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This afternoon I walked a few blocks from my home, through my pleasant residential neighborhood and the beautiful Hollinshead Park, to a town hall meeting with Senator Jeff Merkley. This meeting was American democracy at its best, and it felt like Mr Smith goes to Washington, and Norman Rockwell’s painting brought to life.

Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms painting

Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms

At our meeting there were far more people and a much higher percentage of women than in Rockwell’s painting.  After the Senator was introduced, the master of ceremonies, Bend Mayor Pro Tem Jodie Barram, had the crowd do the Pledge of Allegiance. That was the first time I had done that for many years, and I don’t remember ever doing it in my fifty years in Berkeley.

The Bend Mayor Pro Tem  Jodie Barram asking us to rise and give the pledge.

The Bend Mayor pro-tem, Jodie Barram, asking us to rise and give the Pledge of Allegiance.

It was a wonderful moment hearing all these people having a heartfelt moment of respect for the older conventions of our country.

Senator Merkley speaks to the town hall meeting.

Senator Jeff Merkley speaks for an hour to the town hall meeting.

With such a large number of people at the meeting, most of them are behind the camera in these pictures. A drawing was held for questions from the audience to be fielded by the Senator. I was fortunate in having my number called, so I got to ask a question. Having read his website and knowing of his interest in the violence against women issue, I asked about his progress on laws on that issue, but I couched it in relation to the ACE test scores and the Harvard longitudinal study, which proved that alcohol was implicated in the problem. He gave a long and detailed answer showing that violence against women is in sharp decline, and that what is being done has been working. After the meeting I was able to talk personally to Senator Merkley for a moment, and my friend, Charles C., who also got to ask a question, took this picture.

Senator Jeff Merkley greets me warmly, and I look stupid.

Senator Jeff Merkley greets me warmly, and I look shocked, but got to thank him for answering my question about his dedication to easing violence.

Senator Merkley helps me believe there is hope for America.