Posts Tagged ‘Tom Fields’

The debate continues about what can be done to prevent violence in the schools such as we have witnessed in Broward County. That horrific act fills the emotions of everyone except the most stonehearted across our nation. These emotions swell up into a frenzy that divides a great people as simple solutions to a very complex problem are suggested. In fact the solution is multi-faceted and will take social modification; financial asset reassignment; training and most importantly, cooperation, understanding and teamwork.
America is a nation of laws. We have no dictator and the laws come from the governed. We may not all ways agree to this statement but in fact the people that make our laws are elected by the citizens that the laws encompass. This thesis of a democratic nation holds validity of a democracy from the very lowest levels of local government through state government to our national régime. We have rights guaranteed by our constitution and these rights are provided to all citizens; however they are guaranteed only if they do not trounce on the very basic tenant of American rights. These are the rights of American citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
When emotions run high we often let these emotions take control of rational thinking as we seek quick solutions to our problems. Over the past week we hear that gun control is the answer to the death of so many innocent lives being lost. We also hear that trained police officers refused to enter the school to stop the shooter and these officers are now receiving the wrath of a nation that ignores the police that did enter the school and thwarted even more deaths. Adults that took in a homeless adolescent had death threats posed on social media after they tried to comfort the youth for the loss of his mother, placed strict rules for the youth to follow and even called the police asking for help with the young man; the same man that slaughtered the children in Broward county.
The second amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms. It does not give Americans a right to take a gun and kill or injure someone else. We must understand there is a difference. It is known that some individuals are not emotionally fit to carry a weapon. This was not an issue when our founding fathers guaranteed that America could be armed. We must do an even better background check that better identifies an individual that has a high probability of performing gun violence if allowed to own a gun. This is a serious endeavor to balance personal rights versus safety and will require an unemotional response that is developed by professionals that understand the importance of this criteria. Both the NRA and Left Wing Liberals must come to some common ground, remove biases and develop criteria that is in the countries best interest.
One of the biggest threats to American ideals is the mis-use of social media and the social changes that it brings. A person reads some posted message that was made by a person whose post contains half truths or by a person that is totally ignorant of what is being posted. When it is read it is taken as fact and taken as fact without checking the source. This is leading to a world relying on mis-information as being the truth. This also leads to professionals that are responsible for our safe keeping to be inundated with false reports of potential danger. Unfortunately this can lead to a numbing effect on organizations that are continually receiving threat tips only to find that they are false. We need to change the understanding of what needs to be published while at the same time make it fully understood that every reported threat must be investigated by the proper authority.
When Germany determined that it would invade Switzerland during World War II, Switzerland called on its’ Army and Reserve Force to fill the mountain passes and thus Germany decided that the cost would be too great. The invasion never happened. We can think of our schools in the same manner. There has been quit a bit of discussion pertaining to arming school teachers. Perhaps using the Switzerland analogy in a school setting would discourage a shooter from entering the premise. There must be constraints though to arming teachers. A potential armed teacher must want to be armed and not forced to be armed. The armed teacher must be well trained in how to operate a weapon and must be extremely well trained in when to use the weapon.
The violence we are experiencing is complex we need to stand back and take a good look at what we must do to curtail this violence. At the same time we must address the horrendous violence that is rampant in the inner cities of America and what must be done to bring hope to that segment of society.

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For anyone that is not aware we are in the middle of the Winter Olympic Games. What a wonderful sporting event for the world to witness. This is the 23rd time that the Olympics have been held (XXIII Olympiad) and is an add-on to the original games, the summer Olympics. Originally both the summer and winter Olympics were held on the same year. Recently this changed to provide more time to enjoy the games and thus allow time for sponsors to not be stretched so thin when it comes to marketing dollars.
The Olympics were supposed to be void of political intrigue and pure of heart. Unfortunately this has not all ways been true. The intestinal fortitude and sacrifice required for any Olympic athlete is nothing short of amazing. The pressure to participate and to win are enormous. For a select few the financial rewards are enormous but for most the opportunity to receive a single medal and stand on a podium as the flag of the winner’s country is hoisted makes it all worthwhile. This pressure to achieve is so great that many individuals and in some areas the majority of a countries teams will take illegal drugs to insure success.
When Russia invaded Afghanistan the Carter administration boycotted the Russian hosted Olympics to protest the invasion. Forget the purity of the games, it was then politicized. This year Russia, as a country, was banned from the Olympics due to sanctioned doping of its’ athletes. If athletes could be proven to not have performed any doping they would be allowed to participate in the Olympics; not as a part of the Russian country but listed as an athlete from Russia. No Russian flag would fly at these games.
America has it’ own political drama. Linsey Vaughn stated she would not go to the White House to visit President Trump if she won a medal. Unfortunately, it is the position and not the person that should be respected. This boycott does nothing for the country except to be divisive; however, Linsey does have every right to express her own views. Our founding fathers founded our nation on this concept and laws have been instituted to insure this right is protected. Unfortunately this freedom of speech and dissent is not a popular concept to many. After her first loss in a downhill event the Tweeters came out in droves with wishes of physical harm to the skier and hopes she continually loses. Two problems with this; first: she is still representing our country and she should be paid the respect for that and wish her good will, second: the presses assessment that the Trump supporters are wishing her bad luck is incorrect. Many Trump supporters do whish her good luck as a flag bearer of our nation. We are all Americans.
Korea has its’ own political drama. North Korea sent a contingent to the games. This is unprecedented and what is even more astounding is that some team sports consisted of both North and South Koreans competing together. The biggest point of intrigue was when the leader of North Korea’s sister arrived for the games and then offered an invitation to the leader of South Korea to meet with her brother. This has sent a flurry of diplomatic chatter between the United States and Korea and if unilateral talks take place between the two Koreas the United States will be in a very vulnerable position.
We have grossly underestimated the North Korean government. We thought it was a back wood country that was on the verge of collapse. They proved they had the ability to develop and the knowledge to hack into American computer systems. North Korea has built a nuclear weapon and now has developed a missile that can hit Washington D.C. Now they appear close to have performed and end-around of the United States diplomatically. They have definitely proven themselves to be a worthy adversary. One last political coupe that North Korea performed at the Olympics; the North Korean cheerleaders. North Korea sent an entourage of beautiful young cheerleaders to support North Korea during the Olympics. A minor detail that has proven to be a big hit at the games. No other country sends cheerleaders.
The original Olympic games were founded in ancient Greece in the country that developed and then spread the unorthodox concept of Democracy. The first Olympic games were founded in 776 B.C. These games were to honor religious gods Zeus and Pelops and consisted of athletic events. Wars were even suspended during the celebration. Due to the religious games the Spartans could not send its’ army to stop the Persians from invading Greece. Instead Sparta only sent 300 Spartans to stop the Persians from invading Greece. The games were held every 4 years, just as they are today. Location of the games was at Mt Olympus. City States and geographical areas of ancient Greece sent their athletes to compete just as countries compete today. But what was amazing was that the men competed for; glory and the admiration of their countrymen. The award was simple. A crown of olive leaves adorned the heads of the winners.

 

A patriot is defined as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” Patriotism does not just rest in America but is ingrained in the souls of individuals around the world. The intensity of patriotic pride does vary in different countries and while it is very strong around our planet there is no country that claims patriotic pride any greater than the United States.
Colin Powell is a true American patriot. He was born to Jamaican immigrants and having risen through the ranks he became the first non-West Point graduate to become the Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He later became Secretary of State. During his appointment as Secretary of State Powell was in Switzerland at a conference. While there he was asked about America’s use of hard power instead of soft power. Hard power is referred to as military options while soft power refers to negotiations.
Following the Spanish American War the United States went to war with the Philippines. Instead of giving the Philippines freedom the United States annexed it as a part of America. The Philippines thought that America was liberating them they found that they became an American colony. After years of fighting it became clear that America was not imperialistic and there is no true desire to conquer and dominate another country.
Powell’s response to the question in Switzerland reinforces what America truly is, identifies the true American spirit and portrays American patriotism at its’ best.
“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.”

A patriot is defined as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” Patriotism does not just rest in America but is ingrained in the souls of individuals around the world. The intensity of patriotic pride does vary in different countries and while it is very strong around our planet there is no country that claims patriotic pride any greater than the United States.
Ever since Thomas Edison developed the motion pictures, patriotism was a main draw to the movies. In 1911 DW Griffith’s silent movie, “Birth of a Nation”, followed two families from the civil war through reconstruction. Though controversial due to racist background, it was an early entry to the patriotic movies produced in Hollywood. Nationalistic movies have spurred the patriotism in Americans and have helped to portray the history of our great nation.
Without fail these patriotic movies contain at least one rousing patriotic speech that instills pride in our country. One memorable speech was given by George C. Scott who won the Academy Award for best actor in the movie that also won best picture of the year; “Patton”. I have taken literary license to slightly clean up certain verbiage with the speech.
“Now, I want you to re0member that no person ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb person die for his country.
Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.
When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. Now, I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious derelicts who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know anything more about real battle than they do about breathing.
Now, we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God, I actually pity those poor guys we’re going up against. By God, I do. We’re not just going to shoot them. We’re going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Huns by the bushel.
Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you’ll chicken-out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend’s face, you’ll know what to do.
Now there’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We’re not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding onto anything — except the enemy. We’re going to hold onto him by the nose, and we’re gonna kick him in the butt. We’re gonna kick the hell out of him all the time, and we’re gonna go through him like crap through a goose!
Now, there’s one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, “What did you do in the great World War II?” — you won’t have to say, ‘Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana.’”
When going through SEABEE training in Pt Hueneme, California I had been taunting how great our state was. Louisiana could do no harm; and then we went to see “Patton”. They never let me live down that final statement.
Patton hated Louisiana due to the Louisiana maneuvers he participated in prior to World War II. These maneuvers were the final use of horses by the U.S. Army Calvary. The derogatory comment that referenced Louisiana dealt with shoveling out the horse pens. If all goes right we hope to be fortunate enough to relive the Louisiana Maneuvers in the future through the eyes of the Union Museum of History and Art.

So many times we view corporations as brick and mortar filled with stoic individuals that perform their work robotic style with little care for the human element in their environment. A perception exists of the dollar ruling all decisions and these decisions permeate from the board room to the lower echelons of the corporation. Recently I observed an event that proved this observation to be totally incorrect.
Bonnie and I left for a cruise and were sailing out of New Orleans. The first night we were hit with two misfortunes. It was frigid cold and we had to endure the plunging temperature while sitting outside on the Lido deck watching the second malady of the night; the Saints lost and were eliminated from the playoffs. If that were the only problems encountered, we would be happy.
On the second full day at sea we had left the chill of the arctic plunge behind us and the balmy breezes of the tropical trade winds had us believing that what we had left behind was merely a figment of our imagination. Even the cocky men and women dressed in Minnesota jerseys couldn’t dampen the feeling of bliss. Then we heard the announcement.
“This is the captain”, said a voice with a heavy Italian accent. “We have declared a medical emergency and are turning around to land at Cozumel to deliver the sick passenger.”
The televisions in each stateroom has a channel that shows a map of where we are, our path and speed of the ship. We watched as the ship turned almost 180 degrees and the captain gave it the spurs and headed for the island of Cozumel. I was fortunate to have spent my first year in the Navy on the USS Saratoga, a quit large aircraft carrier. As luck would have it we had our Mediterranean cruise cancelled and we sailed half way around the world and landed in the Philippines. No cost was spared as we cruised the seagoing behemoth at 25 knots. This is 29 MPH. I thought that no civilian ship, especially one the size that we were cruising on, could do anything near 25 knots. I was wrong. The good ship Carnival Dream closed on Cozumel at 25 knots. The captain spared no expense as wide open throttle is burning fuel at a large rate. Also the extra 2 hours going to Cozumel and then back to where we turned around burned a large amount of additional fuel.
After discharging the sick passenger, the captain spared no cost and instead of arriving at Mahogany Bay four hours late, we arrived on time. The captain made the conscious decision to spare no cost to get the passenger into port for treatment and then to increase speed to get his passengers docked in Honduras on time. No stoic stiff collared captain on the bridge of the Dream. Instead a man that put the care of his passengers first.
Another action happened that reinforced the feeling of the good of man. Right after the announcement by the captain the cruise director came on the intercom and asked to keep the sick passenger in our thoughts and “prayers”. Very non-politically correct but very human and very refreshing to have a representative of one of the largest cruise lines in the world ask for prayers.
When the ship landed in Cozumel the port authority was there to assist with the transfer of the patient. Once the patient has been transferred to an ambulance and the ambulance leaves the port, the Mexican port authority is no longer responsible. An official from the port went to the hospital and remained at the hospital at the side of the family the majority of the time they were there. Despite barbs being thrown between the United States and Mexico, the human element interceded and the need for comfort and support surpassed politics.
I passed the cruise director as we were disembarking in New Orleans. He was responsible for offloading activities and had to insure that 3,500 passengers got off the ship as quickly and as safely as possible and then be ready to sail with a full ship in six hours. He had not heard what had happened to the patient. As I passed him I told him that the patient was taken off of life support. Then I watched as he grasped my hand in both of his and with eyes turning red and swelling with tears he thanked me for the information. Quit a human trait.
This was a nice trip but I took far more away from it than the tropical bliss. Thoughts and prayers are with the family of Annice Bayles McCallum, a friend, schoolmate and graduate of Farmerville Hi.

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.

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.