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Picking the rush hour traffic eastbound and westbound on Interstate 10, activists put banners over the highway on the Nairn Drive overpass protesting climate change Friday Sept. 20, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

As a young person starting out in the world, I knew that despite "Vietnam," my United States inspired pride because we had earned it.

We had stepped up to the plate in WWII to fight against what we recognized as wrong. We had a nation of producers, with "Made in America" meaning our factories were making real things and supporting our people with real jobs and real guaranteed pensions. We were driving on a brand-new interstate highway system, with our bridges and infrastructure in top-notch condition.

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We had begun to face our responsibility to our people with Medicare and Medicaid added to Social Security, and we had realized that we could not toss aside immigrants, people of color, other races, other religions and those of us still trapped in poverty. We had integrated our schools and sacrificed political gain to the promise of fair treatment and equal rights for all. We were reaching out to going past the moon, with everyone watching and applauding as we yet again demonstrated our creative spirit, innovation, and risk-taking. We were conquering medical issues that had seemed impossible with polio vaccines, heart transplants, and insights learned in our space race dreams, then applied to practical, down-to-earth issues. We could go to public places and to our houses of worship unafraid of becoming victims of mass murder. We could stand up for what we believe in, without fear, protesting publicly, marching on Washington, holding our political representatives who work for us responsible for what was being done in our name.

Consequently, we stood as a shining beacon to the world for our attempts at decency and inclusiveness, our innovation, and our demonstrated willingness to follow through on our forefathers’ promises for what would become our world's longest-standing republic.

That was then Look at us now. Not only is our republic on the line, but also our world.

Is it up to a 16-year-old Swedish kid, handicapped with Aspergers Syndrome, to stand up, mobilize others, and fight for what she believes in?

The folks who fought our American revolution and the honorable folks who have come after them must be hanging their heads in disbelief and shame.

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Now, at age 70, I can only look back and remember.

Leslie Runnels Isbell

retired journalist

Baton Rouge