As a nation we have a long tradition of screwing things up. It might be our sordid use of slaves, the outright theft of land from Native Americans, internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II or knee-jerk passage of the USA Patriot Act and the imprisonment of who knows how many Americans in the aftermath of 9/11. Each is a dark moment in our history.

In each case, America took a wrong turn. In some cases, she backtracked and tried to make good on her mistakes.

Over the past Memorial Day weekend, America was forced, once again, to take a long, hard look in the mirror. If she was honest with herself, she didn't like what she saw.

She saw a nation deeply divided by the most controversial war since Vietnam. She saw a country where the vast majority of its citizens no longer trust their government and lack faith in their leaders.

She saw a country that paused to honor its war dead while wondering why they had to die in yet another foreign land for reasons that did not exist.

The face that stared back at America looked drawn, haggard and depressed. It was the face of age and weariness, wrinkled by too many fights with too many foes – real and imagined. It was a face withered by moral ambivalence, weathered by sin and pockmarked by corruption.

Perhaps it is a face that no plastic surgeon can save and masking a soul that no salvation can redeem.

Or perhaps, behind those dark sullen eyes lies a spark of resolve, a desire to rise one more time to the challenge and fight to survive.

Our so-called leaders have raped America, leaving her body ravaged and her morale all-but-destroyed. It is easy to rise up on partisan haunches and point the finger of blame at the other side but the sad fact remains that all of us – Republican, Democrat, independent, conservative, liberal, moderate, right, left and middle – share the blame for the political, ethical and moral tide that sweeps over America like a tsunami.

The many problems that plague this nation span Presidential administrations, changes in Congressional leadership and shifts in prevailing national philosophies.

These problems lie in a national psyche that places individual desires above national interest, greed above service and lust for power above consideration of the common good.

And we can't begin to solve these problems until we put aside our partisanship, our anger, our hate and our need to win at all costs. Until we do, America will continue her headlong plunge into the abyss.

Because when America looked in the mirror this past weekend, the face staring back at her belonged to all of us.

Doug Thompson published his first story and photo at age 11 -- a newspaper article about racism and the Klan in Prince Edward County, VA, in 1958. From that point on, he decided to become a newspaperman and did just that -- reporting news and taking photos full-time at his hometown paper, becoming the youngest full-time reporter at The Roanoke Times in Virginia in 1965 and spent most of the past 55+ years covering news around the country and the globe. After a short sabbatical as a political operative in Washington in the 1980s, he returned to the news profession in 1992. Today, he is a contract reporter/photojournalist for BHMedia and owns Capitol Hill Blue and other news websites.

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