Once Upon a Time…the news

In spite of the title, this is not a fairy tale. Though, it might fall into the horror genre if it were a work of fiction. It begins with the tragic death of eighteen young servicemen in 1958 and ends with a sad commentary on the condition of the world in which we live.

It was Thursday, March 27, 1958, when the lives of eighteen members of the United States armed forces came to a horrifying end on Texas farmland. Reports concerning the incident indicate it was an overcast day with low hanging clouds and limited visibility. One of the planes reportedly deviated from its assigned altitude and collided with the second plane.

I remember this tragedy for various reasons. Most important, to me at least, my dad was the first television station reporter to make it to the crash site. His film of the incident was the first to be broadcast locally, and some of the story was sold to ABC television and Movietone News. Dad was sort of famous for a minute or two.

My dad’s short-lived, local fame is not the important part of this story. The servicemen killed in the crash were important, especially to their families, but even they are not the important part of this story. The important part is what did not happen as a result of this incident.

Two military aircraft collided over a north Texas town with debris almost killing a local farmer while he was plowing a field. Eighteen young men in various branches of the service were killed, and the incident made the national, possibly world, news as Movietone was shown all over the world in those days. It was a big deal in some ways, but once the news footage had been seen, the story went away.

There were no congressional committees. There was no continuous coverage of grieving parents demanding answers from authorities. There were no tabloid stories of foreign plots, suicidal pilots, or conspiracy theories. There was simply a news report, with the facts of what happened. There was no ill-conceived late night comedy skit about the tragedy, and no op-ed pieces seeking to blame one political group or another for the event.

With that said, let me move to 2019. This tragedy, and resulting lack of hubbub at the time, all came back to me the other day during my treadmill time. As is my practice, I was watching several morning “news” programs while working out. During a commercial break, an ad I ignored in the past caught my attention. The actors in the ad were touting the fact this was a new form of news delivery and was news from all sides.

I have no idea why I flashed back to the 1958 airplane crash. For whatever reason I did, and it was, in my mind at least, a stark comparison to what passes for news today. Added to the idea, that an online news source is claiming to provide news from all sides, one should be able to see the problem the United States and the world face today.

As a tweet I noticed while researching this piece stated, “News has no sides.” Ideally, news should be the accurate reporting of what happened. That is no longer the case. I can only imagine what the coverage of the crash above might have sounded like if it had occurred today.

One reporter would comment that the racial and gender imbalance of the victims was likely due to unpopular policies established by a fascist command structure. Another might have noted the C124 was built by Douglas Aircraft Company, which had an ongoing dispute with its unions. Someone else would pick up that bit of information, and postulate the dispute might have led to sabotage or shoddy work.

Another might report the builder of the C119, Fairchild Aircraft, was possibly being investigated for supplying substandard electronics to repair facilities. Of course, someone would have pointed out the weather was sub-optimal and the planes were only being flown in such conditions to support the military-industrial complex which was orchestrating the unrest in certain parts of the world.

We live in a world today where journalism is simply another form of creative writing. Instead of reporting the facts of a matter, journalists now tell stories that may include factual data, but also include their analyses and unconfirmed information from third-party sources. Additionally, as we now know from the confession of more than one writer or source, some so-called news is almost completely fabricated.

© oneoldcop.com – 2019

Posted in Journalism, Politics, social media, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Living With the Past?

On this date fifty years ago, David Charles Marshall Jackson took his last breath. He was one of thirteen men who lost their lives on that nasty February night.1

For most of the country, they are a handful of names among the more than 52,000 inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial, soldiers only a few remember. For a few others, including this writer, they are more.

Those thirteen men included brothers, sons, friends, drinking buddies, and maybe fathers. The oldest was thirty-one, the youngest eighteen. It is certain they all looked forward to life after Vietnam.

Whether they looked forward to seeing loved ones, starting careers, a career in the Army, starting families, or just hanging out at the local bar having a cold one, they had dreams. Those dreams and the dreams of the those they left at home died that night. I know. David was my little brother.

David dreamed of coming home and starting a family. His mom dreamed of having her younger son back in the United States and not fearing every unexpected knock at the door.  I dreamed of getting to know the man my snot-nosed kid brother grew into after moving with our dad years before.

I am confident the others who died that night, as well as the ones they left behind, had similar dreams. However, this piece is not being written exclusively in memory of David, his fallen comrades, or the loss their families suffered. This piece is being written for the veterans who made it home and may still be dealing with the loss of the thirteen remembered here or some of the other 52,000 names on that wall.

Many of the names on the Vietnam memorial are little more than fading or faded memories. Friends have moved on, parents have died, siblings have allowed their memories to disappear because they are painful or were replaced by other losses and challenges.

For some, that is the only way to deal with the loss. They hide it or stuff it in the back of the mind to be remembered once a year, if that often. For others, those names and faces may never really fade. For them, a regular everyday activity may bring back the memory of a smiling face in a faded photograph hidden away in the attic. In some cases, those memories are a comfort. In others, they bring guilt, loss, or emptiness.

Over the years I have been honored to work with or know many combat veterans. Over that time, I have come to know their stories, their challenges, and the pain some carry with them decades later. I have written about this before, most recently in One Day at a Time, and today I feel the need to make one more point.

If David and many others on that wall, could talk to us today they would say something short and to the point. They would appreciate being remembered, but they might be concerned if their loss was still causing feelings of guilt and pain after all these years.

David and the others on the wall would tell friends and family to quit remembering what happened to them. Instead, remember them the way they were the last time they shared drinks, swapped lies, or made jokes about some hotshot young officer.

 


  1. For more about that night, see Lest We Forget and Run Silent, Run Deep

 

© OneOldCop.com – 2019

Posted in National Defense, Patriotism, Veterans, Vietnam | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Holy (sounding) Crap!

One of my former theology professors might take umbrage at the title of this piece. As I wrote some time ago, the professor had a problem with slang and euphemisms. Still, there are times when one needs to make a point, and this is one of those times.

Both of my writing personas are a bit put out with the pious, judgmental online finger pointing by some who call themselves Christian. To be specific, these are the folks who post or share memes, snarky comments, and outright criticism of other Christians who disagree with them over social and political issues. While this is in no way a new phenomenon, it is frustrating. In fact, I touched on this matter some years ago in a piece dealing with taxes.

That piece was inspired by people accusing Christians of being hypocrites or worse if they objected to the government taxing them to “help the poor and needy.” A later post, comparing Jesus to middle eastern refugees was inspired by similar attacks on Christians opposed to open borders, chain migration, and accepting asylum seekers who could not be vetted.

Today, some on the left are again attacking Christians who oppose the open borders philosophy being pushed by many so-called progressives. In this case, the critics are using the crisis caused by thousands of Central Americans attempting to force their way into the United States along our southern border. Those in favor of such uncontrolled immigration, or just opposed to anything one might consider conservative, are once again distorting scripture and casting stones at those who believe borders should be secure.

Usually, the best way to deal with such social media criticism is to ignore it. Or, as a last resort, quit following or unfriend the offending source. In this case, it seems ignoring the catcalls and derision is not an adequate way to address the issue.

To be clear, the Bible states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NIV) That can mean one should simply turn the other cheek to such attacks, simply walk away, or click the “unfriend” icon. In the cases inspiring this piece, that does not seem appropriate.

Many of those attacking opponents to open immigration are claiming to be Christian. Not only are they claiming to be, or implying they are, Christians, some are members of the clergy in one form or another. With that said, this writer has no problem with someone standing in his or her pulpit stating an opinion on an issue that might be considered political.

Pastors regularly stand up against abortion, and that, to much of the world, is a political or societal issue, not a religious issue. On the other hand, a pastor, lay or ordained, a priest, or theologian saying or posting remarks questioning another’s faith over a political issue such as immigration is a bit much. No! It is more than just a bit much. It is a bit of holy sounding crap.

Take for example one of the posts that was the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back and inspiring this piece. “Real Christians would be waiting for the caravan with food, water, clothing, and offering any help needed.” This post, by someone who apparently spends more time on social media than most people spend at their jobs, was shared over 100K times and garnered more than 800 comments. A sampling of the comments seemed to indicate most were just as mocking of Christians as the author intended. Funny though. None of the comments and nothing else one can find on social media suggests anyone in this gaggle of trolls packed up and headed to the border, with or without food and water.

My rather long-winded point is this. The author of this comment, the person who brought his post to my attention, and many others are quick to condemn anyone thinking open borders is a problem. If the person in favor of controlled immigration is a Christian, open border advocates are quick to label the Christian a hypocrite or worse. Yet, as far as it is possible to determine in this situation, they do little more than share inflammatory posts, push their particular view of Scripture, and look down their noses at anyone who disagrees with them.

© oneoldcop.com – 2019

Posted in Christianity, Civility, Daily Life, Politics, social media | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Seriously Folks?

Whether one agrees with terms such as fake news, alternative facts, liberal bias, left-wing propaganda, right-wing propaganda, or fair and balanced, most people capable of comprehending the English language realize journalistic standards are a thing of yesteryear. It is unlikely journalism was ever as fair and balanced or truly objective as some would like to think. There were, after all, human beings involved in reporting the news, and objectivity is not humanity’s strong-suit.

With that said, the half-time show for the prime-time example of team somnambulism, Super Bowl LIII, provided an outrageous example of the depths to which the media will descend in 2019. Before the event, I hate to call it a game, there was a constant barrage of “will they” or “won’t they” concerning half-time. After the event, reporters, pundits, and others hyped, twisted, and ranted about one facet or another of the matchup, musical performances, and the question of Tom Brady appearing to plant one on Robert Kraft’s lips.

About here, you might be saying to yourself, “What’s the big deal? The media always tries to turn an event into a circus if possible.” Of course, you would be correct in some ways, but in one way you may be missing a matter of concern. The United States, and possibly much of the world, is now occupied by human beings who are incapable of displaying one iota of common sense.

I know! That last sentence sounds a bit extreme. Still, I feel there is ample reason to believe it is indeed the case. Consider one of the hottest topics of discussion from the halftime show. That would be, of course, Adam Levine’s nipples.

Yes, if you fell asleep during the most boring Super Bowl in history and are finally waking up, Adam took off his shirt. In doing so, he created a stir and controversy the likes of which has not been heard since a past president swore he did not have sex with “that woman.”

After all, Adam intentionally removed his shirt, displaying his tats and breast for all to see. Poor Janet Jackson, according to one post, was “blackballed” for her “accidental” wardrobe malfunction during a half time show fourteen years ago. How could life, and the NFL, be so unfair and discriminatory!

According to multiple online news sources, social media “blew up” with outrage over Levine’s antics. I suppose that might be true if one considers a handful of tweets shared in the multiple posts citing one entertainment article covering the matter constitutes “blowing up.” Still, the very fact multiple sources repeated the story, and it was prominently displayed on various online news homepages means someone thought it was of significant interest.

In some ways, it is easy to see why people writing for the plethora of so-called news outlets competing for the browsing public’s attention would find the story newsworthy. What other story of the day would allow one to write copy mentioning, Adam Levine, Janet Jackson, the Super Bowl, and breasts in a few hundred words? Oh, yes! That piece would also allow the writer to express the outrage everyone should feel over the disparate treatment of public breast bearing by individuals based on their gender.

Seriously! It is easy to understand why someone would write an article or post of discussing Adam’s showcasing of this tats and his abs. Since he and Maroon 5 refused to turn their part of the half-time show into a political statement as many hoped, this gave writers something to say, which brings me to the alleged tweets and posts disparaging Levine for his actions.

Were those reported posts truly the spontaneous commentary of startled fans? If that is true, it says more about society than the state of journalism in the country today. One would hope these posts were more professional or volunteer trolls hoping to stir the pot to achieve fifteen seconds of internet fame or increase their followers.

It is possible some otherwise rational individuals would take offense at the acceptance of Adam’s topless performance due to some warped sense of equal rights. It is possible, but the idea that others would take those people seriously enough to repeat their comments is scary.

On the other hand, one has to hope the comment, “Now I have to explain to my children that adam levine [sic] has nipples,” was an attempt at satire. If that person was serious, parenthood is in more trouble than journalism. Unless of course, those children have never been to the beach, a swimming pool, or seen “The Jungle Book.”

© oneoldcop.com – 2019

Posted in Daily Life, Entertainment, Family Vaules, Journalism | Tagged , , , , ,

Blood, Sweat, and Beer: Revisited

A few of OneOldCop’s old rugby family were waxing nostalgic on Facebook the other day.  I toyed with the idea of posting something new about their musings, but in a day or two another post popped up from another old warrior.  When the third appeared, I decided something new was unnecessary and decided to update and share a piece I wrote some years ago.  

Blood, Sweat, and Beer

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Prayer and Predation: Part 1

My alter ego, AnOldSinner, published “Prayer and Predation: Part 1” just after the new year. I am linking to it here as it should be of interest from a societal and law enforcement sense as well as a church or spiritual point of view.

It discusses what I feel is a sexual abuse problem in churches no one wants to address.

Prayer and Predation

 

Posted in Christianity, Daily Life, Law Enforcement, Morality, Police, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Of Signs and Coincidences

Do you believe in signs? In times past, OneOldCop was not what you would call a big advocate of looking for signs from God, the universe, the stars, or other prophetic sources one might consult. I was convinced, as many are, that such phenomena are wishful thinking, random chance, or flat out lies. Then in the throes of a personal crisis many moons ago, I asked God for a sign. I have not asked for one since.

This was shortly after I found my way back to my Christian roots. One could argue I was swayed by my shift from hostile skeptic to someone seeking a closer relationship with Jesus or God if you prefer. While I accept that possibility, I do not believe it, this was too clear, too timely, and too convicting. Also, it was exactly what I did not want to hear. Yet, it turned out to be the sign I needed.

I do still ask for guidance at times. By that, I do not expect a hand to materialize and write on the wall, nor do I expect an angel to appear and tell me what to do. If you are hardcore skeptic about such things, think of it as a form of meditation or self-talk. Whatever it is, talking and praying to God over the years I have seen, heard, and felt things that led me to make solid decisions, feel confident I was on the right track, or change courses entirely.

The potentially disquieting aspect of signs, omens, portents, or prophetic occurrences is when they pop up on their own, so to speak. You know, what I mean.  You are driving down the road and something catches your eye. It might be something you’ve seen dozens of times, but suddenly it reminds you of a promise, obligation, task, or dirty job you successfully ignored or suppressed for some time.  I experienced such a moment this holiday season.

This little episode of what-is-going-on-here started in a relatively straightforward fashion. Our Austin family; daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren; came to spend a few days before Christmas. It was a pleasant surprise of sorts, as they normally came to see us after Christmas.  However, this year things were different.

Our son-in-law lost his father a few months ago. To make matters worse, he lost his mother the year before. Before the loss of his parents, the tradition was to spend Christmas at his family home and come to ours after Christmas.  It was an arrangement we completely understood.  Heck, we would have loved to spend Christmas with his folks at their home in the Texas Hill Country. So, having the Austin branch of our family with us at Christmas time was a mixed blessing for a couple of reasons.

The loss of his father resulted in a massive amount of work and trouble for our son-in-law and the rest of the family. His father and mother did a great job planning for the end that awaits us all.  Still, dealing with the matter was not easy, and the problems encountered led to a strange Christmas time meeting.  We spent a good deal of time the weekend before Christmas talking about End-of-Life issues. Sing Noel? Not!

Truthfully, our daughter and son-in-law’s concerns were understandable. If something happened to one of us, the other would likely need help, and they believed it was essential to make sure we understood the problems that could arise if the paperwork was incomplete, mistakes were made, proper planning was not done, etc. They were hoping to save the survivor, and themselves, as much effort as possible.

On the other hand, I’ve always thought the confusion and hassle one’s passing creates for his or her offspring is just a bit of payback for all the worry lines and gray hair they caused. Dubious efforts at wittiness aside, we had a decent discussion.

I am currently in the middle of duplicating numerous documents, directives, and records they will need if their mother or I should fail to wake up some morning. If that were the end of the story, you would not be reading this, which brings me to the question of signs and coincidences.

Checking email these days in my world is mostly a matter of deleting spam, offers from companies wanting to sell me something, have me sell something for them, help me increase my sales, keep my clients happy, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! Two days after Christmas I took a break from scanning copies of wills, financials, insurance, and other miscellanies, to check email.  Almost immediately, two subject headings caught my eye.

One was from our Medicare Advantage program. The subject line read, “4 Smart Ways to Prepare for Your Own Funeral.” The other was from a senior citizen’s organization, and the subject line was, “Five Things You Should Know About Long-Term Care Insurance.” They were emailed within minutes of each other that morning.

I know! It is just a coincidence.  I am, after all, in that age range, and these entities must justify their existence by smothering clients, patients, and prospects with information. Receiving the emails at this time makes some sense, but the timing makes it hard to write off as serendipity. Our family decided to bring this subject up at Christmas of all times, and I have been immersed in this since Christmas Eve. Now, I have two emails discussing two topics we discussed in some detail over the last few days.

Is this a sign that my time is coming soon? Is it a matter of chance? Probably not either of those. Most likely, I was attuned to the topic. Instead of dumping these emails into their respective folders for future reference, I thought, “What does this mean?” Of course, perhaps the sign is my awareness of the possibility. Either way, it could be God, or the universal mind reminding me I am not immortal.

Most of us do not wish to contemplate the inevitable. We would rather have it be a surprise, and possibly go out with a smile on our face thinking about the mess we left for the kids to clean up. The reality is none of us are guaranteed the next breath, much less tomorrow. Failure to plan for our absence is not something any of us should strive to achieve. Preferably, at any age, we need to understand we have a responsibility to those we may leave behind at any minute.

We should make satisfying that responsibility a New Year’s resolution. One we keep!

© oneoldcop.com – 2019

Posted in Daily Life, Family Vaules, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment