I’ve been extremely fortunate in my choice of parents and citizenship and era in which to live. Born soon after World War II, I grew up in a lower-middle-class, blue-collar family in Baton Rouge, a town with good, albeit lily-white, public schools at the pinnacle of the power and international influence of the United States. I went to college for little personal financial cost and got a good education. And, of course, I and everyone else took it all for granted, as humans do who know nothing else.

Trump

President Donald Trump arrives to an event to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

I was in the Air Force while America lost, largely due to fatuity and hubris, a major war for the first time. We Southerners inherited another major military loss from an earlier time and with similar causes and the more recent one may have stung even more because of it. And the United States soldiered on, stumbling from one quagmire to the next while materially squandering one of the premier fighting forces of world history. Over my lifetime, the United States has done many magnificent things of which I’ve been justly proud. I’ve also watched the country spend and spend in lives and gold, beat its genuinely lauded and honestly well-decorated military chest with sometimes misplaced bravado, wave the flag, take the easy financial road and go horribly into debt, mind everyone else’s business, and dither its greatness down. Maybe all that was inevitable; no individual, group, or nation stays at the top indefinitely. But it seems to me we’ve worked at being profligate.

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Now we have selected a boorish, ignorant, none-too-bright, narcissistic and self-aggrandizing liar for president who’s providing us a rocket assist toward mediocrity and international irrelevance. We are all like the proverbial frog sitting in the pan of water of incrementally increasing temperature, never quite making up its mind to hop out. We’ve adjusted to a new normal of a leader who’s light years from the best of us, rather more an embarrassing relative with whom most of us would prefer not to be associated. But die-hard Trump supporters and apologists are even worse, joyously and boastfully swimming in the warming pan, too dumb and deplorable to know what they have wrought.

Ron Sammonds

retired engineer

Baton Rouge