Flags, etc.

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June 14, 2021- Today was Flag Day, an often overlooked commemoration of the adoption, on June 14, 1777, of the Stars and Stripes as our national pennant. The flag, to me, is something to be honoured and respected. I am proud to offer a salute, or to stand with my right hand over my heart, when it is presented at a public event. By extension, I will also stand in silent respect, if I am in another country, and ITS flag is similarly presented.

A candidate for local office has been showing a photograph that depicts his opponent waving a flag that is tattered, at a public event of a few years ago. If this is authentic, I object to that other candidate’s ignorance. If it is altered, the shame goes to the man who is showing it around. As for those who stomp on, burn or spit upon a national flag, this may be regarded by the judiciary as free speech, but it is no more worthy of respect than is a stream of profanity.

Flags may be symbols, yet symbolism has value. The most strenuous exercise, in the history of mankind, has produced a society which has slowly, often with excruciating pain, approached its stated ideals. Many of those ideals have yet to be fully realized, and there have been many times, which deserve to be acknowledged, studied and corrected, when the behaviour of the ruling class, and those underneath them, went counter to the stated guiding principles of our national experiment.

In my journey next month, Tulsa will be on the itinerary, on the way east, and Minneapolis will be on the route back west. My heart is heavy, yet hopeful, for this nation which will guide the world spiritually, in years to come, much as it has guided the world economically and politically, in times past.

The flag is a symbol-of the ideals towards which we work, perseveringly.

And Greenwood Burned

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June 2, 2021- Much long overdue attention has been focused, over the past week, on the Centenary of the destruction and massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood section, on May 31-June 1, 1921. The President has visited, and met with three survivors, commemorative events have been held around the country, and in other nations, and even the Murdochs, in their National Geographic Magazine, have commissioned well-thought-out articles on the horrific event, and on race identity in general. I will make my own visit of homage to Tulsa, and to Greenwood, after visiting with my son and daughter-in-law, outside Dallas, next month.

Many did not know of this stain on our history, until recently, but as a country, we have long known of the legacy of the slave trade and its aftermath. “The Underground Railroad”, whose televised depiction I am viewing now, on Amazon Prime, gives even more graphic illustration of what went on in many, if not most, plantations and smallholder farms, where slavery fueled the economy. That mindset died hard, where it did die at all, even in “Free” states. There is still far too much of the concept of “Us” vs. “Them”, even among those who say they abide the presence of people of colour. I can see it, in the readiness of so many to embrace restrictive laws, in the areas of voting, of residence and of taxation for the public weal. There are those who would summarily execute people illegally crossing both borders or homeless people in large cities-and there are more of the “I, the Jury” types than one would care to think.

I first learned of the Greenwood Massacre-and similar events in Chicago, Detroit, East St. Louis and Rosewood, Florida in 1973, during a class entitled U.S. History Since 1877. The instructor, Dr. Israelsohn, was a classical conservative, but had no use for race-baiting and the systemic segregation that occurred in every part of the country, to some degree or another, right up until the time that course was offered. Her conservatism was that of true free enterprise and self-sufficiency.

That people can mature and develop, admirably, in so many ways, yet be unable to recognize the futility of Zero-Sum, increasingly escapes me. Where there is enough to share-then there is room to share, as well. Where there is enough to cover the feet of the people around oneself, then why hog the blanket? To be sure, this is one reason why I travel-and it is one reason why community service is a priority. Where there is real connection, there is no “Other”.

Let there be no more Greenwood Massacres, of any kind.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLVI: Tulsa Won My Trust

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July 7, 2017, Joplin, MO- 

My son turned 29 today, and ended one banner year, with the promise of yet another. I rose early, in Santa Rosa, NM, and made it my goal to get to Amarillo, and the Blue Front Cafe, by lunch time.  The Time Zone differential always figures in, here, so when I call Wes, and tell him I’ll meet him for lunch, we both end up remembering, sooner or later, that 12 Noon means 1 PM.  So, once again, I miss Santa Rosa’s Blue Hole, for Amarillo’s Blue Front.

Wes had the place figured to be an oyster bar, and maybe that’s the new owner’s specialty, but the young lady who served us basically presented a lot of fare to which I’m accustomed. It is still good food, just not in as folksy an ambiance as under the previous ownership.  To a Texan, and to lesser an extent, an Arizonan, such tradition is everything.

After spinning a few yarns, and hearing some of Wes’s, I kept on, across the Llano Estacado.  Mailing my car payment, at the Post Office in Groom, TX, involved cruising around that handsome little town, just a bit.  Oklahoma, though, was not long in appearing in the foreground.

I had no pressing business, in the Sooner State, so essentially it was just  a series of pleasant memories that passed by, along with the towns:  Erick, Sayre, Elk City, Clinton, Weatherford, El Reno, Yukon and OKC.  There was no time to stop at the Memorial- maybe on the flip flop.  The Turnpike was what it always is, a quicker way to southwest Missouri and points further on.  As many of you know, it is divided into two segments, in northeast Oklahoma:  Before Tulsa and After Tulsa.  The erstwhile Oil Capital has not been high on my list, for several years, and all owing to my having witnessed a nasty tirade by a Greyhound Bus employee towards a fellow passenger, at the company’s terminal, in 1979.  That’s a lame excuse for a bad attitude, but it’s stayed in the back of my mind, ever since.  It was time to shed that perception.  I pulled off the highway, gassed up, admired a lovely woman-in a respectful manner and from a distance, and kept on with my drive to Joplin.   It was a ridiculous remedy, for a ridiculous grudge, but that’s all it took for Tulsa to win my trust.  One of these days, I will spend a day or two there, and better get to know the city of the Golden Hurricane.

I had planned on camping, in or near Joplin.  Cousin Lisa was tied up with 4-H, so I will try and catch her on the flip-flop, and besides, there was lightning flashing nearby, so I passed up the idea of setting up camp.  Tara Motel appeared, east of Joplin, as I was running out of energy, and options.  The place is a minimalist paradise, for the common man, who is just trying to catch about 120 winks.  That I was sure to do.  With no WiFi here, and Rerun Heaven in full swing, I read a bit and headed for dreamland.

NEXT UP:  Across Missouri and Illinois

Equinox

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September 22, 2016, Prescott- 

The Moon keeps us on our toes.

Calendar dates change,

based on its phases,

year to year,

for equinoxes and solstices;

for Baha’i Holy Days;

for Ramadan and Eid;

for Lent and Easter;

for the Jewish High Holy Days

and Passover.

The hearts who celebrate

do not change,

with the phases of the Moon,

or even with the climate’s fickleness.

We remain connected,

even across thousands of miles

and hectares of fenced-in fields.

We remain unified,

soul to soul,

in the face of contrived divisions,

of walls which no one really wants.

Walls and fences,

that delude us.

The only real safety

lies in connection.

Blessed be Charlotte,

Tulsa, Milwaukee,

St. Louis, Manhattan,

Elizabeth, Seaside Park.

God, be watchful,

over Pakistan, Syria,

Afghanistan, Iraq,

Yemen, South Sudan.

Stay the hands of the dividers,

wherever they may be.