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First day of summer – pro, anti-Trump demonstration disconnect …



As I arrived shortly after noon, Wednesday, June 21, to photograph the increasingly faith-based pro-Trump rally at the intersection of Chester and E. Main Streets, one woman crossed the street toward me pointing at the Gazebo yelling, “Make sure to take a picture of the empty space over there!!!”  As I pointed my camera her way to photograph her pointing, she wheeled and quickly retreated to the pro-Trump side, back to camera.

Pro-Trump supporter in pink shirt proves camera shy after aggressively alerting the media to the absent Vigil for Democracy at noon on June 21. But she was right – the pro-Trump contingent found themselves facing off with an empty Gazebo area. Photos/Roger Bianchini

As I continued to photograph the pro-Trump supporters, there were other comments heard about the fact the anti-Trump Vigil for Democracy contingent that has been numbering around 20 to 25 for several months, was nowhere to be seen.  As I heard “Ave Maria” being sung and Hail Mary’s being recited beneath the now familiar trio of “TRUMP – Make America Great Again”, American stars and bars, and Knights Templar flags, there was a sense of having driven the “Vigil-ites” from the Front Royal Village Commons.  However, the crowd of about 20, including eight to nine children I’d estimate at ages 10 to 16, continued to focus its attention, prayers and song directly at the empty Gazebo area where the Vigil for Democracy protests had been going on since March 8.

If you look closely you will find seven pro-Trump children, four adults (including Ralph Waller), and one cardboard president in this photo – can you ID the presidential flat body double?

Despite story comments questioning the “pelvic” nature of pro-Trump signage, June 21 was not the first time “defunding planned parenthood”, “protecting sanctity of marriage” and “protecting every human life from the moment of conception” signs have been displayed on the Trump side of the street.

“If you find out they moved, let me know,” Ralph suggested.  “I think it may have more to do with time than space,” I replied.

And at 5 p.m. that theory was born out (“fake media” alert – I had “anonymous sources” inside the vigil that had tipped me to a pending time change to accommodate both the weather – the theory being that it will be slightly cooler at 5 to 6 p.m. than noon to 1 p.m. this summer – as well as an accommodation to some who want to participate but work too far away to make a lunch-hour trip to downtown Front Royal.

At 5 p.m. the Vigil for Democracy re-emerged, same place, new time. And if the time has changed, some of the issues remain constant – Russian collusion, Trump’s documented challenges with truthfulness, and the president’s stated affection for ‘uneducated’ supporters, among others.

One young vigil participant supports science and the “Science Guy” Bill Nye, while adults lobby for common cause and non-partisan agendas.

And there they were, about 18 strong at 5 p.m., including two children estimated ages (correction, 6 to 16; the 6-year-old (according to his mom) sporting a sign reading “Bill Nye is my guy” with a photo of the nationally-known “Science Guy”.

Vigil organizer Len Sherp verified the time change in his vigil permitting for the above “leaked” reasons (my sources may be anonymous to you, dear readers, but they know of what they leak).

And Ralph had taken my advice as to the time and space theory of what happened at the noon hour, soon reappearing with son Michael and two pro-Trump signs, giving a perhaps brief flashback to the first eight weeks, prior to the addition of an evangelical tone to the pro-Trump side of the street.

“I told you it was time, not space,” I reminded Ralph as I crossed the street to shoot the vigil from across Chester Street.  When I returned for some closer shots of vigil signs, I delivered a message – “Ralph says you all cross over to his side to carry on the dialogue this week.  And soon it was Sherp himself who took up the offer, leading to the next to last photo accompanying this story.

Len Sherp and Ralph Waller may not agree on certain political issues, but at least they are carrying on the dialogue.

By 5:40 p.m. some of the earlier, faith-based Trump supporters had reappeared.

The last photo documents the return of several of the earlier pro-Trump Catholic contingent, one adult and three children by the time I left around 5:40 p.m.  I wonder if the pro-Trump contingent will also alter the time of their permitting this week – actually I never did verify whether those demonstrators actually have a Town permit for their demonstration.

But I think I’ll leave THIS story with THAT teaser – “stay tuned to next week’s episode for more on this late-breaking item” – sort of like the president likes to do to the national media about various “hints” he drops here and there about things from secret audio taping at the White House; to coming “tremendous” military statistics on the Middle Eastern war on ISIS (he’s been promising a press conference on that topic “in two weeks” for five weeks now); or exactly what he REALLY thinks about the Republican health care bill he seems now desperate to see passed despite his earlier Tweet that it “is mean”.

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Council candidate Rappaport responds to Holloway reading of Town stance on FRPD debt



The following is my rebuttal to the Front Royal Town Council’s insistence that they do not have a Moral Obligation to finance and pay the debt for the construction of the Police Station that they are occupying.

When someone or an entity occupies a building or home, then it is typically reasonable that the individual or entity either pays a mortgage or rent to the owner or holder of the note. The Town of Front Royal to the best of my knowledge has paid zero. The town’s offer to make a paltry $10,528.95 good faith one-time payment in July was an embarrassment to the town citizens as it would only have covered half of the monthly payment. If a regular citizen were to treat the banks in such a manner, then it would be reasonable to assume that the banks would sue for default and take the property back.

Bruce Rappaport implored council on Sept. 14 to assume the debt service on its new police headquarters. In response, Chris Holloway read an attorney-prepared statement citing council’s stance it has no legal or moral obligation to pay for its police station because the loan does not have a discussed, though never-achieved 1.5% interest rate attached. Royal Examiner File Photo by Roger Bianchini

It is clear to me that initially the Town and the County failed to do their due diligence regarding the viability of winning a New Market Tax Credit loan; however, the County was proactive and went out to get financing for their projects when it became clear that the NMTC wasn’t likely to happen. Whereas the town decided to be reactive and gamble on winning a lawsuit to help pay for the police station. When Bryan Phipps a high level NMTC Administrator executive suggests that the Town take the 2.5% 30-year fixed loan, then instinctively I am all in. The bickering between the County and the Town has to end and a good first step is for the Town to admit that they have a moral obligation to pay.

Collaboration is the key to success. The Town and County have both dug in their heels and that approach is a recipe for disaster for the community. If the town doesn’t take on the FRPD financial obligation and the County stops paying the debt service, then it will hurt both the Town and County’s ability to obtain construction loans in the future because we have defaulted on our Moral Obligation to pay our debts. I want to put an end to these attitudes, and it is a big reason as to why I decided to run for Town Council.

Bruce Rappaport
Front Royal, Virginia

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Historical Policing



historically speaking

One question I like to ask my students is who are the greatest American presidents?  After I gather the list of usual suspects, I then ask what makes these presidents great. What I tend to find is that the greatest usually get us through some sort of crisis.

My next question is are they really the best presidents or were they fortunate enough to have a situation to fix. How do we know how Millard Fillmore and Chester Arthur would have handled a crisis? Maybe they would have done better. Perhaps James Monroe or Calvin Coolidge were the best presidents because under their leadership we did not have a crisis. John Adams stopped us from going to war with France. Most don’t think of him as great, even though I do. We only think of presidents who won wars, not stopped them. My point always is that we remember people for things that happened, not for things that did not.

I was thinking of this example this morning as I wanted to write a piece about police. I racked my brain as I took my morning walk for historical incidents involving police. The problem was I could only come up with one positive example. The rest were times when cops behaved badly. There has been plenty out there to read and hear about police abuses, yet I know those are rare compared to the thousands of interactions happening every day. My realization was that, when police do their jobs correctly, we do not hear about it. There will be thousands of arrests across the nation today that we will not hear about. Who knows how many crimes or episodes will not happen today because of the police. Yet we never remember things that do not happen.

There are very few jobs like police work. Their job is to protect us, but often times when they do their job we get upset. We say we support the police but then curse them when we see their lights in our rear view, even when we know we are speeding. We want them to do their job, but towards others. Police are like teachers. Jobs we claim we respect for their service, yet grossly underpay and often trash for not being good at their job. Children have no respect for police or teachers anymore because they hear their parents and society at large criticize them, especially when either calls parents about discipline issues their precious children never could have committed.

Police work is not like most jobs because, though police are part of our lives, we only tend to spend real time with them on our worst days. Days when we have violated the law or had a crime committed against us. Either way, not a good day. They have to deal with us at our worst–when we are mad, agitated, angry, or often times scared. Most handle us in our crisis with patience and caring. Most of our crises will pass, while police officers move on to the next one, day after day. They will see things most of us will never have to see and do things most of us will never have to do, and then they will do and see it again and again.

Ultimately, their jobs are not like ours because, more than most, every day at their day could be their last. Their job is to rush into danger when everything is telling the rest of us to run away. They never know when what seems like a basic traffic stop is actually a life-threatening situation with a person who can cause them harm. Every day they put on a badge saying, “I will put myself in danger to protect you.” Like soldiers they do not do this for money. There are many reasons why cops become cops, but they all sacrifice time and family and security to stand on the front line.

Police are part of America, as much a part as any profession. Police forces are older than the nation itself. The oldest that we know of started in Boston in 1635 and the first death in the line of duty occurred in 1786. According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial, 1909 marks an important year. It was the last year that there were fewer than 100 deaths. 1930 led the way with 312 officers killed.

I am not trying to take anything away from Black Lives Matter. Historically speaking, policing has a checkered past. Cops like Bull Conner in Montgomery, Alabama, used every aspect of his position to terrorize the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Protests during the time were filled with examples of cops beating American Citizens for exercising their rights. Yet, at the same time let’s not forget that today as the police are being vilified that police officers of every race are working tirelessly to reach out to their communities to find solutions.

We cannot allow officers to kill a restrained man. I know it’s a time to help and support our Black brothers and sisters. Yet, in the process let’s not forget those brave men and women who continue to serve faithfully. Let’s not compound one tragedy with another by forgetting the positives police have done. Before we decide to defund police forces, let’s remember the one historically significant day that instantly comes to my mind. I still remember the day in 2001 when 72 officers ran into a burning building to save the lives of others only to lose their own. One side does not have to be evil for the other side to be right. Black lives do matter, but that does not mean all police are villains. Let’s all take a moment to remember who protects our lives from unseen and unspoken evils every day that we will probably never hear about because they did their job right.

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

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Bonnie Gabbert responds to Tony Carter on Recall Petition



I would like to address the August 8, 2020, BOS meeting in which Tony Carter brought up the Removal Petition. Mr. Carter asked Mr. Ham the status of the Removal Petition (as if he didn’t already know).  Mr. Ham said the Petition had been dropped on the previous Board Members but the Petition had been non-suited for Mr. Carter and Mr. Fox which means that the Petition can be brought up again within 6 months.  Mr. Carter was probably relieved to hear that because now he does not have to worry about the embarrassment of being removed from office; however, according to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office that is not exactly true.

Here is the answer I received from Michael Parker, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, when I asked question about re-filing the petition. Mr. Parker stated in an email to me: “There is no specific statute for elected official removal that I can find. When there is no specific statute, the fallback is Va. Code Section 8.01-248: “Personal actions for which no other limitation is specified: Every personal action accruing on or after July 1, 1995, for which no limitation is otherwise prescribed, shall be brought within two years after the right to bring such action has accrued.”

I think there’s an argument to be made that the removal action is unique and may not even qualify as a “personal action,” and that the only limitation would be while the people remain in office. But at worst I think 2 years is the limitation.

SO Mr. Carter, it looks like you are not quite off the hook yet. And then in response to your ridiculous comment about the petitioners paying the legal fees:

“Code of Virginia “Under the amended law, which took effect on July 1, 2009, removal petitions may not be thrown out of court because of technical flaws, and persons who sign or circulate petitions cannot be liable for any costs associated with removal proceedings, including attorney fees and court costs, and may not have sanctions imposed against them (See § 24.2-235 and § 24.2-238).

I would have thought your attorney would have told you this. However many people on social media said they would GLADLY give their $50 to have you removed from office.  And just to make sure you are properly informed, your district was the FIRST one to receive all of the necessary signatures on the petition. We had 5 people collecting signatures and two weeks in which to get them in. Once we got all of the signatures needed for one district we then concentrated on a different district.  We could have gotten three times the signatures needed if we had more time in which to collect them. We had many citizens calling us and asking to sign the petition after the cutoff date and we had to decline them.

Let me be quite clear Mr. Carter, the charges were non suited for various reasons none of which were that you should not have been removed from office. Again this from the Commonwealth Attorney’s office:

Mr. Parker’s motion to nonsuit, which states in part, “…there is an inherent conflict in a scenario where the evidence for the civil removal action is at minimum related to, and almost certainly would be derived from, an ongoing criminal investigation. Further, the proceedings of that investigation and the evidence it is producing have been ordered secret by this very Court. Using evidence derived from the grand jury investigation to prove a civil action runs the dual risks of damaging any criminal action to follow and violating an order of this Court.”

In short, the civil action depends on evidence derived from a secret grand jury investigation. The civil action requires proof of misconduct by Ms. McDonald, or would be sure to fail without such proof. I recognize this is another frustration for the citizens of Warren County, but obviously Ms. McDonald has not yet been found guilty in trial. The civil action would “jump the gun” on an eventual criminal trial.

So you see Mr. Carter you and Mr. Fox can STILL be petitioned for removal from office and the only thing that is saving you from this right now is the fact that the suit against Jennifer McDonald has not been brought to trial.

Have you ever thought that maybe you should not act quite so superior to the citizens you were elected to serve and remember that these same people and more will be voting in the next election? You have made many enemies in this county with your arrogant and dismissive attitude and your lack of oversight and leadership skills have cost the citizens of this county thousands of dollars. Mr. Carter I hope you will remember this – you may have escaped the Removal Petition but you did not escape the name or reputation you have made for yourself in this County.

Bonnie Gabbert
Front Royal, Virginia

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Guest Commentary: Front Royal, a stationary island as the Tourism revenue stream floats by



In 2013 the author wrote:

“Front Royal as an island.

‘Watching the river go by from the head of an island offers the comfort and illusion that one is moving forward.  A wiser view is to look at the opposite bank. This single act will make clear that only the river is moving forward. The bank, like the island AND our town, is actually standing still’.” 

I have been mulling over, musing really, a recent article and comments from The Royal Examiner: “The Other Side of the Street” dated August 25, 2020. Byline: Roger Bianchini

On the surface it speaks to pedestrian traffic on Main Street with competing elements for and against. Sadly, the issue is the culmination of decades of Tourism tumult.

It is really about parking.

Like characters from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel; it is really about Big Enders and Little Enders where political, i.e., tourism positions have been lost in the mists of time and history. They have been lost to newly elected officials without understanding local tourism, its accomplishments and history. Its increased revenue opportunity.

At core lies more than three decades of Tourism turbulence: various players and interests that choose to or not to act on this element that is economically critical to both town and county. Most elected officials remain largely clueless to the millions of dollars that Tourism – direct and multiplier – bring to our economy. Multi-millions.

To that I say:

SCHADENFREUDE.* The German word now in common English usage. Not personal, rather, a compilation of lack of leadership, weak or non-decisions and internal conflicts among elected, private and business interests ranging over decades. I have been both player and witness for more than 30 years. I retired from public commitments 14 years ago. I sleep better now.

It’s about Parking.

Beginning in the early 1990s neither Town nor County have managed to create a clear tourism platform: A detailed plan whereby all decisions fit within an overall structure – a matrix. Oh, sure, I sat through dozens of planning sessions that lost momentum and disappeared into the black hole of local politics. This current Tourism hot spot, when filtered through such a matrix, would settle the current Main Street squabble.

I have a deep and long-standing personal history with this struggle which, for me, began in 1986.

Small Tourism steps have taken place, for sure, yet, a combined, cogent and concise guide has not happened. Thousands of dollars spent on meetings and studies. Town and County continue to quarrel. No measurable progress.

We have no universal branding. Some signage/ads use the Gazebo icon (which to an outsider appears to be an alien moon lander with no recognizable relationship to our main tourists attributes); others use a line drawing of a dormer window that is remarkably similar to the Erie Insurance logo. The same with advertising tags.  A mixed bag.  A shot gun approach. No targets hit.

Different town managers have left their individual imprints by imposing personal will. Remember the expensive to-taxpayers tourist phone kiosks placed at town entrances that failed (except as good radar spots for the local gendarmes to write tickets to tourists) and recently removed? A favorite failure was the pitiful attempt to tag “Front Royal – the Aspen of the East”. T-shirts were actually printed.

Setting aside industrial-like businesses (EDA-drawn), we have failed our taxpayers by not smartly understanding and benefiting from the great Tourism pie, just too many bakers with no cooking experience.

The conflicts and battles remain basically the same: No overall agreement on a long-term plan on how to profit from Tourism. Increasing tourism revenue has never been a stated goal. A must fixed pillar.

Through the decades I participated in many dozens of the then-current “darlings” of the Town/County leadership: Remember EDAW or the much touted expensive and now vanished “Envision Front Royal” project, Front Royal Tourism Advisory Board, State Park impact, Avtex Redevelopment Stakeholders and so many more? Nothing has endured nor moved forward. Reviewing my minutes from the Town’s Tourism Advisory Board in 2002 clearly validate this. No impactful, no coherent plan.


At best, Downtown has not been blessed with a well laid out parking scheme to easily transition residents and visitors’ access to our Main Street; this is especially so during special events. This is where Disney excels. Improving and managing people and flows to a given location. Increasing tourism profits by investing in and focusing on tourism access. This is low hanging fruit.

The lack of a coherent master tourism plan coupled with dearth of visionary leadership across the board leads our community to unending strife and reduced tourism revenues which ultimately increases taxes.


Years ago, the old “lawyers row” located on the East side of the existing courthouse was knocked down to provide additional parking spaces to accommodate the court house expansion. It did not increase parking – read access – for visitors or residents. Translation: Reduced access to tourism revenue and resident access to Main Street. However, the courthouse received more parking. Great. BUT the leaders of the community demonstrated a will to act in unison for a project they thought was important. I believe adding substantial revenues to Main Street is co-equal. So, such a plan is possible.

Most parking on the south side of Main Street is dedicated to private businesses. The North side parking offers much reduced yet difficult access from Commerce Avenue. KISS

Whether we keep Main Street open for pedestrian traffic would then become moot.  There are several locations in which a parking facility might be situated.  The above ground part can easily conform and match the ‘feel’ of Main Street while funneling access for those needed, local and important merchants. All that revenue – tourists’ wallets – funneled directly to Main Street. Happy Days!

I clearly recall the conflicts that played out years ago when a private citizen brought forth and led the community to revitalize East Main Street: the same beautiful layout we now use. No one misses the pathetic old Main Street’; most do not remember. There was, of course, opposition.

Dare I say that Winchester has supported and invested in its Old Town merchants by reconstructing and adding several parking garages. There is revenue from a parking garage to be had. In business terms: additional revenue stream.

Locals complain and transplants hope that the hub of our county will smartly improve. All want revenues to improve. This spat is simply a decades old cancer that grows increasingly: limits growth potential and importantly – Revenue.

Trace Noel
Front Royal, Virginia

* FOOTNOTE: It can be argued that there’s no real synonym for schadenfreude in English. … “Malicious joy” is one way to describe schadenfreude, as is the verb “gloat” when used in the correct context.

(Trace Noel is a Warren County resident and retired Shenandoah River outfitter. He moved from Northern Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley in 1970. Noel has received national, state, and local awards for conservation and tourism. His submitted bio below outlines his background and experience in the topics he addresses.)

Bio: Trace Noel
1970 BA Degree – History – Bethel University, McKenzie, Tn

Activities focused on water trails, environmental, tourism and river issues:

  • Board of Directors of the national Professional Paddlesports Association based in Springfield, VA. Nation’s largest outfitter trade association.
  • Served on PPA board as Officer, Paddlesports Promotion Chair and member of Executive Committee
  • While serving on Executive board of PPA: purchased Paddler Magazine, created national outfitter on-water insurance program including reinsurance, rewrote national by-laws, created new region, produced week of waterways and national outfitter/livery education school and accreditation program/school.
  • Founding member and Regent, National Professional Paddlesports Business Accreditation School
  • Front Royal COC – Tourism Committee – Chairman
  • Founder and past President of the Virginia Professional Paddlesports Association (VAPPA) Trade Association
  • Past Chairman of Shenandoah River Recreational Use Plan


  • Member Shenandoah River Recreational Working Committee
  • Chairman of Shenandoah River Canoe Liveries and Outfitters Association (SRCLO).
  • Shenandoah River Representative – Virginia Canals and Navigation Society
  • Member of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries boating legislative review group
  • Advisory Committee member Friends of the Rivers of Virginia (FORVA).
  • Creator and Past Director – Shenandoah RIVERFEST
  • Former Member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Shenandoah River. (1988-1996)
  • Member of Page County River Advisory Committee 1992 (MORC STUDY).
  • Member Minimum Instream Flow Technical Assistance Committee (MIF-TAC) 1994
  • Founding Member – Coors Clearwater 2000 Forum, Harrisonburg, VA (James Madison University) – Created origination’s logo.
  • Advisory Committee for Master Plan for Shenandoah River State Park
  • Formed group to acquire land for Guests State Park

Worked with DCR planner, Robert Munson, for acquisition, layout and river access planning for Guests State Park.

  • Worked with Roger Pence, Head of SRSP to lay out boat landings, commercial traffic access and design of main boat launch/pickup.
  • Front Royal COC – Chair Legislative Committee
  • Avtex Superfund Site Stakeholders Group
  • Local DU Chapter member and Sponsor
  • Member North American Water Trails Assoc
  • Founding Member Virginia Eco-Tourism Assoc. (VETA)
  • Vice Chair – Town of Front Royal Tourism Advisory Board
  • Advisory member of the Shenandoah River Blueway, Shenandoah, VA
  • Contributor and organizing member of Shenandoah River Sojourn 2003-2006
  • Planned and sponsored first state sponsored ‘water trail’ conference – Blueway. Worked with DCR, VDGIF, VA DEPT OF FORRESTRY.  Warren County/Front Royal declined to support.
  • Shenandoah River State Park Visitor Center Advisory Committee
  • BA History – Bethel University, McKenzie, TN.  1970

Junior Class President, Frosh Class Treasurer, National Fraternity President

  • American Canoe Association Certified Instructor of Moving Water Tandem Canoe.
  • 19 years experience whitewater boating.
  • Waterfowl guide since 1991 – Waterfowl hunting of Shenandoah since 1986
  • Swift Water Rescue Trained and Certified
  • Weekly fishing report: Weekender Magazine, The Washington Post and Virginia Outdoor Magazine and Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries Weekly Report. 12 years
  • Weekly fishing Reports for Washington Post, and VDGIF 10 years
  • Feature articles by Washington Post Sunday Outdoor Feature Writer, Angus Phillips for guided trips: opening of Guest State Park, waterfowl hunting, fly fishing for Smallmouth bass, Conservation and River Knowledge.
  • Contributed to, quoted and assisted in the National Geographic Magazine feature article on the Shenandoah River written by Angus Phillips. December 1996
  • 2000 – Conservation award from Virginia Trails Assoc. awarded at VA Governor’s Conference on Trails and Blueways – Virginia Beach
  • 2000 – National “Millennium” Award from National Paddlesports Assoc. for contributions to Paddlesports and the Paddlesports Industry. Special one time presentation.
  • 1998 – Volunteer award from Governor George Allen river clean-up and conservation
  • 2006 – The Frank A. Jones Outstanding Member Award, the highest honor for members of the Professional Paddlesports Association. Amelia Island, Fl.
  • 2007 Citizen Conservationists of the Year presented by The Virginia chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Danville, VA
  • Creator of Original Shenandoah RIVERFEST.
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Political Celebrities



historically speaking

Now that the national conventions are over, it is time for the Republicans to comment on the number of Hollywood celebrities who spoke and performed at the Democratic Convention. Of course, this is not new. Hollywood has always supported the left much more than the right, and Democratic conventions and rallies can parade out an endless stream of celebrities to tell us what to think. While this is true, arguably the most famous celebrity speech that ever happened was in 1964 and was for the Republicans.

1964 was an interesting election year. Just the year before the very popular president, John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated. Kennedy’s VP-now-President, Lyndon Johnson, was running for the Democratic nomination on his own account. The Republicans ran a man named Barry Goldwater. With these two men, the modern-day parties were set. There will no longer be any question which party was liberal and which was conservative, or, as Goldwater put it, there was “a choice, not an echo.”

Goldwater was an old school conservative, who wanted to reduce the size of government and cut taxes.  Really, he was running against the New Deal. He also claimed the Democrats were soft on communism and had failed to contain it. Johnson was a liberal with a strong record on civil rights and social reform.

There was never really any doubt who would win. Johnson was still feeling the effects of FDR and Kennedy and he blew out his Republican competitor. Yet, when the election was only a couple of days away, the Republicans tried a last-ditch effort to win some votes by purchasing TV time and running a speech by actor Ronald Reagan.

Ex-Democrat Reagan was not a popular actor at the time. It had been a stretch since his last major role. He was more known as a spokesman for G.E. and host of a weekly NBC show called General Electric Theater, but that had ended in 1962. Yet he gave such a memorable speech that it catapulted him within two years to being elected Governor of California and ultimately to the White House.

His speech in 1964 was a complete denunciation of the Democrats and liberal policy and was as divisive as any speech that year. Like today, the main attack was the size of government and America becoming a socialist state. These same arguments have been made for fifty years.

Reagan said, “This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

Reagan’s skills as a speaker made him relevant again and his ideas became the playbook for Republican politicians, even today. In fact, this speech was so important that the only other political speech by a Republican that is comparable is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

It is true that the Democrats rely on their celebrity endorsements more than Republicans, but historically speaking the most important Republican speech in the past fifty years also came from a Hollywood actor.

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

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Walking Mall Weekend – proposed traffic flow/parking work-around



To the Front Royal Business Community,

I hope everyone had a great weekend, even with the bad weather that rolled through. I was glad to see some businesses out and I hope you all saw the increase in foot traffic (and saw the benefit of it).

Now, I hate to ask this with all the controversy that has taken place over the past weeks, but I need your help. Please hear me out. And yes, as always, your comments are welcome.

We have been outspoken proponents of the Walking Mall since its inception. We’ve talked to so many people about the pros and cons, tried to make concessions and compromises where we were able and spent countless hours and many personal dollars to make this work… for the benefit of the town, the citizens, the businesses, and the community as a whole.

It’s been a lot of work but it was ‘happy work’, until this past weekend when we read in the paper that we were not to be included in the walking mall after this week.

Like many of you, I have set up a canopy, invited people into my shop, set up games and things to help occupy the kids who get bored in town with nothing else to do while the parents are eating or shopping or visiting. With the help of the owners of C&C Frozen Treats, we’ve tried to maintain a festive atmosphere to attract Warren County residents, as well as those from out of town to help our struggling fellow business owners.

My shop, sadly, is not “in the heart of things” and at times, only gets a second glance when people walk past on their way to have some great ice cream. If this end of Main Street is open to traffic, we won’t even get that second glance.

Parking has always been an issue here when there are festivals, etc, on Main St, and I know that was a large concern for some businesses when the Walking Mall began. From day one, we’ve said the parking signs should be priority parking signs and signs that actually say “Closed for Walking Mall” or something to that effect. Traffic flow has been something else that was mentioned as a concern for out-of-towners.

William Huck proposed a traffic flow/parking work-around that I wholeheartedly agreed with. After the town council meeting last week, I shared that plan with a member of the council. What we all heard during the meeting was that things would stay “as they are” through Labor Day, however, that was not carried through in Mr. Tedrick’s edict published by the newspaper last week.

When a town council member stopped me this morning, I told him I hadn’t appreciated that the decision of the council was to close Main Street (on my end of the street) at the clock area, leaving Chester St and Main St in front of my businesses open to traffic. His reply was that was NOT what he came away with after last week’s meeting.

To make a long story longer, we asked Mr. Tedrick to meet with us in front of the White Picket Fence to give him a visual of what our proposal was. So along with Will and the council member, we explained to Mr. Tedrick that closing the street from 405 Main to the Gazebo lot entrance would allow traffic to flow back to Main without impacting our walking mall activities.

Mr. Tedrick, who said he had no plans to change things until after Labor Day, said he had no choice because of the feedback from council members but to change that decision to take immediate effect (meaning this weekend, East Main would be open to traffic at Chester). Albeit, with the exception that he was asked to close High Street for Manor Line Market. The only thing (he said) that would change his mind is a request from 4 members of the town council asking for a redirection of his mandate.

Where we have asked barricades to be placed.

And another photo of potential traffic flow.

Please voice your opinion on these. My hope is that with your help, we can continue to be included and allowed to set up our canopy, allowed to step off the curb, and let children and adults enjoy a game of chess or checkers or draw with chalk on the street.

Sue Laurence
Front Royal, Virginia

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