liberty, Missouri. This is the Midwest, the proclaimed ‘Heart of America.’

My dad served in the Navy during WWII on the USS North Carolina. He was then employed at the Independence Allis-Chalmers facility for many years, an assembly plant that built thousands of Gleaner tractor-combines during its 70 years of operation in Independence. Combines that were sold to thousands of farmers across the country.

You can’t get too much more American than that.

I love my country. I love it for what I believe it is capable of being. I love it for what it has been capable of. And I love it right now. I don’t wear flag t-shirts except on Independence Day. I don’t believe we need to make America great again because I believe it’s already great. And I don’t call French fries by the name American fries. Having said that, I believe I’m pretty damn patriotic.

However, at this point I’m scared for America. Let’s just say, for a visual picture I’ll explain by using the opening scene of  one my favorite movies, “Jaws.” The girl, Chrissie, is playfully running to the water from the beach. She’s with a boy who apparently is a little inebriated as he can’t even make it into the water without passing out. But Chrissie continues on without him. She dives in, splashing and having a great time until  something jerks her downward into the depths of the water. At first we as viewers don’t have a clue as to what is pulling her down into a watery grave but the slow and terrifying  conclusion is that a shark unlike any that has ever came within miles of this particular beach, will begin to terrorize everyone. This includes vacationers, townspeople, the politicians, and the authorities.

That’s how I view my country now. It seems like the largest creature we could ever imagine is eating away our very souls while it feeds on our freedoms, our integrity, our character. This creature loves to feast on its prey bit by bit, so like Chrissie, we don’t even know what the hell is going on, until we are consumed.

We used to cling to our beliefs and principles as Americans like Chrissie did the ringing buoy. But we have been pulled away just like her, by the creature, which is another primitive force lurking in the dark. It’s tearing us apart, slowly but just the same, it’s happening.

So, yeah, I’m afraid for my country. I know it still stands for all the values that I hold dear. As Americans, we still believe in fairness, justice, welfare, freedom, and choice – words found in our Constitution. I’m just not sure we are representing those words that well right now.

I’m American. My father was American. Chief Brody was a fictional American. Chrissie was, I’m pretty sure, a fictional American.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ,  Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib are all real Americans. As Americans, all are accountable but if we don’t get it together we don’t stand a chance. And sorry, Chief Brody, we don’t need a bigger boat this time, we need to take the wheel, so that we can turn this boat around.

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