Tag Archives: Fourth of July

Puppy Tales, Part 73: Passing a huge test

LAKE BOB SANDLIN, Texas — Toby the Puppy had one of his biggest days ever, even while showing us his jumpy side.

One of our concerns about Toby over the five years he has been a member of our family has been whether he could fight the urge to chase after critters he deems to be potential playmates. I’m talking about squirrels, birds, rabbits and perhaps even fellow pooches. Thus, we had generally kept him leashed up when we gathered for outdoor activities.

We came to Lake Bob Sandlin to celebrate the Fourth of July with friends and family members. We were gathered alongside Lake Bob Sandlin in East Texas. We faced the question: What do we do with Puppy? Keep him leashed or do we let him run loose? We were advised that the other puppies there would provide plenty of company for Toby to enjoy. Let him run loose, our family members advised. He’ll be just fine.

OK. So we did.

They were correct!

He ran himself all over the place. Our concern about his running away was overstated, although we have watched him in the past take off running at a full sprint at whatever critter catches his eye.

No sweat this time.

Then came the fireworks show at the end of the evening.

Not so good.  The noise frightened Toby terribly. He wasn’t the, um, “lone wolf,” though. The other pooches playing alongside the lake didn’t fare too well, either, when the rockets began blasting over the lake.

But … we learned something new about Toby the Puppy. He plays well with others. Good job, pup.

The next project? Getting him to use the doggie door …

Teleprompter went ‘kaput,’ Mr. President? Really?

Donald Trump isn’t prone to saying he’s sorry for anything, so no one should have expected him to apologize for the ridiculous assertion he made about 18th-century airports during his “Salute to America” speech Thursday night.

His blaming the mistake on a rained-on Teleprompter does require a certain suspension of disbelief. The mistake went viral, with Twitter hounds around the world poking fun at the president.

Why? Because he made some goofball reference to revolutionary soldiers “taking the airports” while they fought for their independence in 1775. You know the rest of it: The first airplane didn’t take flight until Dec. 17, 1903.

Blame it on the rain, Mr. POTUS

He said the gadget from which he was reading his text “went kaput” in the heavy rain that soaked the event. Does that also explain why he referenced “Fort McHendry,” when he should have said “McHenry,” and that that battle to which he was referring occurred during the War of 1812?

OK. I’m not going to belabor this point. Suffice to say, though, that the president of the United States is hardly a student of the very history of this great country. He made a mistake while seeking to extol the nation’s greatness.

If only, though, this individual — Donald Trump — could just say it loudly and clearly: I messed up. My bad.

Baffled over ‘airport’ gaffe by POTUS

I need to visit briefly one of the goofy moments that developed during Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” speech Thursday in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

He referred to the revolutionary soldiers taking the “airports” while they fought for the nation’s independence — more than 125 years before the invention of the airplane.

I have questioned whether the presidential speechwriter penned that passage into Trump’s prepared text. If that was the case, was there no one on the staff who read it prior to the president delivering it? Did they not recognize the obvious error that the text contained? If they didn’t notice, were they asleep at the wheel? If they did notice, did they  ignore it to, um, embarrass the commander in chief?

Or did the president, pardon the pun, wing it at that moment, thinking it was a clever addition to the text that had been prepared for him by the “best people” who comprise his speechwriting team.

I just find it weird in the extreme that the president of the United States would make such an egregious error in that particular event.

No need to remind me that presidents are human, that they are entitled to make verbal mistakes on occasion. I get it. However, this president had weeks — indeed, months — to prepare for an event he pledged would be the greatest tribute to America the nation has ever seen.

Oh, wait! He was making a joke! Isn’t that what happened?

God bless America, warts and all!

My friend David Stevens, a New Mexico newspaper publisher and all-round good guy, has it right.

He said on Facebook he has no intention of protesting anything on the Fourth of July. He intends only to salute the country, even with all its flaws.

I have to concur with him.

I make no apologies to anyone for my love of this nation. I am the grandson of immigrants who came here with virtually nothing. They reared their children — 10 of them all told on both sides of my family lineage. They all enjoyed success and brought families of their own into this world.

I, of course, was one of them.

We hear so much these days about the divisions that run deep throughout our society. I admit they exist. They make me mightily uncomfortable. I don’t like the tone of the political discourse these days. However, not a single aspect of it makes me love this country any less than I always have.

I am a sucker for Independence Day pageantry. I love parades. The patriotic music makes my soul soar.

I’ll admit that I do not stand and salute the Stars and Stripes when they play the National Anthem. I have seen my fellow veterans do that. Such outward public displays of patriotism look to me to be a form of showing off, of making a spectacle of oneself. I prefer instead to take off my cap, put my hand over my heart and sing the anthem loudly … even if it’s more than a bit off tune

The protests over shoe companies, over the late Kate Smith’s “God Bless America,” over athletes “taking a knee”? I take no part in any of that. None of that interests me in the least.

I stand and salute the nation I love without condition. It’s not the perfect nation. It merely is the best one on Earth. I am proud to be one of her sons.

Shut up, Lou Dobbs!

Lou Dobbs doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he calls American general-grade officers “snowflakes.”

The Fox News business correspondent/talking head stepped in it with a comment about the generals’ opposition to the militarization of the Fourth of July celebration set for tonight in the nation’s capital.

“No wonder” they haven’t won a war since 1991, Dobbs wrote on Twitter, which lit up in return over Dobbs’ ridiculous bloviation.

Dobbs takes heat

Just for giggles, I sought to look up Dobbs’ background and came up empty in the hunt for any military experience. I am not suggesting that military critics who didn’t serve are not qualified to offer criticism of the brass. I am suggesting, though, that service in the military might have tempered Dobbs’ statements about the brass’ opposition to what Donald Trump is seeking to do with the nation’s tradition of honoring its independence.

And what, therefore, does the commander in chief think of the criticism from the ranks?

For his part, the president has been tweeting all day, apparently, about the thrill of seeing the finest military hardware on Earth while the nation commemorates its independence from colonial rule in the late 18th century.

What I should tell readers here, given Dobbs’ apparent lack of understanding of these matters, is that the military high command dislikes being used for political purposes. The men and women who serve do so to protect the nation, not to be used as props.

The generals’ opposition is not a matter of “snowflake” sensibilities. It’s a matter of understanding the mission of the world’s mightiest military establishment.

Get a grip, Lou Dobbs. Stick to business reporting and steer far away from — dare I say it? — “fake news.”

My new favorite holiday? Umm, maybe

The older I get the sappier I become.

My wife and I spent a glorious evening with Emma, our 6-year-old granddaughter. We ventured to the other side of Princeton, Texas — which isn’t all that far, to tell you the truth — to enjoy some Independence Day festivities.

The city put on its Fourth of July Spectacular at Caldwell Park, which happens to include a one-time World War II prisoner of war encampment where Nazi soldiers were kept near the end of the war.

Emma enjoyed some rides, sipped and nibbled on a snow cone, then sat with us as we listened to music superstar Lee Ann Womack belt out some country/western tunes before a large crowd gathered in front of the stage.

Then the fun really got started. The fireworks display — which I sought to capture with the photo that accompanies this blog post — was nothing short of spectacular.

I love the pageantry associated with the Fourth of July. The older I become the more I enjoy listening to the patriotic music while the rockets’ red glare lights up the night sky.

Truth be told, I’ve always been a bit of a sap about this particular holiday. My parents imbued it in me as a youngster. Perhaps it has something to do with Dad’s role in ridding the world of tyranny during World War II. He was proud of his Navy service, although he didn’t brag about. The Greatest Generation is not full of braggarts; it is full of heroes who did their job, answered their country’s call to duty, then returned home to start or restart their lives. That was Dad in a nutshell.

Mom, too, told me of how the Port of Portland, Ore., turned into a “liberty ship” assembly line, cranking out cargo vessels at a clip of one per month. You remember these tales of greatness in the face of international crisis.

So we watched the fireworks tonight. We listened to music. It was our way of saluting this great nation of ours.

What’s more, we did it with our precious little girl.

How in the name of all that is good can it possibly get any better than that?

Once more, with passion: Military display is a bad idea!

I feel the need to restate once again something about which I feel quite strongly.

Donald Trump’s method of saluting the United States of America is a ridiculous sideshow. He wants to militarize the event. He wants to make some kind of speech that I fear will be highly political. He intends to divert attention away from what the founders created back in the late 18th century and focus more on himself.

That’s what narcissists do.

I don’t want to see tanks. I don’t want to see jet fighters zoom overhead. I don’t want to see the Joint Chiefs of Staff standing at attention next to the commander in chief. I don’t want to see military personnel dressed in their finest marching down the street.

We all know the obvious, which is that the U.S. military is the strongest the world has ever seen. Really! It is! I get it. I once wore an Army uniform and went to war for my country. I love the military. I just don’t want to see it used as a political prop for a president who has no understanding of just why we celebrate our nation’s independence.

Flexing our military muscle is not what we normally enjoy when we celebrate the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital.

Donald Trump is changing all of that. He can do whatever he wants. He is the president. It’s his call. It just is the wrong call.

That’s it. I’m out.

Trump turning Fourth of July event on its ear

What in the name of Fourth of July tradition is Donald J. Trump doing to this year’s Fourth of July celebration?

Every Independence Day since, oh, perhaps The Flood, the nation’s capital has conducted a celebration aimed at inviting the public to cheer the birth of the United States of America.

It has been free of politics and, more importantly, of politicians. Spectators listen to music, poetry delivered by celebrities and, of course, fireworks. They cheer and shout and celebrate the nation we all love.

This year? Well, the president of the United States is going to take center stage. He will offer a “Salute to America” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What’s more, there will be limited seating reserved only for reserved guests pre-approved by the White House; they will be seated from the Lincoln Memorial to halfway along the Washington Mall. The fireworks launch site has moved from The Mall to the Tidal Basin; vision will be partially obscured.

Perhaps the most unseemly aspect of all this will be the presence of the president. Tradition has kept presidents away because of security concerns. Not this year. Donald Trump was so smitten by a Bastille Day event he witnessed in Paris that he wanted to replicate it here. It’s the opening remarks that hold the greatest potential for this president saying something so totally inappropriate that has many of us cringing at the thought.

Do you think it is at all possible that Donald Trump would turn that opening event into a political campaign speech touting his re-election? Well, I do believe it is possible … if not probable that he would do that very thing.

I am willing to be proven wrong. If he delivers the kind of speech the Lincoln Memorial steps, then I will be glad to offer props for the president. I fear, though, that something quite inappropriate might be in store for us on the day we are supposed to celebrating the nation, not the individual who resides in the White House.

Prove me wrong, Mr. President.

Fourth of July celebration to ‘star’ Donald Trump? Really?

This can’t be happening, but I guess it is. When I first saw reports of this upcoming event celebrating the nation’s independence, I thought it might be a phony, made-up gossip item concocted by some Internet troll.

Turns out it’s real. Donald Trump appears intent on making the annual national Fourth of July celebration — which historically has been a non-partisan/non-political event — into something akin to a political rally.

The Washington Post reports that the president is moving ahead with plans to move the fireworks display from the National Mall to West Potomac Park. Then there’s this: He wants to address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

According to Mother Jones: The traditional event has been staged for more than 50 years, and has long included fireworks on the mall organized by the National Park Service, as well as a concert near the Capitol featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and a lineup of major musical stars.

The national event has been televised for many of those years by PBS.

That isn’t apparently going to happen this year. Trump appears intent on inserting himself into the celebration. Only the Good Lord Almighty knows what the president is going to say when he takes the stage in front of President Lincoln’s statue.

I get that Trump is a proud American. However, to use the high profile of his office to promote himself — which appears to be a high probability — at an event choreographed to honor the nation is a reprehensible act of partisan politics.

Trump reportedly got the idea at a Bastille Day celebration in Paris. He wanted to stage a huge military parade in Washington, D.C., to commemorate Veterans Day, but that idea has been put off for at least a year; its cost is, um, prohibitive.

The Interior Department calls the Fourth of July event a “Salute to America.” Does anyone really believe, though, that this president is going to allow such a salute to occur without taking credit for his effort to “make America great again”?

Neither do I.

As the Post reports: The president’s starring role has the potential to turn what has long been a nonpartisan celebration of the nation’s founding into another version of a Trump campaign rally. Officials said it is unclear how much the changes may cost, but the plans have already raised alarms among city officials and some lawmakers about the potential impact of such major alterations to a time-honored and well-organized summer tradition.

Good grief!

How to celebrate The Fourth

I read the other day that Irving, Texas planned to place flags in front of every residence, business, house of worship, government building today to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day.

To which I say, “You go, Irving!” What a fantastic way to celebrate this birth!

The gold standard for community celebrations that I have witnessed up close remains Kenosha, Wisc. My wife and I took our then-infant son there in 1973, where we visited my wife’s Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joe.

Fourth of July that year allowed us to see how the city decks itself out. Kenosha did it right 45 years ago. We returned there in 2000, but it was a non-Fourth of July visit.

We drove around Kenosha in 1973 and noticed patriotic bunting hanging on thousands of dwellings and businesses; flags flew in front of thousands of those buildings.

The night of the Fourth, we went to the shore of Lake Michigan, where we witnessed a spectacular fireworks display in Kenosha and a bit north in Racine.

Oh … my.

That memory will remain with me forever.