A Pocket of Resistance: The Fat Man

i read the email and felt numb, all over numb.

Then i was confused because i could not figure out how much of the hurt was because i had not done what i had promised myself to do.

Forrest Crockett Carr had sent me the email. It was the obituary of one James Allan Smith prefaced with Crockett’s note, “One of the best ‘town boys.'”

Every one i have known looked up to Jimmy Smith. He, John Sweatt, and Kent Russ took care of me at Heights and beyond. Jimmy and Kent were instrumental in getting me to pledge Kappa Sigma at Vanderbilt where i forged some of the strongest friendships i’ve ever had and many remaining so today.

Tiger golf team, 1958: Burke Herron, John Castro, Billy Lea, Bill Rose, Jimmy Smith, Charlie Teasley, Bob Pinkerton, Charles Gilbert, Tom Goldsby.
Tiger golf team, 1958: Burke Herron, John Castro, Billy Lea, Bill Rose, Jimmy Smith, Charlie Teasley, Bob Pinkerton, Charles Gilbert, Tom Goldsby.

Jimmy was just flat something special. At Heights, he played on the last golf team (1958, i believe). He exuded cool, which was a difficult thing to do in the school’s military uniform. Jimmy and Leonard Bradley are the only two guys i remember who could pull that off. And Jimmy excelled. In everything. Graduating my freshman year, he was the 1959 class salutatorian.

Then Jimmy and Kent Russ went to Vanderbilt. Three years later i followed. The summer before i matriculated, Jimmy invited me to a Kappa Sigma summer party. It was not pretty. i drank rum and coke for the first (and last) time, drank more, and blew lunch somewhere. It should have given me a clue, but it didn’t. When classes began, there was no question what i would pledge, and to this day, i’m glad Jimmy and Kent influenced my being a Kappa Sigma pledge. My closeness to my brothers remains strong and good.

Both of them watched over me that freshman year and tried to help me as much as possible, but i was on an inevitable course to failure. Even as my grades slid and my acumen for calculus vanished, i still thought i could do everything, including partying hard, sleeping late, skipping classes and still bring my grades up. It didn’t happen, but it wasn’t because of Jimmy and Kent.

At Vandy, everyone knew Jimmy as one of the coolest guys around. His favorite phrase was addressing everyone he liked as “fat man.” It became such a deal, he was known as “Fat Man,” and that was a cool thing. He impressed me in everything he did. He was an immaculate dresser, never overdressed, never underdressed. And just as he did in his Heights uniform, he made everything look cool.

Jimmy hung out often as The Sportsman Club to the west of the Parthenon in Centennial Park across West End from Vanderbilt. The cool guys hung out there. Of course.

In the spring, Jimmy invited me and another freshman (i think it was Cy Fraser) over to his apartment, where we drank scotch. i was not a scotch drinker, but Jimmy drank scotch so i thought it was cool and drank it that night. Then he put on a record. The artist remains one of my all time favorites.

It was Mose Allison singing on all the tracks of “Mose Allison Sings.” i listened with awe. I  fancied myself a blues fan, and obviously, Mose has some of that in his songs, but it was different, jazz, cool, just like the Fat Man. i later learned it was also the first album where Mose was allowed to sing on all of the tracks. Jimmy knew. He was that cool.

Jimmy left for Virginia law school after that year, and i never saw him again. Through my Lebanon, Heights, and Vandy contacts, i kept loose track of him, and knew he had become a prominent labor and contract attorney in Atlanta. i also learned through either John Sweatt or Earl Major or both, Jimmy had lost his vision in his later years.

The Fat Man was an inspiration to me. i always wanted to be like him. He was the coolest, but he also was one of the most genuine friends i ever had. After learning he was in Atlanta, i vowed to get his contact information, call, and even planned how i would go spend an afternoon or a dinner with him. i’m sure if i had, i would have more memories of how cool, intelligent, genuine, and funny he was.

But i was thwarted in my initial efforts to contact him, usually being called away from my quest for some immediate crisis. The item on my checklist kept getting pushed down the page.

i am terribly sorry i was not more tenacious. i hurt from his loss because he meant so much to me. i hurt even more because i did not spend more time with him.

i guess what i’m really trying to say is: if you have a friend who is special to you but with whom you haven’t communicated in a long time, don’t put it off. Find them, call them, visit them.

If you do, i don’t think you will hurt as much as i am hurting right now.

Rest in peace, Fat Man.

A Pocket of Resistance: the kid with green hair

the kid with green hair

it was a necessary drive
for a blood test about
five miles down the road
pass four to six schools
depending on my route,
i not realizing
it was the first day of the new school term
in july.
something is just wrong about that:
july, when i was shirtless, barefoot, just shorts,
romping in the front and back yard,
under the fence or up the hill or down the street
to play with neighbors, similarly attired
climbing trees, hitting balls, playing cowboys and indians,
vacation bible school, swimming pools, picnics
in the dirt and grass with stinging bees
or
throwing a blanket under the chinese elm in the front yard
or
sitting on the small screened-in back porch when it rained,
playing board or card games with lemonade as a chaser;
can’t imagine school in july.

but
what the hell do i know?
i mean, they got all these teachers with degrees,
unions and administrators as many as the teachers
directing those self-same teachers
as to what to teach, how much, grading, testing
so the kids will be smarter than me
and
they divided up the terms for shorter vacations,
i.e. summer vacations truncated, for memory retention
but
i remember my teachers who loved me enough
to teach me basics
and
give me three months of summer vacation in the sun;
of course, we didn’t have air-conditioning then,
just big ceiling fans and open windows;
can’t imagine sitting in those big rooms in july
staring out at summer.

then, coming back from the blood test,
taking the back roads to avoid the opening school crowds
then giving up when i realized the crowds were everywhere,
i spotted the boy walking with his mother to school:
i did that once,
walking to school with my mother
once,
the first morning, six-years old,
within a half block of the school
when
i told her i was all right; she could go home;
i walked that half-mile with friends or by myself
every weekday for six years (except for summer vacation, of course),
no adult supervision, no fear, laughing mostly,
to home where most of the time
it was just me, then sister and me, and two years brother, sister, and me
into the unlocked house
until mother got home from work;
i understand
this mother walking her son along with an unending parade
of mothers walking their children to school
because it’s different now:
fear breeds protection: that is good and understandable;
yet this boy, this kid has got green hair:
am i watching sesame street?
does the boy want to be oscar the grouch, kermit the frog?
i wanted to be hopalong cassidy and then roy rogers
and
would have been laughed into oblivion
if
i had shown up with green hair.

i drove through the crowd at the elementary school;
i drove through the crowd at the middle school;
i drove through the crowd at the high school;
i drove through the crowd at the community college;
i did not see one girl in a dress or skirt;
where did those girls i worshipped go?
they were mysteriously, beautifully different;
put them on a pedestal, so to speak,
i worshipped them, didn’t understand them (still don’t),
wanted to be their hero,
wanted to take care of them, or at least to a movie;
now they are independent,
like the boys, only prettier,
and
someone might call me a chauvinist
or worse,
and
i recognize the world, their world is not what mine was:
ike and adlai running against each other: the world was safe,
segregated but safe,
bigoted but safe,
polio inflicted but safe,
soviet a-bomb threatened but safe
because we could hide under our desks,
then muster in the school’s front yard,
before walking home by ourselves
with the boys in jeans and the girls in dresses,
but
not in summer,
and
not with green hair.

 

A Pocket of Resistance: A Rising Star

As with all things, one (as in this one, aka me) should not get frustrated when there is a detour in the road. It might lead to something beautiful.

Yesterday, i had several important tasks, administrative and physical to get done at home. The first one was to get our home phone line and wireless remote sets working correctly. i went to the corner of my office bookcase next to the window. One of our indoor cats (we are pretty sure it was the male, Bruce Willis) had peed in the corner, a repeat performance).

So, instead of working on the telephone problem, i began to clean up the mess, including the telephone and electrical cords hidden in that corner, and Maureen and i began planning a strategy to stop Brucie (Maureen’s loving title for the boy) from repeatiing this foul deed again…forever (i know a cure, but PETA would hang me from the yardarm, and i couldn’t do it anyway).

Then, i wondered what damage had been done back of the bookcase.

Now, this bookcase with the storage areas on the bottom rises to my office ceiling and runs almost the length of the wall. i’m not going to just slide it out. Oh no. i must take out the books to move it.

i take out the books and pile them on a folding table and the dining room table, each pile rising to about three feet. i slide the bookcase from the wall, clean up the mess, and spray cat pee repellent for a temporary fix. i go to Home Depot — i cannot think of a home task i’ve done in the last twenty years or more that didn’t require a trip to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Office Depot, the drug store, or the liquor store — to get a new telephone wire. i move the bookcase back even though when i moved it out, i found several other tasks that should be done, like replacing two baseboards and painting the wall, which would lead to painting all of the walls and baseboards, which would create the need to move pictures and wall hangings to new places, to sorting through a lot of memorabilia, keeping a few out and adding the others to boxes of memorabilia, which would lead to reorganizing all of Maureen’s and my memorabilia, which includes her father’s, my parent’s, aunt’s, grandmother’s, and other family member’s stuff…ad infinitum.

So i decided i would just put the bookshelf back and reload it with the books so Maureen would not be upset with a pile of books spoiling her beautiful dining room’s appearance.

By that time, it was time to watch a baseball game. Fittingly, the Padres lost both games in the double header to the Cardinals.

This morning, i began returning the books. i found a few that needed a new home. Then i came upon one that puzzled me. It was a 8 1/2 x 11 inches bound book entitled Uncovered Dreams from “The International Library of Poetry.” There was no handwritten inscription inside. The copyright year was 2002. i remained puzzled when i spotted a 3×5 index card inserted almost completely in between pages 62 and 63, with one end barely sticking out, a bookmark.

Scanning the 16 poems there, i finally saw the reason i had for keeping this book. “Lost Hope” was there, the sixth poem on page 62. It was written by Sarah May Jewell. There had been a promotional appearing to be a poetry competition for middle school students. We entered Sarah’s poem. i had forgotten.

Then i read the poem, again although it had been over 15 years since i had read it before. i have always claimed my sister-in-law, Carla Neggers; my brother, Joe; and my two daughters, Blythe and Sarah could write rings around me. Carla, Joe, and Blythe are published. You can read their stuff, Carla’s new book, Keeper’s Reach, will be out next Tuesday. Joe’s book, The Elements of Prayer: Learning to Pray in Real LIfe, is a spiritual guide for me. Blythe’s book, Something Smells Like Pee, is a funny, poignant book of poems you can enjoy.

And Sarah, i remembered is published too.

Lost Hope

Writings on the wall
Show there are so many to fall
For that lost hope in the world,
The kind that makes you cringe.

The time will come when the world will end,
Fear is not supposed to descend
Upon our hope,
Thinking it’s all a joke.

For it will come at odd times,
Times when you are in sublime,
Times when you are depressed,
And times when you are in deep rest.

Frozen tears roll down their cheeks,
Losing their hope
And dreams.

— Sarah May Jewell

She wrote this when she was 13.

i have proved my point about those four writing better than me.

It is time to complete refilling the bookcase.

A Pocket of Resistance: A Flight From Fancy

This was originally written in 2009 and revised last night. To me, it was sad then and even sadder now. i am amazed we have created a system of two groups of political lemmings. i am amazed at the vitriolic, poisoned, and untruthful slime these two groups of lemmings throw at each other. Quit trying to be funny by spreading BS, or worse just passing it on. Our system is broken and spitting venom from either side is not going to make it better. We need to take appropriate and effective action to wipe out those who would destroy innocent people and our system, but putting good folks in the same category as the bad ones — and i don’t care which group is categorizing and which group is being categorized — is not the answer. In fact, it’s the opposite of the answer.

Okay folks of the good ole US of A, get real. i don’t think we can.

A Flight From Fancy

The flying experience takes many twists and turns.

If one can keep his wits and not dwell on the inconvenience and lack of customer service, it can be an entertainment medium through watching the characters.

In the long lines and mostly ineffective security measures employed in San Diego, i embarked on this business trip today. Even before i got on the flight, i witnessed a montage of characters that would have fit well into a novel of international intrigue.

Amidst the seasoned travelers, trying to act like they were seasoned while still perplexed at the continuing change in rules, regulations and procedures, and the wide-eyed questioning new air travelers, i found my way to the Delta counter.

A tall, slender Muslim woman was at the next counter to the automatic ticket processing, which i have come to use rather than the redcaps. She wore a head-to-toe black veil that was attached across her face at the left ear. While checking in, she unattached the veil in order for the counter personnel and, later the TSA security guards match her identification with her features.

“Ahh, i wondered with no malice, “i wonder what Allah thinks about this particular waiver for progress?” While going through these checks, she would demurely hold the garment across her nose with her graceful slender fingers of her right and touching the lobe of her left ear. When requested, she would open out the veil just enough for the evaluator to see that the face did indeed match the photo on the plastic card.

After each check to see if she was really who she really was, she would reattach the veil so it would drape across her face of its own accord. From my vantage points, this semi-permanent visage reminded me of the “Black Bart” characters in the black and white western movies of my youth – Oh Hoppy, where have you gone?

For me, the veil enhanced her allure. The floor length garment was of fine material and it flowed elegantly around her slender frame. The garment would occasionally flitter open, revealing a blue and white sheer taffeta gown underneath. The chic, square-toed, black leather and low-heeled shoes slipped out from underneath the black folds when she walked. They strangely fit the image of this mysterious lady. Her eyes were deep, dark and fetching.

But in one of those vulnerable moments of identification verification, i caught a brief glimpse of her face. The skin was flawless and matched the beautiful eyes. The nose, however, was long and hooked, ill fitting, and it shattered my illusion of her allure. That is not to say she was not beautiful to some.

i recognized my prejudice in such a judgment and chastised myself.

Later while waiting for our aisle numbers to be included in the boarding process, a well dressed lady with a sharply pulled back pony tail, short sleeve sweater, and slacks passed the Muslim lady while moving toward the boarding pass screening. She looked directly at the lady of the veil. Her look was a combination of loathing and fear.

Inexplicably, she made the traditional Catholic sign of the cross gesture and moved quickly away.

i felt sad and powerless. It struck me we, all of us, at our core are mean people. We fear things we don’t know or understand, and it’s even worse if those things are people.

i did not try and change the woman with the pony tail. i never talked to either her or the veiled lady. i realized it would be fruitless.

Today, the differences are even more pronounced. Evil has reared its head in an even worse form than before when this piece was originally written seven years ago. And we have taken sides, and our sides are blind to the humanity of the majority of those we label as enemies.

i have friends who actually take a stronger stance against Muslims than the Republican presidential candidate. Nearly all are military men, like me, and the art of killing in defense of our constitution is part and partial of the mission we served. That is what we were trained to do.

But i cannot go along with even Trump’s proposed draconian position on Muslims. Didn’t we learn from WWII, the Civil War, and the history of settling this country? People are people. There are good ones; there are bad ones; there are those in between; and there are evil ones. And that goes for those in all religions, all races, all countries.

i don’t claim to have an answer, but surely, some men and women in positions of power can come up with a better answer than hate.

 

Bonita, California
July 18, 2016

A Pocket of Resistance: Brothers

brothers-close

He’s gone.

He and Carla left yesterday morning, pulling out of our driveway and driving down the street headed for the airport.

When people i care about depart or i leave them, there is an emptiness i feel. In this case, it’s right silly of course. i will see him and his wife again, probably, hopefully quite a few times here and there for the rest of our lives.

But you see i had him for me for three days. Of course, Maureen was around for most of that time, and Carla joined us before and after the Romance Writer’s Association annual conference in downtown San Diego. Our time with Carla was way too short. She is a wonderful writer, woman, mother, and grandmother, and as smart as anyone i’ve ever met. Two nights and parts of three other days were not enough. But those three days with my brother were some of the best i’ve had in a while.

My brother Joe is five years younger than me. i sometimes like to think his observing his older brother behaving like a locomotive going down the track without an engineer might have given him a lot more sense than his older brother.

Joe read the World Book Encyclopedia before going to Castle Heights, and my memory says it was before attending Lebanon Junior High. i mean the whole thing he read.

He was spent his youth learning automobiles from our father, reading continuously, learning from his teachers, exploring, camping, and avoiding anything he saw his brother beat himself up trying to accomplish, like biking and water skiing. That is to say, Joe had some sense; his brother not so much.

Both earned scholarships to Vanderbilt. The resemblance stopped there. Joe graduated, earned two masters at Boston University, became a minister of high moral and ethical standing, and delivered powerful, thoughtful sermons. He married and remains married to the successful and widely read Carla Neggers, having a son and daughter, and now has three grandchildren.

Except for several annual trips to Ireland, vacations in Florida, returning home to Lebanon, Tennessee, and several other escapes, he has lived in New England, albeit bouncing around in that area of the country quite a bit, since leaving 127 Castle Heights Avenue in 1971.

He can write like nobody’s business. He wrote an inspirational book on prayer, The Elements of Prayer. His weekly articles in his church’s newsletter while he served in Springfield, Vermont, are some of the best writing i have ever read anywhere.

A retired minister in Vermont. He made the decision to retire completely and enjoy his life with his wife, his daughter, son, and son-in-law, and his grandchildren. He does.

He is a wise man.

His brother, aka me, blew out of Vanderbilt like a falling leaf: bad choice of majors, lots of partying, and not much studying. Finally getting his degree from Middle Tennessee, he escaped the draft by  going to Navy OCS, getting out after his initial obligation, writing sports in Watertown, New York, getting back in the Navy, wandering around the country and world until he completed active duty, has had about a dozen jobs since then, and to some degree is still working. aka me was married twice before the third one stuck.

By the way, he, aka me, wouldn’t change a thing because his life has produced an incredible forever wife, two talented, lovely, and caring daughters, and a grandson with unlimited potential.

So we’ve got this wise man who was a preacher, a Christian, in the Northeast, and this goofy guy who was an officer on fighting ships in the Southwest, about as far away as two could get in careers and location.

It is sometimes scary how much we are both alike.

While here, after Maureen had retired for the evening, or when we had moments with just the two of us, we talked a lot; or rather, i talked a lot; Joe talked when needed. One late night (for old men), i was sitting in my chair and Joe was sitting on the couch while we watched baseball on television. i could not help but think of other late nights when the others had gone to bed. My father would lean back in his recliner while i lay on the couch, and we watched baseball.

As Joe and i talked, i kept thinking he had the same experience with my father as i did, as he and i were sharing at that moment. In our case, it seemed to me we kept switching roles. i wondered if Joe made the same connection. i hope he did, but i never asked.

He’s gone now. With Carla, he flew back to Boston and drove back to Vermont yesterday.

In case you haven’t already figured it out, i admire my brother. Immensely. But more so, i love him. i ask his advice. i heed his counsel. i am overjoyed at his success.

i have a lot of close friends, buddies. He and i have a wonderful sister who should have been with us this past week.

For you see, Joe and Martha are my best friends.

There is an empty spot, actually two this morning at the breakfast table. Life goes on. Joe and i were meant to be about as far away as anyone can get and stay in this country.

Still, i miss him.

A Pocket of Resistance: TMI to a Stupid Degree

i read it in yesterday’s Union-Tribune “Off the Wall” section of the sports pages. i wish i hadn’t.

With all of the insanity going on in this world; my inability to vote for a presidential candidate of any merit; other serious, even scary stuff going on, i scan and then skip the news sections of my paper and go to the comics and the sports section. But after yesterday, i will have to scan my sports page content before reading.

Yesterday, “Off the Wall” reported Joe Frazier’s jock strap (athletic supporter, if you wish to be politically correct) is being auctioned off. The bidding has begun on the internet and someone (i’m not sure i would label anyone who placed a bid as “someone” since that implies there is a brain in there somewhere) has already made the opening bid of $5,000. Joe’s jock that protected his privates while he beat Ali in “The Fight of the Century” in Madison Square Garden is expected to be sold for more than $10,000.

Not believing this or even wanting to know it, i still did a search on the internet.  On the TMZ sports website, i found that not only Joe’s manhood protector was on auction, but that the jock strap Nolan Ryan wore when he pitched his seventh no-hitter was sold several years ago for $25,000.

My biggest question is what the hell would you do with a jock strap you bought for $25,000 or $10,000? Frame it in a shadow box and hang it in your living room? Have it bronzed and use it for a front door knocker? Of course, the scariest possibility is the idiots who spent that much money to get Joe or Nolan’s equipment protector might actually wear them.

So yesterday after reading the article, i determined the world is completely out of balance and there is not a damn thing i can do about it.

A Pocket of Resistance: Gig ’em!

There is this small photo, badly faded, i have kept with me since 1974. It captures a two-year old as a bike rider. She is in a Texas A&M sweater and knit cap, and she is making the Aggie’s “gig ’em” sign with her left hand, her thumb jutting up in the air, with a big smile on her face.

i cropped the photo down to fit in a small frame and put it on my fold out desk in my stateroom on the U.S.S. Hollister in Long Beach. i would have put it in the log room, the chief’s engineer’s headquarters on a FRAM destroyer, but i seldom used my desk there because of so many engineers needing access to the space.

i did put it in the first lieutenant’s office when i transferred to the U.S.S. Anchorage in March 1975. The smile of  the girl in the photo lit up my day every day while my ship was on a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific.

Even before my next tour at Texas A&M, the marriage was unraveling, and i realized i would not be a at-home dad for the girl in the photo. At A&M, the photo was on my desk in the NROTC office. The girl’s smile gave me hope in my darkest hour ever.

Then i truly went away. The girl in the photo stayed with her mother in Texas. That was the way things worked in those days. Regardless, i was faced with making a heart-breaking decision because i was determined to do what was best for my daughter regardless of the pain i felt at my loss of being with her every day.

From then on, the photo always has been near my desk, wherever  that might be. Tonight, it is on the lower hanging shelf above my desk. It is the first thing i see in the morning, and i greet the day with the thought of “Gig ’em.” The photo has always made it easier to take on the day, regardless of the impending good or bad.

Ironically, the girl in the photo, one Blythe Jewell Gander, eventually graduated from tu, or the University of Texas, Austin as it is called derisively by the Aggies, and she is not an Aggie fan.

i am not wise in the ways of modern photo touchup technology, so this is pretty much the way it looks in my small frame.

But it makes no difference for that photo of her smiling with that thumb pointed to the sky makes me smile, and i am ready to get it on every day.

bej-aggie-1974

A Pocket of Resistance: The Marine Layer

i often write about how the weather in the Southwest corner is impacted by the marine layer. Sometimes i praise it. More often than not, i complain about it causing “May Gray” and “June Gloom.”

Sometime in early July, it goes away.

If the truth be told, in spite of San Diego having the best weather in the world year round unless you like below freezing temperatures, snow for four months out of the year, or hot and humid days, one of its real attractions for me is the marine layer giving the Southwest corner an aura of the place being a real seaport town, not a paradise. When the marine layer rolls in at night, i can smell, feel the sea where i spent a significant part of my life; i remember other sea towns in far off places; and for brief moments, i am a mariner again.

But for most of my readers, the marine layer is an unknown. It’s hard to describe, hard to understand.

Friday during our weekly early morning round of golf, the sun came through around 10:00 a.m., or four bells to an old sailor. We had just finished the fourteenth hole when i looked up and saw the perfect example of the marine layer. It had receded from land and west off of Point Loma and was hovering waiting for the perfect July weather in the mid-70’s to give way to the evening cool and swoop back in to give us a gray evening.

Perhaps this might give you a better idea of my marine layer:

2016-07-08 09.41.48

A Pocket of Resistance: Home in the Southwest Corner

For all of those who might wonder, Maureen and i arrived home about an hour ago. We have unpacked. Maureen is doing a quick grocery run, and i fooling with this dagnabbit contraption before a serious nap.

We had an incredibly wonderful time with Alan and Maren Hicks in Sonoma. Our dinner last night with Bob Thiel and Peter  in Santa Barbara was, as it always is with Bob, a great dinner and a super reconnect.

More later, but a NORP is waiting.

This is either a chubby Van Gogh or a goofy old guy unpacking Maureen’s hat.

A Pocket of Resistance: Independence? Freedom?

i have just had a wonderful six days, including celebrating our 240th Independence Day. As Maureen sleeps in our motel room before we complete our journey from home to Sonoma and back, i find myself sitting here with an innumerable number of things i would like to write about but probably never will. The sad thing is all of these things make me sad.

Without going into specifics, what makes me most sad is most of my friends and damn near all of the people in this world cannot treat other people with respect because they are so focused on themselves, they have been duped into believing stupid things, they refuse to think, and they are too lazy to think deeply.

Wake up, world. Your primary job is to live well and treat other people well. Start caring and quit hating.

i want to explain but it will not resolve anything more than my thoughts here will have any impact.

Our forefathers did not create the Declaration of Independence or write and adopt the Constitution for personal gain. They wished to establish a country of freedom and equality. Even if they weren’t aware of the long-term global significance of freedom for everyone, that was their intent. They and many others after them have died or suffered greatly defending that right to be free.

Dressing up in our country’s flag or some sad replica of our flag’s parts (mostly against our flag’s code), shooting fireworks, having parades, gorging on food, getting drunk, or all other sorts of odd behavior has a feel-good aspect because people are trying to celebrate our independence.

But the real celebration should be respecting everyone else’s independence. We, meaning all of us who live in this wonderful 240-year old country to which all, and i mean all of us immigrated at one time or another, need to practice that.

That, my friends, is the way we should celebrates our independence.