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JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Is it a wonderful world?

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Louis Armstrong recorded “It’s A Wonderful World” in the wee hours of the morning in Las Vegas in 1967. Initially the record sold only 1,000 copies in the United States but it became a No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom. Today the recording is considered to be one of Armstrong’s greatest hits and has become an icon in recorded music. If we had to recall Armstrong’s favorite recordings some might say, “Hello Dolly” or “When the Saints Go Marching In,” most would say, “It’s A Wonderful World.”

When we picture Louis Armstrong we see someone who has a big smile and who embodies a spirit of goodness. He always seemed to be genuinely happy about life. He looked like he really did believe what he was singing and he made the rest of us also believe that we do live in a wonderful world. Imagine Louis Armstrong giving us that great smile while singing as you read the lyrics.

I see trees of green, red roses too

I see them bloom for me and you

And I say to myself, what a wonderful world

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Before we know it the trees will bud out and everything will turn green. I especially like to observe the evergreen trees. All winter they portray a drab green color and then in spring time they explode in green as if to say, “Take a look at me. I’m the greenest of green.”

It’s difficult to look at our world today and say that everything is wonderful. We have friends and neighbors who are sick. We can expect thousands and thousands more to succumb to this dreaded virus. With all of the heavy burdensome daily news it’s hard for us to see spring poking its head out even though newly arrived robins are poking their beaks into the ground looking for bugs.

We need to look at the whole picture. We do have a wonderful world and it will be more wonderful when we can actually go out again and enjoy it. Absence will make our hearts grow fonder. Wait and see.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white

Bright sunny days, dark sacred nights

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Next time you go out, cast your eyes onto the skies. What do you see? Keep looking. How is it possible to look at the skies every day and each time you look, they’re a bit different? The clouds are different, the sky may be a different shade of blue or gray. No sky ever seems to be the same. When we look up, we are looking up at something we shall never see again. It’s a new experience that happens every day. Both the night and day skies are magically sacred because they are magically different.

The colors of the rainbow are so pretty in the skies

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Are also on the faces of the people walking by

I see friends shaking hands saying

How do you do?

They're really saying I love you.

In 1969 I took a photo of a man sitting on the edge of a bench in a Philadelphia park. You can’t see his face because I took it from the back. You have to imagine what his face looks like. Today, more than ever, it’s important that we have a smile on our face just like I imagined the man on the bench smiling at people walking by. We have to imagine that people will again be walking by shaking hands and saying “How do you do?”

I have been wearing a fluorescent orange face mask. You can’t miss it. It may not be as pretty as a rainbow but it does stand out. I also see others wearing masks. What if we had to wear face masks forever? Think about it. Would we miss seeing faces? It would be like never seeing any more rainbows. It’s a wonderful world because we know this will pass and we will see smiling faces again.

I see babies cry, I watch them grow

They'll learn much more than I'll ever know

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And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

My parents often spoke of the depression of the '30s. It was hard to imagine what it was like. People out of work, few businesses were thriving, families hungry, farmers having to pack up and move on due to the drought. I am sure they all thought, “When will it end?” Adults weren’t concerned so much for their families but for their kids. Adults had lived a pretty good life after World War I and into the Roaring Twenties. Now times were bad again. Could things get any worse?

It’s very important that adults keep pushing the positive not for our sake but for the sake of our kids. They shouldn’t have to worry about something that we, as adults, need to fix. We can share the honest truth about things but let’s not make the negative the norm.

Twenty years from now when today’s young are adults they will look back at this time and say, “I know mom and dad were worried but I’m glad they remained positive.” Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack at the young age of 70 in 1971. He will always be remembered for helping to make our world wonderful. We can do the same.

Riddle: Why do mother kangaroos hate rainy days? (Answer: Because their kids have to play inside.) If we want to enjoy our wonderful world again, it’s important that all of us stay inside as best we can.

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This week or early next week 3,000 four-page booklets containing homeschooling tips for parents will be delivered to all of the food stores in Beltrami County including Clearbrook and Northome. We wish to thank Mike McNeil of Lueken's Village Foods North, Ashley Stevens of Thrivent Financial, David Knudson of Century 21 Realty and Greg Roberts of Sunrise Rotary, for making this possible. One of the tips will be, be sure to remind your kids to graduate.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.

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