Stupid is as stupid does!

As one of the few people in the world who found Forrest Gump to be, dare I say it, a bit stupid, the title of this piece may seem ironic. Yet, the world in which we live seems to demand a little feedback of this nature occasionally. To make the point of this piece, OneOldCop could simply focus on the sniveling little politico who is mayor of Chicago.  That would be possible, but he is more of a symptom than a problem. Still, his actions, the comments of a Democrat talking-head, and the words of a Republican lawmaker or two sparked this piece.

Whether one agrees with the label sanctuary city, takes a side in the debate surrounding it, or could care less about the uproar, the situation deserves discussion. Accordingly, here we go.

First, let’s tackle the outrageous claim that police officers taking actions to help identify illegal immigrants involved in criminal activity will alienate socially responsible undocumented immigrants. Okay, point number one! If the phrase socially responsible undocumented immigrant is not an oxymoron, there is no such thing. If one is socially responsible, one does not violate the laws of the country in which one wishes to be socially responsible. That means one emigrates legally and is not undocumented!

Point number two. There is very little cooperation with the police within these communities, no matter what the status of the residents. Just look back to the 1970s. Black communities in those days had zero, that is no, absolutely not one, illegal or undocumented immigrants residing there. Everyone, from law-abiding citizen to hardcore criminal, was a legal, likely native-born citizen of the United States. Do you have any idea how much cooperation OneOldCop and his colleagues received from those documented socially responsible citizens? We received nada, not one scintilla, that is zilch when it came to cooperation.

It is not a matter of legal versus illegal. It is not a matter of law-abiding versus criminal. It is a matter of us versus them. Human beings are highly intelligent, theoretically, herd beasts or pack animals. We want to be with our own kind, and we do not trust THOSE PEOPLE. In the case of police officers and other authorities, they are always those people, and about the only time someone in a minority, socioeconomically challenged or immigrant neighborhood cooperates with the police is when fear or anger overcomes their abhorrence of helping “the man.”

That does not mean people in neighborhoods such as the ones mentioned above do not silently applaud when the police take some predator off the streets. They do, but they cannot admit it because they cannot be certain who around them are happy with the police doing their job.

Okay, on to another sore spot. Mitch McConnell, the so-called Majority Leader of the United States Senate, was criticizing “the president and others” for having unrealistic expectations of the legislative process. In his remarks, Senator McConnell made the comment that President Trump had never held “this job” before, and did not understand it.

This job? There is the problem. A JOB is what someone does to make a living. It may or may not be something one loves, but it is the way people have made a living for most of the time humans have roamed this earth. Whether one believes in evolution or creation, ancient men and women had jobs. In some cases the job was simply digging for grubs, begging at the side of the road, or building huts, but they had jobs. Being an elected official in this country was never meant to be a job. Jobs actually produce something other than billions of pages of laws, regulations, and nonsense.

Being an elected official in this country was meant to be an act of service. Unfortunately, people such as Addison Mitchell McConnell, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and all the others who hold the JOB of an elected official or master legislator need to take remedial courses in American History and Politics. Of course, the politicians are not solely to blame for the fiasco of modern-day politics. We the people must accept some of the blame.

When the electorate, that is all adult U.S. citizens, abdicated our responsibilities as citizens, voters, and socially responsible people something had to fill the vacuum. Enter the bureaucracy and ruling class, American style.

It started innocently enough. Early in the republic, most legislative jobs were seen as public service. Few entered into politics as a career. They ran for office, did their time, and returned to their families and jobs. Of course, there was a need for support staff and other more or less permanent positions over the years. Thus, the bureaucracy began to grow. Funding those jobs, which turned into career positions required more and more money from the states. We were well on our way down the slippery slope at that point.

Then came the depression and FDR. Now real people did not have jobs and elected officials saw an opportunity. More money was needed to make certain people had something to do. New programs were developed that gave people jobs. More money was needed, and more full-time government employees were needed to manage the programs that were popping into existence like weeds after a spring shower. Then we hit the steep portion of the slippery slope.

The career politicians realized there were other needs that they wanted to address. In most cases, the need was to keep them employed and the best way to do that was to find a way to make the electorate, our ancestors, pay for more things. The answer was Federal Grants!

Yes, the most stupid thing we the people allowed Washington to do was to allow the feds to establish the grant system.1 When we sat idly by and let Washington tax us so they could turn around and give us our tax money back, less management fees, in the form of grants they controlled.2

Today, Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago are preparing to spend tens of thousands of tax dollars to sue the federal government. The federal government will likely spend millions in tax dollars to maintain its authority to spend tax dollars as it sees fit. We the people will sit back, take a side or ignore the situation, thinking it’s only tax dollars being spent to determine how tax dollars are spent. Again, stupid is as stupid does.

Anyone who looks at this and thinks its only tax dollar is suicidal as well as stupid. The only money the federal government has, tax dollars, is money it takes from people who work for a living or the organizations for which they work. Tax dollars are dollars we paid in taxes that the government uses to fund operations, returning a pittance to states, towns, cities, individuals and some organizations as federal grants.

Maybe Forrest Gump was a better movie than I realized. It certainly had one thing right.

1. Mayor Emanuel’s comments and actions related to federal grants are part of the inspiration for this piece. He wants the federal gravy train to his city to continue, in spite of the fact he and his predecessors have wasted the money they were given in the past.

2. See Paved With Good Intentions: Interstate Highways for more on this issue.

© OneOldCop – 2017

Posted in Uncategorized

Monkey Business

It seems every pundit, news source, or so-called authority of any kind is quoting polls, surveys, or statistics these days. Anyone with knowledge of polls, surveys and statistics likely laughs themselves silly or grinds their teeth until their head hurts when one source or another speaks of the latest survey.

Survey and polling data have always been a bit suspect. Today, such data is not only suspect, much of it has the validity of all the stories claiming one city in the U. S. or another is now governed by Sharia law. Robocalling, online polls, and other modern data gathering strategies are making a mockery of these processes. In fact, after the U. S. Presidential election of 2016 many were saying polls and surveys in the political arena might be a thing of the past. As we have seen, that is not the case.

Almost every day someone is touting a new poll or survey in the media. News outlets and opinion shows constantly quote some statistic drawn from a poll or survey. One will claim a special election is too close to call. Another may claim the majority of voters disagree with this or that particular plan or proposal. Still, others opine that Republicans or Democrats, depending on the issue, feel the country is on the right track, headed for Armageddon, or on the verge of societal collapse.

Given the foregoing, one must wonder, what is going on? Why do pollsters, even those with excellent track records, find their predictions to be less reliable? Additionally, why do polls allegedly researching similar issues make predictions that seem so at odds? Polling and survey data seem to be going the way of weather forecasts which may have multiple predictions depending on the computer model used.

Several think pieces over the last few years concerning the issue of polling related to elections blame a number of factors. Most notably, the experts in this area believe the shift from traditional means of communication to mobile phones and the internet makes it more difficult to conduct polls. Not only is it more difficult to find respondents willing to answer questions, the very means of communication used can skew results.1

Without a doubt, mobile phones, social media, and online surveys are part of the problem. They are not the only problem however. Professional pollsters and researchers are running into other problems which they may or may not acknowledge. One is the question of honesty.

Traditionally, the thinking has been that a person taking part in an anonymous survey would answer questions truthfully. The belief was that people would not lie if their answer would not directly effect them. Therefore, in response to the statement, “Running a large successful business enterprise would help a person be a more effective president,” a participant would agree or disagree honestly. That is likely not the case today, if it ever was.

It is especially problematic today because people simply do not trust as they did in the past. Many believe people responding to election polling in the 2016 presidential race lied when asked about their preference for president. The thought was they were afraid to admit they were going to vote for Donald Trump because of what people might think of them. This implies they were concerned about being judged, and they did not believe their responses would be anonymous.

Anonymity may have been an issue. It is likely not the only issue. There is also reason to believe respondents will lie for less obvious reasons. Many students for example seem willing to lie about any number of issues when asked to respond to polls or surveys.

And, in the world of online communication, faulty memories or outright lies seems to be a fact of life. Why that is so may be open to debate, but research in which OneOldCop was involved some years ago indicated the perceived anonymity factor of online communication led people to act in ways they would never act in person. Still, there is a new reason to find polling and survey data problematic.

Do it yourself survey tools seem to be all the rage these days. In case you were not aware of it, a number of companies allow you, this writer, or your eccentric Aunt Edna to formulate a survey, distribute it, and then publish the results online. One can do this, without any training in data collection, understanding of research methods, or oversight. To say this is a bit concerning is an understatement.

One hopes those who poll professionally such as some nationally known organizations touting themselves as “nonpartisan think tanks” hold themselves to some professional standard. The hope would be they would not conduct surveys or polls using leading questions, or publish results designed to mislead someone about the data collected. Unfortunately, the DIY survey business allows anyone to develop a survey or poll, intentionally or unintentionally, that will result in misleading results.

That is why this writer cringes when a talking head on a morning show announces, “Coming up after the break, our latest Survey Master poll! Find out whom Americans will vote for in 2020!”

1. Interested in the expert commentary on this issue, search “the problem with polling,” or “Cliff Zukin.”

© OneOldCop – 2017

Posted in Daily Life, Journalism, Leadership, Political Extremes, Politics, social media | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

A Question of Loyalty

OneOldCop started several pieces concerning former director of the FBI, James Comey. None were completed because it seemed writing anything definitive about him would be the equivalent of catching lightning in a bottle. One moment he appeared to be the well-intentioned if somewhat befuddled public servant caught in a difficult situation. The next he sounded like a snake-oil salesman pushing a product everyone knew was bogus. Then he came across as a grandstanding weasel looking to condemn someone while claiming there was not enough evidence to condemn them.

Comey’s public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee did little to change OneOldCop’s impression of him. At times he appeared to be an earnest professional caught in a bad situation. Then he would sound like an attention seeking megalomaniac, and the next minute a self-deprecating and humble public servant. Of course, that is one man’s impressions, and everyone who saw or heard him speak or testify has their own feeling about him.

The foregoing aside, some of what Mr. Comey said, wrote, or gave to a friend to pass on to the press deserves a bit of analysis. It does not necessarily deserve analysis because Comey said it. Rather, it deserves analysis because of the way he and others reacted to it.

Comey alleges President Trump asked him for loyalty. Comey’s reaction to the alleged request, and the reaction of others, seems to illustrate a misunderstanding of what the word means. Either that, or it speaks volumes to the lack of moral character in society today. From Speaker of the House Ryan to almost any talking-head one can think of the idea of the president allegedly expressing a desire for loyalty from a subordinate seems to reek of corruption.

Speaker Ryan and many others seem to confuse the word loyalty with the word fealty. Perhaps that is an honest mistake, or it may be because they assume asking someone for loyalty is asking someone to swear a an oath of fealty. Just for clarification, Merriam-Webster on-line states,1FEALTY implies a fidelity acknowledged by the individual and as compelling as a sworn vow.” LOYALTY, on the other hand, “implies a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray.”

The definitions above seem crystal clear to this writer. Unfortunately, the reactions of Speaker Ryan and others indicate many, especially in Washington and the media, find them unclear. Accordingly, consider the following.

Command level positions in any organization normally include the authority to choose those who serve in high level and important positions. In some cases, that authority may be clear, concise, and final. In other cases, it may require a bit of cooperation or support from others, but a president, CEO, chief of police, or commanding general needs to be able to trust top level subordinates.

In other words, the leadership of any organization, especially the upper most tiers, need to be loyal to the leader. That does not mean, they must unthinkingly obey every order or request made of them. Rather, as the definition above states, they must be steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, of betray.

Being steadfast in one’s support of the leader does not automatically mean one will follow every order without question. Even in the military one has the right to question a superior’s order, and refuse to obey it if it is illegal.

If the last couple of paragraphs don’t make my point clear, a comment made by Christopher Wray during his confirmation hearing for Comey’s old position should. Mr. Wray was asked how he would handle a situation in which the president wanted to do something illegal or unethical. Mr. Wray’s answer was clear and unequivocal, and it is the answer many dedicated professionals would give in that situation.

Mr. Wray said he would first try to talk the president out of taking the action. If he was unable to convince the president it was a mistake, he would resign.

It appears Comey did not feel he was being asked to do anything illegal or unethical. Either that, or he does not have the backbone Mr. Wray claims to have. Mr. Comey allegedly told the president he would give him “honest loyalty,” and the president accepted it.

It is impossible to know if Mr. Wray would actually resign before he agreed to something he knew was wrong. As someone who has faced such a situation, OneOldCop knows it is much easier to talk bravely than to actually standup under pressure.

Telling someone with the power to fire you or demand your resignation you will not obey or agree with them is uncomfortable to say the least. Still, it is better than living in shame and under the control of someone who would use their power in that manner.

If President Trump asked then Director Comey to pledge fealty to him, no matter what he called it, Comey should have resigned immediately. In fact, regardless of what the president meant, if Comey thought that is what the president was asking, Comey should have done more than tell the Attorney General not to leave him alone with the president again.

The president committed no crime or error by asking Comey to be loyal. Loyalty would simply mean standing by him if he was attacked unfairly. Loyalty would simply mean defending him if he was doing something that was right, but unpopular. Loyalty would simply mean not trying to undermine him when he made decisions which were legal and appropriate, but with which you did not agree.

Comey’s response to the president and his actions after that meeting, indicate loyalty is not one of his virtues. Of course, it could be he, like others it seems, does not understand loyalty.

  1. See Synonym Discussion section.

© OneOldCop – 2017

Posted in Civility, Ethics, Morality, Politics | Tagged , , , , , ,

Tweet This!

For the record, OneOldCop never completely agreed with those who believed a successful business person would automatically be a good choice for President of the United States.  The idea that a Ross Perot, a Donald Trump, a Bill Gates or an Oprah Winfrey could be more successful in the White House, or a governor’s mansion for that matter, than a seasoned politician is suspect, if not naive. It is possible a successful private sector leader could be an effective president or governor, but running a business is different from running a governmental entity, as President Trump is finding out.

Admittedly, in the early days of the republic, presidents and other elected officials came from what one might call the private sector or business world. They came from that background because politics was not a profession. Elected office was initially a form of service, not a career. That has not been the case for decades.

With that said, this piece is not about how successful or effective President Trump will or will not be. He may turn out to be a successful president, or he may turn out to be the Republican Jimmy Carter. However his presidency turns out. He is changing the game.

Traditionally high-ranking public figures have been careful about responding to bogus, unjustified or slanderous attacks. They might issue a lukewarm denial, or in extreme cases a strongly worded defense of their actions. Certainly there were some cases many people remember such as “I am not a crook,” and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Still for the most part, responses to serious accusations, including totally false ones are limited and measured.

One reason for this hesitancy is the high standard of proof needed if a public figure wishes to challenge slanderous or defamatory comments legally. A public figure; politician, movie star, sports figure, or Kardashian; must prove the person making the comment knew it was untrue and made or published it for malicious reasons. On the other hand, if one average citizen makes defamatory comments about another, the injured party might only need to prove the comment was untrue and damaging.1

A second reason public figures normally ignore verbal and written attacks is the cure may be worse than the disease. For example, consider the following:

Several decades ago a U. S. Attorney was publicly accused of corruption and professional misconduct by a local newspaper. The attorney filed suit against the newspaper, eventually winning a cash settlement. He was able to show the newspaper published the allegations against him, knowing they were false, in an attempt to harm his career and political future.

One would think the attorney would be on cloud nine. He had a victory.  He proved his case.  He received a cash settlement from the paper.  He had been cleared of any wrong doing in court.  The reality was his victory in court was a classic example of winning the battle and losing the war.

Each time he took action to disprove the accusations, the newspaper was legally able to rerun them as part of the story that he was defending himself. The paper was legally able to publish the false accusations at least four times while the attorney was trying to defend himself. By the time the attorney proved his case and the paper paid the judgment against him, he was ruined politically and professionally.

A similar situation occurred a few years ago with a District Attorney in New York. In this case, another politician accused the attorney of obstruction of justice. The attorney fought back publicly and legally, winning a judgment against the local sheriff of all people. However, as with the case of the U. S. Attorney many years ago, this attorney’s political career was over.

Based on cases such as these, public figures are advised to minimize their response in situations of this nature. They are told to roll with the punches, and not engage in combat with the media. Obviously, Donald Trump does not believe in that strategy.

It is likely no one in the president’s family or administration is happy with his penchant for hitting back at critics through social media or verbal assaults. Under normal circumstances, such behavior is a classic mode of political suicide. For example, his social media slap at the couple who anchor a morning cable news show resulted in a new allegation against him, and a rehash of other questionable comments. Additionally, his behavior has the other side of the aisle calling for legislative action to remove him from office due to mental instability.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If President Trump continues to attack those who attack him, he runs the risk of jeopardizing his agenda and his reelection. The problem is that traditional political wisdom may be wrong in the current situation.

Many think the media is determined to attack him for anything he does.  Given the nature of the political turmoil in the country at the moment, those who feel that way may have a point.  Whether they or correct or not is in some ways not the question.  The question now is, what happens if the president’s strategy fails?

President Trump, by designs or temperament, has engaged in a battle with the news media in all its various forms.  If he is able to prevail in this contest, he has set a new tone for politicians in the future.  The old adage about not picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel will be a quaint saying from a bygone era.  The president will have proved that in the age of the internet and social media, the media establishment is no longer invincible.  If he loses, it is likely the future of politics and policy in the United States will be dictated by the media for the foreseeable future.

1.The issue is a bit more complex than one can explain in a paragraph, and OneOldCop is not a lawyer. For a better understanding of the issue, there are multiple online sources one can access for additional information.

© OneOldCop – 2017

Posted in Civility, Daily Life, Ethics, Leadership, Political Extremes, Politics | Tagged , , , , ,

Words Matter!

Many people in OneOldCop’s generation grew up hearing,“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This, or some variation of it, was a standard response from parents and others when a child came home crying or upset because someone called them a name or used a hurtful term to refer to the child.

Today, we are much more aware of the power words have to hurt someone. Either that, or the failure of parents to teach their children the little saying above has created several generations of thin-skinned crybabies. Whatever the reality, there is a problem with the old adage. A problem that has nothing to do with the fact young people today often need safe spaces and Play-Doh to deal with the world.

Certainly each of us has a choice about how to respond when assaulted with thoughtless words or outright verbal abuse. We can, as in times past, simply try to ignore it, or if that is not possible, there are places one can seek help to deal with the consequences of such taunting or bullying. The problem arises when one becomes the victim of an assault or other crime, because of the thoughtless words of others.

Someone trying to create an adage similar to the sticks and stones saying of old would face a problem today. Today, the adage might need to go something like this, “Stick, stones, baseball bats, bricks, molotov cocktails, and other weapons may hurt me, and the hateful words of others may kill me!”

In 1992, OneOldCop published an article in Law and Order discussing the danger inherent in the way we speak of others. The piece targeted the law enforcement community, but the principles upon which it was based apply to everyone.1

The basic principle is simple. The use of certain words to describe a person, a person’s actions, or a group of people can lead to a form of conditioning in the minds of those using or hearing the words. This concept is nothing new, but it has been traditionally attached to issues of racism and discrimination.

There is little doubt that a child raised in a home, or general environment, where one group of people is referred to in less than flattering ways will learn to identify them the same way. Race, gender and other characteristics normally identified with racism and discrimination have no bearing on the matter.

Take the centuries old conflict in Ireland. There people groups that have lived on the same island for centuries, have turned the labels Protestant and Catholic into hate speech. The same can be true in other cultures where labels such as Sunni and Shia carry distasteful connotations similar to words used to describe people of color in the United States in times past.

In 1992 police trainers, executives and administrators were trying to find ways to change the language of police officers so they would see the people they handled as human beings instead of some form of subhuman life. While some may feel the efforts of police leadership did not bear fruit, that is simply not true. The vast majority of police officers are professional and objective. The problem now is the very same people who were trying to control cops during the turbulence of the 1970s, ‘80s and 90s are the ones who need to watch their language.

As this is being written, talking heads and politicians continue to talk about political rhetoric. They want the political rhetoric to be toned down because it is driving people over the edge. It is true, the rhetoric is a out of control, but the reason it is out of control is the way words are being used in the rhetorical outbursts.

The fellow who spent months plotting to kill Republican Congressmen did not take his actions because of political rhetoric. He armed himself and hunted down members of Congress because the words used to describe these officials were influencing him the way words can influence a police officer.

Police officers who mistreat or overreact to the people with whom they deal do so because they do not see them as people. They see them as scumbags, pukes or some other colorful term that dehumanizes them. Now, their bosses, the politicians who want to lead the country or the local government, engage in the same name calling.

The man who attempted to kill multiple Congressmen in Virginia was not making a political statement. He was hunting down those deplorable, Republican haters who were ruining his country. The problem is he did not dream up those ideas on own. They were shouted from the campaign platforms of his party, and are still being spouted by talking heads and political hacks.

Political rhetoric can be uplifting, depressing or enraging. Yet, political rhetoric does not bring an otherwise sane man to a ball field in Virginia where he intends to assassinate elected officials. Labeling is what brings someone to commit such an act. Those were not elected officials he was attempting to kill. They were Deplorables. They were haters. They were crooks who were stealing money from old people and children. They were the corrupt capitalists standing in the way of the Leftist dream of socialized medicine and a guaranteed income.

Words, and they way they are used, matter. Everyone with a public platform needs to remember that, no matter which side of the aisle they inhabit.

  1. Law and Order online archives do not include 1992.  Article available through National Coalition Building Institute.
Posted in Civility, Daily Life, Law Enforcement, Leadership, Manners, Police, Political Extremes, Politics, Public Speaking | Tagged , , , , ,

One Day at a Time

Yesterday, May 29, 2017, was Memorial Day. It is the day we remember the men and women who died in defense of the country. One of those we remember is David C. M. Jackson, my brother. His name is engraved on Panel 61, Line 38 of the Vietnam War Memorial. I wrote about David on the anniversary of his death earlier this year, and I’ll write about him again in the future. Today, I am writing about another class of veteran and hero.

Last year for Memorial Day I wrote Something Left Behind. In some ways this piece is reminiscent of Left Behind. In others it is different. Each of us leaves a piece of him or herself in the past at times. A piece of me is stuck on a cold wet highway in north Texas where I stood among the battered and broken bodies of a carload of college students who had just celebrated their last Halloween. It stands next to the piece of me I left at the side of a six-year-old girl whose father ran one stop sign too many.

As bad as those incidents were, I never watched a buddy in combat go out on patrol and fail to return. I never came out of my bunker after the bombing stopped to find a bunkmate had earned a posthumous Purple Heart. I never had to watch as men I trained with, sweated with, drank with, and bled with spent their last moments on earth charging an enemy position in some third world hellhole that most people didn’t know existed. I have had the honor to know such men, and in a few cases I’ve had the privilege of helping them expunge at least some of the demons haunting them. I am writing today for those veterans.

Their lives are caught somewhere between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. They are here to honor the memory of their fallen comrades, and they will hopefully be here in November to be honored for their service. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no day to honor or even acknowledge them for dealing with the pain and guilt they feel for living when others died. I want to acknowledge them here.

These are the men, and women, who spend their days working, raising their families, loving their grand kids, and helping their communities. Most of the time they are fine, but sometimes they wonder. For every name on the Vietnam Memorial, for every headstone in a National Cemetery, for every lost soul whose body was not recovered there is at least one who wonders. He wonders why his name is not engraved in stone. She wonders why her name is not cast in bronze. They wonder why they are not the ones remembered sadly on birthdays and anniversaries. They wonder, what they did to deserve life.

I wish I had the answer for each and everyone who feels that way. I don’t, but I am certain there is a reason. I do know everyone dies, and some never live. Those who survived have a choice. In some cases they make that choice one day a time. Maybe the song below has a message for those waking up every morning and wondering why. I hope it does.

Not Every Man Lives

© OneOldCop – 2017

Posted in Family Vaules, Veterans, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , ,

At the Wall

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or as it is more commonly known, The Wall, is something one must see to appreciate. Approaching it, or looking at it from a distance does not do the memorial justice, and finding the name you seek can be distracting.

The best way to appreciate the wall, in OneOldCop’s experience, is to simply walk down to the wall and let the majest of it touch you. It is, in a much different way, similar to the experience of visiting something as vast as Glacier Bay, Alaska.

Upon arrival, the immensity of the bay is hard to comprehend. One looks at the surrounding mountains and glaciers. One sees the sea gulls and other birds in the water and on pieces of ice floating in the bay. It takes time for the immensity and magnificence to sink in. Once it begins, the excited voices begin to fade away and an awed silence takes its place.

The Wall can have the same effect. Visitors may ooh and ah as they recognize the size and dark beauty of the wall, but the immensity of the it soon sinks in. Looking one way, the Washington Monument points skyward, but seems to be little more than a sign post pointing to heaven. Visitors may chatter, reading names, looking for loved ones, or simply marveling at the 58,286 names inscribed on The Wall. A wall that is 493 feet in length, and a bit over 10 feet tall at the highest point.

As one stands, taking it in, voices will still, or one’s awareness of them will wane. Either way, there is a feeling of magnificence and stillness that grows the longer one contemplates the meaning of this place. After the peace, after the silence, after the reverence, then on can look for a name engraved on the wall. Finding the name, most will kneel or stand before it, remembering and experiencing the moment.

My words cannot convey the true feeling of standing in that spot. The feeling that envelopes one while reading the names of those lost to the ravages of war. Everyone’s experience will be different, depending on who they are and why they are visiting. I can however, share something with you that might give you a taste of that feeling. The link below is a tribute to some of the names on that wall, and their comrades who made it home.

More than a Name

© OneOldCop – 2017

Posted in National Defense, Patriotism, Veterans, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , ,