In his weekly column at The American Spectator, Ben Stein explains his feelings about two trips to New Orleans, the first in the segregated 1960s, and the second last week. He writes:
First of all, it’s not racially segregated at all. Not one bit. Second, it has one of the two most dynamic museums in America: the National WWII Museum. That up-to-date museum features as its inviting inaugural display: a trolley car. Then there was a short but amazingly well-done hometown film of how the war was fought. It was electrifying and out-of-control emotional, as it showed American boys getting slaughtered at islands in the South Pacific. The screen flashed, and the narrator, Tom Hanks, talked to us as if we were in his living room in Malibu.
I sat there and sobbed like a baby. Just shook with sobs. A sobbing machine. Judah, who is 30 years younger than I am, was deeply moved, as well. Then there was a blinding flash of light and the movie was done and I sat outside and cried for an hour.
Why did I sob so much? What made me sob?
Partly it was because I had three cousins killed by the Nazis. Partly it was my father-in-law being awarded the Silver Star in Germany. Partly it was because so many died to save the world for human decency.
But largely it was because we won that war at home, too. We won that war by making racial oppression illegal here, too. I can still recall blacks getting treated like dirt on southern U.S. rail lines while captured Luftwaffe officers were treated like officers and gentlemen.
Now that’s all gone and we have an America on an ever-widening Pullman to freedom. I don’t really know why I cried so much. I just know that when I came back to the hotel, all I could think about was a phrase: The Ethical Revolution in America. And glory, glory, glory to all who made it happen on Tarawa and Tulagi and Cassino and on the high seas and in Mississippi and places like the Pettus Bridge. God bless this greatly beloved America, home of the Ethical Revolution of the 21st century. Beacon of liberty for all mankind.
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