Posts Tagged ‘Tom Fields’

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.

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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.

This week has been both sad time for our community while at the same time a tense time for both our nation and the world.

It is rare when we meet a person that has so much impact on her community in so many ways.  It is even more sad when we lose this person.  Last week we lost our beloved editor and this loss is widespread and deep.  It is seldom that we find a person who embraces her profession with total dedication and love and Jessie was that person.  She garnered the respect of citizens throughout Union Parish that she worked with for years while living her Christian values.  This is a mixture that is admirable and this work ethic and moral values will be sorrowfully missed.  The Bernice Banner has lost a wonderful leader and Union Parish has lost a wonderful person.

While we were grieving our loss in Union Parish, the world tensed as rhetoric became bolder between North Korea and the United States.   We saw this coming.  Last winter I wrote about North Korea flying under the radar and the dangers it posed.  Then I wrote about the reality of what will happen if there truly is a war on the Korean peninsula and the massive loss of life that will take place.  Unfortunately, this is coming to fruition and it only hoped that cooler heads will take hold and pull us back from the brink.  I truly believe that this saber rattling is only that and the world leaders will come to the salvation of the planet and show the leadership required to prevent a major war.

  The President of the United States, POTUS, has declared that the United States is prepared to unleash fire and fury the like of which the world has never seen.  My first thought was of rolling boiling earth and debris launched skyward into a mushroom sky as thousands of North Koreans are incinerated and the world experiences a modified nuclear winter.  Then I realized that this is not what was actually said and fire and fury could truly be an unleash of conventional weapons.  Unfortunately, our press has repeated the American answer to Korea to be nuclear in nature.

North Korea has declared to test a missile and have it land close to Guam, an American territory.  The missile is targeted to land on a trajectory near Guam but would land in international waters.  If the launch takes place it is hoped that we keep our finger off the button and not launch anything based solely on supposition.  Then if there is truly a strike, unleash the fury of the United States and the free world.  We have no other option.

For decades, the various United States administrations has kicked the Korean issue down the road with the final resolution residing with a future administration.  That time has come and it is now time to find a solution for Korea.  There is one action that has caught my ear.  China, a staunch ally of North Korea and a country that entered the Korean war on the side of the North, has stated that if North Korea launches the first strike it will not enter the conflict.  This is a major statement that could possibly lead to a negotiated settlement.  Let us hope that this crisis can be resolved and settled and let’s hope that China is now working behind the scenes. China has much more to lose today than it ever has since the founding of the communist country.

One thing is certain, the next few weeks will be very interesting albeit very tense. 

 

The last eight years has been anything but desirable for the Unites States as it addresses the American spirit and cooperation between opposing political, racial and minority groups. We have seen our politicians vote on legislation based solely on partisan politics while protesters take to the streets simply because they do not like who won an election. America has witnessed a specific political party vote against any legislation, regardless of merit, simply because a person of a different party is president. This has taken place under two presidential administrations and the country is tired of it just as the country is becoming weary of groups rioting and destroying under the guise of freedom of speech.
The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, had the welfare of the people at heart when it was developed. It was an entitlement program that would guarantee healthcare for everyone. Like all entitlement programs it has to be funded in one way or the other. Existing revenues that come into the national coffers in the form of taxes can be diverted from existing programs and can then be used to fund the health act. If other programs are not eligible to be defunded, then additional funds from additional taxes can be obtained. If the country has no interest in additional taxes to an already large tax structure then America can borrow money to fund the program. The problem with the tax option is that borrowing money for entitlements has no return on the investment and no revenue is generated by the borrowed money. Our national debt would continue to rise and our children and grandchildren will bear the brunt of bad decisions.
True the form of centralized control, assumptions are made that don’t reflect the common sense nor allows the common man to make decisions. Communism was based on Centralized Control and ultimately failed miserably and led to the fall of the Soviet Union. Obamacare based a large amount of funding on young men and women in America taking mandatory insurance. Instead the youth opted to pay a penalty and not be forced to pay extremely high insurance premiums for insurance that they do not need. This left only the older workers that need insurance to pay for the insurance. The base of people was much smaller than anticipated and the funding suffered. Prices have sky rocketed and in some states the private insurance companies have dropped out of the markets causing distress in these geographical areas.
The Republicans have had seven years to get a plan ready for appealing the current Affordable Care Act. So far, after six months of controlling the entire Executive and Legislative branches of government, the Republicans have had no success in repealing and replacing Obamacare. Congress is in gridlock, America is sick of it and many loyal patriots that we sent to Washington are facing backlash back home. Some is justified but much is not justified; however, the perception of incompetency permeates throughout the country.
Finally, after years of waiting and hoping someone uttered the word that so many have been waiting to hear; “bipartisan participation”. It was stated by a key member of the Republican party that there needs to be bipartisan participation to work through the details to dismember the current Affordable Care Act, insure that key parts of the act remain to protect vulnerable Americans and provide adequate funding in a realistic manner and allow Americans to make decisions for healthcare on their own.
Let us hope that “bipartisan participation” is not only isolated to health care reform. Let us pray that this is the beginning to true collaborations between all political parties and we put the good of the nation at the forefront of future legislation. If this happens we will once again see America shining brightly around the world as the pillar of freedom.

North Korea has finally developed and tested via a successful launch an International Continental Ballistic Missile, ICBM, that is capable of reaching the United States. At this stage in the fledgling North Korean missile program, the only state that the missile can hit is Alaska but it won’t be long before Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angles will become targets. Parallel development of a nuclear weapon that can be transported by one of these missiles is ongoing. Even if a nuclear payload is not available a conventional bomb can be transported on the ICBM and can ultimately cause damage to our beautiful nation.
Another threat leaves North Korea clean when it comes to launching a missile on the West. It will let some other country do the dirty work. North Korea will be able to dismantle and sell its’ weapons of destruction to countries that wish to do harm to Western nations. If transport is not available for the weapons, North Korea can sell the technologies and then let rogue nations build their own missiles much as a child designs and builds an erector set. The nuclear warhead will come later and we are then in a huge and complex mess as countries such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Germany become easy targets for North Korean Technology that is launched from reprobate locations in the Middle East. North Korea becomes a double winner in this scenario. Western countries are hit and harmed while North Korea’s coffers are filled with foreign money funded by the sale of the sinister weapons.
It appears that the decision is simple; let’s hit them and hit them quick. Not so quick my friend. There is no way short of a nuclear strike that we could hope to neutralize the North Korean Military. Nuclear attack is not an option. With a standing army of 700,000 and several million reservists, we can damage the beast but not destroy it. North Korea is waiting for provocation and they will not be satisfied to take a defensive posture. North Korea will move south and with speed. So where will the North horde go. It will wear out tanks speeding to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Seoul is only 30 miles from the demilitarized zone that separates the two countries and contains ten million residents. The loss of life would be catastrophic. While the North Korean army would take large losses it would continue to function as it moves south. I worked with Koreans in Arabia and the Koreans are a tough race, very tough. The North Korean army can take a lickin and keep on ticken.
Another concern is China. While China has become a major world economy there is all ways that isolated chance that China will enter the campaign and support North Korea just as it did during the Korean War of the 50s. This is almost incomprehensible but if that happened we could see an escalation that could pull the Mid-East into the conflict as an opportunity to strike a blow against the West. Then we have to ask what will Russia do and who will they side with.
Korea is quit complex and it is not a new issue. It began when America had a warship stopped, boarded, captured and taken to North Korea in the 1960s. The USS Pueblo’s crew was eventually released, but only after the Unites States paid ransom. Since then North Korea held America at lower esteem and America thought it could negotiate itself out of any conflict. We fooled ourselves and for the last forty years North Korea has built one of the largest armies in the world while laughing at America and the West. We have really painted ourselves into a corner and we can’t wait for the paint to dry to walk out.

 

We all know the common names of the authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Names such as Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and of course Hancock are all synonymous with this historic document.  Not only did they craft the document that would announce to England that America was declaring independence but it meant that the signers committed treason. They were all subjects of Great Britain and they now declared to be independent and would no longer obey the laws of their home land.  In essence, they signed their own death warrants.

While some of the signers of the Declaration are etched in American history and later went on to create the Constitution of the United States, the majority of the fifty-six Declaration signers have been lost in history.  Each was unique but each had one commonality, they felt that a new nation was possible where men lived free and they would be allowed to pursue their dreams unencumbered by class standing.

One of the little known signers was John Witherspoon.  Witherspoon was a Scottish born Presbyterian minister.  He sailed to America to become president of the College of New Jersey; now Princeton.  He was influential in American education and was famous for intimidating both students and peers.

He was one of the early member of the Continental Congress and was a staunch supporter for independence.  When an individual stated that America was not yet ripe for independence, Witherspoon commented,  “In my judgment, sir, we are not only ripe, but rotting.”  During the Highlander uprising in Scotland he was captured and imprisoned thus his fervor for freedom from England was embellished in his psyche.  When the signing of the Declaration of Independence took place he was the only clergyman to ink the document.

Once war broke out Witherspoon experienced the horrors of treason and the sad reality of being a patriot.  His oldest son joined the continental army,  rose to major and was killed in the battle of Germantown.  Later that year his home was burned to the ground by the British soldiers. 

He continued to serve his new country following the end of the Revolutionary War.  Princeton had been badly damaged during the battle there.  He spent two years to help repair the damage.  Witherspoon also became a member of the New Jersey convention that was convened to ratify the constitution.

Several years after the end of the war in 1789 Witherspoon’s wife died.  She was the mother of ten Witherspoon children.  Witherspoon was then 66 years old.  Two years later at 68 Witherspoon married a 24-year old widow.  He died in 1794 but not before fathering two more children.

This is only one of the fifty-six signers of our Declaration of Independence and characterizes the character of the individuals that forged our country.