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During our lives we have adversarial moments that seem to never end. We know something is right and just but wrong seems to prevail. Then we wake up one day and realize that justice is taking place and due to the untiring work of nameless hardworking individuals, right prevails. I experienced this recently.
Several weeks ago I walked through the local Wal Mart Store and discovered that a month before Halloween and in 90 degree weather Christmas decorations were appearing on the shelves. I thought that the day will eventually come when Christmas merchandise is never taken down. It really diminishes the anticipation of the holiday and waters down the true meaning of the holiday. Then I spotted something that made me think that the attack on Christmas, the true meaning of the Holiday and the happiness and good feelings it brings may be returning to our culture.
The local Wal Mart had in the past years, for the most part, refrained from selling religious significant merchandise for Christmas. Last year they did add a small Nativity Set and it was hoped that the pendulum had started to swing for a more traditional holiday period where the Holiday represented celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
This year it was a pleasant surprise to find a section of the store dedicated to Christian artifacts that acknowledged the true meaning of the time of the season. Nativity sets and wall hangings were there and other Christian significant decorations were at other locations around the store. It appears that the true story of the Holiday is returning to Wal Mart. It is only hoped that the other retail chains follow suit and we can return to a simpler, less politically correct, less money conscious time when we can truly enjoy and celebrate our Christmas season.


America is a part of the geographical landscape known as the New World. This means that it was colonized by countries from Europe that is referred to as the Old World. At the time that North and South America along with land in the Mid-East and Far-East were being colonized, the new land would become a part of the colonizing country. These new lands were then exploited for the natural resources and human resources that were available. Over time independence was achieved and individual countries gained independence. The colonization of North and South America began with expansionism policies of European countries such as Spain, Portugal, England and France and continued through World War II with Japan’s, Italy’s and Germany’s invasions and the land-grabs of neighboring countries.
This imperialistic approach to taking land by bayonet subsided at the end of World War II and most of the conquered lands were given free rule by the end of the 1950s. The United States is not a perfect country by any means, but its moral values and love for freedom and liberty does place it at or near the top of the rest of the countries on earth.
General Colin Powell is representative of everything that is good about America. He was born in Harlem to Jamaican Immigrants. He graduated from public high school and then received a geology degree from a public college. He also received his commission in the U.S. Army from the same public college. Without attending the U.S. military academy at West Point, it was almost impossible to become a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Army. Powell broke this tradition. He not only crashed through Army traditions but also racial stereotypes to become a four-star general and ultimately appointed by President George H.W. Bush to become head of the Joint Chief of Staff, the highest position in the Department of Defense. Following his military service, he became the Secretary of State of the United States.
In 2003 at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, asked Colin Powel about the excessive use of “hard power” instead of “soft power”. Hard power is the use of the military while soft power utilizes religious values and building trust between these values. Powel’s answer responded to the use of “hard power” while reinforcing America’s imperialistic interests.
Powell stated, “The United States believes strongly in what you call soft power, the value of democracy, the value of the free economic system, the value of making sure that each citizen is free and free to pursue their own God-given ambitions and to use the talents that they were given by God. And that is what we say to the rest of the world. That is why we participated in establishing a community of democracy within the Western Hemisphere. It’s why we participate in all of these great international organizations.
There is nothing in American experience or in American political life or in our culture that suggests we want to use hard power. But what we have found over the decades is that unless you do have hard power — and here I think you’re referring to military power — then sometimes you are faced with situations that you can’t deal with.
I mean, it was not soft power that freed Europe. It was hard power. And what followed immediately after hard power? Did the United States ask for dominion over a single nation in Europe? No. Soft power came in the Marshall Plan. Soft power came with American GIs who put their weapons down once the war was over and helped all those nations rebuild. We did the same thing in Japan.
So our record of living our values and letting our values be an inspiration to others I think is clear. And I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of or apologize for with respect to what America has done for the world.
We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.

When I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia I was fortunate to have met numerous people with international backgrounds. One such individual was my Sr Project Manager. He had been a naval cruiser commander during World War II. Following the war he had gone to work for Standard Oil of California, now Chevron, where he worked around the world for the next 30+ years. He told me one day how much he disliked U.S. news coverage due to slanted commentary and bias portrayed by the correspondent. He said the British Broadcasting Company had is right. The BBC read the news and nothing else. There was no commentary. The listener could form his or her own opinion. It took years before I fully understood what he was saying.
The press is powerful and has made major inroads in shaping our nation. Case in point is William Randolph Hearst; the publishing mogul that built the largest newspaper chain in America and used sensationalism, supposition and innuendos to increase circulation. He began building his empire in 1887. He is noted for saying, “A politician will do anything to keep his job, even become a patriot”. The power of the press was gigantic at the turn of the 20th century and Hearst proved just how powerful.
Prior to the beginning of the Spanish American War, Hearst used the harsh treatment of the Cuban citizens by Spain as an opportunity to sensationalize the conflict and thus sell more papers. Published sketches of an American woman being stripped searched by Spanish on the deck of a ship were published by Hearst and infuriated a new nation. It was later proven to be false but in 1899 American was building a war fervor. When the U.S. Battleship “Maine” blew up in Havana Harbor there were sketches published of the ship blowing up and headlines that the Spanish had blown up our ship; thus war was declared. It is now believed that the ships boiler had blown up and not destroyed by the Spanish. When war fervor was running high in America Fredrick Remington was hired by Hearst to insurrection in art. There are undocumented reports that Hearst told Remington, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war”. Hearst, himself, landed in Cuba with the U.S. Army and had his group of correspondents report live from the fighting. While Hearst Publications didn’t cause the Spanish American War, his biased reporting built up a war fervor in America that made war an easy pill to swallow by the American citizen.
In Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, Man in the Arena, he captured the importance of the power of the press and the care that the press must take to insure truthful coverage. “Of course all that I say of the orator (speaker) applies with even greater force to the orator’s latter day and more influential brother, the journalist. The power of the journalist is great, but he is entitled neither to respect nor admiration because of that power unless it is used aright. He can do, and often does, great good. He can do, and he often does, infinite mischief. All journalists, all writers, for the very reason that they appreciate the vast possibilities of their profession, should bear testimony against those who deeply discredit it. Offenses against taste and morals, which are bad enough in a private citizen, are infinitely worse if made into instruments for debauching the community through a newspaper. Mendacity, slander, sensationalism, inanity, vapid triviality, all are potent factors for the debauchery of the public mind and conscience. The excuse advanced for vicious writing that the public demands it and that demand must be supplied, can no more be admitted than if it were advanced by purveyors of food who sell poisonous adulterations.”
Roosevelt’s words are just as important today as they were in the early 1900s. The veracity of news shows that attack instead of report and the multitude of multi-media comments that hold no rational knowledge is even more divisive to our populace than what Roosevelt experienced. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear or read the news and then let the reader or listener evaluate what is being reported rather than being told how we are supposed to behave when the news is presented to us.

We have recently been bombarded with images of some of the best athletes in the world kneeling, standing, locking arms or not showing up at all during the presentation of Ole Glory, the flag of the United States of America, and the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. I was going to take the easy way out and leave this issue alone; but I just can’t do it.
I believe in free speech and would go to my grave to defend it. Our forefathers who were much wiser than the average person felt it was mandatory that the Constitution of the United States contained language that insured that all Americans have the right to speak freely without fear of prosecution. The 1st Amendment of the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Simple and sweet and something that can be understood by all.
Before I went to school I could recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. You stood, took off your cap, faced the flag, placed the right hand over the heart and recited the pledge. The one exception is when a man or woman grows to maturity and puts on the uniform of the United States military or peace office, the hat remains on and the hand no longer covers the heart but instead salutes the flag. Simple and sweet and something that can be understood by all. This was performed every day while in elementary school and at school assemblies, athletic events and on special patriotic days at churches across the country,
The protest displayed by the NFL is very confusing. Whatever the protest is for; whether it is for police brutality, black suppression, team unity, presidential protests or whatever the believed noble gesture is, the venue is just not right. There are a thousand ways the players could work to make a difference in society but to disrespect the flag of the greatest nation in the world and to do so during the playing of the National Anthem is just not the morally correct thing to do. While the players were granted the freedom to kneel and not rise or to rise and lock arms instead of placing the hand on the heart, to do so is simply disrespectful to the flag, the anthem and to everything they stands for; end of story. There is no debate.
I found myself asking why the flag has been so symbolic in my life. Why do I look on with pride and a small smile crosses my face when the stars and stripes is presented? Perhaps it is the knowledge that a million men and women died under the colors to insure American freedom. Many coffins returning from far off wars were draped with the patriotic symbols of our nation while the neatly folded flag was presented to the family of the fallen service member along with the appreciation of a grateful nation and the president of the United States. Perhaps it is the spirit that was ingrained at a very young age. Whatever it is that makes a piece of cloth and a few wards so special, Hollywood has captured this special spirit for over a hundred years.
In 1942 Jimmy Cagney made a movie named “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. It was based on one of the greatest composers ever, George M. Cohan. Cagney was famous for his portrayal as a gangster and a tough guy smashing grapefruit into the face of his girlfriend. He totally changed characters for the patriotic movie. At the beginning of the movie when it was identified that America would be entering World War I he comments, “It always happens when we get too high hat for flag waving that some nation decides we are a push over, ready to be blackjacked. It isn’t long before we are looking to be sure the flag is still flying over us.” The closing scene has Cagney giving the commentary that the flag originates its’ red from the flame of dawn of a new nation, white is from the snow at Valley Forge and blue originates from the free open sky while the stars are 13 sisters by the sea that built their home and called it liberty.” The show then ended with a rousing chorus singing its’ a grand ole flag while hundreds of American flags marched in the background.
Flash forward to 1970 and another picture to win Best Picture and Best Actor, just as Yankee Doddle Dandy did, is presented to America. “Patton” and George C. Scott are introduced to America and it is the opening scene that sets the pace of the movie. Scott delivers his iconic speech, Everyone Loves a Winner, and delivers it in front of a flag that must have been twenty feet tall. The delivery was dramatic.
In 2007 “Rough Riders” premiered and the country saw Tom Berringer portraying Teddy Roosevelt. Prior to assaulting San Juan Hill to liberate Cuba in the Spanish American War, the viewer is presented a cross section of America. The Rough Riders consisted of the wild manhood that settled the West. Cowboys and Indians and Mexican Americans were part of the volunteer unit as well as the upper class of New York to include names such as Goodyear and Tiffany. Next to the Rough Riders waiting to assault the hill was the all black cavalry unit headed by Blackjack Pershing who later lead the American forces at the landing in France during World War I. Just before attacking San Juan Hill Roosevelt is heard saying, “Stand By the Colors”, and the American flag is unfurled. This flag waves silently as a backdrop when the hill is taken and the dead comrades are taken into consideration.
If we must protest please do so; but please don’t slap America in her face to do it.

Over the last year the NFL has been thrust into the unfortunate position of being made to choose between pure patriotism and patriotic liberties guaranteed by our constitution.  As a child I was introduced into patriotic practices which included total respect for the flag of our great nation and to respect the Star Spangled Banner, the National Anthem of the United States of America.  There was no underlying reason and no political correctness attached to this; it is only the right thing to do.

I have stood on the athletic field prior to kickoff or the first pitch.  No it was not in a professional stadium but regardless if it was on the home field at Farmerville, the football field at Navy Memphis or the softball fields across the Middle East the feeling was the same.  Standing out there with the stands rising and the playing of the National Anthem brought a lump to the throat that could not be explained.  It just happened; the same feeling that I felt when I saw the American flag flying over the American consulate in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.  It was a feeling of pride and a sense of protection from everything bad.

I personally felt extremely proud of my country, its’ flag and what it represented.  During Viet Nam, a very unpopular war, a college student was given a deferment from the draft as long as the student remained in school.  Also, deferments were granted if a person had a medical condition that would not allow the individual to perform duties in the military.  These deferments were cherished by many during the Viet Nam war.  I had both so I was a “pampered child” of the 60s so I did what anyone would do during a war, I turned in my pads, dropped out of school and begged my way into the United States Navy.  I spent a tour off Viet Nam on the USS Saratoga and later became a Navy Seabee,

I have little patience with a man making multi-millions of dollars disgracing the flag and the country that is providing the man the opportunity to make this money due to being provided by God with a body that provides superhuman abilities.  Even under the guise of protesting social injustice due to racial inequality, protesting the banner of this great nation does not belong in out society.

If these pampered athletes had spent time in the classrooms under the tutelage of a history professor they would have realized what took place under the fluttering flag of the United States.  Many are taught that the war between the states, the civil war, was fought due to states sovereignty.   Others say it was fought due to slavery.  In fact the two are the same.  The States wanted to say that slavery was to be decided by the states and the federal government did not have that authority.  The Civil War went forward, the Union Forces were victorious and Slavery was abolished.  The cost was high and more people died than in any other conflict in the history of our nation.  320,000 white men gave their lives under the stars and stripes to turn the United States into a completely free nation free from slavery.

So if a person feels they must protest then do so but lets not disgrace  the symbol of our great nation, the same symbol that shrouds the coffins of our nations fallen heroes when returning home from foreign wars.


Several times over the last couple of years I have written about the Founding Fathers and the concept of “all men are created equal”. My interpretation of these prophetic words was not that all citizens of the Unites States are guaranteed a particular life style or entitled to a set of materialistic rewards for simply living in our great nation. Instead we are entitled to an opportunity to make our own way and we are allowed to pursue happiness individually without bias or constraint.
I have, in the past, also quoted an excerpt from one of President Teddy Roosevelt’s speeches that many refer to as “The Man in the Arena”. This is a marvelous speech that espouses the man that attempts to achieve anything in life and the laurels that should be administered to the man that attempts and fails vs the man that sits in the arena as an onlooker yet never attempts to achieve but instead finds it sport to criticizes those that fail.
The actual Roosevelt speech was not titled “The Man in the Arena” but was instead titled “Citizenship in the Republic”. The Man in the Arena is merely a paragraph of a much larger speech delivered in France in 1910 when Roosevelt was returning from a scientific expedition of East Africa that was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute. I recently read the speech in its’ entirety and was surprised to read Roosevelt’s comments on the equality of man. This speech also addressed other problematic activities we are experiencing today and even though this speech was delivered 116 years ago the content is still true today.
The following is the section of the speech that addresses equality of man in America.
“I think the authors of the Declaration of Independence intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal-equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all—constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and, even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, everywhere.”
We are bound in honor to refuse to listen to those men who would make us desist from the effort to do away with the inequality which means injustice; the inequality of right, opportunity, of privilege. We are bound in honor to strive to bring even nearer the day when, as far is humanly possible, we shall be able to realize the ideal that each man shall have an equal opportunity to show the stuff that is in him by the way in which he renders service. There should, so far as possible, be equal of opportunity to render service; but just so long as there inequality of service there should and must be inequality of reward. We may be sorry for the general, the painter, the artists, the worker in any profession or of any kind, whose misfortune rather than whose fault is that he does his work ill. But the reward must go to the man who does his work well; for any other course is to create a new kind of privilege, the privilege of folly and weakness; and special privilege is injustice, whatever form it takes.”
Hope to see you at the 175th anniversary of our community. Ricky Albritton’s steering committee under the auspices of Mayor Baughman and the Farmerville Town Council is performing an admirable job of making this auspicious event a memorable moment in the history of Farmerville.

America went through a tumultuous time in its’ history during the 1960s. Civil rights went to the forefront of America’s interests and was right there with Viet Nam, the Kennedy assassinations and landing a man on the moon. It was a hard struggle and within Louisiana’s political landscape the ability for minority voting was enhanced with the abolition of the poll tax. Unlikely politicians such as Earl Long promoted minority voting and helped to open the doors for those that had never been given the constitutional right to vote.
Segregated water fountains and bathrooms disappeared as did segregated schools a minorities appeared at a quick pace on television and in movies. America had transitioned to an integrated society where African Americans no longer discriminated against in the deep south just and American Indians were integrated into a white man’s world in the West. America had grown up; at least in many quarters.
Many of us had fathers and grandfathers that went to war to fight a diabolical philosophy, an enemy that was committed to purify the earth from innocent men, women and children in a horrid social engineering experiment. The Nazi viewpoint was taken to an extreme and six million Jews were murdered simply because to their linage. Blacks were slated to be on the extermination list as were others deemed to be inferior and sub-standard humans. This was a sad time in the history of the world and a young black man by the name of Jesse Owens disproved this ideal race concept when he destroyed the track competition at the Olympics held in Berlin, Germany with Adolf Hitler looking on.
Many good men and women from the Allied nations never returned from World War II but their sacrifices insured that much of the hatred in the world would be eliminated and we could live in peace without fear of repercussion due to race, creed or religion. This ideal took a long time to be adopted and then understood by the masses. It took a long time after the war to fully espouse the concepts of Americanism; but America has come a long way. Is total equality with us today? The answer is “no” but it is so much better than a decade ago and it will be better in the future decades.
Last week a protest in Virginia ended in tragedy and death as a protest turned deadly. White supremist spit venom into a lovely southern community that is an echo from a time in Germany that saw the goose stepping Nazis terrorize a country and spread its’ hatred across Europe. Actions like this are not a part of our great nation and there is no place in America for this behavior just as marches espousing the killing of police followed by police assassinations are likewise divisive and filled with hatred.
It is imperative that we realize that a few protesters spewing a sick rhetoric in front of a news camera hungry for television ratings does not reflect the majority of any one group. We must look beyond these bumps in the road and look at the greater requirement ; the continued growth of our nation. We must continue to strive to place prejudice behind us from all quarters and place God and country at the forefront.