Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008

A much thinner benning with his Folks in 1980In 1973 my Father died in a rather pointless car accident - broad sided by another car - and left me, then 17-years-old, feeling somewhat adrift. Within two years, my Mother remarried. The new husband was a man I knew, a friend of the family - both families were politically active - who also was a part of the Boy Scout Troop I had once belonged to. He was a divorced father of four who was now stepping into a family of three children. Well, one child and two late teenagers. It was not an easy task, and I confess I made it very difficult. I am, as I have always been, a wise-ass. And Walt never had the chance to ease into getting to know me.

So he entered our family, hurt and perhaps angry at the loss of our Father, unaware, I think, of just how much trouble he had gotten himself into. And yet, he didn't murder me in my sleep, slap the snot out of me, nor treat me like the whiny, superior, wise-cracking smart-ass I was. And remain to this day. And he turned out to be every bit as supportive as any Father could be.

Over the years we've come to an understanding and have become friends, I hope. And he's managed to love my mother - a very difficult, demanding, loving, pain-in-the-ass woman, from whom I got every Wise-cracking, Class Clown gene I possess - for many years. My Step-Father is a first-class Father, and one world-class man. And I dedicate this Father's Day post to him. Happy Father's Day, Walter!

When Did We First Celebrate Father's Day?

In Fairmont, West Virginia, June 5th 1908, it was first celebrated as a church service at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton, perhaps inspired to celebrate fathers after the deadly mine explosion in nearby Monongah the prior December, is believed to have suggested the service to the pastor.

However, that same year of 1908, across the country in Spokane, Washington, Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, daughter of Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, inspired by Anna Jarvis's efforts to establish Mother's Day, began her own push to establish a day to celebrate Fathers. Initially suggesting June 5, the anniversary of her father's death, Mrs. Dodd did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The first June Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, WA, at the Spokane YMCA. And Mrs. Dodd was on her way.

From Happy Father's Day:
Sonora Smart Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. Smart, who was a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state.

After Mrs. Dodd became an adult she realized the selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man.

Sonora Louise Smart DoddAbout Sonora Dodd, Wikipedia has this to say:
Sonora Louise Smart was born in Jenny Lind, Sebastian County, Arkansas in 1882 to farmer William Jackson Smart (1842-1919) and his wife Ellen Victoria Cheek Smart (1851-1898). William Smart was a member of The First Arkansas Light Artillery and fought in the 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge during the Civil War. The Smart family moved West and finally settled near Spokane, Washington.

When Sonora was 16, her mother died in childbirth with her sixth child. Sonora was the only daughter and shared with her father William in the raising of her younger brothers, including her new infant brother Marshall. Sonora Smart married John Bruce Dodd (1870-1945) and had a son, Jack Dodd, born in 1909.

Sonora Smart held her father in great esteem. While hearing a church sermon about the newly recognized Mother's Day, Sonora felt strongly that Fatherhood needed recognition as well. She approached the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and suggested her own father's birthday of June 5 as the day of honor for fathers. The Alliance chose the third Sunday in June instead.

From Wikipedia:
Unofficial support from such figures as William Jennings Bryan was immediate and widespread. President Woodrow Wilson was personally feted by his family in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson made Father's Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was not officially recognized until 1972, during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Sonora Smart Dodd was honored at the World's Fair in Spokane, Washington in 1974. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd died in 1978 at the age of ninety-six. She was buried in Greenwood Memorial Terrace, Spokane Washington.

I think her father would have been quite proud of his daughter’s achievements. And we owe Father’s Day to her.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flag Day - June 14, 2008

Old Glory - Long May She Wave!

Last year, for Flag Day, I posted a longish look at Flag Day and the history of the United States Flag. You can check it out here: "Flag Day". Also Flag Day 2006. But this year I thought, along with some information you might have forgotten, I would take a look at one of the odder aspects of American myth-making as it applies to our flag. And that is the Myth of the Civil Flag of the United States of America.

It seems that at one time writer Nathaniel Hawthorne was an employee of the U.S. Customs Service. And while an employee he noted the flying of an odd-looking flag over the Customs Posts. Rather than having horizontal stars and stripes this flag had vertical stars and stripes. Rather than a field of blue with white stars this flag had a field of white with blue stars. He noted this almost in passing in his 'The Custom House', the introduction to Nathaniel Hawthorne's famous book 'The Scarlet Letter'; which was published in 1850. Nothing more was written about it by Hawthorne. In point of fact this was the Customs flag. And it was a variation of certain nautical flags which evolved in the United States in her early years.

Now, the myth arises in this way. As some web sites will claim (and this is the general idea):
It is believed by some historians that the Civil Flag was discontinued after the Civil War when the federal government imposed military governments in the States and disbanded civilian government. As a show of it's power over the States, Civil Flags were discontinued and Old Glory became the sole emblem representing the People of the United States of America, united under military (or admiralty) rule. For over 100 years, the Civilian U.S. Flag was flown by a select citizenry that could afford to buy them. While most were of the design of the Customs Bureau and it's American Eagle, many continued to adorn the original look from 1777 with a constellation of stars on a blue field and with red and white vertical stripes. By 1900, the Civil Flag had all but disappeared except for the occasional use by the government's revenue cutters and more recently, the Coast Guard with a modified design. By 1980, nearly all documentation of the Civil Flag had been omitted in school text books and it's existence left as a mystery in a few old photographs and a rare mention in classic books".
And of course this turns out to be utter nonsense, though intriguing at first. The original Revenue Ensign, adopted in 1799 was to be flown from Customs Cutters.

1799 Revenue Ensign
Revenue Ensign of 1799

From "The Civil Flag - Forgotten Flag or Flag of Fiction":
... engaged in the prevention and detection of smuggling, in lieu of the National Ensign (the Stars and Stripes). The "Revenue Ensign" was the equivalent of a policeman's badge, letting ships know that the Cutter flying this ensign was a US Customs Revenue Cutter, and had the Authority to stop any vessel within the boundary of U.S. waters. The Flags were also flown over U.S. Customs Houses. And what was the job of the Revenue Cutters and the Customs Houses? To make sure that the Excise Tax on all imports were collected. Notice the word "Revenue" (like in "Internal Revenue")? In other words, the Revenue Ensign (or Customs Flag) was the flag of Uncle Sam's TAX Collector! Now, can you imagine the same People who started a Revolution over "No Taxation without Representation" turning around and adopting the "Tax Collectors" Flag to represent peace or civil authority? The idea is ridiculous! Also, as stated above, the "Revenue Ensign" was the equivalent of a Policeman's Badge (or Blue/Red Lights), letting ships know that the Cutter flying this ensign was a US Customs Revenue Cutter, and had the Authority to stop any vessel within U.S. waters. Now can you imagine your Local Police handing out Badges or Blue Lights to everyone in town? Again, the idea is ridiculous!

But that doesn't stop the myth-makers, or those who want to see something ominous in the "military" flag of the United States. So they had to "find" something else to use. And they did. Or, in fact, they simply made it up. Again from "The Civil Flag - Forgotten Flag or Flag of Fiction":
The Other Flag being proposed as the Civil Flag is described as a "White Union with Blue Stars and a field of 16 Vertical Red and White alternating Stripes" - The "Civil Flag of Peace".

Civil or 'Peace' Flag
Mythical Civil Flag or 'Peace' Flag

I can find no documentation, or historical evidence, to support that this Flag has ever existed. And believe me I looked! I did, however, find evidence of FRAUD on these sites (whether intentional or not, that is for the reader to decide). So, lets now examine what I actually found when I went looking!

You can click on the link to read all of his research. It's very enlightening! He reports on claims by the Civil Flag theorists who assert, for instance, that "Before 1940, no U.S. flag, civil or military, flew within the forty-eight states except in federal settings and installations. Only state flags did." And this is silly on the face of it. A simple look at old photographs show the Star and Stripes flying in many places, none of which are Federal sites. Do look at this site and read the story. It's funny. It's kind of sad, too. Sad, because these people seem to think they can manufacture something to bolster their belief in something that never existed, and strengthen their distrust of the military "occupiers" of these United States. As Patrick, I think, has noted, at Born Again Redneck, the United States seems to be a perfect place for conspiracists to hatch. And if you don't think we have more than our share of Conspiracy Nutters here, then you haven't been paying attention. Just look up JFK Assassination on Google. You'll find a plethora of silly theories showing that his murder was the work of everyone in the world.

On this Flag Day, let's give thanks for our nation's symbol: The Red, White, and Blue; the Stars and Stripes; Old Glory. The most recognizable symbol of a Nation on the face of this planet. Earned with the blood of its citizens, the treasury of its citizens, the love of Liberty of its citizens throughout its existence.

GOD Bless America and the Red, White, and Blue! Happy Flag Day!

If you'd like to read my short story about one person's account of the American Flag, why not look at A Flag Tale, which I posted last July for the Independence Day post.

Here are some important Federal Acts regarding our Flag, from the Encyclopedia Smithsonian:
Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag was prescribed. Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker. In general, however, straight rows of stars and proportions similar to those later adopted officially were used. The principal acts affecting the flag of the United States are the following:

  • Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777 - stated: "Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."
  • Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
  • Act of April 4, 1818 - provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state.
  • Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

My favorite configuration remains what we call the Betsy Ross Flag with it's circle of thirteen stars. To me it doesn't matter how many states have been added to the Union. I prefer to think of our flag with that circle of stars as our real United States flag.

Betsy Ross shows off her flag - legend, but the flag was real!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

"I Had No Horse"

With those words, Jockey Kent Desormeaux explained why Big Brown was walked home most of the last half-mile of the 140th Belmont Stakes, finishing last. No Triple Crown this year, as has been the case the past thirty years. Another loss in the final gem of the Triple Crown for the favorite. And this one was an odd one for the viewers.

Fighting out from the rail Big Brown ran in third place most of the race. But as the horses entered the final turn - the place where Big Brown has thundered past the leaders in the last two races - it became apparent that he was not going to catch up to the leader. What was wrong? Did the lack of training, caused by Big Brown's hoof problems, cause him to be out of shape? Was there a problem with the heat, in the nineties at post-time? Was there something wrong with the horse internally?

We don't know yet, and may never know. But when the horses went around that final turn, Desormeaux pulled back on Big Brown and stood in his stirrups, slowing the big horse to a slow gallop. In contra point to the shrill shrieks of the Animal Rights ninnies, the jockey did what a good jockey does: he protected his horse. Desormeaux knew Big Brown had nothing left. For whatever reason Big Brown was running on empty. And his jockey decided to end the race. There was no attempt to lessen the amount of the loss, try, against all hope, to at least show. Nothing like that. Instead Kent Desormeaux pulled up and made Big Brown slow and stop racing.
``Just before he went into the last turn, I had no horse,'' Desormeaux said to ABC television immediately after the race. He said he [had] no idea what was wrong.

The temperature at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, was 96 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius).

``It was hot as hell out there,'' Desormeaux said.

Rather than protect his own stats or fame as a jockey, Desormeaux protected the horse.
Big Brown was rank [A horse that is fractious or unmanageable by the jockey is said to be rank.] at the start and failed to respond when Desormeaux asked him to run in the last turn. At that point, Desormeaux eased him up.

The loss hit Desormeaux especially hard.

"This horse is the best I've ever ridden," he said. "Something's wrong, and I took care of him."

In his own impressive race, Nick Zito-trained Da'Tara with Jockey Alan Garcia aboard, led from wire-to-wire to win the Belmont. An excellent race by a pretty horse.

So, the racing world will have to wait at least another year for a Triple Crown contender. Nick Zito has won another Belmont Stakes - Zito won in 2004 with Birdstone, who spoiled Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown try - and spoiled a possible Triple Crown, although the contender had stopped racing before the finish.

"... I had no horse ..." What a sad way to end the bid for a Triple Crown. But what a fine way for a jockey to finish.

Note: From Sir Barton, the first winner of the Triple Crown in 1913, until Seattle Slew died in 2002, there had always been a living Triple Crown Champion. The next winner of the Triple Crown will be the only living Triple Crown winner.

Another Note: When Grey Lag won the Belmont in 1921, it marked the first running of the Belmont Stakes in the counter-clockwise manner of American fashion. This 53rd running was a mile and three-eighths over the main course; previous editions at Belmont Park had been run clockwise, in accordance with English custom, over a fish-hook course which included part of the training track and the main dirt oval.

Yet Another Note: Who ran the fastest Belmont? Who else? Secretariat set a world-record that still stands for the mile and a half distance on a dirt track at 2:24. (He had finished a mile and a quarter at 1:59, faster than his own Derby record of 1:59 2/5.) Here's video of that amazing performance in 1973:

Friday, June 06, 2008

If D-Day Happened Today: How Would The MSM Report it?

I do get email, and sometimes, along with the silly garbage and spam crud: "Do you want a larger penis?" "I have your lottery winnings!" "Get drugs from Canada Cheap!" I find some gems. And this is one I've seen before, so why not use it today?

As the sender notes, I don't know the author of this, but it's well done, in my humble opinion. As to the people who were a part of the real D-Day Invasion, planning, support ... may G_D watch over them and keep their Spirits in His hands. Well done, my Friends, well done!

It is once again the Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion on Normandy. This one is always a great read to remind us of the differences in media coverage between 1944 and today.

How Would the D-Day Invasion be Reported today?
(This is what you would hear if today's media reported on D-Day at Normandy)

(We regret we do not know the author of this piece which was forwarded by a friend. We would give credit if we knew who wrote this.)

June 6, 1944. -NORMANDY- Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more wounded today in the first hours of America's invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children. Most of the French casualties were the result of artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops. Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated and reaction against the American invasion was running high. "We are dying for no reason," said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. "Americans can't even shoot straight. I never thought I'd say this, but life was better under Adolph Hitler."

The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, threatening the species with extinction. A representative of Greenpeace said his organization, which had tried to stall the invasion for over a year, was appalled at the destruction, but not surprised. "This is just another example of how the military destroys the environment without a second thought," said Christine Moanmore. "And it's all about corporate greed." Contacted at his Manhattan condo, a member of the French government-in-exile who abandoned Paris when Hitler invaded said the invasion was based solely on American financial interests. "Everyone knows that President Roosevelt has ties to big beer," said Pierre LeWimp. "Once the German beer industry is conquered, Roosevelt's beer cronies will control the world market and make a fortune."

Administration supporters said America's aggressive actions were based in part on the assertions of controversial scientist Albert Einstein, who sent a letter to Roosevelt speculating that the Germans were developing a secret weapon, a so-called "atomic bomb." Such a weapon could produce casualties on a scale never seen before and cause environmental damage that could last for thousands of years. Hitler has denied having such a weapon and international inspectors were unable to locate such weapons even after spending two long weekends in Germany. Shortly after the invasion began reports surfaced that German prisoners had been abused by Americans. Mistreatment of Jews by Germans at so-called "concentration camps" has been rumored but so far, remains unproven.

Several thousand Americans died during the first hours of the invasion and French officials are concerned that uncollected corpses pose a public health risk. "The Americans should have planned for this in advance," they said. "It's their mess and we don't intend to clean it up."

Sound about right? Yeah, it does.

Born Again Rednaeck has a good link: "D-Day"

Bookworm has this: "Remembering D-Day"

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nuthouse posts: "A WORD ABOUT COURAGE"

Wretchard at The Belmont Club takes a completely different look at: "The sixth of June"

Were it not for the D-Day Invasion, which led to the unconditional Surrender of the Nazi government of Germany, people like Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, and the rest of the America Haters, would be in slave labor camps or dead. A lot of evil Americans died to save people across the ocean. Just like an awful lot died to defeat the Confederate States of America and freed the black slaves. We ain't perfect, but we're better than you concede we are.

G_D Bless America!