Last April, one of our community's outstanding citizens died with little fanfare. Graduating with the Soddy-Daisy High School class of 1946, Eugene "Corky" Parrott was a star football, basketball and baseball player. After graduation, he enlisted in the new U.S. Air Force and was quickly accepted into the Aviation Cadet Program.
Corky was commissioned a second lieutenant and distinguished himself in pilot training, becoming one of our nation's first jet fighter pilots. When the Korean War erupted in 1950, Corky was one of the first to volunteer; he flew 104 combat missions. Back in the states, he married and returned to Tennessee.
He and his new bride moved to Signal Mountain. He worked for Signal Mountain Portland Cement Co. and also continued to serve his country as an Air Force Reserve pilot. Corky loved flying and he was an outstanding pilot, so he accepted an offer to become an instructor and test pilot with Boeing in 1966. He was instrumental in developing both the 727 and 737 aircraft — the mainstay of our commercial aviation fleet for years. He then flew with a major airline, retiring in 1988 with more than 20,000 flight hours.
For loved ones left behind, death never comes at a "good" time, but what a terrible time it has been for families like Corky's who must manage their grief under the harsh guidelines implemented to minimize the impact of the coronavirus. Only 10 people were allowed at Corky's funeral service. Those same 10 had to watch the internment at the Chattanooga National Cemetery from the asphalt roadway. Only after the grave was covered, were they allowed to proceed to the site.
Many of us have suffered under such restrictions. We accept these restrictions to keep our fellow citizens and ourselves safe during the pandemic. However, when I compare Corky's send-off to funerals or memorial services of some others, especially those favored by the political left, I fear our country is evolving into George Orwell's "Animal Farm."
In the book, farm animals overthrew the people and set up their own farm. Their major commandment was "all animals are equal." However, after a time, pigs seized power and amended the commandment to "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Orwell's satire of tyranny was written in 1936, but this year we find life really does imitate art: Some Americans consider themselves more equal than others.
Consider one recent example. George Floyd died unjustifiably in police custody. His family raised an astonishing $14.7 million on GoFundMe. With that money, they held funerals in Minneapolis, Houston and Charlotte. Political elites and hundreds of others attended the funerals, and thousands more engaged in rallies outside.
There are other examples beyond the virus restrictions relative to funerals. "Mostly peaceful" riots continue unabated in Democrat-run cities around the country. While the left cites racial inequality, the real agitators are politically motivated activists within leftist groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matters.
Orwell's satire speaks truth. Some Americans consider themselves "more equal." Our forefathers risked everything to fight against such tyranny in 1776. Afterward, they developed a federal republic with checks and balances to ensure politicians were servants of the people they served, not the other way around.
Let us return the farm to the people this November.
Roger Smith, a local author, is a frequent contributor to the Times Free Press.