AP | Patrick Semansky | June 7 National Monument

In this June 7, 2020, photo, visitors watch sunrise from the Lincoln Memorial steps in Washington, the morning after massive protests over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.

It was the worst of times. It was the weirdest of times.

It was a season of sickness and shouting, of defiance and tension, of industrial-strength falsehood and spin. It was a moment of ugliness and deep injustice — and perhaps, too, a moment when the chance for justice felt nearer than ever before.

On Independence Day, we Americans — if there is in fact a “we” in American life — celebrate the anniversary of a time when a lot of people, feeling really angry and scared, decided to do something about it that changed the world forever. This year, we mark that event at a time when a lot of people are feeling really angry and scared. Some of them are trying to do something about it, hoping it will change the world forever.

COVID-19 resurgent in 40 of 50 states. The death of George Floyd, the fight for racial justice, and the reactions against it. The fractious politics of masks. A national conversation — loud, enraged and anguished — about the place that a history blemished by ugliness should hold in the present. An uneven president embraced by millions and despised by millions. And superimposed over it all: a sure-to-be-chaotic election season that has only just begun.

Irritable, overstressed, buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America on its 244th birthday is a land of confusion.

“At this moment, we are a country profoundly at odds with our own history. We’re seething,” says historian Ted Widmer, author of “Lincoln on the Verge,” which chronicles the 16th president’s journey to his 1861 inauguration weeks before the Civil War began.

“There’s this feeling that there are multiple versions of a country that is really supposed to be one country,” Widmer says. “People are finding it hard to figure out which America is going to survive over the other one.”


“Future historians will be asked which quarter of 2020 they specialize in.” — tweet from author David Burr Gerard a few weeks ago.


“There is too much news,” read the subject line last week in an email newsletter from the Columbia Journalism Review, which happens to cover the news business.

This is not the kind of remark you’d usually hear from that particular publication. But it’s one of the few things most Americans could agree on these days — that the news, so far in 2020, is overwhelming. And this weekend is only the halfway point of a year many Americans would love to return for a refund.

This past week, the Pew Research Center found only 12% of Americans satisfied with the way things are going in their country — down from 31% in April, which was already a month into the coronavirus pandemic. The poll was conducted June 16-22 among 4,708 adults, three-quarters of them registered voters.

But how is that related to the dissonance, as Widmer says, among the differing versions of the American narrative?

This country has always contained multiple versions of itself. That’s part of what’s held it together — “e pluribus unum,” or “out of many, one” — but also part of what’s driving today’s unraveling. One group’s story of America — a story of triumph and exceptionalism and always prevailing — is very different from that of others, which include narratives of abuse, subjugation and systemic slavery.

That’s not new. But many things make this particular Fourth of July different.

It comes after millions of Americans have been forced to marinate in their own juices for months, stuck at home, in some cases losing their jobs, being economically stressed, fearing a horrifying death, feeling both trapped and unable to access the “normal” life they remember.

“The ordinary flow of daily life — all of that has been disrupted. Every day looks more similar than it did before,” says Jennifer Talarico, a psychology professor at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania who researches the role of emotion in how people remember events.

The weirdness, she suspects, also reflects the new ways we possess to share and amplify things at lightning speed: Could more sources of information — social media — be intensifying things? Could we be feeling more because we’re stuck inside with our screens for company?

Wherever it’s coming from, there’s lots of it to think about. Eruptions that would have claimed days of oxygen a few years back are now just part of the background noise.

Like the notion that the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement would be riffed off, in Texas, by an anti-closure protest by tavern owners with signs saying that “bar lives matter.” Like the made-for-TV image of a Missouri husband and wife (he in a tucked-in pink polo shirt) brandishing weapons at protesters in their gated community — and setting off a brief, meme-filled national debate.

Like Vanilla Ice, of all people, scheduling, then canceling, an Independence Day weekend concert in the middle of Austin, capital of Texas, which has some of the highest coronavirus numbers in the land.

Like the people who still insist that the entire virus saga — all 129,000-plus American deaths of it — is a conspiracy-driven hoax. And like the college students in Alabama who threw “COVID parties to see who’d get the virus first.

Is it any wonder that this is the year Mike Judge has decided to bring back “Beavis and Butt-head”?


“If you think it’s hard to breathe with a mask on! Try breathing while you’re in a chokehold!” — tweet from comedian D.L. Hughley last weekend.


On a holiday that celebrates the dawn of the United States, recent weeks’ protests hint at an important question: How do you grill burgers and set off flag-colored fireworks but not engage with the actual racial history of the nation and its birth?

There are those who say: Put it aside for the day and just celebrate what the country means — American ideals of equality. But an increasing number of voices are insisting that the discussion has been put aside for far too long.

To Fred L. Johnson III, a U.S. historian at Hope College in Michigan who studies slavery, race and the Civil War, the notion of marking Independence Day without digging into what it means — including the compromises the founders made to appease the pro-slavery South — is ludicrous.

“The very things they were complaining that the British were doing to them, they were doing the same thing — oppression — to Black people early on,” he says.

“Being an American citizen is like having a relationship,” Johnson says. “If all you can do is accept the good parts of the relationship and can’t deal with the hard stuff, I question the sincerity of your relationship. We need to look at the warts, the dark spots and all.”

No one would question whether American life on this Independence Day — after the dawn of coronavirus, after the ascent of a nationwide movement, at the cusp of a volatile election — is different from the previous one. Many are dead. Many more are confused. Many are deeply angry at each other and at the system. Many are terrified. Many have simply had enough.

On the national birthday, bang and whimper are fighting it out as never before. The country, collectively, is a driver without a map.

“When you can’t make sense of what’s going on in the world, life feels pretty meaningless,” says Daryl Van Tongeren, co-author of “The Courage to Suffer: A New Clinical Framework for Life’s Greatest Crises.”

“This holiday extols our way of life,” he says. “This is absolutely an emphasis of the exact American values which are under question, and are under question because they’re not holding up to reality. The curtain’s been pulled back. And people feel like a lot of this is not working anymore.”

That might explain a meme circulating among weary Americans in the past few days. “Dear July,” it says, “I don’t want any trouble from you. Just come in, sit down, don’t touch anything and keep your mouth shut.”


Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, has been writing about American culture since 1990. 

(45) comments

If a guy spewing hate, division and dystopia is your idea of an uplifting leader, then heck be one of the few who vote Trump 2020. If, like most of us, you've had enough, please vote in November like the future of America absolutely depends on it.


saferroads: "racially homogenized" Loudoun County? Obviously you are a learned and keen observer of....your own little fantasy world?


Dear President Trump and Vice-President Pence,

We thank you for your dedicated service to the country during these trying times. I commend DC Police, U.S. Park Police, and the Secret Service for valiantly defending the White House and vicinity. Locally there was a 1000-people protest march just about 2 miles up the road from my neighborhood using one of the arteriolar roads in Ashburn leading up to a rally which was attended by three of our board of supervisor members including chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall. Loudoun County is racially homogenized and therefore I was quizzical this occurred so close by.

Please pray about the second stimulus package whether it will be helpful or will create a new indolent entitlement attitude among Americans. I was disturbed to learn from news that a CNA (certified nursing assistant) decided to stay home because she was receiving more from state unemployment checks PLUS $600 per week for 13 weeks ($7800 total) from the federal government than if she had continued to work.

Meanwhile the elderly in the nursing homes are not being cared for and even being neglected because of shortage of workers. Those who are working can feel resentful that they are making less to work and yet being exposed to covid19 risk: UNFAIR AND INJUSTICE. Our government should not cause a rift between those who have (government checks) and those who have not. The Bible warns about showing partiality.

There are many evils in this country and in the world. It is alarming and unnerving. I believe the administration must seek help from God and His Son Jesus Christ who rules from the highest heaven above. Praise the LORD! For all nations are less than a drop in the bucket to Him as stated in the Holy Law Book. America, leaders on all levels of governments, officials, and citizens must pray continuously in private and together in public meetings asking for His guidance and wisdom who is generous and gives to all without reproach—but we must ask in faith and not doubt according to St. James.

We can be heartened by the example of Joshua, the courageous leader of Israel, who marched all night from Gilgal (in Jordan Valley) for a surprise attack on and defeating TEN kings and their armies at Gibeon (north of Jerusalem Joshua 10:5-14).

The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.”

More were destroyed by hailstones the LORD threw at them as far as Azekah (~30 miles away) than by the sons of Israel.

Furthermore, Joshua spoke to the LORD IN THE SIGHT OF ISRAEL for the sun and the moon to stand still. From midday to midday the sun did not set for about 24 hours so that the nation could avenge themselves of their enemies.

Our government must make restitution to the Kurds in northeast Syria and also try to help the IDP Syrians in northwest Syria. For Proverbs assures us giving to the genuinely poor (not “poor”) is an insurance that we will lack nothing: currently our nation is facing a dire economic situation as the administration knows so well.

Proverbs 14:9 states that fools mock at making reparation, but there is goodwill among the upright. Psalm 62 also promises that the LORD will reward us according to what we have done.

Our greatest hope for the future is that King Jesus will come back soon as He promised following the last 7 years of the worst suffering the world has ever experienced. Many will die of PANDEMIC, sword (wars), starvation, and wild animals (Revelation 6:8).

He will establish his millennial rule here on earth and everyone will obey him completely. After His final judgment, all His holy people whose faith in Him have been proven genuine through loyal obedience will reign with Him forever in New Jerusalem, the Holy City, which will descend from God in heaven.


So if the "cancel"approach is not good, why is the president using that approach in getting rid of anyone, or any information on Russian hijinks and "canceling" mainstream news (and any news he doesn't like) as "fake," "canceling" the data and severity of trumpvid-19?

Yes, he now owns the virus, as it it were his own: trumpvid-19. Going into the campaigns of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon one realizes that although they didn't start our intervention in Vietnam, the war became theirs in turn through their actions in regard to it. Then they got "canceled" as presidents.

In much the same way, trump is going to wear the yoke of this corona virus going into the 2020 campaign. So there's a downside to throwing around "cancel culture" as a phenomena. It becomes a double-edged sword if everyone is measured by it.


you are tiresome. So you hate Trump, blah blah blah. Why don't you post something positive about your dopey feeble-minded candidate and how he'll turn the economy around (like Trump can and will again) or end "systemic racism" even though he's been mired in it for decades? The guy can't even be seen in public because he is deteriorating so quickly. Or is there another reason? Go ahead, please explain your savior's plan for fixing "Trumpvid-19" and everything else that is "wrong" with America. Go ahead - what is lunchbucket Joe's plan? LOL. There isn't one.


Shoe is on the other foot now. Trump is failing at leadership, excelling at self-interest, spouting some of the most obtuse conspiracy theories, filling his speeches with retro-grade calls for "the way America use to be" and taken Vlad as his paramour. By the simple measure of "not dividing America," DJT's replacement will be better leading the country. Biden is a fiscal moderate so the economy will be in good hands.


LOL that's all you got? You can't say anything that Biden is capable of handling so once again it's bash Trump. Biden is weak and feeble-minded. China and Russia can't wait to get their hands on him if he somehow wins, unbelievable that you can't see that. The hate has been unleashed by the left and will get worse with a demented POTUS and whiny baby supporters.

Jeanne T



It's all I need. Any president who says "99% of covid cases are totally harmless" is a danger. Any president who just makes up his own facts is a danger. Anyone who defers to Russia instead of maintaining America as a world leader is a danger. Don't rely on me, who you obviously don't believe......it's all on videotape.


LCS--OK, what universe is Joe Biden a "fiscal moderate"? He is not one in this one. Joe Biden is anything but a fiscal moderate. He is actually a big government liberal. He wants to spend massive amounts of money on various Government programs and raise taxes. Explain to me how that economic platform will help? Also, according to POLITICO, Biden also doesn't feel that the People's Republic of China is a threat so "we shouldn't worry about them. Really? Why do you think that the People's Liberation Army, Navy, and Air Force are modernizing? Because they are bored and don't have anything better to do? No, because the PRC wants to become a world power.


I thought LTM was going to crack down on this type of idiotic nonsense.


I fail to see how you can be "patriotic" about American values and the flag, and yet complain so mightily and arrogantly about protests and political movements that want change. Repression of protests and glorification of a "law and order" leader is what kingdoms, dictatorships and communism are all about.

So which is it? Are you American? Or just flag-whipping people you don’t agree in an attempt to preserve conditions that you like, but that many find abhorrent and discriminatory

Whites will be in the minority in the US 2045.

Virginia SGP

Ok, so you apparently don't understand the comments.

1. Protests generally are good. No issues.

2. Flag and country are respected mainly because of all the blood voluntarily spilled to create and protect her as well as spreading democracy around the world.

3. Goals of recent protests very warped. Reform is good. "Defund the police", cancel culture, anti-police, and censorship are all bad. Mainly because those polices HURT MINORITIES, the very people the clueless protestors think they are helping. When 9000 minorities get murdered instead of 7000 minorities in years past but hey police shootings went down from 50 to 45, that is NOT a good thing for minorities. "Law and order" in violent minority neighborhoods isn't designed to help affluent whites 50 miles away. It's to help the innocent victims of the minority community.

The Leftists need to own the results of their policies. They are trying to great one giant CHOP zone. Told us it was nirvana for weeks. We saw what it really was.

Loudoun Observer

Part of the issue is that the protesters seem to believe that they are right.

Actual statistics from the real world - available to everyone - would differ. Inconvenient truths are ignored and anyone citing actual data gets cancelled or fired. This creates an environment where protests become riots when demands go unmet and as long as corporations and politicians continue to play along, the demands increase. The vast majority of the country sees this for what it really is - a tantrum over random things that some suddenly don't like.

They have exhausted the real things to be angry about so they drive around and surf the web looking for things that real Americans behold. That angers them more...and the cycle continues.

Jeanne T

No one is complaining about peaceful protests.


Protests and political movements are not the issue. Law and order are not negatives. Without laws only the strong win out. You seem to ignore and refuse to call out the violence that should not be associated with lawful protests. If the government is selective on what laws to uphold then all laws are subject to being ignored. That is what leads to dictatorship. Look at countries where law did break down and how quickly dictators assumed power.


LetSanityPrevail--Excellent comment. [thumbup]

Jeanne T

"I fail to see how you can be "patriotic" about American values and the flag, and yet complain so mightily and arrogantly about protests and political movements that want change."

What sort of change are you referencing? Why are you accusing others who disagree with you of not being patriotic?

"Whites will be in the minority in the US 2045."

And then what? What do you suggest? Separate drinking fountains, perhaps? How about an armband with an "E" for European? Does that sound good to you?


Nobody complains about peaceful assembly/ protest. What people do not like are riots, looting, vandalism and destruction of property. Unfortunately, the only way this ends is when we, the peaceful loving public, is forced to make an example of the rioters.


Notalib--Excellent comment. [thumbup]


LCS--The answer to your "question" is that you can be BOTH. there is nothing wrong with being "patriotic" about American values and the flag and still being able to complain about these "movements". One of the values that America has is the right to free speech and that right is the basis that allows people to complain about the "protests". People, as an American value, can peacefully protest to express their displeasure and to demand change. However, the key word is peaceful. Protests are different that civil unrest also known as civil unrest. Civil unrest is typically defined by law enforcement as a gathering of three or more people, in reaction to an event, with the intention of causing a public disturbance in violation of the law. Nobody is "repressing protests". However, the public does require the cessation of civil unrest and that is the responsibility of law enforcement as part of its "law and order" duty.


Loved the Capitol Fourth show on PBS, despite not being live, and no people at the Capitol. The music and performers was outstanding. Seems everyone associated with this show (including even PBS) are God-fearing, flag-loving Americans, who understand we are not yet a perfect union, but we are the closest country to it. Such a contrast when I learned today that Northam and his wimpy Dems ordered a large American flag removed from a building under construction in Richmond because they were scared it would attract protesters! My God......send me that petition to remove Northam ASAP. This is our state, we can't let this Administration destroy our values any longer.


What a great event Trump put on today and a wonderful idea to plan a monument for american heroes....love it! This is such a dark article, this must be how liberals feel, because the country is getting back on its feet after the chinese flu did a number on this.....and basement Bden said China is our friend, man....what a complete fool....

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I find this to be offensive in hoping the Loudoun Times will review this person's account. Comparing a duly elected government to Germany during WWII is abhorrent and disgraceful. We, in America, have a great country. It is imperfect but it is the best the world has. If you do not like.it there many other country's that would.love to take and oppress you. Count your blessings Lawman, the things you type here on this site would have you locked up in other parts of the world.


OK LoudounClear, cite specific examples where the comparison between the President and Hitler are justifed? As one whose people were slaughtered without a second thought, I am getting really disgusted by people making such comparisons.


Bye Don 2020, you response is nonsense. By your argument people like AOC, Tlaib, and Omar should be compared to Hitler, after all they have been adamant that American Jews are the other, to be vilified and ostracized. While they don't make deals with Russia they certainly have made deals with the anti-Semitic regimes of the PA, Iran, and other hate mongering governments. They also claim that the media is biased, owned and controlled by Jews and therefore biased. Unless you are willing to call them out as the equivalent of little Hitlers your hypocrisy is showing.

Bye Don 2020

This will be a test of LTM's threading. Responding to LetSanityPrevail (why not LetHannityExhale?), friend, those Muslims and Hispanics that irritate you so are not the President of the United States. Don't know about you but I hold the President to a higher standard, since he represents the entire country, not a single Congressional district. Is that too nuanced for you? Trump is a disgrace to our country. The vast majority of Americans get it. Sorry you don't but there's still time.


Great article. Change is inevitable and most likely driven by those people willing to act and those who merely complain and don't act nor vote suffer the consequences. The status quo where the USA stays as the world leader is pure fiction. We have to continue to earn it by diplomacy, reasonable policies, prudent financial management, living in a way worthy of being followed and military strength. What should change is Congress should stop playing partisan games and actually do the work they are sworn to do but not accountable when its' not done. School systems should teach children to think/learn and appreciate the world we have been given by our parents not play diversity games that cause discrimination amongst children obtaining earned opportunities and virtue signaling. Journalists should seriously consider either being journalists by stop making believe they are by merely spouting scripts written by their owners which drip with agendized narratives. :-)

Loudoun Observer

"and perhaps, too, a moment when the chance for justice felt nearer than ever before." Your quote is an example of a huge part of the problem.

The media has ceased focusing on actual news news and migrated to sensationalizing that which 1) generates clicks and views and 2) furthers the narrative that somehow there is some terrible thing happening that must be corrected - all while generally ignoring the terrible things that are actually happening.

And all of it in the name of some mythical "systemic injustice" that no one can quite define with complete numbers and statistics, which is why it works so well for the media and the left. So... continue to foment the triggered and fight for those page views and clicks. "Facts ... are indeed stubborn things." (John Adams)


Ayup. Systemic Injustice is nothing more than a smoke screen for guaranteeing equal outcomes, not equal opportunities. Equal outcomes require equal effort and that is not convenient to the progressives. So, victimhood becomes a full time profession.

Virginia SGP

The American Revolution inspired the creation of democracies around the world. No country has done more to promote representative democracy than the United States.

It doesn't matter where your ancestors came from, you are almost invariably better off in the US. If somebody doesn't believe it, look up the stats.

The Left is pushing to destroy this country and make things worse for the people they claim to support. BLM's "reforms" will result in more minorities dying from homicides. Period. No debate about that. Minorities will suffer from their efforts. And look at Europe. Our GDP per capita is typically 1/3 higher than other Western European countries. Pushing the radical Left agenda will lower living standards. Who wins from that?

Rand Paul says it best. There are not all-knowing bureaucrats who can plan a perfect system. Societies work best when folks have freedom to make their own decisions. Those decisions represent knowledge from each individual that guides our markets (what is this job worth, how much is that service, what should be produced). Individual freedoms are why we are so successful not the cause of "injustice".


wrong and your disdain for everyone but yourself is way out of line

Virginia SGP

DavisB, can you seriously not comprehend basic English? The notion that nobody can know what is best and only through the collective decisions of indviduals is the very antithesis of "disdain for everyone but yourself". It is an admission that when each person casts their vote every day (by what they purchase, where they choose to have their kids schooled, where they work, etc.), that is the only way to know what each person values and earns. Everyone but you understands that concept. Seriously, are you becoming senile?


no, this is incorrect - and your history here in Loudoun backs up my assertion that you only care for what you think and devalue everyone else - as evidence by your personal attack on me

Virginia SGP

Yet another response from DavisB that is devoid of ..... facts, logic or research. What else is new. Do you know what "devoid" means? Or do I need to define it for you?


Disdain for everyone? What are you talking about?

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NAACP is racist. Can you imagine if there was a NAAWP? I call for a name change of the NAACP to NAAAA, National Association of the Advancement of All Americans. One people, one country.


Ted Anthony of the Associated Press is off base. The left wants this to consolidate more power by exploiting this pandemic as far out as possible.

They're not even hiding it anymore....

Now is the time for a 'great reset' , Karl Schwab, 3 June 2020


Look at the agenda they spell out and you know exactly who is doing it and all their goals.

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Lawman, anything positive to add, ever? I think most people simply ignore you because your tone and comments are always the same.

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Like Rush might say...Ditto Lawman.


Hey pal, I didn't write it. They put their plans on the internet for all to see......

"The Great Reset agenda would have three main components. The first would steer the market toward fairer outcomes. To this end, governments should improve coordination (for example, in tax, regulatory, and fiscal policy), upgrade trade arrangements, and create the conditions for a “stakeholder economy.” At a time of diminishing tax bases and soaring public debt, governments have a powerful incentive to pursue such action.

Moreover, governments should implement long-overdue reforms that promote more equitable outcomes. Depending on the country, these may include changes to wealth taxes, the withdrawal of fossil-fuel subsidies, and new rules governing intellectual property, trade, and competition.

The second component of a Great Reset agenda would ensure that investments advance shared goals, such as equality and sustainability. Here, the large-scale spending programs that many governments are implementing represent a major opportunity for progress. The European Commission, for one, has unveiled plans for a €750 billion ($826 billion) recovery fund. The US, China, and Japan also have ambitious economic-stimulus plans.

Rather than using these funds, as well as investments from private entities and pension funds, to fill cracks in the old system, we should use them to create a new one that is more resilient, equitable, and sustainable in the long run. This means, for example, building “green” urban infrastructure and creating incentives for industries to improve their track record on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics."


LetsBReal—OK. There is no conspiracy here. The reason that the European Union (EU), Japan, U.S. and the People’s Republic of China are working/implementing economic stimulus plans is to deal with the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As for Private Equity (PE) and Pension Funds, they are investing their money into areas where they believe that is safe and get a good return. That is one of the reasons why these entities are investing in Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment funds.

Virginia SGP

I wouldn't totally agree with that. Investors always talk up their book. That's exactly what Al Gore did after investing in green energy plans. They want artificial incentives/barriers to make their investments soar. It is often more beneficial to use carbon fuels until the green technology proves worthwhile. But these ESG funds advocate for policies that are counter to society's interests. It starts out as a radical philosophy but pretty soon is motivated by a desire to increase their profits to the detriment of other companies. You could say that Big Oil has conspired (lobbied) to keep the country using oil (many benefits to that). But radical green energy schemes are just as much a conspiracy and are pushed by their investors as well.


Virginia SGP—it is common knowledge that investors talk up “their book”. It is also common knowledge and recognized that investment firms, be it ESG or other types, will use whatever advantage they have to maximize their return. There is nothing wrong with that as that is what they are supposed to do. These investment firms are nothing more than speculators and only are interested in society’s interests when they can profit from it. However, these firms may indirectly promote the interests of society. If you go with Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” concept, it suggests that if you follow your own self-interest, then you will promote the interests of society. Adam Smith stated the following: “I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it."

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Lawman, I doubt the Loudoun government or public schools take you as seriously as you think they do, how can they when you constantly pull the race card and cannot parse together a cohesive sentence. In direct response to your comments, it appears the issue around Leesburg's "Silent Sentinel" has resolved itself (and its removal was not an issue for me) and my children went to private schools so your "influence" could not have damaged their education. I feel sorry for you, and anyone, who carries around such anger and hate.

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