Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veteran's Day

Last night, I was talking with my children about the wars of the early Twentieth Centry. When I was young, my father was a member of the American Legion and on the wall of the Legion Hall there was a large poster with this poem:

In Flanders Fields

John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lone Star Flag

The other day, I wsa listening to the radio as I drove to work. The station was "Shooter FM". A listener requested a song by Pauline Reese: Lone Star Flag. The lyrics run something like:

On a calm day in Texas we chase tornadoes
On a slow day we race our pickup trucks
On a hot day down in Texas we drink Tabasco
And on a bad day we thank God for our good luck

May the Lone Star Flag Forever Fly
May the spirit of the Alamo never die
Coach Landry walks the sidelines high up in the sky
May the Lone Star Flag Forever Fly

On a straight day in Texas we shoot tequila
On a dry day we wildcat a well
On a tame day in Texas we break a stallion
And on a down day we raise all kinds of hell

May the Lone Star Flag Forever Fly
May the spirit of the Alamo never die
Ole Stevie Ray plays guitar up in the sky
May the Lone Star Flag Forever Fly

Buddy Holly sings Rave On
Bob Wills still swings to his “Rose of San Antone”

May the Lone Star Flag Forever Fly
May the spirit of the Alamo never die
May all our fallen heroes ride high up in the sky
May the Lone Star Flag Forever Fly

Listening to the lyrics, I got to thinking: I have lived in a number of states over the last half-century, but none of them has become a part of me as Texas has.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Election Day Has Come and Gone

Another Election Day has come and gone. The Republicans won by a landslide. On the Federal level, they hold a solid majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. On the state level, there was never any doubt both houses of the Texas Legislature are solidly Republican. The disgusting part, however, is that only 37% of the eligible voters bothered to take five minutes and vote.

For the next two years, we will have to listen to the couldn't-be-bothered-to-vote whiners complain about the legislation that the Republicans propose. On the Federal level, we will see President Obama exercising his veto authority heavily. On the state level, the Governor will sign them into law.

Too bad that we cannot enact a law stating that if you don't vote, you can't complain. It would be so much easier on the ears. The First Amendment, however, protects the right of all of us, voters and can't-be-bothered-to-vote alike, to complain about our government.

When I was young, I could not wait to be old enough to vote. In school, we were told that it was our patriotic duty to vote in every election: school district, primary, local, state and Federal. We were taught the each and every vote was important. Our candidates may not always win, but the closeness of the election was important information to the winner.

And listen they did. President Lyndon Baines Johnson chose not to run in 1968 because the 1966 mid-term election told him that his policies were not popular and if he ran, he would be defeated. He remains best known for two things: Civil Rights Legislation and the Vietnam War. It was the Vietnam War that sank his reelection chances. College students, Vietnam War veterans and many of his fellow Democrats turned against his chosen successor, Hubert Humphrey.

More people vote in years when the Presidency is up for grabs. The President is one person, the head of the executive branch of the Federal government. The President does not make Federal laws; Congress does. The Federal government is only the top layer of the tiered government cake. Most of the laws that affect you and I are state and local laws. It is the lower tiers of the cake -- the state, county and municipal governments -- that fixes the roads, educates our children, settles disputes and polices the streets. The people we elect to these levels of government spend or waste more of our tax money than the Federal government. Yet, most of us cannot name our state legislator, our elected county leaders or, in many cases, the name of the mayor of the town we live in.

In today's schools, politics, current events and recent history are not taught. Students are taught what happened but not why it happened. Without an understanding of why events happened and how they tie into current events, the study of history becomes rote memorization of dry facts. Without the why, students cannot see the flow of governmental blunders that lead to war, to bad policies, to bad economics and bad laws. When we vote for our leaders, we are selecting the players whose actions will create the next set of policies, the new laws and cause or prevent the next set of governmental blunders which will lead to the next war.

How do we teach, and more importantly, make people believe that every election and every vote is important?


From Daryl Cagle's blog on Veteran's Day:

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