The World’s First Responders

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Well, I’m not going to win any Brownie points with this one, but again, I’m an American and have the right to my opinion. If anything, maybe my words will be a cause for some thinking.

First, let me say I feel sad and heartbroken for the people of Puerto Rico, and for the thousands Stateside that have suffered because of the devastation brought on from the hurricanes.  However, there are a few thoughts that have come to mind the past few weeks.

It seems many do not want the Federal Government to enforce the laws of this land, regarding the Consitution. No need to be a legal citizen. Let everyone in and give them citizen rights. Certain States and cities are now sanctuary regions, not following Federal laws, yet they still stand with their hands out for all Federal aid.

It wasn’t so long ago that Puerto Rico was trying to decide again, as to become a State or remain a US Territory.

“This year’s referendum on statehood was Puerto Rico’s fifth. Statehood won for the first time in the last vote, in 2012, but the results were questioned and Puerto Rico’s status remained the same.

Turnout in the election was low, with initial statistics showing below 25 percent of voters went to the polls. The island’s major opposition party, the Popular Democratic Party, boycotted the election. Two other political parties that don’t support statehood also boycotted the election.” (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com)

It would seem to me, people want all the benefits of being a state but do not want the obligations of being a citizen, such as paying taxes.

What I furthermore see, many people here in this country and many in others, are always saying, “The United States is not the World Police. They should  keep their opinions and ideas out of other countries.”  But who do these people call in a time of any kind of emergency?  The United States of course. It’s fine that we be the first responders to the world.  Again people that do not like us, or in some cases actually hate us, always looking for help from us when the going gets tough.

Should we help? Of course. But I believe we must help ourselves before we help others. As long as we have one homeless person in this country of citizenship, one Veteran needing help or health care, one elderly person suffering from the lake of care, or citizens going hungry, then the amount of money going to foreign aid needs to be cut, if not out completely, most surely cut back enough to take care of our problems first.

As once being the caregiver to two elderly parents, the one thing Hospice taught me was to have the ability to give proper care to anyone, I must first take proper care of myself. Doesn’t the same apply to our nation?

If our country is healthy and doing well, then we can give more to stop the suffering all over the world. Seems to me it’s simple math and common sense.

Common sense. That’s another subject altogether.

 

 

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As I See It

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I’m no world scholar or claim to be. I’ve managed to live almost 68 years, through several conflicts, several wars, riots in the cities of this country, highs, lows, and everything in between. I’ve traveled all across this country, lived out of my car, been broke, been what I would consider wealthy as to how I grew up. I have been to the best parts of many cities and the places I thought I might not get out alive.

My conclusion on this protesting crap is that it’s all based on lies. It’s true I’m not black, have never been black, and will never be black. How can anyone believe that people of any color in this country are being oppressed when the last President was a black man? There are hundreds of non-Caucasians holding office in the Federal Government, in State and local governments. There are non-Causcasians not only in the rank and file of the police departments around this country but also Officers in our Military.

The only oppression I see happening is coming from other non-Causcasians. Call me a racist if you wish, I really don’t care at this point. When young black children are afraid to go outside in their neighborhoods because they might be gunned down stops, then maybe I will listen to your protests. Facts and figures from our Justice Department prove that most shootings done in your inner city were done by black males, not the police, and not white people.

All the NFL protesting has done nothing but causes everyone to look past the hundreds of people that have been shot this year alone in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis, and many more. You’re protesting but are you doing anything to stop these crimes? Same ol BS that I’ve heard all my life, since the race riots in the fifties and sixties, blame the white man! Do you think it was just the black vote that put President Obama in office for two terms? Why didn’t the crime in our major cities go down during those eight years? Maybe it’s because so many of you were still trying to blame slavery and white people for your own problems. How about putting the blame where blame belongs.

Truth being, black women, are more likey to have children out of wedlock and have children from multiple partners. Black grandmother is more likely to be raising their grandchildren. What happened to parenting and marriage in your communities? I don’t see any of you football players protesting that. No, many of you come from single mother homes, no daddy in sight. I guess you can still blame the white oppression on that too?

We all enjoy many freedoms in this country, as your right to protest, your right to have children and as many as you want from as many partners as you want, but that freedom doesn’t mean your actions are right.

Get your own house in order before you start telling others how their behavior is affecting you. Respect has to be earned. Just because you make a lot of money playing a game does not mean I should respect your opinion. It’s hard for me to respect your feelings about the poor blacks or any other minority in this country when you bought two Bentleys because you couldn’t make up your mind what color of car you wanted. The cost of one of those cars would have gone a long way in helping children of some inner city neighborhood. But your money or in this case your knee where your mouth is.

Stop the protesting and get out there and do something positive in the suffering neighborhoods of this country. Stop the lies

The Magic Is Gone

This new life I began not long ago still seems so very strange, as for as far back as I can remember, Sunday was football Sunday. Some of my fondest memories are of my daddy, and I am watching football on Sunday on our black and white television. The screen looked huge to me as I was only five or six. Although I didn’t understand much of the game, it was my time with daddy. Mom didn’t like the game.

We thought we were rich when my parents could afford a color television. Daddy and I could hardly wait for football season to begin. Not only was the game to be in living color but the new TV had a much larger screen. After all these years I have no idea just how large the screen might have been, maybe fifteen or maybe even nineteen inches. A far cry from the seventy-inch flat screen that now adorns my family room. I think of how much daddy would have enjoyed the game on that monster of a display.

Then I think, dad wouldn’t be watching the game at all. No just like me, he would have stopped and probably sooner. Although he has been gone for twenty-one years, I can still hear his astonishment of the shameful amount of money athletes were making back then.  There would be no words for the millions of dollars they are now paid. But that wouldn’t be the worst of it, and I’m glad he’s not here to witness what is going on these days.

I think of my father and all he survived. A great depression, working for the CCC to help his father support his siblings, World War II and giving up his dream of playing professional baseball because of family responsibilities. Dad played semi-pro baseball and even tried out for the pros. He would have been gone all the time, and they didn’t make enough money to support his growing family. Daddy never was able to finish high school much less be handed a four-year ride to college from his wealthy parents or a scholarship. No, he had to quit school in the ninth grade to work to help support the family.

Daddy believed and taught us it didn’t matter what color your skin was, if you wanted to make something of yourself, you picked yourself up, educated yourself, worked hard and got the job done. Nothing is free in this life, never look for a handout.

This kneeling during the National Athum is a freedom people have, but that doesn’t make it right. As an American, I have the freedom not to watch this disgraceful act. I hardly believe any of these athletes know oppression in any form. And instead of taking a knee, why not spend your time and money helping inner-city children get educated and show them what hard work can do when you live in the greatest country in the world?

Yes, I have a new life. A life where I do not watch football on Sunday or any other day. True I do not have season tickets, nor do I go to the games. It does feel strange after all these years. However, it doesn’t feel as horrible as watching people kneel during our anthem.

When the NFL puts a stop to this, when football Sunday afternoon is not a political statement from overpaid, spoiled, brats, that have no real clue to life the rest of us dig out with our bare hands, then maybe I will turn on my television again.  I say maybe because it might be too late to get the magic back. That magic of watching someone run ninety yards for a touchdown, or making that game winning field goal. The magic of memories made long ago that come back to life on Sunday afternoon.

Remember When

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Do you remember when the first Lady set the trends for fashion? Do you remember it was Jackie Kennedy that set the trend for her famous pill box hats? Why every woman in the U.S. was saving money to purchase a new hat, just like Jackie’s. If we couldn’t afford a new store bought dress, we were buying material and making our own simple shift dresses.  I remember sporting white gloves to all formal events just like Jackie. And of course, there were the pearls. We all had to have pearls too.

If you remember those things, you also remember that even if you didn’t like Jackie’s style or the first family, you would have never said so in public. You would have never thought of belittling the first family over what sort of shoes Jackie was wearing. You would have never said a word about the cost of any thing Jackie wore. She came from money, she dressed with style, and I assure you Jackie never purchased anything cheap.

I long for those days. Now no matter what our first lady does or wears, the haters show their ugly heads. They can’t wait to slam the first family with their pettiness. People dying, their homes gone or ruined beyond repair, their belongings gone, and the media is worried about what kind of shoes our first lady is wearing. Jackie Kennedy could have shown up in a burlap bag and everyone would have wanted a burlap bad the next day. Now we just hear the hate. Hate for no reason.

No one said a word about Hillary Clinton’s $15,000 outfit that looked like the material used to make a Kirby vacuum cleaner’s bag. No one mentions that will all of Hillary’s money, all her outfits look alike other than the placement of pockets and buttons. Her tailor has one pattern and she picks out different materials.

There was a time in America when Americans felt joy for others that were successful. People enjoyed looking at a well-dressed lady or gentleman. There was no jealousy. Maybe a thought of one day I’ll have dress or suit like that. And we strived to do better.

Nowadays, people just find fault with others that are successful. Fault down to the shoes they wear.

Yes, I remember those other days and I wish we had those kinds of manors and respect back. Do you remember when?

 

Come Back Later, Ya’ll

Forty some years ago, or maybe it’s been fifty, however at this point it doesn’t matter when I watched college students and other their age protesting for different causes. I was about the same age only I was already working and supporting myself.  Even though I was already out on my own, paying my own bills, and proving to my parents how grown up I was, I knew nothing!  I hadn’t experienced enough of life to have a good opinion on anything. No one could have convinced me of that fact. I’m pretty sure long before I knew what I was talking about I was talking, and a lot! If you had told me how much my opinions would have changed after living a few years in the grown up world of jobs, careers (there is a difference), marriage, divorce, children, and just making it through it all alive, I would have argued with you. But isn’t that what people lacking real life experiences do?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been watching the news and seeing report after report of protests with protesters, many of which are young college kids. I say, kids, because this is just what they are. I would like to take a poll of these protesters to see how many of them have held a full-time job or even a part time job. How many of them are working their way through school? How many are depending on their parents to pay for college and all their living expenses? How many have ever lived on their own, being responsible for anything such as rent, utilities, car, insurance or even balancing a check book?  I would bet most have never had a checking account.

I don’t care about these kids opinions. I out grew that years ago when I realized just how stupid I was way back when. I thought I was all grown up and knew everything. So many surprises awaited me out in the real world away from the safety and comfort of my parents. I was one of the lucky ones too. My parents tried their best to teach me that it was a big, mean, world out there and no one was going to take care of me, that I had to do that myself.

I suppose it’s easy to get out in public and act a like a fool if you know mom and dad will post your bail. I was told if I ever got into that much trouble that I needed bail,  don’t call home. I would have to find a way to get myself out of that problem.  I’m a child of the 60s, of course, I pushed that do not cross the line more times than I should have, remember, I knew it all back then.

But what do I know? Maybe the parents of these protesters I see on the news are proud of their children? Which makes me wonder about them too. Do they believe they are doing their children right by supporting them until they are well into their twenties? Some even longer?  Are they proud of their children when they stand and spew ideas and opinions that have no basis in truth, according to our history as a country? I hear things spouted out of these protester’s mouths and wonder what history books have they been reading?

I would be willing to bet, the majority of the protesters have never been subjected to racism, have never seen racism, and have no idea what our civil war was indeed started over. I will not rant into a history lesson here.

As in all protests, I have never been able to understand how turning into a riot, destroying property, and becoming violent every proves anything right or wrong. In my opinion, it only shows who are acting like jackasses breaking the law.

In the mean time, college students and all those that tag along with this crowd, go home, study or do what ever it is you do, until you educate yourself, live some life and gain some life experience. Then come to us, and we will listen to your opinions.

In Defense of General Lee

IN DEFENSE OF GENERAL LEE

By Edward C. Smith
Saturday, August 21, 1999
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Let me begin on a personal note. I am a 56-year-old, third-generation, African American Washingtonian who is a graduate of the D.C. public schools and who happens also to be a great admirer of Robert E. Lee’s.

Today, Lee, who surrendered his troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House 134 years ago, is under attack by people — black and white — who have incorrectly characterized him as a traitorous, slaveholding racist. He was recently besieged in Richmond by those opposed to having his portrait displayed prominently in a new park.

My first visit to Lee’s former home, now Arlington National Cemetery, came when I was 12 years old, and it had a profound and lasting effect on me. Since then I have visited the cemetery hundreds of times searching for grave sites and conducting study tours for the Smithsonian Institution and various other groups interested in learning more about Lee and his family as well as many others buried at Arlington.

Lee’s life story is in some ways the story of early America. He was born in 1807 to a loving mother, whom he adored. His relationship with his father, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, (who was George Washington’s chief of staff during the Revolutionary War) was strained at best. Thus, as he matured in years, Lee adopted Washington (who had died in 1799) as a father figure and patterned his life after him. Two of Lee’s ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Mary Custis, was George Washington’s foster great-granddaughter.

Lee was a top-of-the-class graduate of West Point, a Mexican War hero and superintendent of West Point. I can think of no family for which the Union meant as much as it did for his.

But it is important to remember that the 13 colonies that became 13 states reserved for themselves a tremendous amount of political autonomy. In pre-Civil War America, most citizens’ first loyalty went to their state and the local community in which they lived. Referring to the United States of America in the singular is a purely post-Civil War phenomenon.

All this should help explain why Lee declined command of the Union forces — by Abraham Lincoln — after the firing on Fort Sumter. After much agonizing, he resigned his commission in the Union army and became a Confederate commander, fighting in defense of Virginia, which at the outbreak of the war possessed the largest population of free blacks (more than 60,000) of any Southern state.

Lee never owned a single slave, because he felt that slavery was morally reprehensible. He even opposed secession. (His slaveholding was confined to the period when he managed the estate of his late father-in-law, who had willed eventual freedom for all of his slaves.)

Regarding the institution, it’s useful to remember that slavery was not abolished in the nation’s capital until April 1862, when the country was in the second year of the war. The final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was not written until September 1862, to take effect the following Jan. 1, and it was intended to apply only to those slave states that had left the Union.

Lincoln’s preeminent ally, Frederick Douglass, was deeply disturbed by these limitations but determined that it was necessary to suppress his disappointment and “take what we can get now and go for the rest later.” The “rest” came after the war.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the few civil rights leaders who clearly understood that the era of the 1960s was a distant echo of the 1860s, and thus he read deeply into Civil War literature. He came to admire and respect Lee, and to this day, no member of his family, former associate or fellow activist that I know of has protested the fact that in Virginia Dr. King’s birthday — a federal holiday — is officially celebrated as “Robert E. Lee-Stonewall Jackson-Martin Luther King Day.”

Lee is memorialized with a statue in the U.S. Capitol and in stained glass in the Washington Cathedral.

It is indeed ironic that he has long been embraced by the city he fought against and yet has now encountered some degree of rejection in the city he fought for.

In any event, his most fitting memorial is in Lexington, Va.: a living institution where he spent his final five years. There the much-esteemed general metamorphosed into a teacher, becoming the president of small, debt-ridden Washington College, which now stands as the well-endowed Washington and Lee University.

It was in Lexington that he made a most poignant remark a few months before his death. “Before and during the War Between the States I was a Virginian,” he said. “After the war I became an American.”

I have been teaching college students for 30 years, and learned early in my career that the twin maladies of ignorance and misinformation are not incurable diseases. The antidote for them is simply to make a lifelong commitment to reading widely and deeply. I recommend it for anyone who would make judgment on figures from the past, including Robert E. Lee.

[Dr. Smith is co-director of the Civil War Institute at American University in Washington, D.C.]