Four generations of Americans

By Edward Achorn

Years ago, my sister, Nancy Engberg, an award-winning amateur photographer, took a fragile glass negative from my father’s hands and made a print from it.

The sepia-toned image that emerged offered a striking glimpse of a sunny day in 1922 on the front lawn of 80 Court Street, in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Four generations had gathered: Civil War veteran John F. Mead, wearing his uniform; his petite daughter, Josephine Mead Comey, better known as Josie; her daughter, Mabel Louise (Comey) Achorn; and her infant son, Robert Comey Achorn.

They are, respectively, my great great grandfather, my great grandmother, my grandmother and my father.

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The lessons of Memorial Day

By Edward Achorn

The COVID-19 disaster had many depressing effects. One is that it has underscored that many Americans do not seem to understand their basic rights, the nature of their Constitution and how their government works.

Unless Americans reconnect with how this country is supposed to work, and why it remains a beacon of hope to oppressed people around the world, it is hard to see how our freedoms will survive.

An understanding of history is a crucial part of that, because it informs us of the nature of most human societies, and how rare and magnificent our blessings are.

History also acquaints us with the cruel cost of protecting these freedoms. This weekend we mark Memorial Day. Barbecues and sunshine are part of the celebration, even in this grim year, but the day is really about those who laid down their lives to preserve this country.

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We didn’t close America in 1957-1958

By Edward Achorn

I was born in 1957. That’s me at the piano — late that year, I think — with my older sisters Susan (middle) and Nancy.

That fall, a deadly flu was tearing through America.

It ended up killing some 116,000 Americans — in a country that, with 170 million people, had about half the population of today’s America.

Even using inflated numbers, about 95,000 have died so far from the coronavirus, by comparison.

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