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Looking back, looking ahead
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Awakening Jan. 1, 2010, I gave thanks that the difficult 2009 was really over. As one of the herd, I had dutifully welcomed the New Year in at the stroke of midnight, but even as the ball dropped in New York’s Times Square, it seemed like a dream. Or, more accurately, like a nightmare.

It was if 2009 were a railroad train; though the little red caboose had passed by, I could still see the lanterns swaying to and fro as the old year slowly receded into oblivion.

There have been rough years before — 1963 was rough, the year John F. Kennedy was assassinated; 1968 was rough, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam led to the deadliest year of that war, America experienced tumultuous anti-war demonstrations, and carnage occurred at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

More recently, 2001 was recorded as one of America’s most difficult years. At first blush, you’d think no American alive in 2001 would ever forget the horror and tragedy of that Sept. 11, but I wonder at times if that is so.

At any rate, I’m thankful 2009 is history. Just 50 weeks ago, in mid-January, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger flew into America’s collective heart and Pantheon of Heroes when he landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River without the loss of a single person.

At the time, I wrote that I hoped "Sully" had not used up all the good karma allotted to America for the entire year on that Jan. 15. In retrospect, I was prescient, indeed.

Barrack Hussein Obama II was sworn into office the next week as the first black president of the United States of America. In less than a month, he signed a $787 billion Omnibus Spending Bill which was supposed to stimulate America’s economy and make everything alright.

Things rocked along, nationally, until summer arrived. In June, the H1N1 virus reemerged and was declared a global pandemic, the "King of Pop" Michael Jackson died unexpectedly while preparing a comeback tour, and Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for devastating the fortunes of untold thousands of investors.

In the old days, summer ended on Labor Day. But as July drew to a close in 2009, Newton County Schools were already in session. August arrived and with it the swearing in of the first female Hispanic Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

I’m still waiting for someone to show me where, exactly, the United States Constitution says that all racial groups present in American society must be represented on the Supreme Court bench. And I’m wondering: where are the Indians? The American Indians were here first, you know.

Ted Kennedy, the erstwhile "lion of the Senate," died in August. With President Obama’s proposed federal healthcare plan teetering, Massachusetts changed state law and appointed another Democrat to Kennedy’s seat to assure Obama a key vote.

Despite coast-to-coast demonstrations against government healthcare, Congress continued toward embracing it. The Senate eventually voted straight down party lines, as Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson raped America’s taxpayers by withholding the key vote until hundreds of billions of dollars and Medicare funding were added to the bill for his state’s largesse.

All of that paled in November when a Muslim Army doctor went on a rampage, massacring 13 and injuring dozens more at Fort Hood, Texas. The man had been in contact with radical Muslims, yet will be afforded rights under the law?

At Christmas, a Muslim radical attempted to blow up a Delta flight bound for Detroit from Amsterdam. And he will be afforded rights under the law, instead of being treated as the international terrorist he is?

Here, in our little corner of the world, 2009 was a rough one, also. Two of our finest, Sheriff’s Deputies Wesley Atha and James Trent, were shot in the line of duty. The silver lining emerging from the incident’s dark cloud is a campaign to provide every officer with a top-of-the-line flak vest. I hope you’ll contribute to the fund through the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, c/o Apryle Jones, 15151 Alcovy Road, Covington, Ga. 30014.

The year roared toward a rocky ending in these parts when local County Commissioner J. C. Henderson was arrested for assault. Public records show an incredible 113 distress calls placed to 911 from that same residence, yet full disclosure in the aftermath of this publicly elected official’s arrest has gone away.

2009 was a nightmare in my book. Hopefully, 2010 brings a dose of common sense for Congress, a return to decent, upright, civil behavior from our elected officials, a renewed support from our citizenry for our peace officers, a time of prosperity and good health for all Americans, and an advance toward eventual world peace.

If so, 2010 will be a dream come true, indeed.


Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.