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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Politics - And Growing Up in an Era of an Unpopular War

DadPortrait-2.jpg by you.

Having grown up the daughter of a very active politician, I know, full well, the toll that politics play on children.  My dad, in my eyes, was bigger than life.  He doted on me all the time, and made me feel like I was his pride and joy.  Every little girl should have such problems, right?  I was his only little girl, and the youngest in the family.  Oh, to be a little girl and have such problems.  So, when he started campaigning for U.S. Senate in 1962 and Congress in 1964, and he ran for House of Delegates and again for U.S. Senate in the 70s.  I was small and out-of-touch, but I was a proud daughter.

SimmsforSenator1962.jpg by you.

I listened to everything my father said, and all of his opinions.  I didn't understand all that he was discussing, but I did try to grasp what he was saying. 

Now that I am an adult (or at least I think I'm one), I've formed my own opinions about politics, and if there is one thing I know for sure now, it's that my father was, well, a bit over-the-top in his views.  Then again, maybe it was just the times we were living in.  Times were tough back then.  They were a lot different than the times we are living in today.

DadCampaignAd1962_Step3_SlightLighten.jpg by you.

There was the Vietnam War raging strongly on peoples minds, much like the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan is now.  But back then, we didn't have the ability to communicate with our loved ones like we do now.  Thank God for the internet and email!  Thank God for 24 hour news like CNN and MSNBC!  We didn't have those luxuries back in the 60s.  We had NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX.  It was in black & white.  It was a luxury just having a television back then. 

DadCampaigning_CloneStampCorrection.jpg by you.

The 1960s were an important era in American history - it began by the domination of John F. Kennedy's Presidency and the Civil Rights Movement.  That was a big thing back in the 60s, and if you think about it, that wasn't too long ago.  The equal rights we take for granted now were non-existent back in the 60s and the war was on in our own streets.

DadduringCampaignwithMomandMe_Step1_SlightLighten.jpg by you.

Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and I can recall sitting in my living room with my Mom.  She was sitting  on the sofa behind me and I was sitting in front of the television in my pretty new dress from Sears and new shoes.  Mom wanted to watch the news and then Walter Cronkite came on about the Kennedy assassination.  Mom was in shock.  She was glued to the television.  I didn't understand what was going on and remember worrying that my daddy would be shot too. 

SimmsforSenatorBlueFlyers-2.jpg by you.

My dad worked in Real Estate Development and was very successful, but I didn't understand all those things back then.  In 1963 I was 4 years old.  My brain was hardly a blip on the radar.  All I knew was that my Daddy was involved in politics and politics killed.  I didn't want him to ever leave home again. 

DadandMe_SlightLightenandSuperFunHappy.jpg by you.

Daddy comforted me.  Like he always did.  He'd lift me up into his big, strong arms and talk to me like I was all grown up.  He valued my feelings, my opinion (even though I was only 4) and he respected me.  Not many kids can say that, and I feel enormously blessed to have grown up with a father and mother who made me feel important and valued.  Lord knows I do the same for my own kids - a lesson from my own childhood brought full circle.

MomandDadoutonaDate.jpg by you.

Still, the 1960s were tough years for America.  Lyndon Johnson became President following Kennedy's assassination and he followed in his footsteps to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Again, this was a big deal in American history!  I recall, again, sitting in front of our console television set with the entire family watching Johnson being sworn into office.  I don't know what it was about him, but for some reason, I didn't like Johnson, and you know what?  I can honestly say I don't think it had anything to do with parental opinion.  He just came across to me as being a shady man.  Never underestimate your instincts - even if you are only 4 years old! 

DadStory-4.jpg by you.

Back to our discussion - By the middle of the 1960s the streets from coast-to-coast were populated by protestors of the war, and rioting.  It consumed the nightly news, but Walter Cronkite was the epitome of composure through it all, except, of course, when Kennedy was assassinated.  He cried.  He got all choked up.  I remember it as if it were just last month.  Amazing the things that get burned into our memory as a child.

DadPortrait.jpg by you.

What more could possibly happen to upset an already traumatic era?  How about the assassination of 2 of this country's most promising leaders - Martin Luther King (the voice and leader of the Civil Rights Movement) and Robert F. Kennedy?  This led to more grief and violence amid a country that was clearly already falling apart.  The Vietnam War was so unpopular, and Johnson was so out-of-touch with what was going on that he didn't even bother to seek re-election.  It was totally out of control.

MomandDadinBrookevilleonTractor.jpg by you.

My brother Mike (the one in the 47 jersey) was attending the University of Maryland and was involved with my father in campaigning.  He didn't get involved in all the drugs and hippy culture things goin' on.  He did, however, get drafted (his draft number was 2) and got on a plane to boot camp.  Fortunately, because he was attending college, he was able to serve our country in the Air Force here at home.  He didn't have to go to Vietnam.  Thank God for blessings like that.

DadwithJessel.jpg by you.

Richard Nixon won the Presidential election in 1968 and my parents got all dressed up in their finest Washington garb and attended Nixon's inauguration party.  Nixon was probably the best foreign-relations President this country ever had.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that his 14 terms in office were marked with the Watergate scandal, but come on folks, without Nixon, this country would have been in a world of hurt (get it?  world of hurt?  I know, this isn't really a time to be witty).  Still, that time marked stressed foreign relations across the globe. 

DadTalkinginBrookeville.jpg by you.

Nixon's presidency was also marked by a detente with the Soviet Union.  That was a biggie.  Then Nixon opened up communications and diplomatic relations with China.  This had a major impact, because it brought our troops home from Viet Nam.  Then in 1972, Nixon screwed it all up when 5 guys working for the Republicans were arrested for bugging the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel.  It was soon discovered that the break-in had ties to the White House and Nixon.  My dad was pissed.  (and that's putting it mildly).  My dad was beside himself upset.  I can still hear him yelling at the television set and cussin' something awful. 

NixonNeedsSimms.jpg by you.

You see, back in the years that Nixon was in office, my dad ran for U.S. Senate again, and this time his motto was "Nixon Needs Simms."  Yeah, I'd have to say so.  Maybe if he had won a seat in the Senate, Nixon would not have been so stupid.  I know, I know, the possibility that my father, somehow, would have changed the course of Nixon's administration is about as likely as me walking on the moon someday, but hey! It was a thought - although a strange one. 

But, when I was a kid, I liked to think that somehow my father's involvement in politics and working for the people, somehow changed things for the better.  I'd surely like to think so. 

MomandDadsittingonFenceinBrookeville.jpg by you.

You see, my father passed away at the tender age of 55 in 1980.  Far too young to be going home.  I was 5 months pregnant at the time with my daughter, Kimberly, who is now 27 years old.  I was a daddy's girl, and my father's passing sent me over the edge.  And besides, I was only 21, newly married, and the mother of a toddler and a new baby.  What did I know?  Nothin'.  Absolutely nothin' at all.  I needed my daddy, and he left me on my own.  Sure, I had my mother, but there's a big difference when you're a daddy's girl. 

MomandDadinfrontofBrookevilleHouse.jpg by you.

Politics have a way of affecting all of us, and having grown up in a time of turmoil, transition, war, riots, and heavy-duty politics - with a father who was actively involved in all of it - I know that this election and campaign must also be affecting the young daughters of our current candidates. 

DadwithBigTie.jpg by you.

Putting that all aside, let's not forget what the real issues are here at home and in a time of war, and vote based on good judgment, sound judgment, and a look at the facts.  You see, we have more at our disposal now than we ever could have dreamed possible back in the 1960s.  We have the internet - that information highway that has no end in sight.  Use it.  If you are reading this, then you can Google to your heart's content.  Research.  Don't leave any questions unanswered, and be an educated voter.  You'll be glad you did.  Bottom line -  being  Democrat or Republican isn't the hard line politics that it once was, and it doesn't clearly outline what the true liberal or conservative views are.  Deep down I think we are all a little of both.  It's about following your beliefs.  Look at where the candidates stand on the issues, especially the issues that are important to you - and vote for the candidate that best supports your own personal views. 

MomandDadonSwinginBrookeville.jpg by you.

That is what makes this country great - your VOTE really does count.  It counts a helluva lot.  Your VOTE makes history.  So make history this year and VOTE - but do your due diligence first and research.  Then follow your conscience - and make it an educated one.


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