Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hero, Savior, Tyrant, Villain

W.T. Sherman, 1865, National Archives, Public Domain, full link below
Greetings All:

I am a history guy, especially military history. I have also become a big fan of biographies. I (only half-jokingly) tell people I listen to audio books (almost said books on tape, how's that for dating me?) because, "When you run as slow as me, you don't need music."

So when my monthly credit showed up last month, I pounced on Robert O'Connell's book, Fierce Patriot. It is the story of the man pictured above, William Tecumseh Sherman, one each. I suspect most of you have at least a vague idea of who this man was and his role in the Civil War.

I've got some links to his bio below but in a nutshell, here it is.

Born to a respectable, albeit family of modest means, a foster family raised him due to his father's untimely death and they’re being ten other Sherman children. He attended West Point and left the Army to pursue commercial interests. He was not successful in these endeavors, at least from a "balance sheet" standpoint. When the Civil War erupted his family utilized their political connections to get him back in the Army.

It did not begin well. One of his first major campaigns ended with him getting (more or less) getting relieved. The rumor was he suffered a mental breakdown. He was undoubtedly suffering from exhaustion and quite likely horrific depression. 

Still, he was given a second chance. He made the most of it. 

At the battle of Shiloh, he found himself. Despite the horrific carnage around him, he rallied his troops. What could have been a disaster for the North was somewhat of a victory. To Sherman should go a lion's share of the credit for this event.
From there Sherman's star rose, as did his success. He was now firmly joined at the hip to General U.S. Grant as his star subordinate. Then he took his "show on the road," the march to the sea in Georgia, then up through the Carolinas in the dying days of the Civil War. In the North, he was hailed as a hero, a savior even.

Down south, the feeling was far from mutual.  I have no doubt that the name Sherman still can still call to mind the images of an invader, an oppressor, a destroyer. He is credited with waging war on a scale new to modern times. He wanted to not only defeat the Confederate forces on the field of battle but he was determined to break the soul and spirit of the Confederacy by attacking both its ability to make war and the images of its insurrection.

I suppose if I was a Southerner and watched my state capitol go up in smoke, I'd likely not think well of him either. I might even call him a tyrant.

I think it is important to note that from all accounts, Sherman did not bathe in the putrid bath of war. He did not have the blood lust of others. I'll let him speak in his own defense:

"I confess, without shame, I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell." 

After the Civil War, Sherman was not finished with the Army, or our history. He took over the task of overseeing the construction of the intercontinental railroad. Here he found success, wild success. It was built and our nation was never the same. The country was now linked from ocean to ocean not by plodding wagons but speeding trains. America's economic might and global status was secured.

And the culture of the Native Americans was doomed. In building the railroad, Sherman had neither pause nor pity for those who lived on the land. They were simply in the way. He wrote Grant after what became known as the 1866 Fetterman Massacre, "...we must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children."

In addition to his attitude towards the Native Americans, the buffalo were driven to practical extinction. In Sherman's mind, they were another impediment, an obstacle to be cleared in another "march" to a goal. 

One could look at these two bitter fruits of Sherman's labor and indict him both a villain and tyrant, or worse. Then again, as a child of a modern America, I've reaped the benefits of living in a nation that became the economic envy of the world. Sherman's railroad made that, in large part, possible. To damn him now from my comfortable perch of perspective would make me a hypocrite, no?

So here is what I propose: Let's use the story of Sherman to recall both the good and bad of the man. His accomplishments are impressive and his means, at least some of them are not. In fact, they should call for what they were- wrong, terribly, terribly wrong. But that's not enough. We need to pledge to learn our history...all of it. By doing so we can endeavor to emulate the aspects of our history that are good and avoid those that are bad. Only by zipping up our coats and standing in the cold light of truth will we create a history for our kids and grand kids that is a whole lot more "hero" and a whole less "villain." 

Be well my friends,

Author's Note:  This post originally appeared under my Linkedin Profile Post.  I am re-publishing it here as some of you are not on Linkedin.  




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Bix 7 Top Ten

My shoes and "race bib" from Saturday's Bix 7, photo credit, J. Berta

Greetings All:

Saturday (July 26th) was the famed Bix 7 run that I commented on Friday night.  I finished with a less than stellar time yet am proud I ran the whole thing.  (I did pause to say hi to my friend Ken Burns who was part of the volunteer motorcycle crew that blocks off the streets and the Elvis imitators but aside from that, I ran/lumbered the whole way.)

I have been reading Meb K's book and thought it was pretty cool that he got to read the Letterman "Top Ten" list after winning the New York City Marathon.  So, as a ode to Meb, I thought I'd offer my own, so here goes:

My Ten Thoughts on the Bix 7 Race:

10.  To the self-absorbed woman who was too busy messing with her iPhone to even acknowledge the National Anthem, I hope you had a good run.  Also, I  sure hope those Soldiers lugging their ugly assault packs didn't get in your way.  Sigh;

9.  It never gets old heading up Brady Street hill and seeing the mass of humanity in front and behind you.  That is worth being in the run, just for that experience;

8.  Hey, thanks Marathon Photo for the latest email opportunity to buy an outrageously priced photo (plus the postage charge).  I deleted the first sixteen emails with this same offer;

7.  Mile 4, I hate you.  That is all;

6.  In all seriousness, without the volunteers, this could not happen.  Thanks.  A special thanks to the motor cyclists who block off Kirkwood Blvd.  Many who pull this duty and proudly display their service history.  A special thanks to Ken Fry, and "welcome home" my friend;

5.  Every year I say, "I'm gonna train."  Every year, I never do.  It's hard to break an hour with a 12 minute mile average;

4.  Best thing after the race, grape pop sickles from Whitey's;

3.  My guardian angels/spirit guides must have been on the clock for just as I hit the hardest hill, Beastie Boys "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" came up on my shuffle music list.  That was a much needed boost.  (& RIP MCA, you are sorely missed.);

2.  To the those who ran in costume, especially the "Marilyn's and Elvis' of the day, you always make it fun.  Also, it was good to see the Palmer College of Chiropractic Spine making their necessary "adjustments" along the way.  (OK, got it, that was bad...);


1.  To John Hudetz, the man who is credited with getting Bix off the ground 40 years ago.  Without you and your friends' vision (and some quick thinking when you did not have the parade permit) you gave us a great event.  From a humble field of 84 it has grown to its majestic status now.  Just goes to show what happens when you believe enough in an idea.  

Be well my friends,


Friday, July 25, 2014

Meeting a Champion

Meeting Running Great Meb Keflezighi today, photo credit, Jeno Berta

Greetings All:

Tomorrow morning in Davenport, Iowa, I will join about 20,000 of my closest friends as I run (more like lumber) through the seven mile course that is the world-famous "Bix 7" road race. The "Bix," as us locals call it, is celebrating its 40th running. The name comes from a local jazz musician, Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke. Bix died young, a causality of the Jazz Age. Yet his music survived and a jazz festival was held in his honor in July in downtown Davenport. 

Against that backdrop the first race was held in 1974. From a humble beginning of 84 runners, it has morphed into one of the premiere road races in the Midwest. 

I run. I run s-l-o-w and have no intentions of doing any different tomorrow. For some people, seven miles is no big deal. For me, it's likely the most I'll run at one time for a long time. Also, there are hills. Yet another valid reason to take it easy and enjoy the sights.

One of those sights, the highlight actually for me, is seeing the elite runners heading back to the finish line. The Bix route is an "out and back" course, meaning you turn around at 3.5 miles and head back the way you started. Part of the route, Kirkwood BLVD, features a divided road separated by a grassy center. It gives the (ahem) slower runners a perfect view of the front runners. For a few moments, you're on the same part of the route with some of the best runners in the world...even if you're going different ways.

One of those runners will be Meb Keflezighi. Meb won the Boston Marathon this year and has won a bunch of other races, including Bix twice. He's back in town this year and, unsurprisingly, is being treated like royalty. I just happened to have the good fortune to get to meet him today and could not resist getting the attached photo with him.

I said he's being treated like royalty but he's not acting anything like a royal. He was gracious, approachable, and smiled the way sincere people do. I'll admit it without shame, I was thrilled to meet such a great athlete and person.

I do not know a great deal about elite runners. I would guess that if you win something as big as the Boston or New York marathon (Meb's won both) you can pretty much pick your schedule. While our race is something we are truly proud of, it's not like a pro golf tournament. Meb's likely not sending his kids to college off of whatever he'll make being here this weekend. True, Bix is this year's USA 7 Mile Championship. Still, Meb could have easily taken a pass on this year's Bix if he wanted to. If he wanted to...

But he didn't. He wants to be here. He wants to be here to compete, of course. Yet there is also another reason why he's here. He values running and I like to think he respects the way this town respects running. I mentioned above there will be about 20,000 running this race. There will be another 5,000 volunteers doing all the other things that make the race the event that it is. From the people handing out water to the motor cyclists who block the side streets and everything else that goes into such an event, the community comes out to watch and work at Bix.

I picked up Meb's book, Run to Overcome and was honored to have him autograph it. In the few hours I have been flipping through it, I am impressed with how Meb overcame an impoverished youth, made the most of his shot at the American dream and stood toe to toe with adversity to have adversity back down. In the book's forward, Joan Benoit Samuelson shares these thoughts about Meb:
"Meb is a man who has a strong sense of self and high moral standards. he knows how one person or family can make a difference in the lives of many."

Without question, Meb Keflezighi is someone to admire. He's someone to emulate. Yet at the end of the day, we cannot be the people we admire, we can only be ourselves. We can only run our race. I'll try to keep that in mind tomorrow when I'm slogging through the course on the back end. For the beginning of the race, though, it will be fun. 

And I'll be keeping an eye out for my favorite runner. Good luck Meb. You'll be running to win and I'll be running to overcome a challenging course. Meb offers this tip in his book: "Once you've committed yourself to something, pace yourself to the finish line."

I think that is great advice for tomorrow and all the tasks we face in life.

Be well my friends,

To learn more about Meb Keflezighi and his foundation, visit

Meb's book is available from Amazon, here's the link:

This post was originally published on my Linkedin profile page under posts.  I thought this message was worth sharing on my blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recall the Pine Tar

George Brett's reaction to being called out for excessive pine tar on July 24, 1983.  Public domain/fair use claimed, photo credit-, full cite below
Greetings All:

There is a lot of trouble in the world at this particular time.  As I wrote in my last post, living in "interesting times" carries a cost.  We're paying the "suggested retail price" for these times and our kids will be stuck with the interest payments.  

So when I learned today was the 31st anniversary of the "pine tar" incident at Yankee stadium, I smiled.  I smiled because if you're a baseball fan, you know the story.  For those of you who are not, here's a recap from Wikipedia:

"On July 24, 1983, the Royals played the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. In the top of the ninth inning with two out, Brett hit a go-ahead two-run homer off of Goose Gossage to put the Royals up 5-4. Upon Brett crossing the plate, Yankees manager Billy Martin cited to the umpires a rule that stated that any foreign substance on a bat could extend no further than 18 inches from the knob. The umpires measured the amount of pine tar, a legal substance used by hitters to improve their grip, on Brett's bat; the pine tar extended about 24 inches. The home plate umpire, Tim McClelland, signaled Brett out, ending the game as a Yankees win. An enraged George Brett charged out of the dugout toward McClelland and had to be physically restrained by two umpires and a Royals coach. Brett was immediately ejected. The Royals protested the game, and American League president Lee MacPhail upheld the protest, reasoning that the bat should have been excluded from future use but the home run should not have been nullified. Amid much controversy, the game was resumed on August 18 from the point of Brett's home run and ended with a Royals win."

Now if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.  I tried (and failed miserably) to embed the video into this blog post.  However, I have the link in the sources below.  Please check out the video at the oh, say, 2:39 minute mark to relive Mr. Brett's...response to being called out for his pine tar transgression.

Even three decades later, the legend lives on.  Although George Brett achieved countless accolades as a player, culminating with his elevation to the Parthenon that is the Hall of Fame, this incident is what he is best known for (at least outside of Kansas City).  Even the man himself offers these comments:

“That’s what I’m known for. It could be worse,” quipped Brett.

Although in retrospect it is a trivial, almost laughable matter, it still has some significance today.  On the one hand, it shows the value of knowing the rules.  Billy Martin, the legendary Yankee skipper, drew on years of experience to snatch victory (albeit temporarily) from the jaws of a two-run shot by knowing the rules.  On the other, you have to hand it to Brett for his passion.  

Please note, I said passion, not violence.  If you watch the video, it's clear George is not amused.  I have no doubt that he uttered a few words that ended in the letters "E R."  Sure, he had to be "restrained" from physically assaulting the umpire.  But would he really have hit him?  I doubt it.  Here's why.

George Brett grew up around baseball.  His father and brothers played the game.  He was drafted out of high school into the Royals organization.  He came of age during what was a golden age of baseball, before steroids and $11.00 draft beers at the ball park.  He both knew and respected the game.  

Now is it possible his rage might have gotten the best of him?  Sure.  Prisons across our country are filled with folks whose rage did.  And I'm no Brett fan, especially against the Yankees.  But if you watch the video, you see (at least I do) someone who is engaging in that most noble of baseball rituals, the rant.  It reminds me of Earl Weaver at his best.  Angry, profane, the infield as his stage, the kicked dirt as his prop,...and consciously aware of the crowd howling in approval.  But not violent.

And in the end, it was Brett and the Royals who had the last laugh.  The call was reversed, the home run stood and the Royals won the game a month later.  As for the bat, well, it made it to Cooperstown...along with Brett and Billy.

For me, that is the legacy of the pine tar incident.  A bit of drama, a bit more of righteous fury and a video that still can make a baseball fan smile.  But no violence, no blood shed.  And that is a welcome hiatus from what is going on in the world today.

Be well my friends,



Sunday, July 20, 2014

May You Live in Interesting Times

A portrait of
The Chinese using lanterns mounted on cattle during a night battle - See more at:
The Chinese using lanterns mounted on cattle during a night battle - See more at:
a Chinese battle, artist unknown, public domain, full cite below
The Chinese using lanterns mounted on cattle during a night battle. Artist unknown - See more at:
The Chinese using lanterns mounted on cattle during a night battle. Artist unknown - See more at:
Greetings All:

If I have the chance, I like to start Sunday morning with "Meet the Press."  I think it's a solid show and makes a good-faith effort to frame issues from a factual context, not just a political slant.  

If you caught the show today, you heard about a number of troubling things going on in the world.  From the downing of the Malaysia Airlines MH17, to Gaza to the boarder issue here at home, there is a LOT going on.  Unfortunately, I did not hear any solutions today.  Can't say I was surprised.

As I watched the show, I thought of the ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."  This phase has been around for a while and I've used it in the past.  I like it because it is understated yet conveys a sense of "be careful, bad stuff is out there."  

The Chinese is a culture that has been around for a long time and has a rich history of technological achievements which, by the way, happened way before many in the West.  When you add that to the mix, "May you live in interesting times," becomes not just a clever quip, but has the endorsement of a grand, ancient society.  

It's not surprising it has been used in the past by public figures.  Bobby Kennedy said this in Cape Town, South Africa in 1966: 
"There is a Chinese curse which says, 'May he live in interesting times'. Like it or not, we live in interesting times..."
Yet here's the catch:  It's not even Chinese.  According to a variety of sources, this is something that got co-opted as a Chinese phase:  Here's a thought on this matter from our friends a Wikipedia:

“'May you live in interesting times' is an English expression purporting to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. Despite being so common in English as to be known as 'The Chinese curse', the saying is apocryphal and no actual Chinese source has ever been produced.[1] The nearest related Chinese expression is "太平作乱" (níng wéi tàipíng quǎn, mò zuòluàn lí rén) which conveys the sense that it is 'better to live as a dog in an era of peace than a man in times of trouble.'"

Wow, things are so upside down now that even a well-used statement is not what it has been held up to be.  Man, what to do?  

Well, I suppose we can still use and like the phase.  I do happen to like it better than the quote about a dog in an era of peace.  Here's another thought:  Perhaps it is better to live in interesting times for it is how progress is made.  If you look back at history, ask yourself:  "What does history record?" I'd suggest it records struggles and the successful overcoming of such events.  (It also can indict with brutal honesty when such struggles are not overcome.)  

So let us not fear "interesting times."  Instead, embrace them.  After all, these times belong to us.  We'll have to decide how we chose to deal with them.  History will then pass judgment if we were up to the task.  I'll fervently argue that if we make the future better for those who come after us, then history's verdict will be an acquittal on all counts.

Be well my friends,


The Chinese using lanterns mounted on cattle during a night battle - See more at:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Birthday Reflections

From Clip Art,, public domain claimed

Greetings All:

I'm celebrating my birthday today.  First and foremost, thanks to all for the well wishes, especially from my family.  I was thrilled to realize that a birthday doughnut awaited me this morning.  It won't be the last bit of "low-value" calories I consume today, I assure you. :)

Before I go out for a run in a futile attempt to mitigate the above-mentioned future gorge-fest, I thought I'd take a couple of moments and reflect on birthdays past and the more memorable moments thereof:

Best Birthday Party

I'm kinda cheating with this one as it was more than just a birthday party, it was our local wedding reception.  We got married out on the East Coast and then had a reception here at the Elks Lodge.  Aside from the power going out as the food was being prepared, it went off without a hitch.  My wife's paternal grandma was a great sport, staying up way late into the night.  We even had our friends Bill and Greg DJ it.  I recall them pulling out from God knows where a Viennese waltz and doing play by play as my Dad and my Mom-in-Law impressively and deftly navigated the dance floor. 

Best Birthday Gift 

It's hard to narrow down the great gifts I got as a kid.  However, if there's a genre that wins out, it is the G.I. Joe stuff from the 70s.  Now granted, getting access to my Mom's '73 Buick on my 16th birthday (and thanks Gary G for getting the Kraco tape deck in it) was a very good thing.  However, for pure gifts, this is the tops.  With all due respect to the G.I. Joe with the "Kung-Fu Grip," I'm actually more of a fan of the old(er) school G.I. Joes.  

As an aside, I remember my mom yelling at me when she caught me with my Dad's razor as I shaved off the beard of one of my G.I Joes.  Sorry Mom, that's not IAW with the reg...

Here's a link to some of the great G.I. Joe toys if your interested:

Best Musical Experience

A couple of years ago, I found myself in Nashville for work.  It was late afternoon and we headed downtown.  In an almost empty bar, we heard the musical talents of "The Sid Yochim Band." Led by Tucker, his sister Sydney, and the rest of the band are a great young group of musicians and I should add, fine young people.  We had a great time hearing them.  So much so that we sought them out the next night.  The band was formed as a tribute to Tucker and Sydney's Dad, Sid, the band is doing Mr. Yochim proud.  Here's a couple of links to the band:

Most Unique Birthday:

A few years' back, I spent a year in a rather warm place several time zones forward of my current one.  That was unique in a bunch of ways.  My friends from the "First Team" made it memorable and I'll always be grateful for their friendship.  Still, I won't feel cheated if I never have a birthday in that part of the world again.

And finally,...My 21st.

Ah, turning 21.  I'll simply say this:  Thanks to the  generosity
and hospitality of my fraternity brothers, I celebrated with Tequila and Wild Turkey.   There is a reason why they're called "shots."  Bang.  Ow.  Once is enough, plenty enough.  Well, here's to youth and learning from our experiences.  

Birthdays can and should be a time to celebrate.  I'm grateful for the people in my life and the experiences I've had.  I realize I'm not a kid anymore (and thank God for that!) but there's no reason not to still enjoy life and have fun, just with the absence of certain distilled spirits.  

As Jimmy Buffett sings-

"Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can't look back for too long.
There's just too much to see waiting in front of me,
and I know that I just can't go wrong..."

Be well my friends,
The birthday boy

Buffett lyrics:


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Great Summer Movie

The Ghostbusters movie poster, with the iconic (I suppose) emblem,, fair use and/or public domain claimed

Greetings All:

Thirty years ago, a great movie became a part of our culture.  That movie would be Ghostbusters.  The other night it happened to be on TV and while I was only interested in the next day's weather, you guessed it, I got sucked in and watched it to the end.

Well, "sucked in" is not exactly accurate.  I equate sucked in to seeing something for the first time and being drawn to watching it.  When this has happened to me in the past, I usually wish I could get that time back.

Not so with this flick.

No, Ghostbusters is a classic comedy.  It is a film that still delights a generation later.  Oh sure, the special effects aren't so special in this day and age.  And it's not exactly high brow entertainment.  What it is, at least to me, it a great film.  

For those of you not familiar with it, here's the story in a nushell:  Three scientists get fired from their sweet university gig and select a career path a bit off the beaten path.  They become ghost hunters in New York City.  In the process, they cross paths with a bureaucrat from the EPA and things go really bad really fast.  The ending is expected but still enjoyable.  The cast of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis are fantastic as the Ghostbusters.  The rest of the cast is terrific and it's just a fun film.  My college friends and I still reference some of the more famous lines of the film.  It's either a tribute to the cultural significance of this film, our lameness or perhaps a bit of both.

I did not realize that Ghostbusters almost never came to be.  It was originally written for John Belushi who tragically died, thus creating a void.  The film was shot and produced under a brutally short schedule.  This was done to meet the ever-important summer movie release date.  I'm glad they made it for this movie was my favorite of the summer of 1984.  Come to think of it, it's still one of my favorite summer movies.

I have a few links below to some history of the film and if you're a fan, it's worth checking out.  The "suits" in Hollywood were not terribly hip on making it and some people took some very big risks to pull it off.  Harold Ramis jumped aboard after 20 minutes of hearing the pitch.  I guess he knew a good thing when he saw it.

The film could have bombed.  Hollywood could have said, "That's it!  No more comedies that require this many special effects.  No more ghost movies!"  But Ghostbusters did not bomb.  It blew up.  It took the world by storm and still is living happily ever after on cable TV and on DVDs across America.  

If you haven't watched it for a while, do yourself a favor and check it out.  It's like catching up with a old friend and having a good laugh.  With all that is going on in the world, that is time well spent.  

Here's to Ghostbusters, a great summer film and great film of all time. 

Be well my friends,



Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Boss & The King

Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen with his long-time drummer, Max Weinberg, souce-, public domain/fair use claimed
Greetings All:

Yesterday was the 4th of July, Independence Day.  I hope you all had a great day and are recovering from sunburns and any other...minor self-induced ailments from the day.  I had an experience yesterday that inspired this post.  Here goes.

As I was driving back from the grocery store, I tuned into "E Street Radio" on Sirius XM.  I figured who better to listen to than "The Boss."  I just happened to catch him covering Elvis "The King" Presley's "Fools Rush In."  It's a great song, enhanced even more by the uniquely gravelly voice of the Boss.

I have no doubt that hundreds of times yesterday Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." was blasted across backyards and PA systems.  Of course, like many of Springsteen's songs, it's not a happy-campy song.  Those of you who are old enough to remember the 1984 campaign, President Reagan referenced the song in a manner that did not sit that well with The Boss.  If you want to read more about that, here's a pretty good article on it:

I don't want to get into that issue on this blog post as that will inevitably extend this post well past a thousand words.  I will say that Bruce Springsteen has earned his place in modern American music.  He's an icon in his own right.  The fact he covered Elvis, America's first modern music Icon (feel free to take issue with that one) is great.  In that short car ride yesterday, I thought it was a fitting tribute to America on America's birthday. 

Elvis, "The King" Presley in his famous, "Jailhouse Rock" photo,, public domain.

Here's the link to the excellent blog post I found on the subject of The Boss & the King, courtesy of Ryan Hilligoss and Shawn Poole.  I tried to pick out one or two quotes, but the article (damn it, :)) is so full of them, I could not decide.  Please check out their post here, it's got some great photos as well:

I suppose the reason that The Boss & the King are so important to American music is that one laid the groundwork for the other.  Elvis opened the door to America's challenges with "In the Ghetto."  Springsteen busted it off its hinges with his work, his brutally honest assessment of the America that doesn't make it into Hallmark cards.

One of Springsteen's more haunting songs (and he's got more than one) is "Independence Day."  Here are the lyrics:

"Well Papa go to bed now it's getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now
I'll be leaving in the morning from St. Mary's Gate
We wouldn't change this thing even if we could somehow
Cause the darkness of this house has got the best of us
There's a darkness in this town that's got us too
But they can't touch me now
And you can't touch me now
They ain't gonna do to me
What I watched them do to you

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day
All down the line
Just say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day this time

Now I don't know what it always was with us
We chose the words, and yeah, we drew the lines
There was just no way this house could hold the two of us
I guess that we were just too much of the same kind

Well say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day all boys must run away
So say goodbye it's Independence Day
All men must make their way come Independence Day

Now the rooms are all empty down at Frankie's joint
And the highway she's deserted clear down to Breaker's Point
There's a lot of people leaving town now
leaving their friends, their homes
At night they walk that dark and dusty highway all alone

Well Papa go to bed now, it's getting late
Nothing we can say can change anything now
Because there's just different people coming down here now and they see things in different ways
And soon everything we've known will just be swept away

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
Papa now I know the things you wanted that you could not say
But won't you just say goodbye it's Independence Day
I swear I never meant to take those things away" 

I'm half-Irish, so I do my best to be an optimist, at least until the facts force otherwise.  Yes, "Independence Day" is a sad song.  However, it's also an honest one.  We as Americans have a lot to be proud of.  Yet we also have some work to do, in some cases, a lot of work.  When we listen to the music and lyrics of Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen we can hear both the promise and the challenge of our nation.  We can take comfort in the nostalgia of the King's music.  We can also embrace the challenge of fixing what's messed up in Springsteen's songs.  Perhaps that is what makes their music so special and worthy of being played on Independence day...and everyday.

Be well my friends,

Friday, July 4, 2014

The 4th

John Trumbull's famous painting, public domain claimed
Greetings All:

Happy 4th of July!  For those of you in the United States, it's a day to celebrate.  If you happen to be one of my UK readers, well, no hard feelings.  

Today is a day for parades, BBQs, fireworks and fun.  Unlike other years, the weather appears to be perfect.  This is lining up to be a super day.  I hope wherever you are in America, I hope you can celebrate it.  If you're overseas in uniform this 4th of July serving- thank you.  You being on the watch allows the rest of us to have fun.

The reason for this being Independence Day is the Declaration of Independence.  It's the document that told King George, "It's over."  It was the 18th Century version of "Un-friending" someone.  If you're so inclined, here's a link to the actual text:

From the New York Public Library (& The New York Times) a photo of a copy of the Declaration of Independence hand-written by Thomas Jefferson, public domain/fair use claimed.

In my ongoing attempt to keep my blogs shorter, I want to highlight the closing line of this text:   

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

This was not some idle pledge.  For a number of the men who signed the document, life got really bad really fast.  If you'd like to read more about how this came to pass for some who signed the document, here's a link: 

There were many heroes on the battlefield during the revolution.  George Washington did not sign the Declaration as he was...otherwise detained...with the actual war.  The link above reminds us that not everyone who carried a sword or fired a musket paid a price for liberty.  

Let's all take a moment to recall these men.  Then, by all means, return to the fun of the day.  After all, a part of the Declaration states that one of the rights that the Creator endowed was the pursuit of happiness.  Today should be spent, in large part, in that most noble (and fun) pursuit.  

Be well my friends (& safe around fireworks!),