we gave control of Congress to the Democrats? Hasn’t life been oh so much better since then? Can’t you hardly wait til Baraka or Billary is Prez?
we gave control of Congress to the Democrats? Hasn’t life been oh so much better since then? Can’t you hardly wait til Baraka or Billary is Prez?
I’m off to Santa Barbara for a long overdue reunion with dear friends. But I wanted to leave this for you to read. It was a bit of a surprise to me as I had no idea that the origins of Thanksgiving did not center around the pilgrims.
Enjoy yourselves, eat hearty and good. Look around and feel gratitude for all the many things large and small that give your life meaning. Hold those you love close and tell them you love them. And say a prayer for those you can not hug.
Happy Thanksgiving. I will see you in a few days.
I have no words to add to this – for it says it all.
(I wrote this piece shortly before the 2004 election – and it seemed fitting to post it today. In the re-reading, I find I have not fundamentally changed my mind about this piece or the man. WC)
Since the 2000 Election I have puzzled on why the Left so abhors George W. Bush and everything for which he stands. Whatever the action, cause, purpose, bill, law, candidate, issue or position, if George W. Bush likes it, they hate it. Historically, the Left and the Right have always been at odds and are often on opposite ends of issues – but this is not the normal, run of the mill, animus on display. This appears to be real, genuine hatred, and I’ve been asking myself, why? What makes George W. Bush the devil incarnate to those on the other side of the aisle? What makes thousands rally to the site of the Republican Convention to not just protest, but to display unadulterated vitriol toward our President?
It wasn’t until the last night of the convention and after the President’s acceptance speech that it hit me. I watched the speech on ABC and Peter Jennings, George Stephanopolis and others were the commentators after the speech. While I can’t remember precisely what they said – the essence was ‘wow.’ They were visibly touched, moved and impressed by the President’s speech – particularly the last six paragraphs. One of their convention reporters said that it was not just the President’s words that had so moved those present but something more – a palpable connection. He said that the people in that room clearly felt an emotional connection to the President.
“Ah,” I said to myself. “Emotional connection – the E-factor.” That non-quantitative quality that cannot be learned, bottled, transplanted, manufactured or faked. George W. Bush for all his faults (his swagger, his bluntness, his ‘cowboy’ ways) connects with people emotionally. Even avowed political opposers have said he’s charming, funny, down to earth and a really nice guy. They like him. They really like him. Remember that hug between Tom Daschle and the President shortly after 9/11?
Ironically, Bill Clinton had that same quality. He connected on an emotional level with his audience and the American people – so much so that they voted him into office not once, but twice. Despite all of his mistakes, faux pas, scandals and outrageous behavior, Clinton supporters could not be swayed to turn away from him. He was, after all, America’s ‘First Black President.’ He did, after all, ‘feel our pain.’ And understood us, as no American president ever had. He worried about us as no American president ever had. And, he was going to take care of us as no American president ever had. His foibles, were just that. Not scandals, not outrages, not immoral acts – just boys being boys. Just private matters. They didn’t affect how he led the country. Every good thing that happened during his administration was very, very good. And every bad thing that happened was merely a lapse in judgment, a small mistake or indiscretion. Bill Clinton could lead us anywhere because of this incredible ability to feel for and connect with the ‘every-man.’
The Left was delighted because Bill’s special talent had led them into the White house. The babyboomers of the Viet Nam era were finally ‘in charge.’ They were going to show everyone how to do it better. Prove that their ideologies from those days gone by of protests and antiwar activities were the enlightened way. The right way. They were going to prove that their utopian visions from the sixties would be the ultimate reality of the nineties. Socialism would out.
Then along came George W. Bush. It wasn’t bad enough that Clinton couldn’t run again and they had only Al Gore to offer as his replacement. But now they had a loudmouthed, straight-shooting, swaggering cowboy galloping toward the White house. He would ruin everything they’d spent eight years building. He was going to make a mockery of all their hard work of moving the American mind-set to the politically-correct mode. Yes, he was scary indeed. Terrifying, in fact.
But worse than his Right Wing ideologies he had the one thing they knew they couldn’t fight. That same, special quality possessed by their idol, Bill Clinton. They saw it from the very beginning. People all over the country connected with George W. Bush. Their eyes glistened with heartfelt tears when he spoke of family values, a belief in God, patriotism and the American way. W possessed the secret weapon the Left believed to be their exclusive territory. Worse still, he used it all wrong. While Bill felt our pain, W felt our joy. Bill wanted to take care of us, but W wanted to help us help ourselves. Bill promised to be responsible for us but W expected us to be responsible for ourselves. Bill promised to spend our money wisely but W gave us our money back. Bill said we should think about it first but W said they were going to hear from us. Bill talked to our enemies but W blew them out of the water.
Two men with the same talent but very different messages. Two men with the same connection to the American people but with very different visions for them. Two men with the same incredible persuasion but on opposite sides of the aisle. Why does the Left really hate George W. Bush? Because he can and does do what Bill Clinton did but so much better and toward a better end.
Nuff said! Now do it! WC
Court Reporter Chick sent me these pics today. Trucker John Holmgren of Shafer, Minnesota has made his rig a tribute to the 9/11 victims.
Rumor has it he has been pulled over often by troopers who want to have their picture taken with the truck.
Just when you think people don’t care, you see something like this. Bless your heart, John.
A new article on World Net Daily entitled, Internet, Talk Radio Blamed for ‘Anti-muslim Violence’ has CAIR discussing how they believe that Talk Radio and the Internet are giving Muslims a bad name.
Some choice quotes from the article:
“A leading U.S. Islamic lobby group blames a purported rise in anti-Muslim harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment on the Internet and talk radio.”
“Hooper, nevertheless, charged the federal “Patriot Act” – laws designed to give authorities more resources to fight terrorism – has targeted Muslims unfairly.In its 2004 report, CAIR also claimed a “sharp jump” in “Islamophobic hate crimes” and blamed talk radio.”
Now call me crazy, but I’m thinking that it’s really things like this
(I believe that is an American Flag)
and perhaps this:
(this is a mock-up of the Pope)
(I’m thinking Israel)
(Not my kind of party)
And of course this celebratory impromptu pic on Sept 11th:
(they have a funny way of mourning)
And then there are their particular child-rearing philosophies:
Do you think that maybe, just maybe it’s these and countless other examples that make people think there is something to fear?
Me? I’m thinking it’s a definite PR problem and they need to get better photographers or better subjects. What do you think?
Dale & fellow Bloggers,
I just wanted to say thanks for coming and reading, for commenting, for sharing your own tributes – for all the blood, sweat and tears that went into this project and still is. I have a completely different perspective on Sept 11th than I did before this – and that’s a good thing. To all the families, loved ones, friends of those we lost that day – deepest respect & love.
I did not know Steve Mercado, but he was my kind of guy. He was funny, handsome, made a mean chili and damn it, he was a hero. On September 11th he and eleven other of his firefighter brothers were lost in the World Trade Center. I imagine him charging up those stairs, intent on answering the calls for help. Intent on fulfilling his mission to save and protect. He was that kind of guy. He lived to help people. To make them laugh, make them feel like things were really okay. And I think that when Steve was around, people did feel that way.
He was born and raised in the Bronx and dreamed of playing for the New York Yankees as a kid. He played stickball in the streets with his pals – a game his father had taught him and eventually a game he would teach his own son and countless other children. A tradition he carried into adulthood.
He married his childhood sweetheart Jovianna and eventually they had two sons, Skylar and Austin. He was a dedicated husband and father and took great joy in watching his children grow. I imagine that he had a picture of his wife and kids taped inside his helmet – I don’t know it – but he seemed the kind of man who would. Who loved his life so much that he would want to keep the things dear to him close. I imagine too, that his last thoughts were of his family, what kind of men his sons would grow up to be and how very much he loved Jovi.
He was a modern day warrior, facing life and death as a matter of course. Charging in to whatever task life had dealt him – unphased and unafraid. And, I believe the world was better for Steve having been in it. He made the world a better place, a safer place, and a kinder place. He had a passion for life and it showed.
He loved stickball and dreamed of it becoming an Olympic sport one day. He was a legendary player and the President of the NY Emperor’s Stickball League. According to Steve, “Stickball is all about community. For me, I learned the game from my father, and others of his generation. They were my heroes, the role models we looked up to. Stickball was an important part in our tradition of teamwork, determination and community. My goal now is to reach out to the kids growing up today to make sure we continue to pass down these values.”
Stickball was a true calling for Steve. His wife said that he believed that there wasn’t any problem that couldn’t be worked out by a game of stickball. I think he may have had a point. Nothing like whacking balls over the rooftops and running like the wind to give you perspective. He was responsible for creating many teams across the country, starting programs for kids who might otherwise have not had the opportunity to learn about the teamwork and tradition Steve so loved. What lucky kids to have had such a great role model as Steve. He made things better, not by words but by his actions.
Steve was a man who made a difference and I believe still does. In the words of Buddha, If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. I hope that I have in some small way shown you the miracle of Steve.
Steve’s poem to his dad:
Addendum: Sharon Cannone, Steve’s cousin was kind enough to share the eulogy she delivered at Steve’s memorial service in November 2001:
There’s only one way to deal with the pain of losing my cousin Steve and the thousands of other lives that were lost on September 11. There’s only one way to come to terms with the pain and fear we feel. The only way to get beyond this is to live our lives the way my cousin chose to live his. We must be brave.
I have a lot of memories of my cousin. We grew up in the same building together and always stayed very close. A lot of memories…. But one memory in particular has been playing over and over in my mind since I learned that he was among the missing. Among Steve’s many talents a long time ago he dabbled into the world of boxing. And with just about everything else he took on, he trained long and hard to hone his skills. Well, the hard work and training paid off, because Steve qualified for the Golden Gloves and had his big night at Madison Square Garden. Steve was well represented that night by family and friends. When he entered the ring for the main event, the Garden “rocked” with applause from his fans. After the usual introductions, the fight began. But a minute or so into the fight, Steve took a punch to the chin and hit the canvas with a thud.
The moment Steve fell, I jumped out of my seat and started screaming at the top of my lungs. STEVIE GET UP!! STEVIE GET UP! I don’t remember how many times I yelled to my cousin, but all of a sudden, Steve got to one knee, shook his head, got up and beat the living daylights out of his opponent. The Garden went wild.After the fight, we all went to a bar in the City to celebrate. Steve told me that as he was lying on the canvas he heard a voice through the haze screaming his name. And that’s when the haze cleared, he said “That’s Sharon – I gotta get up”. He told me that night at the bar that it was my voice yelling his name over and over that enabled him to win the fight. I never thought I could be prouder of my cousin as I was that night — the night he fought the fight of his life. But I was wrong.
From the moment I knew that Steve was missing, I thought about that night at the Garden. Over and over I prayed, Stevie please get up. But it wasn’t in the cards this time. Even though I was joined in prayer by friends, family, the City and the whole Country. We all screamed your name Stevie, but this time your opponent was a dirty fighter who hit way below the belt.
I’ll never understand the twisted minds of terrorists who can cause pain like this. I don’t understand why some people choose to live their lives with pure hatred in their hearts instead of love. Their hatred defines who they are. Steve’s love for life, great sense of humor and truly giving heart defined who he was. He put his life on the line for his fellow man on a daily basis. And I’m very proud to have been a part of his life.
Note: For those of you in the NY area, PBS will be airing a documentary called “Bragging Rights” that covers the game and tradition of stickball. Steve is featured in this documentary and it will air Thursday, September 14th at 8PM.
9/11 has become an entry in all of our personal lexicons and we remember, where we were, what we were doing and how we responded to the attacks upon this country that day. Regardless of who we are, where we are from, what we do for a living, our hobbies, our religions, or our political philosophies, we have that event in common. My response to that day was this story. WC
The enemy had come. Again. “Freedom itself was attacked today…” the words ricocheted in his mind. Dillon Conlon knew what he had to do.
He laid out his camouflage greens with care and precision. Pulled boots over feet that felt nothing, lacing them high and tight.
The whir of the chair’s motor was a soldier’s cadence, as he moved down the street, summoning a call to arms. Silence enshrouded the town as if the natives had crawled into a coffin and slammed the lid shut.
Only the cobalt haze of television screens marked the way to his objective as he traveled the darkened streets. Tonight, no one would venture out and stop his mission. A small reprieve, for tomorrow, they’d challenge him, his conviction and resolve. He wouldn’t waiver.
He saw her then, rippling sleepily in the evening breeze, proud and vigilant. The crisp, night air echoed his steady breathing and kept the voices away. The scent of night-blooming jasmine belied the evil that had touched them. He chewed on salty jerky as his nimble hands worked to fasten himself to the pole. With clear commitment he assumed his post. Surrender was not an option.
“Where’s Dillon?” Emma peered through the room bathed in the flickering light of the television.
Agitated, she swiped at her tear-stained face. “Where is he?” She got up and moved toward the kitchen.
“I don’t know,” Matthew sulked. “Don’t care, either.”
Emma was so intent on finding Dillon, she ignored Matthew’s sarcasm. Going from room to empty room, she called out his name; as if he’d emerge from the shadows like an ancient wizard.
Matthew watched from the kitchen doorway as Emma dialed the phone. “What’s the big deal?” he asked.
Emma’s eyes scolded him. They’d watched the attacks on television, hour after hour. Everything was a big deal. Now. “Sheriff? It’s Emma Wardley. . . Dil’s missing . . .a couple of hours? . . . what if something’s happened?…He’s not crazy!…Mike!”
She slammed down the receiver. “What’s wrong with people?” Tears spilled out again but she ignored them.
Morning reached out her arms to all the gray corners of the town, as its citizens moved warily toward their business. Imprisoned by their own shock and sorrow, no one noticed Dillon chained to the flag pole that was the focal point of the Square. Exhibiting a soldier’s posture, even in a wheelchair, he displayed a sign, “We will not surrender!” Across his lap lay a rifle he’d used in his war, Viet Nam; the one that had robbed him of his legs. At his feet, lay a kit that held water, jerky, aspirin and chewing gum. Life had steeled him against needing any more to survive.
Emma’s Bronco groaned in low gear as it inched down the nearly empty street. Gripping the steering wheel, she peered through red and swollen eyes. “Keep looking,” she pressed Matthew. “Where is he?”
“Oh man!” Matthew groaned.
Emma cringed as she followed Matthew’s gaze. “Oh Dillon!”
Matthew watched as Emma rushed to rescue the nut-job veteran, chained to the flag pole.”I’m never going to live this down,” he muttered and pulled his Yankees’ cap over his eyes.
Emma got within twenty feet when Dillon’s eyes met hers. “Halt!”
The conviction in his voice daunted Emma.”Dil, what are you doing?”
“I, Dillon Conlan, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution . . . ”
Emma took another tentative step but he reached for the rifle. “Dil?” She stopped.
“. . .of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
Emma’s mind clicked. Yesterday had changed everything. Everybody. How could she know what it had done to him? His mind had steeled itself against intruders so long ago, would he let her in?
“I know you’re outraged. We all are! We’re all scared.” What comfort could she offer him? Or anyone? There were no words for this. There never would be. She searched his turquoise eyes for his spark. “Dil, they’re not coming here! We’re safe!” But her face said they weren’t safe. Nobody was.
Dillon stumbled over the remaining words.”. . .and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States. . .So help me God.”
A siren squawked behind her. Jangling keys and cuffs, and squeaky leather boots, announced Mike Guthrie’s arrival.”What’ve we got here?”
“It’s okay, Sheriff. We’re just. . . talking.” She kept her eyes on Dillon.
Guthrie scowled. “You and God, only ones think you can reach him.” Guthrie chewed on his lower lip. “Okay son, unfix yourself from that pole.” He didn’t bother to hide the bite in his voice.
Dillon raised his right hand in a salute.
Guthrie smirked. “No need for that.”
But the tribute was intended for the flag that waved like an old friend to the displaced combatant.
Guthrie scowled and shook his head. “I’ve had enough of your…”
“His what?” Emma asked. “He isn’t doing anything. Not hurting anybody.” She winked at Dillon and his eyes came to life. “Honoring the flag isn’t against the law, is it?”
“Emma,” Dillon whispered as if her name held magic. He took her hand and squeezed it.
Guthrie sighed like an old nag. “We can’t have him chained up to a dang flag pole. . . ”
“Why not?” Emma asked. She raised Dillon’s hand in solidarity. “Why not?”
Guthrie rolled his eyes. “What the hell is this, Emma? Some old hippy rebellion? Power to the people and all that?” He screwed up his face and wagged a finger at her. “Well, I got news for you, this ain’t 1968 no more. This is 2001…”
Voices murmured behind him and he turned to see several people had gathered.
Sam Johnson put his hand on Guthrie’s shoulder. “We know it’s not 1968 anymore. Leave the guy alone, eh Mike?”
“There’s nothing wrong with non-violent protest,” Marianne Copple said.
Guthrie grumbled and the crowd multiplied like dandelions on a newly seeded lawn. They were drawn to Dillon and his cause.
“Let him be. Don’t hassle him.”
He looked around, shrugged and stomped back toward his patrol car. “Fine, just make sure this don’t get outta hand. Pick up your trash and let me know when you come back to your senses.” He got in his car and drove off as if he had some place else to go and something else to do.
Sam started to sing God Bless America and the others joined in. Matthew dragged himself out of the car and pushed through the crowd to find Emma. He stopped when he saw her standing next to Dillon, holding his hand and singing along. He shook his head in disgust. “I’m leaving,” he said.
“No, stay here, with us.”
“Look Mom, I’m tired and I don’t want to stay here and sing stupid songs. You want to stay, go ahead. I’m going home and eating some cereal and going to bed.”
Emma frowned. “I don’t want you to be alone.” She reached out to him but he pulled away.
“I’m not a baby. I can take care of myself.” He gave her a grin. “Look, I know you want to stay. I’ll come back later.”
“I promise!” Matthew gave a boy scout salute and crossed his heart.
“All right,” Emma nodded. “But don’t be gone long. Don’t stay in that house all day and night. And don’t watch any more television.”
Matthew nodded and walked away.
By nightfall, the town had gathered around the man they’d called a lunatic, a loser, a lost cause. Flags of all sizes and dimensions waved in the amber light of flickering candles. Their voices united in songs of bravery and patriotism, and they felt better. They had done something to fight back. All because of Dillon Conlan.
Matthew didn’t keep his word. He stayed in the house and had watched every minute of the coverage alone and in the dark. He wept as he’d never before. For the murdered innocents, for himself, but mostly, for his own dead father. Who Matthew only knew from faded photographs and the Yankees’ baseball cap that once belonged to him. He put it to his face, as if a trace of his father’s smell remained. As if his brain would trigger some real memory, but it didn’t.
Emma rushed in rosy-cheeked and excited. Her color drained and her mood sunk when she saw Matthew curled up in a ball on the sofa.”Oh Matthew! Honey, I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have let you come back alone. I’m here.”
He pushed away from her. “Yeah, until he does some stupid-ass thing again! What are they doing? Having a barbeque? You come back for the marshmallows? It’s after midnight!”
“Matty. . .”
“No, Mom! Not this time! No more crap about Dillon defending our country and what a fucking hero he is!” Matthew made fists so tight that his wrists ached. “He’s a jerk! My father was a hero! Not him!”
He bolted upstairs to his room and slammed the door. Emma went after him. “Matthew Wardley, you open this door! I mean it!”
His silence ate at her.
“Matthew, please…open the door.” Would her tears never stop? She longed for life as it was. “I need you, Matty. Now, more than ever. We’re going to get through this, honey. Together. We have to. What choice do we have?”
She leaned against the door and listened, hoping to connect. Wishing he were younger and she could make him feel safe just by putting her arms around him. “Those days are over,” she told herself. Her boy was a young man and not so easily swayed anymore.
She tore herself away from the door and her need for his approval and went downstairs. He would come out when he was ready.
She stood at the stove stirring cocoa into a saucepan of milk heating over the burner. She added sugar and stirred some more. The simple act reminded her of Matthew in his father’s arms – barely a toddler – both boys eager for their hot chocolate.
“You don’t need me. You have him.”
He sounded so tired. Her poor brave boy. She turned to look at him, so handsome like his father. “Of course I need you. Of course I do. And I always will.” She turned off the cocoa and poured them each a mug. She offered him one and sat down with hers at the table. “Do you want to talk about it?”
He blew on his cocoa and took a sip. “What’s the use? You’re his number one fan. You adopted him a long time ago, Mom. But I didn’t.” He slumped into a chair at the table.
She took his hand. “No Matty, that’s not it. He was my friend a long time ago and he’s my friend now. Don’t you think he needs a friend?”
“Yeah, but why does it have to be you?”
Tears welled in her eyes. “Because I remember him. I remember him before, when he was strong and alive. Because I remember the day he went to war. Because I remember what he gave – to me – to our country. Just like your dad.”
Matthew could hardly contain himself. “He is not like my father.”
“Yes he is, honey. He is just like your father. He cared more about his country and his friends and family than himself and he walked into danger with his eyes and heart open to stand up for us. Your dad didn’t come back. But Dillon did. You can’t blame him for that.”
Matthew wanted to cry but fought it. “I don’t blame him for that. I blame him for being nuts. Everybody knows he’s crazy. Everybody but you!”
“I don’t care if everyone else in the world thinks that. I don’t and I never will. I don’t turn my back on my friends and neither did your father.”
Tears streamed down Matthew’s face. He shook his head.
Emma took his hands and held them tight. “Honey, you’re not a baby anymore. You can’t just pout and be mad because things aren’t the way you want them to be. No matter how much you wish your dad was here, he isn’t going to be. Can’t you see that by honoring Dillon, you honor your dad? Can’t you see that Daddy would have wanted you to be Dillon’s friend?” She cried. “Matthew, they were brothers – bound by their common oath. By the sacrifice they both made. We’re so sad that Daddy didn’t come home – but we should celebrate that Dillon did.”
Matthew shook his head and couldn’t look at her. “I don’t think I can, Mom.”
“But you have to try, honey.”
“For Dad. And for all the other dads who didn’t come home.”
Matthew put his head down on the table and let himself cry.
Emma stroked his hair. “He needs us, we’re all he’s got!”
Matthew raised his head and wiped at his tears. “He embarrasses me. All the guys make fun of him and us.
She smiled. “People can be mean, but maybe…” She lit up. “Oh Matt, if you could see him now, in the Square. He’s just come alive. Everybody has just, I don’t know, rallied around him. You’d be so proud of him! Your dad would be too. Really!”
Matthew felt changed. Willing to take what she said on faith. Maybe she was right. Maybe his dad would have wanted him to believe too.
“Please, honey. Just come with me. “Let me show you.”
“Do I have to?”
“No, you don’t have to,” Emma said.
He shrugged and got to his feet. “Better get your coat.” He put on his Yankees’ cap. “It’s getting cold.”
Emma was stunned by how much the crowd had grown. It was as if this horrible day had brought them all together like a family.
As they moved slowly through the gathering, Matthew took Emma’s hand and squeezed it. Whatever it was that she had felt, embraced him now and he felt safe.
When finally they reached the tarnished hero, Matthew saw his own tears mirrored in Dillon’s bright eyes. “Go Yankees!” Dillon smiled. Matthew fell into Dillon’s arms and wept for himself, for his father and for Dillon.
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