It was really important for me to understand the Communist mentality because it informs the choices that people made. After years of terror, the citizens had learned not to question their government. Thus when Stalin ordered the evacuation of the children of Leningrad, it was done. It’s true that mothers put their children on trains, with their names pinned to their coats, with no real idea where those trains were going and when they would see their children again, if ever.
These words, spoken by Kristin Hannah when she wrote about researching Winter Garden, were gut wrenching. While I understand what drove these women to such desperate actions, I cannot imagine how they were able to walk away from their children.
Except for our new war on terror here in the United States, we have not fought a war on American soil since the Civil War. I hope this never happens again.
Listening to our new president wanting to limit press conferences and instill distrust in the media has made me uneasy. Shortly after the election, the president-elect tweeted: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”
Three months later, he famously tweeted: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
While other presidents have admitted to not being fond of the media, they knew its importance. President George W. Bush was constantly the source of negative comments, yet he understood the necessity of the news media: “I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”
If Americans begin to fear our government and stop questioning those in power—even the President—then we risk becoming like those citizens of the Soviet Union during that horrible time when my father lived there. I often wonder how he was able to write all those letters to the State Department, embassies, and even the Secretary of State after growing up during the Great Purge.
Look what is happening in Russia now, where we are hearing about journalists being killed under the Putin regime. We never what to become that nation. We need to protest, write letters, and question those in authority. That is what living in a free country is all about.