Land of Lincoln, land of Trump
WOODRIDGE, Illinois — After a few days of orientation in this small, midwestern community, my son finally allowed me to drive around. My first stop with Penny was St. Margaret Mary Church, just a few minutes away from the family home. Early morning Mass was followed by breakfast at Egg Harbor, a popular eatery in downtown Naperville.
It is a joy to drive here. People follow the rules and you just have to do the same. Our two granddaughters are doing very well. The younger one, Nicole, placed second in figure-skating competitions in Wisconsin, while Christine is about to start law school in Boston next month.
On our latest trip to the “Land of Lincoln,” we decided to visit Washington, DC, the nation’s capital. Our last visit here must have been more than 10 years ago. We were fortunate to be assisted by our defense attaché at the Philippine Embassy, Col. Marlo Guloy, PMA Class of 1990. Marlo is the son of retired Air Force colonel Juan Guloy Jr. of Isabela. He grew up in Villamor Air Base, but after graduation, he decided to join the Army instead of following in his father’s footsteps.
Colonel Guloy is an old hand in the intelligence business. A few years ago, he was assigned with the 10th Infantry Division under Gen. Eduardo Año. A special task force, “Minion,” was organized by Año solely to hunt down Leoncio Pitao, alias Commander Parago, a notorious NPA chief in the Davao Region who was responsible for the killing of soldiers, policemen and businessmen unwilling to pay the revolutionary taxes being imposed by the rebels. Parago was subsequently neutralized.
Incidentally, the Class of 1990 appears to dominate AFP overseas postings. In New York alone, we have Navy captain Ruben Fajardo, liaison officer at the United Nations; retired Air Force colonel Bruce Concepcion, the class valedictorian, an ambassador-at-large for transnational crimes; and retired major Arnold Silva, son of Brig. Gen. Arsenio Silva, Class of 1955, also at the United Nations.
In other countries, Air Force colonel Ralph Mamauag is the defense attaché in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Army colonel Raul Villanueva holds the same post in Israel, while Army colonel Dennis Gammad is our man in Australia. The class already has a number of star rank officers; one of the more prominent is
Brig. Gen. Oliver Artuz, who holds the position of senior military assistant to the President.
For me, the most impressive monument in the US capital, a city noted for its numerous landmark statues and shrines, is the Lincoln Memorial. It carries the dedication: “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”
To fully appreciate the monument, one must be willing, especially senior citizens, to negotiate a number of steep steps before reaching the statue of the Great Emancipator. But it is worth the time and effort to spend a few minutes just gazing at his statue and taking in his Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural speech, both inscribed on the walls of separate chambers that make up the memorial. No one leaves the place without a deep sense of awe and reverence for the man who sought to “bind up the nation’s wounds … in order to achieve a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Today, the “Land of Lincoln” is the “Land of Trump.” And it is a deeply divided land brought about mainly by the harsh rhetoric of dissension, demagoguery and intolerance. Instead of welcoming “the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” it is a land that is building walls in order to keep people out. And, often, it targets people of color, or of a different religion.
It has alienated its next-door neighbors, Canada and Mexico, as well as many of its close European allies with tariffs and intemperate language. Its core family values are under a dark cloud with the recent forced separation of some 2,000 to 3,000 children (the US government has no accurate figures) from their parents or relatives at the US-Mexico border, and no one knows when they will be reunited.
Let us be prudent, keeping all these developments in mind as we try to figure out what is in the best interests of our country in the years ahead. The world is changing. We must not forget that we are part of Asia. We cannot afford to rely on old alliances. We must pursue new directions that will bring us closer to our roots, even though the journey may be long and difficult.
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