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Two Years, Ten Years Apart

By Mike Ruffin My Good Wife and I had the very good fortune of visiting the Newseum in Washington D.C. a couple of weeks ago. The Newseum is exactly what its name indicates: a museum of news. According to its website, ‘The mission of the Newseum ‘¦ is to increase public understanding of the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. Visitors experience the story of news, the role of a free press in major events in history, and how the core freedoms of the First Amendment ‘” religion, speech, press, assembly and petition ‘” apply to their lives.’ I highly recommend that you visit it. Two current exhibits in the Newseum invite us to reflect on the tumultuous and significant year 1968. One exhibit is called ‘The Marines and Tet: The Battle that Changed the Vietnam War.’ It features photographs taken by Stars and Stripes photographer John Olson during the Battle of Hue. This battle took place as part of the Tet offensive, during which North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces attacked over one hundred cities, villages, and bases in South Vietnam. American and South Vietnamese forces eventually beat back the assault, but the events of the Tet offensive helped change the attitudes of many Americans about the war. Those events seemed to show Americans that the war wasn’t going as well as our leaders had been telling us it was. The other exhibit is called ‘1968: Civil Rights at 50.’ The Civil Rights movement had been underway for many years, but 1968 featured many momentous events. They included the sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, the Poor People’s March on Washington, and the killing of three protestors and wounding of many others in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on April 4. His assassination triggered widespread unrest and violence. These were significant, world-changing events. Such occurrences affect us all, whether we realize it or not. They are huge events with national and even global effects. Two events that occurred ten years later were also very important. They both took place in June 1978. On June 4, I (and many others) graduated from Mercer University. On June 10, my Good Fiancée and I got married. There are no exhibits about either event, unless you count (as I do) the life we have built on those two ceremonies and on all the experiences that led up to them and followed them. I could scarcely scratch the surface in this limited space of what the last forty years have meant to me. I’ll just say that God’s grace and human love have given me more life than I could have possibly imagined during the week of those two ceremonies. I am and will always be grateful. Momentous events are always happening on the national and international scenes as well as in our personal lives. We can usually comprehend how smaller scale events affect us better than we can how larger scale occurrences do. The truth is, though, that the big events usually do affect our lives sooner or later whether or not we can see how. The truth also is that all of our small events work together to help create a collective consciousness that contributes to how our local, national, and global communities are going to develop. It behooves us to pay as much attention as we can to as much of what has happened and will happen as we can. It all somehow works together to bring meaning to our individual lives and to the life of the world. As we reflect, we’ll find much to celebrate; as we do, let’s commit to make good things better. As we reflect, we’ll also find much to be concerned about; as we do, let’s commit to bring good things out of bad.

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