My wife and I recently watched the five-part series “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” on UNC-TV. Producer Ken Burns captured with clarity and emotional detail the life-and-death challenges Americans faced in the early 20th century: two World Wars and a Great Depression all in less than 30 years.
My grandparents and parents survived but, like many American families, their lives were forever changed. In World War I, an uncle was gassed in the trenches of France. During the Depression, my grandparents lost their general store and were forced back to the land. And in World War II, a son was killed in action with Patton’s army in Germany. During the blitz, my British mother was wounded in a Nazi bombing raid.
Today we have many pressing issues, and the world is still dangerous. But we are caught up in the constant “crisis” of the moment. The 24-hour news cycle, the Internet and social media have us on edge. The Daily Beast is insatiable. Perspective is important.
In the film “Wag the Dog,” Dustin Hoffman’s character is beset with seemingly insurmountable problems. His response to all the “crises,” “This is nothing!” Compared with what the Roosevelts and our families lived through, I must agree.
William Gray, Raleigh