Philosopher George Santayana gave us the famous quote that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Members of the Greatest Generation those who lived through the Depression and World War 2 years may recall the 'Hoovervilles' that sprang up out of the desperation of the 1930s.
Named after the President Herbert Hoover, who many believed let the nation slide into depression, the Hoovervilles were makeshift shelters constructed from whatever materials were available wood from crates, cardboard or scraps of metal. The "residents" usually had a small stove, bedding and a couple of simple cooking implements.
Fast forward three quarters of a century and we have the present Occupy Movements, which rose up last year to protest the widening gap between the rich and poor.
Some in the Obama administration, and many Democratic leaders (Nancy Pilosi used "a God bless them") embraced the early Occupiers only to distance themselves when some movements, like Oakland and New York, sank into violence and lawlessness, thus becoming a political liability.
Late last year, officials in most of the larger encampments including New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon forced the occupiers to clear out. In an encampment just two blocks from the White House, more than 100 U.S. park police swept through the Occupy D.C. encampment.
The evictions were due not only due to the lawlessness in some camps but budgetary concerns. Cities could no longer support the cost of site maintenance, like police overtime.
Two of the longest-running camps to disband were Portland, Maine, and Pittsburgh. On Monday, a Pittsburgh judge ordered the county sheriff to evict protesters and their belongings from a downtown park owned by Bank of New York Mellon Corp.
Allegheny County officials said the Occupy protest was handled like any other eviction. One councilman said that local officials, law enforcement and business leaders, decided on a low-key approach, choosing "not to push the issue, like they did in New York City, and Oakland."
Along with being among the last to dismantle, members of the Occupy movement in Portland, Maine, were also the heartiest. Despite temperatures dipping below zero, protesters were largely peaceful and rotated in and out to keep a constant presence. They huddled in communal tents equipped with propane heaters.
Unlike some of the large city sites that produced ugly confrontations, the Portland protesters were largely peaceful, even agreeing to clean up the grounds after their eviction.
An attorney for the movement argued that the Portland campers were demonstrating their rights to freedom of expression and would decide whether they want to continue to pursue a lawsuit.
One female protester warned that the movement hasn't ended, and "just because the occupation is changing form doesn't mean it's going away."
It unfortunately took the devastation of World War 2 to rescue this nation from the Great Depression, allowing men and women to find work which was needed to fuel the war effort.
Hopefully, America won't have to go through that kind of a worldwide calamity to fulfill Santayana's statement about history repeating itself.
By Jim Zbick