Just when you thought our political leaders could not divide us any further, they have now turned on themselves. Right now, both parties are dealing with internal conflicts. The Democrats are struggling between the so called “progressives” (I still believe they are not using that term correctly) and the “moderates.” One recent difference is between how to respond to problems in Israel. As for the Republicans, they seem to have the bigger conflict right now, as seen by the removal of Liz Chaney from Republican leadership over her beliefs about Trump. Historically speaking, this is not new. During the Republicans’ most dominant period in history, they twice splintered into competing factions and both times allowed the Democrats to crack their control of the White House.
There have been two great runs in political history, one by each party, but the Republicans had the larger of the two. Between Abraham Lincoln who won in 1860 and FDR who won in 1932 and ended the Republican’s run, there were only two Democratic presidents. In other words, for a 72-year span, Republicans controlled 64 years and Democrats only eight. Yet instead of being satisfied with their dominance, the Republicans split into factions.
During the Gilded Age (1870s-early 1900s), three Republican factions emerged, two revolving around prominent figures. The first group were the Mugwumps. In a time of political corruption, mostly from the spoils system or rewarding political supporters, the Mugwumps were calling for reform. They wanted to see civil service exams so government jobs could be based on merit instead of patronage. The Mugwumps were the weakest of the divisions.
Then there were the Stalwarts, led by the very powerful New York Senator Roscoe Conklin. These were the most traditionalist who wanted to keep the spoils system intact. It was this group that supported a third term for President Grant because they were profiting from the corruption in his administration. Finally, there were the Half-Breeds, led by the most powerful of them all, the Senator from Maine James Blaine. They took a page from the Mugwumps and called for reform, but in reality, they were no different than the Stalwarts, except they wanted Blaine as president.
The Republican party was able to stay together in 1880 when it compromised with Garfield, a Half-Breed presidential nominee who was not Blaine and Chester Arthur, a Stalwart for V.P. The partnership did not last long as Garfield was assassinated by what many thought was a Stalwart plot. However, before Garfield died, he pushed for some civil service reforms. When Arthur took over, he went against his own faction and pushed through the Pendleton Civil Service Act. Pendleton was a good start but not enough for the Mugwumps.
In the 1884 election, one of the more interesting that I have discussed many times, the Half-Breeds were tired of messing around. They dumped Arthur and succeeded in running Blaine for president. The Democrats took advantage of Blaine’s ties to corruption and cover-ups by courting the Mugwump vote when they ran a true reformer in Grover Cleveland. The move gave the Democrats just enough votes for the rare victory.
The next couple of elections danced around some as the Republicans took back the White House in 1888, only to lose again to Cleveland in 1892. Starting in 1896 the Republicans regained their control with McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, then Taft. However, even though the old three-way split in the party had dissolved some time earlier, a new division had grown by the 1912 election. Teddy Roosevelt left office after a term-and-a-half, and he handpicked his successor to follow through with his progressive reforms. (These were the real progressives, who wanted reform but slow moderate changes.)
By this point, both parties were divided between progressive and moderate wings. Complicating matters was that there were more internal conflicts than external between groups. The problem was TR’s replacement, who, though a good progressive, was willing to compromise too much with the moderates for TR’s liking. In 1912, Roosevelt decided to retake his party and ran for the presidency. Yet when Taft was re-nominated instead, TR stole away the progressive wing of his party and formed a third party, the Progressive Party, which became better known by the best party name in history, the Bull Moose Party. Of course, with the Republicans divided, the Democrats ran their own progressive, Woodrow Wilson, and won.
We will have to watch over the next few years to see if history will repeat itself. Will the divide between the progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party sink the party’s chances for reelection? If Trump runs again, will he cause a third-party split from the Republican party led by Republicans like Chaney and Romney. Time will tell, but, historically speaking, this could be a bumpy couple of years ahead for both parties.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at Historicallyspeaking.blog.
‘Right to Life’ – or Condemned to Death?
You have no idea of the detrimental results of the recent overturn of Roe vs Wade. There will be plenty of reports for you to read in medical journals, newspapers etc. such as:
The increase of infant mortality (already high compared with other industrialized countries).
The increase of women’s deaths due to complications because of a lack of adequate prenatal and post-delivery care of mothers and newborns.
The increase of deaths because of laws being passed where certain medical procedures are denied because of a lack of understanding of complications of pregnancies.
The decline of OB-GYN specialists will continue as laws prevent them from properly treating their patients, and malpractice insurance costs soar.
Women, once again, will be put in desperate situations that give them no choice but to take matters into their own hands. Some will survive but others will die of excessive bleeding or infection.
The majority of people today support birth control and women’s rights to choose. If you don’t, follow your religious beliefs, but do not force your beliefs on me or the majority of people of this nation.
If you want to protect the living, add mental health care with health insurance, increase psychiatric units for longer stays and incentives for people to enter this needed field – and pass real gun safety laws.
After these things are done, maybe you will have earned the right to say “I AM A RIGHT TO LIFE PERSON”.
(Editor’s note: Mrs. Poulson is a retired nurse, former Front Royal resident, and WCHS graduate.)
The White House Plumbers (Watergate-50 Years Later)
Some of us are ancient enough to remember the Watergate burglary that brought down the President of the United States 50 years ago, June 17, 1972. The burglary became the ostensible reason for President Richard Nixon’s political downfall. Shortly after the burglary, Nixon’s handlers initiated a series of schemes to insulate the White House from responsibility for the bungled political espionage plot. No one knows if Nixon ordered the Watergate break-in or if he was aware of it beforehand – but we do know that he participated in covering it up or ‘containing’ information once it occurred.
In hindsight, the intelligence gathering mission against the Democrats wasn’t necessary at all and revealed that Nixon’s paranoia had gotten the best of him in the end. Nixon ended up winning the 1972 Presidential Election by a landslide margin against George McGovern. Unfortunately, this incident consumed his remaining time in office and ruined what till then had been a rather impressive presidential legacy. This tale is steeped in intrigue and has been portrayed in various movies and tons of books over the last 50 years. Allow me to provide a small Cliff Notes version for now. It all started with the White House “Plumbers”.
The White House Plumbers: Late in 1971, Attorney General John Mitchell and White House chief of staff H. R. “Bob” Haldeman decided that J. Gordon Liddy should be given the green light to lead an espionage program against the Democrats at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Office Complex.
Gordon Liddy had a colorful past and was one of several men referred to as “the Plumbers” for their ability to “stop leaks” in the White House. Amongst White House staffers, these men were referred to by several names: The Plumbers, The Room 16 Project, and more officially, the White House Special Investigations Unit.
The Plumbers were a covert White House unit created to respond to the infamous leaking of the “Pentagon Papers” that revealed the secret U.S. expansion of the war in Vietnam. At the time, that was an enormous embarrassment and the resulting public outcry threatened to impede Nixon’s re-election. There is one thing that every first-term president wants and that is a second term. With that in mind, the Plumbers transitioned their efforts to assisting the Committee to Re-elect the President.
Gordon Liddy – became general counsel on the Committee to Re-elect the President and worked with Campaign political-intelligence operations. John Ehrlichman, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs and Special Investigations Unit gave the Okay for Liddy’s intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats during the 1972 election year.
During the pre-dawn hours of June 17, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard Baker and James McCord were apprehended by guards while installing electronic listening devices in the national Democratic Party campaign offices located in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. Liddy controlled this operation from another location. A phone number found on the burglars led reporters to E. Howard Hunt, a man that worked for the White House. Soon tips started coming in to reporters within the Washington Post. Bob Woodward, a reporter working for the Post, was assigned the story. He was subsequently informed by a secret source that senior aides of President Nixon had directed these men to obtain information about Nixon’s political opponents. At this point, the story took on a life of its own with unimaginable consequences and intrigue. Woodward began working with a fellow Washington Post reporter, Carl Bernstein on the Watergate case. As time went by, their secret source became known as Deep Throat. But where pray tell did Deep Throat get his information? That piece of the puzzle was a secret that intrigued Washington for the next 30 years. The results of this steady supply of information mesmerized the nation while the U.S. was engrossed in getting out of Vietnam and in the wake of Nixon’s strategic overtures with Mao Tse-Tung’s Red China.
Deep Throat: Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward pursued the Watergate burglary story for two years – stoking the public’s thirst periodically with juicy information coming from within the White House – provided by their informant – Deep Throat. The continuous volume of damning information positively drove the President and his cabinet out of their minds. They could not figure out how the Washington Post was getting the information and accusations and finger pointing mounted.
Soon many of the President’s inner circle began turning on each other. One of them, White House counsel John Dean, fearful that he was being made a scapegoat – resigned. Soon after, he exchanged leniency for testimony against his former Nixon aides. By now, the country was in a frenzy with ongoing congressional investigations revealing wrongdoing and a cover up. As more and more evidence mounted, the scandal eventually implicated many members of Nixon’s White House, culminating in Nixon becoming the first United States president to resign.
Woodward and Bernstein wrote a book about the Watergate drama a few years later entitled, All the President’s Men. It was followed by a movie thriller with the same name starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein. In the book, they noted that key information in their investigation had come from an anonymous informant whom they dubbed “Deep Throat”. The transition of information from the informant to the reporters was rather elaborate and clandestine. Woodward and Deep Throat often met in secret at an underground garage at 1401 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, VA at 2 a.m.
Today, a historical marker is at the location. Interestingly, Deep Throat’s identity remained secret for more than 30 years and was one of the biggest mysteries in American politics until 2003. Woodward and Bernstein insisted that they would not reveal his identity until he died or consented to reveal it. Alas on May 31, 2005, former FBI agent, Mark Felt revealed that he was Deep Throat in an article published in Vanity Fair magazine. Felt was a highly placed FBI agent and had access to all FBI investigative findings surrounding the Watergate drama. His disdain for the Nixon administration prompted his actions. Shortly after Felt’s confession, Woodward and Bernstein corroborated the fact and detailed their relationship with him in Woodward’s book, The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat.
The “Smoking Gun” – White House Tapes: President Nixon secretly recorded tapes of daily conversations and phone calls during his administration – presumably for posterity purposes. The tapes Nixon made of his White House meetings became a central element in the drama when their existence was leaked to the press. Investigators wanted access to them. The White House resisted. Later, the White House gave up some of them grudgingly but refused to release all of them. When one tape was found to have an 18 minute gap, the public immediately assumed the President was erasing key information about the Watergate burglary cover-up.
This prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to direct Nixon to turn over all of the tapes. The result was the discovery of the “smoking gun” long sought by prosecutors. One of the tapes revealed a conversation that occurred just a few days after the break-in in which Nixon discussed with H.R. Haldeman a plan to have the CIA tell the FBI to stay clear of the situation because it involved national security. It proved that Nixon himself was involved in the cover-up. With impeachment looming on the horizon, after being told by key Republican Congressmen they now supported that impeachment, Nixon resigned from office.
When the dust cleared: Watergate is usually considered shorthand for a story about five burglars caught in the midst of a covert operation to impact the outcome of the 1972 presidential election. Yet the reality of the case is obviously much larger than that.
First, the burglars went to jail. J Gordon Liddy — along with Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzales, E. Howard Hunt, Eugenio Martinez, James McCord and Frank Sturgis – were all indicted in 1972 by a grand jury for involvement in the break-in at the DNC headquarters. In 1973, Liddy and former CIA employee James McCord, security director of the Committee to Re-elect the President, were found guilty of conspiracy, burglary and bugging the DNC headquarters. They went to jail. Next the President’s inner circle were found guilty.
The full scope of Watergate boggles our mind. By the time the scandal’s flames had finished consuming Richard Nixon’s administration, 69 people had been charged with crimes, including two of Nixon’s Cabinet secretaries, Attorney General John Mitchell and Commerce Secretary Maurice Stans. Nearly all pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial. The White House tapes implicated dozens of companies, from Goodyear to American Airlines for illegally financing Nixon’s reelection campaign. Nixon aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were subsequently convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice by other White House disclosures – largely from John Dean’s testimony. All of the aides served jail time as well.
The evidence that forced Nixon to resign — the famous “smoking gun” conversation — proved that Nixon tried to prevent the FBI from investigating the matter by lying about it. The tapes and subsequent testimonies from aides also revealed that Nixon approved giving hush money to Watergate conspirators. Simply put, that’s obstruction of justice. But how high White House involvement went in planning the break-in was never established. Given the scale and breadth of the crime and corruption that surrounded Nixon’s presidency, it’s all the more surprising that no one was ever charged with ordering the burglary of the DNC.
Today most of the key players in the Watergate drama have passed on but we do have a few that are still with us. Only John Dean survives from the Nixon inner circle, but both reporters, Woodward and Bernstein are still around. Meanwhile, you can be sure the Washington Post and the Watergate Hotel will take time out to commemorate the 50th anniversary Friday on June 17, 2022.
Now you know.
Congress Needs New Leadership – Vote June 21
Congress has a 14 percent approval rating. Nearly everyone agrees that Congress needs new leadership, yet Americans keep reelecting incumbents. Virginia’s 6th district has been dominated by the same political machine since 1993. In that time, our district had just two Congressmen. The second Congressman, Ben Cline, was Chief of Staff to the previous Congressman. Rep. Cline has never faced a primary challenger. He was installed as his boss’s successor in a convention and without the input of voters. Ironically, Rep. Cline talks about wanting to drain the swamp. Well, I’m here to help him do that. I’m Merritt Hale and I’m running to bring new leadership to our 6th district. I’d like to tell you why I’m running for office and how my views and values differ from those of Rep. Cline.
I was born and raised in Virginia. I graduated from the University of Virginia and then served as a Naval Officer. I now work as a systems engineer supporting the intelligence community. What inspired me to run for office was my father. He was a 20-year Navy veteran who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014. After seven incredibly difficult and frustrating years, my dad passed away last Christmas Eve. While this was obviously a very hard time for my family, what made it even worse was dealing with all of the bureaucratic inefficacy surrounding the health care system, including the VA. You shouldn’t need a Ph.D. in government bureaucracy and tax codes to be able to take care of a dying loved one. One’s political affiliation doesn’t change the fact that we will all need end-of-life care at some point and that the current system is broken.
While Congress created these agencies, it continues to abdicate its duty to fix them. Congress’s lack of action on healthcare, elder care, veteran’s issues, and the devastating impact this had on our family, was what first inspired me to run for office. I then looked into what Congress was doing to help people in our 6th district. We need infrastructure to support agriculture and industry, we need funding for high-speed internet, and we need funding to maintain and expand I-81. We’ve all driven on I-81 and know that two lanes simply aren’t getting the job done. Virginia’s 6th district needs new representation focused on representing the needs of its constituents, which is why I’m running for office. There are two main staples of leadership I will bring to the office which aren’t currently being employed: proactive leadership and servant leadership.
Whether dealing with foreign policy issues or issues at home such as ballooning inflation impacting everything from gasoline to grocery costs, we need leaders that will proactively address issues before they become problems. Ben Cline is a reactionary politician who addresses every issue by blaming Biden, Pelosi, or the Squad. He blamed Biden for the invasion of Ukraine but espoused essentially the same solution as Biden before the invasion! Taking American deterrence off the table by guaranteeing no American response resulted in disastrous results. Ronald Reagan had a superior approach to peace through strength. Cline-Biden had it wrong with strategic weakness. Rep. Cline never addressed our need to be energy independent. Russia has leveraged its oil reserves, causing our petroleum prices to soar and inflation has skyrocketed, leaving our citizens to try to navigate an increasingly rocky economy. I addressed all of these issues prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I’m tired of reactionary politicians who do nothing but blame others, yet provide absolutely no solutions or leadership.
Rep. Cline has also flipped-flopped on Ukraine more times than I can count. Most recently he voted to send $40 billion of taxpayer money to Ukraine for a war that could have been prevented in the first place. His vote is all the more confusing because Rep. Cline often votes against programs that could help Americans at home. For example, he voted against the PAWs act which would cost $10 million over four years and provide service dogs to wounded veterans. I’ve personally seen how veterans aren’t receiving the care they deserve for protecting our country. I have friends who have died in service to this country, and I have people close to me who suffer from PTSD. While I believe we should help Ukraine to succeed against Russia, there are far more effective ways to do so than a $40 billion giveaway when Americans are struggling with high gas prices, inflation, and a baby formula shortage.
In addition to proactive leadership, we also need servant leadership. This means we need leaders who are willing to stand up for what they believe in and be transparent with their constituents. Rep. Cline has held just three in-person town hall since 2020. To date, he has refused to debate me. How can he stand up to the politicians in Washington if he refuses to debate opponents or face his own constituents?
When I’m elected, I will hold regular town halls, I will sincerely listen to the voices of my constituents, and I will be transparent and consistent in my goals for moving forward. If you’re going to hide behind the establishment and refuse to debate your opponent or interact with your constituents, it is clear that you’re not working for the people you represent, you’re in it for yourself. That’s not the type of leader our sixth district needs.
My background as a Navy veteran, a systems engineer, and a Washington outsider will bring a unique perspective to Congress and our country’s overall health. I encourage all registered voters in the 6th district to please go vote on June 21, because that’s the only way to effect change and get new leaders in office. Otherwise, we will be back with the status quo and the 14 percent approval ratings of a do-nothing Congress.
VA 6th District Candidate
Warren County Sheriff’s Office Community Advisory Council (CAC) is looking for new members and new leaders
The WCSO CAC was established in July 2020, as the Covid-19 virus was raging and everyone was trying to figure out how to deal with it, continue working, and persevere. The first meeting was just to get acquainted with all the applicants and to begin the process of nominating officers. We were all masked and we all abided by the social distancing protocols. It was comical but constructive nonetheless. We’ve come a very long since then.
The first official meeting was in August 2020 and during that meeting, the current chair and vice-chair were elected and the CAC got to work. The CAC officers were elected to 2-year terms. The role of the CAC is twofold. The members represent all the different areas of the county and the Town of Front Royal in bringing community concerns to the attention of the sheriff’s office, and they also receive updates on all the initiatives and operations of the WCSO on a bi-monthly basis. The CAC meetings are not a place for people to come and vent or register complaints (the WCSO has a very good process for that) but rather for the free exchange of information on issues and topics that are important to the community. The CAC meets on the third Thursday, every other month. The current secretary assumed that duty in early 2021 when the original secretary had to step down due to personal reasons.
I was fortunate and humbled to be elected as the first chair of the CAC and I have truly enjoyed the time and commitment. Getting the CAC going and organized has been rewarding and fun. Since its establishment two years ago the CAC has assisted the WCSO in applying for a grant to hire more deputies; endorsed its application for accreditation as a Certified Crime Prevention Community which, if approved, would make Warren County one of only 13 in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia with that certification (and enable the WCSO to apply for many more grants); and challenged the WCSO leadership when incidents demanded it. The WCSO has always been willing to share any relevant information with the CAC members, within legal guidelines, and has offered all the CAC members the opportunity to “ride-along” with deputies after proper coordination.
There is much work left to be done and I am excited about the future of the CAC, the WCSO, and Warren County in general. That’s why I am asking that the people of this beautiful community think about becoming members of the Community Advisory Council. We meet for two hours, once every two months. It’s not a large time commitment, but a very worthwhile and rewarding one. It’s a great way to give back to the community in a small but meaningful way. I’ve enjoyed my time as the chair immensely, but my term is just about to expire and it’s time for me to hand off the duty to a new chair. I intend to remain active on the CAC but as a member, not the chair. If there is one area I really would love to see improve, it is to grow the membership of the CAC from its current 13 members to at least 20.
The next meeting of the CAC is on Thursday, June 16, 2022, at 6 PM. We meet at the Warren County Public Safety Building in the meeting room. We hope to see you there. The CAC needs you.
Chair, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Community Advisory Council
Right and left. Have you ever been stuck with your mouth open upon hearing a longtime next-door neighbor proclaim that the only way to reduce crime is to defund or eliminate the police, or that vaccines kill more than they help, to which he or she will insist statistics bear this or that out and claim that everyone but you know these are facts? If anything like this has happened to you, you’ve been “fringed”.
A “fringe” is an in-your-face, absurd statement propagated by a “fringer” on the right or left to shock the fringed into speechlessness, disbelief, and submission, or maybe just to get attention by stirring the pot with dogma venom. Fringe is derived from the far ends of political ideology found swirling at the edges of reason – “the fringes”. As such, fringe is no longer a noun, verb, or any other part of speech. It’s something new that we have never as a country experienced before.
Extremists fringe, embracing rumors as truths to be passed on as facts. The shock of blank disbelief in the eyes of the fringed is the reward, perhaps momentarily satisfying the fringer’s craving for feelings of superiority.
The fringer’s moral compass is not set to anything. Fringing isn’t a struggle for ideas that make our world better. It’s about power for its own sake, over others, over us.
Fringe is like the “ick” factor. Even if a fringer doesn’t touch you, you still have to wash the fringe off. Two hot showers may be necessary after 10 minutes of AOC’s progressive wish list, or five minutes of Tucker Carlson and replacement theory. Fringers smell like ambition.
The more preposterous the fringe, the more aggressive the presentation – little dog stuff. The stain from a fringer’s insistence that Biden lost the election may never wash off.
The pious displays of Trump and Cruz are fringe miracles. I could throw in some of the far-out leftfield positions of Sanders and opt for the illusion of even-handedness but that would be a fringe stretch against my left-leaning bias, though there’s enough fringe on both sides to share some of the blame for the mess we’re in.
Fringers are never wrong, and angry, very angry. Watch a fringer on TV with the sound turned off and see for yourself. The self-righteous display of contained rage is the foundation upon which fringe intimidation rests, the most effective tool in the fringer’s bag of gotchas. A Fringer’s anger likely preceded any and all partisan talking points. The anger was always there, waiting.
Highly educated people can be fringers, proof of the gap that sometimes exists between smarts and intelligence. A fringer could be a Ph.D. who claims there’s evidence that vaccines contain microchips that, once injected, track us on behalf of liberal elites. It’s always a surprise when someone we thought was very bright fringes, thus providing evidence to the contrary.
Whenever I see a police uniform I feel safer. But when I see armed fringers at right or left protests I feel threatened, fringed. Their ideology is questionable to me, bullying more likely the objective, perhaps seeking out the hapless look of fear on some they encounter, measuring whether friend or foe by the reaction, at times flaunting their intentions with a constitutional smokescreen of trendy political verbiage that their purpose is to protect us. Against who, me, you, the government, where? It’s empty. There is no added peace of mind, just fringe, with bullets. Scary fringe. I am a gun owner whose target is badly needed regulation.
Fringers hang together puffing one another up discussing the latest pieces of doctrine or conspiracy theory in minute detail as though they really exist. They may not believe half of what they say but insist you swallow the fringe whole. All conviction, no essence.
Fringers on both sides talk “at” anyone who isn’t in agreement. Compromise may be impossible because conflict is the objective. They feed on discord and their appetite is endless. Disagreement with a militant fringer can result in a verbal storm of very personal, condescending innuendoes and outright slights completely independent of the discussion at hand. Your right to freedom of speech will no longer apply. An uncomfortable physical threat may hang in the air.
Watch out for fringettes, know-it-all burgeoning fringers under the age of 35, the threshold to run for presidential office. Just the same, they are otherwise unqualified due to their impractical, glib solutions for all the ills that plague us. A mega-fringe is a mob of like-minded fringers up to no good.
To summarize: If you’ve bought into the myth that January 6 was a gathering of patriotic tourists you’ve been fringed. Equally absurd are fringes that push for open borders, offering up a thoughtless catastrophe guaranteed to yield chaos right on the surface. Fringers, everywhere.
Fortunately, it’s easy to erase fringe. Just trust your eyes and good common sense instead. The high ground isn’t at the fringes. It’s in the middle.
The sun is over the yardarm
As I relax behind the wheel of my outdated mobile, I realize I am the 15th car at this East Main traffic light. There appear to be more cars than roads in our fair city. The red glow of the brake lights silhouettes the passengers moving to their music and hanging out the windows. The revelry gives way to a sense of looming excitement all around. Summer has moved in. Coolness abounds.
Something is in the air. The vehicles aren’t from around here. It appears that the flatlanders are infiltrating the high country to kick off the summer season. Tents and hikers will soon pop up along the rivers and highlands. All is good. The spirits of the people are not succumbing to the elevated gas prices and the foreboding gloom on TV. That is just fine with the locals. We love the beaming new faces and the sweet smell of campfires up and down the river. Alas, COVID has taken up position in the rearview mirror.
Memorial Day revelers historically kick off the summer in the US of A and send a signal to the fashionistas that it’s okay to sport about in white blazers and slacks for the next 90 days – assuming anyone still adheres to that rule anymore. Soon the sun will be over the yardarm – and we can burn some meat and switch on the smoking lamp.
So, remember to make some noise this weekend as spring gives way to summer madness. Alas, the lengthy chill is billowing out to sea – rapidly replaced by rising temperatures. School’s out – it’s party time battalion style! Let the 90 days of summer commence! Next stop – fall football season. Not so fast. We’ll get to that in due time.
This Memorial Day starts a series of three Federal holidays within a six-week stretch. (Memorial Day – this weekend, Juneteenth (weekend of 19 June), and Independence Day (weekend of July 4th). How cool is that? Frankly, if you cannot find time during one of these extended weekends to step out – then you should consult a therapist. Do not waste time. It is the stuff that life is made of.
My advice this summer is to do something different. Grab an inexpensive cruise around the Caribbean or hit the beach. If you are staying local, get down by the river with some friends…Or…simply put on some ole ’60s Beach Music tunes, don some sandals and commandeer some small kid’s swimming pool. Forget about Biden and Ukraine for a spell and crank up “summertime’s calling me” by the Catalina’s. If you find that appealing, then have a go with some of the other Carolina Beach Music groups like The Embers, The Tams, The Drifters, or Chairman of the Board. You can be sure that is what they are doing in the affluent quarters of Charleston to usher in the summer. If you do not know what I am talking about – just look it up and listen to a few of these tunes and your karma will align properly. It is a beach thing and it goes well with beers and campfires in the Valley during this time of year too. If you tilt brown juice while listening to it, your girlfriend may have you shuffling about on the dance floor. It is called shagging in the Carolinas. Not to be confused with the English use of the term – which is also a possible by-product of this behavior.
However, as the night turns into the next morning kindly do not reference this article or call me in irritation. However, do know that accelerated revelry and adolescent antics into the night are good for the soul now and again. Keeps you young. There are, of course, other things to commemorate during this Memorial Day weekend so once the wind has blown your head clear, allow me a bit of refinement.
Memorial Day is also a time of reflection and commemoration of those that fought on our behalf in war. I always enjoy recording and watching the plethora of war movies that annually populate the Turner Classic Movie channel over Memorial Day weekend. That is one of the cool things I like about living in America. This year, 2022, in particular, commemorates several rounded military anniversary dates – and several of these commemorative sites are within close proximity. Keeping with the spirit of the holiday, remember that the US Civil War and World War II had quite a few memorable battles that we commemorate around the end of May and the first days of June. As you know, the locals just celebrated the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Front Royal on Monday (23 May 1862) and the US will soon celebrate the 80th anniversary of The Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942 – next Saturday. Two days later on the following Monday, we can raise a glass to our heroes that fought in the Battle of D-Day in 1944 – which we commemorate annually on 6 June.
Both of these significant dates are coming up next week. Just another fine reason to raise a glass I always say. So while you are enjoying coffee and donuts one of these glorious summer mornings, remember, a donut without a hole is a Danish and the only King without a mustache is the King of Hearts.