Remembering 911

 Remembering 911
By George Smith

Twenty years ago, September 11, 2001, I was in my second-floor office as editor and publisher of the Benton (AR) Courier when the small TV behind me blasted news about a plane hitting one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

A few minutes later, I watched in slack-jawed horror as a second plane hit the sister tower.

We called in all reporters early and set an aggressive agenda for covering this catastrophic event from the perspective of small town America. That day I reverted to my former role as writer/photographer and got photos and quotes from folks at a local furniture store who were queued up watching a bank of TVs as events developed.

I went to several local churches and sat with strangers and prayed for those who died and the survivors. We held hands and cried together.

I called family members and told them to fill up all cars and gas cans … because … well, just because.

My heart heavy, my head pounding, I drove several miles to an isolated spot on the bank of the Ouachita River and simply sat, looking at the slow-moving water; I watched a darting dragonfly and quietly cried while I prayed.

My grandparents and parents were long gone but I hugged them in my mind, knowing for the first time how they felt on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

I felt the same depths of dread and despair and uncertainty in 2001 that I am sure every American experienced on that day almost 80 years ago.

Heading back to town, I stopped to fill up just behind a biker in full “colors”. We nodded casually and, without really thinking, the corporate me walked over to him and opened my arms. We hugged for a bit longer than strangers normally do. We patted each other on the back, macho-style, and turned away to an uncertain future.

I wish I could reclaim that feeling of brotherhood I had that day for my fellow Americans…all Americans.

That feeling, the ability to reach out and hug strangers on a silent “everything is going to be okay” is sorely needed in this nation today.

Today, find a stranger and tell him or her to have a safe and peaceful day.

That message never gets old.

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 Remembering 911 Twenty Years Later

By Ron Munden

9/11/2021

For the last nineteen years I have posted the 911 story that I wrote a few days after the planes struck New York and Washington.  As we reached the twenty-year point, I decided it was time to write about my feelings today — twenty years later.

Today’s perspective is Washington-centric.  I have spent very little time in New York but for 20 years I split my time between San Francisco and Washington DC.  During the late 1990s and 2000s, I spent many hours in the Pentagon on the Army’s portion of the “E” ring.  So, I know I passed the location where the third plane struck the Pentagon.

During the period of 1999 though the first six months of 2001. I worked for Booz Allen Hamilton on an Army project. I left the firm in June.  While working for BAH our project team met frequently with Army management in the Pentagon.  On 9/11 my boss, Dr. Jeep Fisher, and two other members of the team were meeting with an Army General in his office at “ground zero” for the plane impact.

In an exchange of emails over the next few days after “911” I learned that all three BAH employees meeting with the General were killed.

So, when I hear “911” my first thoughts don’t go to New York.  They go to the Pentagon because I have an attachment to the place and people directly impacted by the event.

As the United States completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan, I thought – Osama bin Laden achieved his objective.  The event pushed this country into a state of perpetual war and “911” has changed our country forever.  Osama never thought he could defeat the US, but he did feel he could change the way of life in our country.  “911” did that.

Looking back over the last 78 years, I can think of no event that changed the trajectory of the country more.  Sure, Vietnam was bad. It cost many young men their lives and we treated the returning military like shit — but that did not change the fabric of the country.  “911” did.

First, “911” caused people in the United States to decide they were willing to give up their personal freedoms and privacy in order the feel safe.

Second, Americans decided they were willing to send someone else’s son or daughter off to wage a perpetual war because it made them feel safe.

Third, in my opinion without “911” our country would never have invaded Iraq.  “911” allowed the neocons to convince Americans to invade a country and overthrow a government because that would make them feel safe.

“911” made us a warrior nation that fought wars but never won them.

I have one positive memory of “911”.  It brought the country together.  We bought flags.  We sang “God Bless America.” We hugged other Americans without regard to the color or their political party affiliation.

As one commentator said this morning, the country was more united on September 12, 2001, than it had been since World War II.  He went on to say the people of the country have spent the last 20 years destroying that unity.

Sadly, I believe he is right, and this country will never achieve that level of unity again.

The game score for “911”:  Osama bin Laden 1, United States 0

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Evening Remembrance Ceremony

 Evening remembrance ceremony on Saturday, September 11, to be held on Harrison County Courthouse Square in Marshall, Texas to commemorate 20th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States of America on September 11, 2001 in which 2,977 persons were killed in New York City, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The victims included 343 firefighters and 69 members of law enforcement and other first responders who perished that day.

To honor and remember those who were killed in the attacks 20 years ago, all firefighters, members of law enforcement, other first responders, and members of the public in Marshall and Harrison County are invited to a brief evening remembrance ceremony that will be held on the east parking lot of the 1901 Harrison County Courthouse Square at 7:30pm on Saturday, September 11, 2021.

Christina Anderson, who serves on the planning committee of the Harrison County Firefighters Association (HCFA) that coordinates the community prayer service each year, shared the following: “We want to make sure that everyone in our community is aware that the remembrance ceremony to honor those who lost their lives on September 11th will be held this year in the evening, rather than in the morning, as we have done in years past. Since it is the 20th anniversary, we wanted to plan a different type of remembrance ceremony which will include luminaria displayed around the historic Courthouse.”  

Danny Butler, Assistant Fire Chief of Harrison County Emergency Service District #2 in Nesbitt and member of the planning committee, explained that part of this year’s remembrance will be a beautiful display of luminaria, with battery-operated tea lights in white paper bags, all around the historic Courthouse.

Chief Butler explained: “We plan to have more than 300 luminaria displayed around the historic Courthouse to represent and honor the 343 firefighters and 69 members of law enforcement and other first responders who bravely answered the call that tragic day. Their heroism, and the heroism of others who responded that day, saved many, many lives. We must never forgot the sacrifices of that day 20 years ago.”

The Marshall Fire Department and Harrison County Emergency Service District #1 (West Harrison) are scheduled to each bring a ladder truck, between which the American flag will be flown for the ceremony.

The Harrison County Firefighters Association Honor Guard and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard will post the colors for the service.

Gary Smith, Fire Chief of Harrison County Emergency Service District #2 in Nesbitt also serves on the planning committee and explained that the remembrance service this year will also include the firefighters traditional Ringing of the Bell.

Chief Smith shared: “The Ringing of the Bell is designed to honor and pay respect to firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty.”

He also shared that the ceremony will include a Remembrance Call that will be much like what is known as Last Call at a firefighter’s memorial service. It will also include the playing of a bagpiper’s rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Dr. Eric Hillman, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at East Texas Baptist University, will play “Taps” for the ceremony. Dr. Hillman is a veteran of the Houston Police Department where he served as officer, sergeant, lieutenant, staff attorney, and police academy instructor.

The committee also explained that the ceremony will be brief this year due to the current increase in cases of COVID and the delta variant in Marshall and Harrison County. All safety protocols and guidelines will be followed in this outdoor ceremony.

The HCFA planning committee wishes to thank Harrison County for kindly providing the use of the grounds around the 1901 Harrison County Courthouse for the display of the luminaria and for the use of the east parking lot for the ceremony. They also wish to thank the City of Marshall for providing assistance with placing cones or small barriers to reserve the area just east of the parking lot for the ladder trucks to park on Bolivar Street.

The HCFA also wishes to thank Marshall Grave Service for underwriting the luminaria, Sullivan’s Funeral Home for providing the sound system for the ceremony, and Meadowbrook Funeral Home for printing the programs.

The committee also wishes to share their deep appreciation to the Chiefs and members of all Fire Departments, Police Departments, Sheriff’s Office, and other first responders in Marshall and Harrison County who will be participating. All are invited and all are invited to bring a vehicle from their department.

Ms. Anderson added:  “Just as we are profoundly grateful to those who currently serve or have served in our military to bravely protect our nation and our Constitution, we, as a community and as a country, are also profoundly grateful to all firefighters, members of law enforcement, and other first responders. They put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe.”

She continued: “This is particularly true in 2020 and 2021 since they, like other brave frontline workers, have served so selflessly during this dangerous pandemic.  Plus, with the devastation of Hurricane Ida and other such disasters, we’re continually reminded of how consequential their selfless and courageous work is day in and day out. We appreciate their sacrifice more than words could ever say and we thank them for what they do to protect us.”

The members of the Harrison County Firefighters Association ask that the community continue to keep all healthcare workers, first responders, and other frontline heroes in your prayers and do all that you can do to work together to stop the spread of the virus.

In addition to the victims who died on 9/11, also to be remembered are those brave first responders and other workers who helped with rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero in New York City where the Twin Towers had fallen. It has been estimated that more than 2,000 of those working at Ground Zero for the weeks and months following the attacks have died of illnesses related to the work at Ground Zero and thousands of others have battled illnesses connected with this heroic and difficult work. 

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Pioneer Days Festival

 Pioneer Days Festival

8/30/2021

Jefferson’s first ever Pioneer Days celebration will feature a very unique look for the parade which is scheduled for 10 am on Saturday, Sept. 4. 

Making up the entrants for the parade are horse-back riders and wagon riders representing the earliest days of village traffic during Jefferson’s founding period in the early 1840s to the next century when the city grew into one of Texas’ busiest river ports.  No motorized vehicles will be permitted in the parade and it is now being opened to youngsters who wish to pretend a little and ride their stick horses and lead the parade,  It just so happens that the committee has four stick horses available for the youngsters. They, too, will be wearing outfits reminiscent of an earlier period of cowboys and will have a slightly shorter route than the horse-

back riders and wagons and will be lined up at the very front to lead the parade.

A local store has a few stick horses for sale in the toy department should anybody wish to purchase one.  A trophy and a prize will be presented to the person who best represents the pioneer days with their costume.

Following the parade at 11 am, the  re-creation of an actual cut- and- shoot incident that happened in the wagon yard of the city in 1906 will be staged.  

The incident had to do with the arrest of one of the city’s constables by the Sheriff, W. S. Terry.  It will occur in about the same area as the original happened many decades ago.  The notorious event was related to descendants of the Brown twins, Horace and George, when they were both well up in years.

The late Dorothy Brown Craver interviewed her uncle George and was told the story while her daughter, Marcia Thomas, conversed with her grandfather Horace about the shooting and many other happenings that occurred during the wild and still somewhat lawless days after the turn of the century. The re-enactment 

will be acted by Players board member Jim Blackburn, a retired Collin County sheriff’s department employee and certified law enforcement investigator who will use a genuine holstered pistol and blanks.  The other party, Proctor, will be played by Players actor and current general manager of KTAL-TV Mark McKay who is also now a resident of the city.  It will be portrayed

at least twice more on Saturday at times to be announced in the wagon yard location.  It will likely be performed again on Sunday, Sept 5,  at the Dutch Over Cooks and Barbeque food event with entertainment at  the boat launch on the riverfront. 

At 6 pm on Saturday, a street dance will be held featuring the award-winning country band Sheila and the Caddo Kats.  The dance will be set up on Austin Street near Polk Street and run down to Walnut Street.  Some chairs will be available for on-lookers and participants and the music will be the old early country tunes of yesteryear including some from Hank Williams

among others.  A trophy and a prize will be given to the person whose costume most represents authentic pioneer days attire.  All activities on Saturday and Sunday are free to attend.

A concert by the famous singing group the Sons of the Pioneers is 

scheduled for 3 pm on Monday, Sept. 6 at the Visitor Center. Although VIP tickets are sold out, there are still  some general seating tickets left but purchases should be made as soon as possible since the seating is somewhat limited.  There are no plans to sell tickets are the door at this time.  Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at The Willow Tree or online at http://www.JeffersonOperaHouseTheatrePlayers.com

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Marshall Texas Birthplace of Boogie Woogie

Marshall Texas Birthplace of Boogie Woogie

By Jack Canson

NOTE: Information in this document is drawn from the historical research of Dr. John Tennison. His sources can be found on his comprehensive website http://www.bowofo.org/

Probably, the first boogie woogie ever played was in a logging camp barrelhouse in the Piney Woods near Marshall. Pianos were often placed in these temporary sheds to keep workers entertained and in the camps at night. Steam locomotives were a constant presence and no doubt strongly influenced the recently emancipated African Americans who were developing their own unique styles of playing …

Please read this interesting story and view the historic photographs by clicking on one of the links below.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE COMPLETE STORY

ANDROID USERS CHICK HERE TO READ THE COMPLETE STORY

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Reparations for the nation’s history of slavery

Reparations for the nation’s history of slavery.

Yea or nay?

With a history of being editor and publisher of newspapers where racial disharmony was a constant stain on the communities I served, where cultures conflicted as a part of everyday life, and having a black son-in-law and biracial grandchildren, you can guess where I stand.

Or maybe not.

Attempting to erase the nation’s nefarious and horrid treatment of people of color — Black, Asian, Native American or “other” — by handing out wads of I’m-sorry! cash is not a plausible solution.

History is what it is, and the white contingent’s treatment overall of citizens and residents of different cultures, religions and colors is reprehensible and indefensible.

But trying to solve our collective consciences with bucket loads of lucre is not the answer.

Who would we pay? How much? For how long? For what specific act or collection of acts?

The answer to the past disputable behaviors lies in visible change, in the switching of attitude, creation of laws and additional opportunities with an aim of an equalization of cultures. These goals must include the education of all citizens on the importance of the fundamental right of equality.

This is the United States of America, once described as  “A City upon a Hill”, a phrase derived from the teaching in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. In a modern context, it has been used in United States politics to refer to America acting as a “beacon of hope” for the world, a “shining city.”

From a global perspective — and also from a domestic viewpoint — the democratic luster  is gone from our nation. Where once the United States was held aloft as a symbol of freedom and hope, our political, racial, cultural and religious differences have caused us to be pitied and scorned.m by nations which once held us as a positive example of freedom and democracy.

Now, right now, is the time to summon  our better angels, to pray for uplifting support and guidance and make a determined effort to work in unity to recreate the America of promise and hope. Our goal should be to create, finally, a kinder, gentler America, a nation that values all citizens equally and welcomes all who share our vision, our hopes and our dreams.

We can do better. We must do better. We must change. Our children and grandchildren demand action from us.

We must not, cannot let them down.

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Willie Shakes

By George Smith

Willie Shakes said it all at one time or another. His immortal words ring true today on a variety of subjects. He talked about all things and the lines he wrote speak to us today.

I became infatuated with his turn of phrases in high school and took two Shakespeare courses in college.

No writer, before or since, cut to the core of a matter with more clarity than The Bard.

Let your imagination run free as mine did.

“It is not in the Stars to hold our Destiny but in ourselves” – Julius Caesar

“I am disgraced, impeach’d and baffled here,  pierced to the soul with slander’s venom’d spear, which no balm can cure but his heart-blood  which breathed this poison.” Richard II

“The man’s undone forever; for if Hector break not his  neck in the combat, he’ll break it himself in
vain-glory.  Troilus and Cressida

“Strong reasons make strong actions.” Lewis in King John

“My pride fell with my fortunes.”
As You Like It

“I will not jump with common spirits,
And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.”  The Merchant of Venice

“Go wisely and go slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.” Romeo and Juliet

“This sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker, this huge hill of flesh!” 1 Henry IV

“You sign your place and calling, in full seeming, with meekness and humility; but your heart is cramm’d with arrogancy, spleen, and pride.
Henry VIII

“…When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,  or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed; at game, a-swearing, or about some act that has no relish of salvation in’t; then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven, and that his soul may be as damn’d and black as hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:this physic but prolongs thy sickly days.
Hamlet

“He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle.
Troilus and Cressida

“It is a tale; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – Macbeth in Macbeth

“There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger.” Coriolanus

“If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.”
The Merchant of Venice

“We know what we are but know not what we may be.”– Ophelia in Hamlet”

“More of your conversation would infect my brain..”  Coriolanus

“A pox on both your houses….”
Mercurio in Romeo and Juliet

“Such antics do not amount to a man.” Henry V

“He is white-livered and red-faced.”
Henry V

“They were devils incarnate.”
Henry V

“They are hare-brain’d slaves.”
1 Henry VI

“I have more flesh than another man and therefore more frailty.” – King Henry IV

“He is deformed, crooked, old and sere, Ill-faced, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere;’vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind; stigmatic in making, worse in mind.
The Comedy of Errors

“Your abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone.” Coriolanus

“I can see his pride peep  through each part of him.” Henry VIII

“The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.” Hamlet

“Infected he the air whereon they ride,
And damned all those that trust them.” Macbeth

“The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.” Coriolanus

“My hour is almost come, when I to sulphurous and tormenting flames must render up myself.”  Hamlet.

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TIMELY AND PERSONAL

By George Smith

Cleon Flanagan is an American, a husband, father, production engineer, and former law enforcement officer. He is my son-in-law and dad to Bryan, 17, Brayden, 11, and Marley, 6, three of my seven grandchildren.

He is black.

He and I talked this weekend about the racial turmoil roiling through the U.S. His heart was breaking and it was obvious he was worried about the future and what new hell his biracial children would face.

So you will know, I grew up in a segregated community and never had a real, honest conversation and exchange of views about anything with any black person until I went to college. 

Cleon is the epitome of what a husband, father, relative and human being should be. He is one of the best men I have ever met. I love him.

He wrote the piece below this week. Please read it. If you do and get through it without shedding tears…you have more self control than I do. 

By Cleon Flanagan

So let’s talk … take a seat.

1980’s—Walking home, around age 12, and two white men in a pickup truck and a confederate flag waving, pulled up behind me and then beside me and threw beer and full beer cans on and at me.  Thank God I was almost home.  

1997  — When I worked for a local police agency, we were doing a transport of some detainees and prisoners when a detainee turned to me and said (while i was in uniform) “My daddy used to own some like you. ha ha!”  I couldn’t speak up. 

Same town — I went into the store to get a drink, in uniform, and the cashier looked at me (missed the badge) and said “I can’t stand f-ing n******.”

I’d like to say these instances early in my adulthood were rare, or stopped as I aged.

But that would be a “No.” 

Jennifer Thurman Flanagan and I, throughout our marriage, have endured comments that we know wouldn’t be made (or tolerated) about white couples.

“Oh, I’ll bet her family has money.  You’re all set now.”

“She has a good job so y’all know y’all will be ok. (But I’m an engineer?)

Jen has been asked if all of our kids were by the same dad.  

They are struck by the fact that she had actually graduated college, got married, and bought a house (in that order) yearsssssss before having kids.  That we weren’t teen parents.

She’s been asked at the grocery store, when the little ones were with her, if she’ll be using her Lone Star card to pay.  

She’s looked at as trash when she shops alone with our kids, but I get stereotyped as having “married up.”

And let me tell you about our recent vacations … Galveston 2019 — Our kids were questioned for missing fishing poles from a residence AN ENTIRE BLOCK AWAY.  The police were driving around and saw our kid’s fishing (with their own poles). 

Lake O the Pines 2018 — The white man who owned the property we rented was as friendly and sweet as peach pie over the phone… until he saw Bryan, his black classmate, and me heading in with our boat.  After that, we were harassed, watched, hounded, then, after cleaning profusely, he kept our deposit and sent us a bill (we got it all back after filing a complaint with VRBO).  

Speaking of vacations — How many of you have to plan your vacation depending on the demographics of the town?  The location?  Is it a place notorious for pulling over and harassing POC (people of color)?

Have you every had to justify simply being in a public place?  

Have you every been denied a day off by your boss at Thanksgiving, just for him to tell you, “Them white folks don’t want you to eat with them.”

These are only a fraction of the stories I could tell.  Imagine all of the stories millions black men and women could tell today.  

Imagine being a black man and being ridiculed and belittled by police, by your boss, by your white neighbor. treated less than human, in front of your own children who don’t understand the systematic racism that you encounter. 

And you are helpless to fight it.  You have to “stay in your place.”  You can’t speak up. 

If you think the world still doesn’t look at us differently, let me tell you:  I have a CHI (Concealed Handgun License), and I could open carry.  If I walked into Walmart with a rifle strapped to my back, the cops would be called.  White men open carry regularly – not an eye batted.  

Have you every had to tell your black son where to put his hands when he gets pulled over and to let the officer know he are unarmed?

Some of y’all get excited about your kids going off to college, traveling the world, getting jobs ANYWHERE.  That worries the hell out of me.  I don’t get the privilege to get excited for my kids — I just get to worry. 

The only reason I’m posting this is because I need y’all to understand. I have tons of white friends. I have white family members. But I really think that some don’t understand the experiences that we go through. They make assumptions that our life is great and happy and everyone is nice to us.  I’ve heard the sideways comments from people and either they think it doesn’t bother me, or they make the comment of “But you’re not like other black guys.“ What does THAT mean??

THIS IS OUR EVERYDAY REALITY!

This impacts me personally not because of my experiences that I have had or will have, but because of the experiences that my children will have. Racism is only around today because it keeps being reinforced and taught throughout the generations.  And now, it’s my kids’ turns to encounter it. And it INFURIATES ME.  

What if George Floyd was Bryan. Or our classmates, or me????

Like I was told at the police academy: Just because it happens in a big town, don’t think it can’t happen in your small piece of the world.  

Would you still sit back silent?  Would we just be a hashtag?  

Would you be complaining about protestors and rioting … or would you march for me? Would you actually act?  Would you vote differently?  Would you not make assumptions?  Would you still grasp your purse or lock your doors when we walk by?  Would we still get an interview, the job, or a promotion? 

Would you stand next to us?  

And, does it have to be someone you know for you to GET IT!?

Are you mad at the protesters?  Be mad that y’all haven’t spoken up in the names of my sons. Be mad at the systematic racism that is still plagues the every day life of POC. 

If we keep going this way, if Y’ALL DONT SPEAK UP and make SYSTEMATIC CHANGES, then it very well really might BE one of us.

Or maybe that’s it: You don’t want it to change. And THAT is the real problem.

 

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SAME RACIAL SONG, SECOND VERSE

By George Smith

After Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, peaceful protests turned into riots and from April though mid-summer, this nation was washed over by the largest wave of social unrest since the Civil War.

Today, same racial song, second verse.

The slow-motion murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by four police officers — coming on the heels of the killing of several black Americans by law enforcement officers (and in one case by “vigilantes”)— has ignited violent protests in more than 140 cities in the U.S., and even in foreign countries.

Since 1968, there have been remarkable changes in the overall racial landscape in America: The most visible wrinkle in a racial snapshot of the U.S.in the last 50 years was the election the first black president 12 years ago.

Now, today, we’re right back to 1968, where distrust and fear of the police by a large segment of this nation’s population is rampant and fear and loathing is turning to rage and violence.

But, unlike the reactions of those trying to quell the unrest in 1968, some individual officers and even entire  police departments are reducing the anger level of protestors by JOINING them in kneeling in honoring the life of Floyd and other victims of unnecessary police violence. 

President Trump could learn something from these officers.

The president can be defined by many of his absurd and detrimental actions as the nation’s CEO; you either like him or you don’t, there is no middle ground.

However, his absence in the current framework of nationwide protests and violence, the absence of empathy, his absolute refusal to take time to try and calm the nation in this time of double crises (pandemic and coast-to-coast protests) is an abdication of his duties as president.

The fact he is tweeting about his confounded MAGA crew as “liking blacks…liking African Americans” is proof of how he views blacks, i.e., they are not part of MAGA congregation, and, thus, not part of HIS vision of America.

For more than two decades, the Republican Party has made it a priority to work to create a bridge of understanding with minorities, knowing those voting blocs are growing in numbers.

All that work, all the money burned in that effort has been wasted due to the callous and prejudiced actions of the Man from MAGA.

Trump’s chaotic handling of the pandemic response and his clueless response to the nationwide protests is proof-positive of his abject ignorance of what drives the majority of people in this country to get up every day and create opportunities for personal and professional growth.

He is, in a phrase, a wounded president, laid low by his constant lying, woeful management style, dearth of patience and his inability to comprehend the importance of briefings on important domestic and foreign issues.

The president claims to be a “stable genius” but his ignorance of history, the Constitution, his duty to all citizens (not just members of the MAGA cult) and how his knee-jerk reactions affect not just Trump World by the global community, prove that he is a spoiled, rich bully. 

Trump claims to be a Christian but displays no Christian values; he came to power to “drain the swamp”, but his  “swamp” is deeper, more murky and more corrupt than any administration since the Watergate era of Richard Nixon and that of Warren G. Harding’s Teapot Dome scandal.

He should never have been elected. His re-election would ensure the continued decline of this nation on all fronts, foreign and domestic.


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1969 – My Year of Living Dangerously

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By Ron Munden – May 6, 2020

I recently scanned a set of photographs I shot of a People’s Park march while attending the University of California, Berkeley.  I decided to google “people’s park Berkeley”.  Reading these articles brought back a lot of old memories – things that I have not thought about in many years. I decided to write them down.

I attended Berkeley in 1968, 1969, and 1970 – some part-time and some full-time.  There were protests on campus during all those years but 1969 was the most interesting and as it turned-out the most dangerous.  Here is what I remember.

First, I was never a protester.  Although by 1969 I had decided that the US could not win the Vietnam war and we needed to get out, the Navy was paying me to go to school so I did not think I should spend time protesting.  While I was a civilian, I thought I should act like the naval officers I knew and keep my thoughts to myself and support the current policies of the United States government.

Second, I considered myself a street photographer.  By this time, I had photographed war protests at UT Austin, Klu Klux Klan parades, Hell’s Angles and Black Panther events.  So, if there was a protest and I was in the area I was probably going to be at the event.

It seems like 1969 was a continuous set of protests at Berkeley.  

Early in the fall of 1968 some black group was always protesting something.  The details are not important.  All that is important is that their method of protesting was blocking students from walking through Sather Gate.  They formed a line, linked arms and would not let people pass.

I found out about this when I tried to walk through Sather Gate on my way back to the Naval Architecture building.  I was stopped and told that I could not pass.  Since I had come to campus from the shipyard I was dressed in slacks, a sports shirt and dress shoes.  I turned around and found another way to get back to the Naval Architecture building.

I was 25 years old at the time and not very mature. I did not want any black, white or green guy telling me I could not go though that gate.  When I got back to my apartment that night, I told the story to a friend that lived in the apartment above me.  He said he might could help me out.

The next time I went to class I wore my new outfit – blue jeans, a leather jacket and steel-toed boots.

I did get stopped again and was told I could not go though the gate.  I said, “I’m going through the gate.”   In the short pause that followed I calculated the trajectory of my steel-toe boot into the exposed shin of the guy immediately in front of me.  But the line parted and I walked through.  I never got to try out my new boots.

This protest ended in a week or so but my new outfit began my only outfit on days I was on campus.  Little did I know at the time, but the campus was about to become a war zone.

War protests began to increase at the beginning of 1969.  From what I saw there was a lot of yelling and foul language but no weapons on the part of the students.  I never knew what provoked the escalation on the part of the police but suddenly there was police officer presence on campus.  As I recall they were state troopers. Tear gas was used by the police.  I can state that as a fact because I was present when it happened on more than one occasion.

Then came the helicopter.  Many reports say it was tear gas.  I think it was pepper spray.  It makes no difference because both caused burning eyes and a runny nose.  Also helicopters tear gassing people is an imprecise science.  They couldn’t control where the wind carried the gas.  So, you could be sitting in class and your eyes would start burning because the gas would have gotten into the ventilation system for the building.

And then came People’s Park.

People’s Park was one square block of land located a couple of blocks off campus.  The land had been vacant for years.  A group of locals constructed a swing set and a couple of other structures on the property.  It was known as hippie park and then became People’s Park.  Everything was going fine until the University announced they were going to build a parking garage on the property.  There were protests and the police came down with a hammer.

I never understood why things escalated so quickly until recently.  The article, “The Battle for People’s Park, Berkeley 1969” provided the best explanation I have heard.  The article is now posted on the website.

Anyway, Governor Ronald Reagan ordered out the National Guard and they came on campus.  Now it was the National Guard that was blocking Sather Gate and this was really scary.

I know military discipline when I see it.  The security for Mare Island Shipyard was provided by Marines so there was a Marine barracks on the base.  I saw military discipline every day.

The California National Guard in 1969 was mainly comprised of guys who signed up so they could avoid the draft and going to Vietnam.  They were the keystone cops and in no way resembled a military unit.  This is the group that Reagan sent onto campus with live ammunition and fixed bayonets.

Let me make my point.

One day I was trying to get back to the Naval Architecture building and I found the path blocked by about 25 National Guardsmen with rifles and fixed bayonets.  I walked up to see why the route was blocked.  About 10 yards in front of the National Guard there was a group of four guys yelling at them.   About 5 yard behind the four guys was a group of students looking on just like me. 

One of the loudmouths make a particularly distasteful comment to one of the National Guard.  They broke formation and charged the loudmouth with fixed bayonets pointed at the loudmouth.   Wisely, the loudmouth breaks and runs as do the other three loudmouths and the students behind them.

By this time, the other 24 Guardsmen have all broken formation and are going in all directions chasing students.  When I noticed a Guardsmen moving toward me, I exited stage right with him in pursuit.  At 25 I was still a good sprinter.  Even in my steel-toed boots I left him in the dust.

Another day trying to get through graduate school.

With this as background

When I heard that the People’s Park protest had scheduled a march for Saturday, I thought there would be more confrontation between the protesters and the state troopers/National Guard – a perfect photo op.

Armed with my Nikon F and as much film as I could afford, a friend and I went to Berkeley to shoot.

Wow! I was surprised.  Overnight the mood of the protesters had changed.  They were the hippy flower children I had met in Haight Ashbury in 1967. There was no yelling at the police. When a marcher would pass a policeman they would hand him a flower.  When a marcher passed a National Guardsman some marchers put the stem of a flower in the barrel of the rifle being careful not to hurt themselves on the fixed bayonet.

This is the People’s Park march I photographed on that Saturday in 1969.


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