Robert LeeContributing Columnist


Penny candy. Nickel Coke-Cola. I pumped gas at 17 and 18 cents a gallon. Kerosene was only five cents a gallon. I was born and raised at a time when things did change from time to time, but not at a time where it changed almost every day.

“Leave it to Beaver,” “Andy Griffith,” “Ozzie and Harriet” — these were some of the TV shows that we watched during my childhood. Those TV shows were a look at the people of that time period. They were all about families.

The families of today are far and few in between. Far too many children are born out of wedlock. These children need both parents to be in the picture. We now have a rap music culture in this country that promotes disrespect and violence toward women. We have children having children, with no idea of how to raise these children. The reason being: they were cast to the side by their own parents.

When I first came to Richmond County 42 years ago as a young Marine, I saw Mayberry all over again in Rockingham. After my tour of duty with the Marines was over, I did come back. I came to love this county because of one person — Bo Grooms .

We met while we were stationed together in the Marines. I was taken in by his family and treated as though I was a part of his family. I can also say that everyone I met treated me with nothing but respect.

During the days of the early ’70s we were still citizens of Mayberry. There was no true drug problems in this county. Sure there were those that smoked pot from time to time, but that was about it.

As Hollywood grew, our problems also grew. Step by step, we went from Mayberry to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” then to “The Walking Dead.” Meth labs, killer video games — our children and our grandchildren have been desensitized to violence and death. Who did this you ask ? We did, by allowing actors and rock stars to become to big of a part of our children’s lives.

Pop the video in. Let the video be the parent. Let the child look up to the rock star. I want to be my child’s friend. I don’t want to upset my child, so now you let the child run wild as an animal of the street, and now you wonder why little Billy goes to jail every other year and has four children out of wedlock with four different girls that you allowed to spend the night at your house. All because you did not want to be the parent, you just wanted to be his friend.

You also had the excuse that: “I just can’t do anything with him.”

It’s not that you could not do anything with him, you just gave up on him as a parent. The child’s biggest problem was you let him act out what he was seeing on TV, just to keep peace with the little monster that you helped to create. I point my finger at no one, we all have made mistakes.

The most violence that we were going to see on TV during the early ’70s was going to be “Gunsmoke” as Matt Dillon shot the bad man. Sex, on TV, I don’t think so. The most sex that you were going to see was on”I Love Lucy.” Yes it was in the bedroom, but the bedroom had two beds. Lucy and Ricky both had pajamas on; there was no skin to be seen with this married couple.

My heart longs for these bygone days, never to be seen again.

What I fear is what the youth of this proud country will create if they do not receive the guidance and true understanding that is needed to go forward.

The guidance that I refer to has to be combined with common sense. That is what this country is based upon. I have to say that common sense is in short supply in the day and time that we live in. All we have to do is look to the past and our past leadership.

These were strong-willed men and women that were raised by no-nonsense parents. I have to say that it was my generation that dropped the ball — not in all cases, but in far too many. It was too easy to just do things that our children should have been doing and learning from the experience.

I remember a friend telling me a story about how he had paid his daughter $20 to wash the kitchen dishes and clean the house. This child was 12 years old. A very nice girl that showed respect to everyone. A child to be proud of. The child had no idea of what it was to truly clean anything. The father was, to say the leas,t very disappointed in his daughter’s abilities. He asked his daughter’s mother, “Have you not taught our daughter how to clean a plate properly?” The response from the mother was, “It’s easier for me to do it, then to show her how to.”

Step back and open up your eyes. This response was wrong. I understand it, but I don’t agree with it. You show your children through example the right way to do things. If you do not teach them the right way to do things, then they have no idea of how to overcome obstacles later on in their own personal life.

In this politically correct world that we live in, some of our young ones, but not all of them, are offended by anything that you say to them if they do not agree with it. Give me a break and get over it. Stand up and take responsibility for your words and your actions. I have had my feelings hurt more than I care to think back on. But guess what? It did not destroy me or the world. I overcome the adversity and went forward with my life. It makes for a much stronger man or woman.

Baby our children and that is what you get latter on in life with these people — adult babies. Ones that are not capable of doing anything for themselves.

Think about these next words of mine: How many of you know grandparents that are raising their grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren? The numbers are sickening. I know, if they do not do it then the grandchild will be lost. A parent that is capable of taking care of their own child but chooses to be selfish and think only about their self-gratification and drug usage should be punished and pay for what they have done to their child.

I love this county with all my heart and soul. We must make a stand to turn it around, if for no other reason than our children.

Robert Lee is a concerned citizen and U.S. Marine veteran who owns and operates Rockingham Guns and Ammo. His column appears here each Saturday.

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