Having grown up in the middle of World War II, I have always been patriotic. We were the good guys. We stand for liberty, freedom, and the rights of all. I was aware from a young age that we didn’t live up to our ideals. I experienced religious bigotry. Living in a racially segregated city, I saw racial bigotry, though I was not one of its victims. I was keenly aware of the gap between ideals and reality. I imagined that our society would progress, expanding rights and freedoms over time to everyone. At the moment, we are in a period of regression. The hopefulness that I felt has almost evaporated.

I used to love the Fourth of July and the surge of national pride and optimism that went with it. Today, after three years of an ignorant, bigoted, crude, foul-mouthed leader who puts his political fortunes above the lives and liberties of our citizens, I don’t feel like celebrating.

Whatever else Trump has done, he has extinguished any sense of exceptionalism. He has made us look squarely at the fact that about 40% of our fellow citizens endorse his noxious actions.

My hope for the future is that America will once again, someday, be the America of our ideals and dreams. I hope to live to see a rebirth of kindness, compassion, love for others, respect for the commons, civic duty, social responsibility, love of nature, decency, and all those other currently out-of-fashion virtues that we once celebrated. This is a dark time. Let it soon pass into history as a sordid chapter in our national life.