Mama always gave me a new penny

Joe Crews
Mama always gave me a new penny after we sang together.
INSIGHTS, by Joe Howard Crews
- July 4, 2006

Today is her birthday. Iíve always gone to her birthday party for as long as I can remember. Itís just something I have always done and something I have always looked forward to doing. Itís was always such a happy occasion. But this year I donít think I will go. A couple of other people in the family have told me the same thing. I just wonder how she will feel when I donít show up. I just can't take all those noisy people. They hurt my ears. Maybe I am just getting too sensitive in my older years.

I think she was born in 1776. That makes her 235 years old today, and I don't think I heard anybody even mention that. Isn't that strange? You always have to know how many candles to put on the cake. What has happened to that old lady. Do people just get mean and unlovable in their old age? Has she forgotten who she is? Or is it me? I thought old folks were supposed to become respected and - what's the word? The word we use for Senator Robert Byrd? Esteemed? August? Wizened? Venerable. VENERABLE! That's the word. Somehow none of these seem to fit anymore.

What hurts so bad is that she is our mother. How can anybody feel this way about their own mother? I'm saying this to you in secret, because we aren't supposed to say bad things about our own mother, and some people get really upset when you say something bad about her. But then all the neighbors are saying it - openly. Our dear aunt, her own sister who lives across the pond, publicly said what all the neighbors, good and bad, are saying. Perhaps you even read it in the paper:

ďBritons Tire of Cruel, Vulgar U.S. - Poll
July 3, 2006

"People in Britain view the United States as a vulgar, crime-ridden society obsessed with money and led by an incompetent president whose Iraq policy is failing, according to a newspaper poll.

ďThe United States is no longer a symbol of hope to Britain and the British no longer have confidence in their transatlantic cousins to lead global affairs, according to the poll published in The Daily Telegraph.

ďMore than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination. And 81 per cent of those who took a view said President George W Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests.

ďIn answer to other questions, a majority of the Britons questions described American as uncaring, divided by class, awash in violent crime, vulgar, preoccupied with money, ignorant of the outside world, racially divided, uncultured and in the most overwhelming result (90 percent of respondents) dominated by big business.Ē

I donít know about you, but this made me want to cry. I'm crying right now. And today is her birthday. I canít even make a cup of coffee. It's 6:25 in the morning, and all I can do is cry. It just got worse when I picked up the morning paper and read the headline on the front page:

ďEx-G.I. Held in 4 Slayings and Rape in Iraq
The New York Times

July 4, 2006

Federal prosecutors said Steven D. Green, a 21-year-old former private, raped an Iraqi girl and killed her and three family members.Ē

My Lord! What has happened to our family! I read about that little girl - the one those boys raped. They talked with the little girl's mother. The girl was just fifteen years old - and such a pretty little girl. Abeer Hamza - just fifteen! - and she was afraid, her mother confided to a neighbor. Afraid of those boys who had been leering and ogling her. What must her mother have felt. She feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, to their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there. But they came and got her any how - in the middle of the night.


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