Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Real Winners

One of our tickets from this year's John Deere Classic.  Photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

Silvis, Illinois, July 12, 2015, a golf course.

Two men stare down a field of grass, precisely cut.  
It is warm, no it's hot.  Ugly hot.  
The humidity hangs in the air, holding the breeze hostage.

Thousands of people, not a sound.
Then, the silence is broken, with a "CRACK!"

Metal meets plastic, a ball is freed from the tee.
For a few moments, that ball is all that matters to those watching.
From the fairways,
From TVs,
And most importantly, from the tee.

The playoff is on!
One will win, bask in brief glory.
Then he'll be off on a jet, a special jet.
All paid for by a corporate giant.

The other, will lose.  
Back home.  No glory, no plane ride.
Yet a nice check nonetheless.

Then, it ends.  The tournament is over.  The crowd disperses.  It is over.

But it's not.
Not the most important thing.

Not the winner, not the glory.
Not the moment in the sun for our community.
Not the crowds, or the fun.
Or the free beer and hot dogs inside the hospitality tents.

No, none of that.

What matters are the real winners.
The charities that will reap the rewards of this event.

The real winners are Birdies for Charity.

So the 2015 John Deere Classic (JDC) Golf Tournament is in the books  Jordan Spieth came back to win his second trophy here and is now teeing up (that was bad, sorry) his plan to win The British Open.  He was advised by many NOT to play the JDC and instead get some more rounds in at St. Andrews.  In all fairness, that is not exactly an easy place to play and The British Open is a bigger deal than our little tourney.  However, Spieth made good on a promise to come back here and play.  And play he did.

The tournament is a big deal in our community and lots of folks come out and enjoy it.  Many local businesses and organizations host hospitality tents.  The "Holy Grail" is the John Deere Tent on the 18th green.  You need a special pass to get in there.

I did not have one of those.

That's OK.  I was able to get into the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) tent on the 15th green.  Thanks to AUSA and Lowe's, there was a great tent where there was what I'll call "tailgate" food and beverages.  However, the "main attraction" was the American flag on the green and the way it was respectfully replaced into the hole.  Simply put, a class act.  I was glad I got to witness it.

AUSA's banner outside the 15th green, photo by J. Berta.

So let' recap:  The JDC is a great golf tourney and fun is had by all.  Oh, and I forgot the nearly 2,000 volunteers who come out and make this event possible.  Yet the real winners, as I've alluded to earlier, are the charities that benefit from this wonderful concept called, "Birdies For Charity."  

In a nutshell, Birdies for Charity is a way for the community to support the various charitable endeavors and organizations that make these events happen.  I am proud that my Rotary Group is part of this endeavor.

Now, you might ask, "Just what is this thing, Birdies for Charity?"  Good question.  Here's the scoop:

Individuals can guess the number of birdies that will be tallied during the JDC.  The winner get a prize.  For the rest of us, we pledge an amount (one cent, two cents, ect) per birdie recorded.  You write a check for your amount ($20.00-$200.00, whatever the amount) and you can direct it goes to a particular cause.  John Deere covers all the admin costs.  This is from the JDC website, link below:

"Since 1971 the John Deere Classic has delivered over $60 million to regional charities, most of it through its innovative Birdies for Charity program. No other event on the PGA TOUR does it better - and it’s the generous and hardworking nature of this area that makes it happen."

It is an amazing program.  It is one that keeps money local.  It is one that just about everyone can participate in at some level.  And folks have a great time in the process.  

While only one person can be the champion of the JDC, there are many real winners.  What a wonderful event.  

I cannot wait until next year.
Be well my friends,

p.s. File this under "coming attractions."  I have a post about a recent controversy and a local connection to it.  It is a post I have been working on for a while now.  Part of the delay is my own laziness.  The other part is that this post has evolved both in writing and in my head.  I hope you will like it.  I also hope it will cause you to think about how you approach issues and see the many layers underneath them, especially the complicated and hard ones.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Would I Pick It Up?

The Declaration of Independence, Public Domain.

Greetings All:

Happy 4th of July weekend.  For those of us in America, this is both a historic and fun holiday weekend.  Unlike Memorial Day with its appropriate somberness, the 4th of July is a time to let loose, have fun and enjoy, of course fireworks.  What a great time for all.

All, that is, except for some of our Veterans.  For some, for many, actually, fireworks are not something to be enjoyed, simply endured.  I talked to a friend today who has served our country beyond honorably and he is one of these patriots.  If you see one of these signs, please respect these wishes:

Credit:  Veteran Yard Signs, fair use claimed, full cite below and please, check out this website!

As to the actual reason for the holiday, the opening photo is the reason.  Back in 1776, we told King George III that we were done.  We're breaking up and going our own way.  This was not a minor thing.  Even after Paul Revere's Ride, the "Shot Heard 'Round The World," and open rebellion, there were those who thought, even hoped, reconciliation with Mother England was possible.  

By July of 1776, no more.  By issuing the Declaration of Independence, we did the Eighteenth Century version of "un-friending" England.  It was, in my opinion, the event that forever changed the course of history.

I suspect you're familiar with the story of John Hancock, who signed his name with a flourish and in large print  The rumor (supposedly debunked) is that he signed it so big so that, "The King George III could read it and know whom to hang..." (or words to that effect.)  From my admittedly brief research, there is not sufficient evidence to support this claim.  Still, it's a good story.

John Hancock's signature on The Declaration of Independence, public domain

Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the colonies and his service to our early nation is worthy of our gratitude.  However, he did not suffer great personal loss for the act of signing the Declaration and publicly supporting the revolt.  This was not the case for many others who signed their name

 I have a link below from that discusses the fates of many who signed their names to this document.  It is interesting to me that some tales of suffering and hardship suffered by those who signed the Declaration have been exaggerated or are simply incorrect.  Still, it is true that many of those who signed this document suffered personal and significant loss.

It raises the question:  Would I sign this document?  I like to think I would. I like to think I would have said, "Hey there, John Hancock, save some space for the rest of us!"  I like to think that I would have agreed with all the grievances outlined in the document and would have said, "Hey guys, we left a bunch of stuff out!"  

But would I have?  Would I have picked up the pen and signed my name to the Declaration of Independence?  Keep in mind that all the men (and they all were men, white men, men of some degree of means, mostly wealthy) who signed this document knew, had to know, that their lives of comfort, privilege, financial abundance was jeopardized, if not forever ruined.  They signed it anyways.

I can argue, rationalize and generally arrive at the conclusion that why yes,...yes I would have signed the Declaration and let the chips fall where they may.  

Yet the honest truth is I will never know for sure.  After all, I was not there.  I get to enjoy with my family the most practical application of Jefferson's words, the "...unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

So I suppose the best I can do today is tip my hat to those who did sign this document and endeavor to conduct myself in a manner that honors the intent of these immortal words.  Oh, and we're also going to catch the parade.  After all, "the pursuit of happiness" was not put in the Declaration of Independence by accident.  

Happy 4th of July all, happy birthday America!

Be well my friends,