Tag Archives: Fourth of July

Puppy Tales, Part 85: He’s gotten jumpy

Toby the Puppy has gotten jumpy, but we think we know the source of his newfound skittishness.

It’s not a worry. Indeed, I get a bit spooked at the very thing that seems to have gotten under Toby’s skin.

It’s the sound of thunder. He no longer likes it. In fact, the sound of it sends our puppy scampering for a bed under which he can curl up.

Toby is now a little more than 6 years old. He’s been through a lot of thunderstorms in his life. He has exhibited little regard to the sound of the thunder … until now.

For that matter, we have discovered he has an acute dislike of the sound of fireworks. The bombs and rockets we ignite on New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July send him into a state of near panic.

But we think we know where he acquired the unsettled behavior.

We attended a fireworks display on the Fourth of July, 2019. We were gathered along a lake in Northeast Texas, with many dozens of other fine folks. We were very close to the launching site for the rockets.

They were loud. As in really loud. Toby the Puppy heard all of that and, shall we say … he didn’t like it one single bit.

His Mommy — aka my wife — took him away from the blast zone, seeking to shield him from the din. It didn’t work.

Toby hasn’t been the same since.

He isn’t traumatized. Of that I am certain. He is an extremely well-adjusted and adaptable puppy. He travels better than any human being I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of my late mother-in-law. Toby is a road warrior, as was my wife’s mother.

However, we have discovered a weak spot in his emotional armor. It’s the loud booming sounds, be they artificial fireworks or the sound and fury created by Mother Nature herself.

Despite all that, Toby the Puppy is practically perfect.

Dear America: Happy birthday … hoping for a brighter day

Dear America … on behalf of millions of others just like me I want to offer an apology.

I am sorry that the president of the United States couldn’t bring himself to say something worthy of the birthday you just celebrated.

Donald Trump stood before Mount Rushmore and then stood on the South Lawn of the White House and delivered two unforgettable speeches. We won’t remember them for the soaring rhetoric they should have contained. We will remember them for the raw anger, the division, the rage they planted.

This isn’t the way presidents usually commemorate your founding, but you knew that already. Presidents most commonly speak to our better angels, appealing to our sense of commonality, our quest to create a “more perfect Union.”

The Donald didn’t do that. He talked about angry mobs, the taking down of statues that “honor” traitors to the nation, generals who fought to overthrow the United States of America. He said those statues are part of “our history.” You bet they are. It is a history full of hate, of oppression, of enslavement of human beings. Donald Trump wants to preserve those monuments, keep them standing in public places. He is angry at those of us — fellow citizens — who protest them.

So he talked at length about that and about made-up assertions of the motives behind the demonstrations we have seen.

I am sorry he didn’t mention except in passing the pandemic that has afflicted so many thousands of American families. It has caused untold grief and misery. It has placed insurmountable burdens on heroic medical personnel. These Americans deserve our eternal gratitude but Trump didn’t see fit to offer it to them.

So, please accept my belated birthday wish along with this sincere hope for you, the nation I love with all my heart and the nation for which I went to war.

My hope is that we can deliver you a gift worthy of all that you represent. It would come in the form of a new president who is able to speak openly to our sense of decency and to, as Joe Biden has said, “restore our soul.”

America, I am forever grateful to have been born in this land. I pledge to do all I can to deliver this gift that you so richly deserve.

Here’s hoping for brighter days ahead.

Immigrants, yes; also American patriots

The picture attached to this blog post is of three of my grandparents.

The woman on the left is my father’s mother, Katina; the gentleman is my mother’s father, George; the other woman is Mom’s mother, Diamondoula. I don’t know who snapped this photo; perhaps it was Dad’s father, John.

What do they have in common? For starters, they were immigrants. They came to this country from southeastern Europe. Dad’s parents came from southern Greece, while Mom’s parents came here from Turkey. They all were Greeks and proud of their heritage.

They had something else in common. They all loved the United States of America.

I want to honor them today to remind you about an immutable fact of this country: The U.S. of A. was built by immigrants. Whether they came her voluntarily, as my grandparents did, or were rounded up and transported here aboard slave ships, they all built this nation.

My grandparents were the proudest Americans you ever would want to know.

Dad’s parents brought seven children into the world, four of whom served in the military. Dad served in the Navy during World War II; one of his brothers fought for the Army during the Korean War, while his other brother saw Army duty in Europe between the Korean and Vietnam wars; one of his sisters served in the Navy. Mom’s parents produced three children; her two brothers both served in the military; one of them fought with Army Air Corps during World War II; the other served as an Army reserve colonel.

I want to salute my grandparents because they were Americans by choice. They forged a good life in this land. They honored the nation by flying the flag proudly. My maternal grandmother adored Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy, keeping pictures of JFK in her home.

The current political discourse contains an unhealthy dose of anti-immigrant dogma. One of the president’s closest advisers is known to be anti-immigrant and has infused the president with the notion that we need a “merit-based” immigration policy that allows only those identified as potential high achievers into the country. Under that policy, none of my grandparents would have qualified … and the United States would have been made immeasurably poorer by their exclusion.

This weekend we’re going to honor the founding of this nation. We’ll celebrate it under a cloud brought to us by the pandemic. Still, we will honor our founders’ genius in crafting the framework that put together the world’s most indispensable nation.

I intend to honor — and recall with great fondness — the contributions that my grandparents made after arriving here from far away places.

They became the greatest of Americans … and played a major role in making America great.

Puppy Tales, Part 81: Hey, he’s got his foibles, too

I am obligated to report that despite what you might have inferred, Toby the Puppy does not leap tall buildings in a single bound, or is faster than a speeding bullet. He is not a version of Super Dog.

He has his foibles. One of them is fireworks. He hates ’em. They make him super jumpy. We saw evidence of it this past Fourth of July attending a fireworks show at Lake Bob Sandlin in East Texas. The rockets’ red glare — accompanied by plenty of noise — frightened our brave watchdog.

Overnight as the world welcomed in 2020, fireworks were going off all over our Collin County neighborhood. Toby the Puppy heard ’em. He didn’t like it one little bit.

We tried to turn in at our regular time, a little after 10 p.m. Our granddaughter, Emma, had conked out earlier. Was the puppy ready to snuggle with us at the normal time? Hah!

Even after the fireworks began to subside, he was having none of it. Up and down all night. He didn’t want to go outside to, um, take care of his business. Oh, no!

Dogs, of course, can hear things we mere humans cannot hear. So I’m guessing this morning he was hearing noises that were beyond our earshot.

I remain immensely proud of our Toby the Puppy. However, he has his limitations … just like the rest of us.

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?