So there is Abraham Lincoln -- Henry Fonda, actually, in a stovepipe hat -- walking toward the horizon as the gorgeous strains of an orchestra swell up behind him. Soon the orchestra is joined by a choir, the strings and the voices blending into a beautiful, almost ethereal, rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Thunder crackles in the cinematic sky.
As you are standing in an airport security line this Thanksgiving week, waiting to be funneled into one of the invasive new body-imaging machines, or, if you decline that, to be pulled aside and subjected to a way-too-personal pat-down, ask yourself how you would feel if you lived in a country like this:
The localness of what we did down at the paper defined everything. Even as a kid brand-new to the staff and brand-new to the newspaper business, hired to work during summer vacations, I could tell that.
Celebrities and their bodies. We're obsessed. They're obsessed. And it spills over to how many people feel about themselves. But how much concern over weight gain is about vanity and how much is about critical health issues?
"We have to keep up with the world," said Laurel Selkin, in Rapid City, South Dakota. "This has always been a peaceful, loving haven, a place to sit and reflect and be able to think. That part won't change."
There is a sound we have come to take utterly for granted, as instantly recognizable as the reliable resonance of baseball games on the radio, or the timbre of the television weathercaster telling us whether it will rain tomorrow morning.