With all the death and destruction surrounding us – man-caused and the wrath of Mother Nature – it’s getting more and more difficult not to be depressed.

From the terror of Sept. 11, the threat from North Korea and the ongoing destruction of Harvey and Irma that still rages as I write this – our lives have changed dramatically. I really believe things will never be the same again,

I’ve lived long enough to have seen a lot of this before, and the memories are still vivid, especially when remembering what happens when nature goes crazy – hurricanes, floods, blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires.

I grew up on the East Coast and lived through my share of blizzards, hurricanes and floods. In one hurricane in New Jersey, my grandmother had to be evacuated by the military because of flooding.

At our house, I remember the water being as high as the top of the steering wheel in my father’s car. We were lucky though; our house had a five-foot foundation, so it remained dry. Our trees all were blown down; one landed on our chicken coop, drowning all the birds, including my pets, Charlie and Brownie.

We had our share of blizzards. In one, it snowed for three days and we were stranded for a week, until the roads were plowed. My mother melted snow for water, and we lived by the light of kerosene lanterns. My folks hated it; I loved it, as did my pet dogs! On the other hand, having to use an outhouse was not a lot of fun for any of us!

Living in the country, we had to deal with forest fires. One came perilously close to our wooded property, but we were OK. In another case, while I was burning garbage, I set the woods on fire. My parents weren’t pleased. I never did that again!

And yes, I’ve been near tornadoes, too – in New Jersey and Michigan. No damage for me, but they scared the you-know-what-out of me, and the tornadoes convinced me not to live permanently in either of those areas.

I ended up in California, where we have scorching heat waves, major earthquakes and devastating wildfires. I’ve been through earthquakes, both in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco area. They were all petrifying, and I will never forget seeing my wooden floors rippling up and down and a wall of windows swaying in and out.

My brain said, “That can’t happen.” My eyes said, “Yes, it can.” It did, and I’m still frightened.

Three months after I moved to Los Angeles, the Bel Air fire broke out. News reports at noon said there was a brush fire in the hills. By evening, the Santa Monica Mountains were ablaze – with flames tearing through Bel Air, Brentwood, Beverly Hills and more, destroying 484 homes, many of them homes of Hollywood stars and politicians.

I learned about L.A. and fires and the deadly Santa Ana winds (Devil Winds) that make it all worse. Once, while working as a reporter, I was caught in the middle of a wildfire, along with my crew, the firemen and police, as the winds whipped the flames over our heads and trapped us.

Lesson: I do not live in the foothills, I clear brush from around my home, and I do not have a shake roof.

I also have fire insurance, and I pray – a lot.

My parents left the East Coast and went to Florida, the West Coast with the beautiful beaches and lower risk of hurricanes.

My parents loved St. Pete and Sanibel Island. It was beautiful and warm, and they loved the Gulf. Eventually, they moved out west. I thank God they can’t see what is going on there now as Hurricane Irma is moving through the area, causing what will be a major trail of destruction in their city and on Sanibel Island.

I hear the news reports and visualize what I recall of their lives then and what will be there after the storms subside.

It’s not pretty.

But while we fill the airwaves and the Internet with news of hurricane destruction, we are (but shouldn’t be) forgetting the other destruction we’ve endured.

Remember Korea. Keep in mind, then it was called a “police action.” Now we call it the “Korean War,” and we still have a threat from there. This time it’s nuclear.

And then Monday, the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center – 9/11 – more than 3,000+ Americans killed – a blatant smack in our face by militant Islam, which wanted to destroy us and our freedoms, and still does.

The years since have not reduced their goal. We’ve maintained “wars” against them, but it’s like trying to pick up mercury from a shiny floor. It’s almost impossible, and they know it. I’m not sure the average American is aware of the magnitude of this enemy. Have no doubt, an enemy it is.

When Sept. 11 occurred, Americans pulled together and patriotism reigned supreme. But now, if you wave a flag, you’re called a Nazi.

Radical Islam has spread and become stronger while Americans have become brainwashed into considering anyone who speaks negatively against militant Muslims – or any Muslims – as the enemy.

They’ve done their job well. We are so cowed into being “polite” that we are asking for our own execution. And this enemy is ready and willing to carry it out.

I’m glad my parents are no longer here to see this, but I dread the fact that I do, and my children and grandchildren will face the same enemy, if we all survive long enough.

God help us. I pray about this, too.

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