When I read the recent letters from cry-baby Republican and Libertarian losers, I am reminded of all the reasons to be thankful for the government we have, and all the benefits I have received. First, I am thankful for Abraham Lincoln, a Republican president who signed the Land Grant College Act in 1862 to provide federal public land toward the establishment of a land grant college in each state. I was educated at four of those colleges: Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Utah State, and the University of Montana.
Then I am thankful for the vision of Benjamin Harrison, a Republican president who set aside the federal Timberland Reserves in 1891 to protect timber and streams from ruin by private interests, and to Theodore Roosevelt, another Republican, who made those Timberland Reserves into National Forests and created the u.s. Forest Service in 1905. I have worked, hunted, fished, and studied in national forests from Virginia to California, and from Arizona to Alaska.
Next I am thankful for Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democratic president who put hundreds of thousands of men to work when I was a child in the Great Depression, and his Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that built so many of the buildings, bridges, roads, and trails for me to use when I lived and worked in the national forests. And I am thankful again to FDR for his 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (the GI Bill of Rights) that helped to pay for my post-graduate education at two land grant colleges after eight years of Army service.
I am thankful for Rachel Carson who wrote Silent Spring in 1962 and introduced the metaphors of science to nature writing while using scientific data to influence public policy. Believe it or not, I am also thankful for Richard Nixon, a Republican president who, like Lincoln, Harrison, and Teddy Roosevelt, had the interests of future citizens in mind when he signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969 and created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. President Nixon also gave us the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Waters Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973), almost all growing out of citizen awareness aroused by Rachel Carson’s book.
And finally, because I am retired now I am thankful for Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democratic president, who in 1965 signed an amendment to the Social Security Act that established Medicare as a health insurance program for citizens over 65. However, I am ineligible for Social Security retirement, so depend largely upon investments, dividends, and capital gains, but I am quite willing to pay higher taxes on that income as my dues for occupying space in this country.
H. W. Gabriel