I am a baby boomer, born in the 1950s and raised in the ’60s and ’70s. My childhood years in rural Kentucky were idyllic. We were poor, but I didn’t know it, for we never lacked any necessities. Dad was at work during the day, while Mother ran the house and cared for me and my two younger brothers. After supper, Dad would turn on our black and white TV and we would watch the nightly news. I remember grainy, rolling images of Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, bringing us news of national and international concern. We listened intently as these journalistic giants with sober countenances relayed all the events of importance to us, the concerned public. As a child, I didn’t understand how events intertwine to shape our future, but I did have one overall feeling about my country: America was strong.

America’s strength was evident in many ways. I saw strength of character as I watched thousands march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to once and for all give every American their due equal rights. I witnessed America’s strength of resolve in the Cuban missile crisis, when we stood toe to toe with Russia, without so much as blinking an eye. Later, I saw the depth of compassionate strength when we, as a nation, mourned the loss of beloved leaders. My history books told of America’s strength as a gracious victor in war, assisting and rebuilding Germany and Japan, so that their latter estate was better than the first.

America’s strength did not come from our military, though they were a formidable and mighty deterrent to any who stood against truth and justice. It did not come from our economy, but was shored up by our free market and the pull of the American Dream that reached every corner of the globe. America stood as a knight of old, sworn to uphold justice, and offer protection and succor to anyone who was denied their due. The strength of America came from every citizen, resolved to do their best, work their hardest and show compassion and friendship to all. Our light shone out across the hemispheres, bidding people to ask for a better life and strive for a better future. Our foundations were our basic principles of equality, liberty, freedom and compassion. We could all try our best, and if we failed, then we could get back up and try again. There was no condemnation of either failure or success; both were considered the evidence of self-reliance and work ethic. In the world, America stood for those with the strength and resources to protect and defend. America’s foundation of military might, economic strength and Judeo-Christian values made our country the greatest nation that has ever existed in the world’s history.

But today, America’s light has dimmed. We no longer stand for economic strength, but rather see our future being sucked away by unbridled spending. Our role as defenders of justice and truth seems almost laughable, as we compromise and apologize into a cowardly posture of supplication, begging and bribing other countries to do right by their own citizens. We have no resolve, no spine and no plan to change our condition. The world looks at us and wonders where has America of old gone?

Times change. Demographics change. But America’s foundations should remain strong against any tide of fear or threat. Each American should look inward and see if there be any spark left of the resolve of old. Would to God that America would remember her former state and begin to retrace her steps, back to her days of strength! The world today is like a ship without a rudder, tossed to and fro on evil, conflicting seas. Civil unrest, riots, and economic chaos are seen on every continent. The world needs a leader. It needs a strong America.

• Alexandra Eytchison lives in Yakima.