Friday, May 31, 2013

President John F. Kennedy

The tributes were few two days ago. It was John F. Kennedy's birthday. It is the day that the Kennedy family would prefer people remember the slain president, but most remember November 22nd, the day he was assassinated in Dallas. The family understands the need and desire of many to honor the fallen president, but they prefer the memory of JFK be focused on the day of his birth, May 29th.

That may take a long time, for there are so many of us alive today who remember that November day. Only when the generation is gone to whom the torch was passed, might the memory move from his death to his birth.

We honor Lincoln on his birthday and not the day he died.

Very few remember that assassinated President James Garfield died on September 19th.

William McKinley's assassination date is now generally forgotten. He died on a September 14th.

It takes time to bury pain and change an ache to honor. It takes time to have tragic memory stand without sorrow. The Kennedy family has learned, through many tears, that once you acknowledge the death, you must let it go and remember the life.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Michele Bachmann

Bulletin, Bulletin.

Congresswoman MicheIe Bachmann of Minnesota will not seek reelection in 2014.

I was tired of reading about her absurd and outlandish claims of big brother government. I was tired of her scaring people for her own selfish quest to end Obamacare.

I was tired of her making up facts and blurting them out in half sentences of misstatement.

I’m not tired anymore.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I had a New York City reality check the other day. I was in the city for an appointment and noticed that my watch battery had died. I happened to be walking near Bloomingdales, the up-scale department store in Manhattan.

I went in and found the watch repair department. I took off my watch and gave it to the clerk saying it needed a new battery. She looked at it. It wasn't one of those multi-thousand dollar watches. I think I paid less than a hundred dollars for it several years ago.

She took it show some unseen watch technician in a small doorway out of sight of the customers. Coming back she said it will cost you forty one dollars including tax.

I was astounded. "That's about half the value of the watch," I said. "That's the price," she replied.

I left with a still dead watch battery.

I don't know if it's greed or if Bloomingdales has to charge outragous prices to cover their financial nut in New York City. I suspect it's both. Perhaps a lot more greed than need.

Leaving the store, I remembered a few years ago when I was again in Manhattan and I needed a new tie. I went to Bloomies, as the locals call the store and went to the men's department. I found a tie I liked among dozens of others and then looked at the price!

Whoa! One-hundred and twenty-five dollars. This tie didn't have gold stitching or diamonds sown into the fabric. It was a nice common red striped tie. I walked out of the store then too.

Somethings belie understanding; so do some merchants. Bloomingdales is one of them. I won't be back.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Waving Leaves

We had two very windy days in my area a couple of days ago. It was pleasure to watch the wind in the trees surrounding my home. Gusts were thirty plus MPH.

My house sits high on a ridge about five stories above a meadow. The trees below the ridge line are either lower than the many windows of my home or we view the tree’s foliage in the middle of the tree.

The view was especially poignant during the  wind gusts.

Waving Leaves
© 2013 Rolland G. Smith

I watched the roiling waves of green
Devoid of shore and sandy scene.
They rolled and tumbled with the wind
In ebb and flow, advance, rescind.

The graceful waves are from the breeze
That moves the leaves among the trees
Just like the ocean’s waves on shore
My gaze is wanting, wanting more.

But here there is no tidal force
It’s just the wind in blowing course.
It moves in gusts of rhythmic dance
And holds my sight long past a glance.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Day to Remember

A repost: Memorial Day

So many of us were able to enjoy the weekend and today Memorial Day is a bonus day of delight, barbeques, and picnics along with family/friend gatherings.

In my youth, Memorial Day was different. It was a day of remembrance, honor and appreciation of those who died in the service to our nation. We had our gatherings too, but they were always after a parade.

I lived in a small village and parades were loosely organized. School bands marched playing Souza’s tunes and the service anthems. The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts paraded in uneven lines as the local fife and drum corps headed up the volunteer firemen and a police contingent. The Ladies Auxiliary from the VFW posts marched too. They always seem to march with a grace that the vets couldn’t muster.

My friends and I rode our bikes festooned with red, white and blue crinkled crape paper woven in the wheel spokes. We inserted a piece of cardboard attached to the bike frame into the spokes. It rattled like a motor as the wheel turned. We kids would ride between the marching groups; little American flags taped to our handlebars fluttered in the peddled breezes.

The guests of honor were always the veterans. Some wore their old uniforms and proudly displayed battle and campaign ribbons. Tight fitting uniforms kept the bulges of time from being too noticeable. Their step was proud as they kept their eyes ahead and heads held high.

The veteran contingents marched together by the war in which they served. In my small town in central New York, the largest groups at that time were the vets from World War Two; that war had ended only a few years earlier. Then came the doughboys from World War One. They were older and fewer. The oldest veterans, two from the Spanish American War rode in a convertible at the head of the parade. The next year they were gone and a Medal of Honor recipient rode at the head of the parade.

The parade ended at a local monument honoring all those from the area who died in war. Their names were embossed in bas-relief bronze on a plaque bolted to chiseled granite.

Memorial Day Celebrations in those days engendered a reverence for the fallen. Even as youngsters we felt a connection to those who had passed. We all knew someone whose Father didn’t come home and we all stood straight and still for Taps.

Little did we know then that Korea, Quemoy and Matsu, Vietnam, Iraq one, Grenada and Iraq two and Afghanistan would follow and there would be new war veterans marching.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful that in some future time Memorial Day would have no new names to remember?

Friday, May 24, 2013

In the news

A few items in the news engendered this morning’s post.

I don’t know if you saw President Obama’s speech yesterday afternoon. It was a major policy speech in which he talked about curtailing the U.S. targeted drone attacks against al Qaeda and closing the Guantanamo prison.

A woman a couple of times during the speech rudely interrupted the President. I thought he handled her public outrage with Presidential courtesy and politeness. Bravo to Mr. Obama.

The Boy Scouts of America voted for an historic policy change yesterday. As of January 1st, they will allow openly gay scouts to join troops, but they will not allow gay scoutmasters. Wow! Welcome to the 21st century.

I was a scout back in the early 1950’s and while I didn’t know of any scouts that were gay, I did observe some scout leaders who were different. I didn’t understand that difference then, but I do now. So be it.

I wonder how the two senators from Oklahoma now feel about federal disaster aid. The two of them voted against Federal aid for the hurricane Sandy victims. It seems to me you cannot tie the federal budget to the pain and pathos of American citizens suffering anywhere because of nature’s destructive force.

The problem is that we are a country of divergent cultures, and economies and even ethics. The Senators and Representatives in Congress don’t see our oneness. The representatives of one regional culture cannot muster the empathetic resonance with another because they see the other as takers from the national coffers. Tragedy is the national denominator of a Samaritan ethic. If a neighbor or citizen, distant or close, needs help, then you help. That is the American way.
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