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Front Royal Town Manager: Matthew Tederick’s Peyton Places

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I must be honest with you, the television series “Peyton Place” was years before my time. In fact, I did not know the series was based on a movie from the middle 50s until a few days ago.

But it is amazing what one can find these days with a few calls and very basic searches on Google, to include what the actual “Peyton Place” series was about – I don’t think I would have watched.

We get enough of the real “scandalous secrets” here in Front Royal. Look at the past year!

That is the case with this article “Matthew Tederick’s Peyton Places.” I say “Places” due to the multitude of potential connections between the address of 100 Peyton Street and Matthew Tederick, along with other connections between Matthew Tederick and other firms he represents in some form.

It is like a crime scene you see in a bad movie with a wall full of pictures and strings attempting to connect the dots to who done what.

For this case, everything below is double sourced based on calls to officials or from official websites. In some cases, supporting Internet data is included to substantiate official information, i.e., this could include company websites or people’s public websites as examples.

This is all publicly available information which anyone has access to if they wish to search – to include our own Town Council.

Matt Tederick takes over as Front Royal’s Interim Mayor in early June. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

In late May 2019, Matthew Tederick was selected from a pool (not likely) of candidates by the Town Council to fill the empty Mayoral seat due to unforeseen circumstances which need not be addressed in this article. I am not condemning the Council for attempting to quickly remedy the vacancy; however, due diligence is always best conducted at the time of action and very difficult after the fact.

When anyone is selected to a position of this nature, elected or in this case “placed,” I would assume that individuals would be required to complete a mandatory Conflict of Interest (COI) and Ethics statement – a requirement by the State of Virginia.

First question I have of the Town Council or responsible party, did Matthew Tederick complete a statement for both positions and/or did he make a statement that the first COI document was still accurate when he became Acting Town Manager? You would think/hope so.

A COI declaration is very well covered in Virginia by the following “Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council STATE AND LOCAL STATEMENT OF ECONOMIC INTERESTS issued December 2018. There are examples available for anyone to review online as well.

These Conflict of Interest statements help to ensure disclosure of any potential conflict of interest to both parties, as well as documenting other items that may cause potential issues later on. In simple terms, it alerts both parties on where one should step carefully – or not step.

Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick on the job at November work session.

Under “Instructions” it states:  “State and local officers and employees required to file pursuant to 2.2-3114, 2.2-3115 or 2.2-3116, or as designated by their local governing body are REQUIRED to complete and file the Statement of Economic Interests as a condition to assuming office, and then annually while serving as an officer or employee.”

My second question is rather simple, did Matthew Tederick accurately portray his total participation in the various firms he serves as a President, or in other roles, i.e., Registered Agent. Not sure, but I doubt he could recite today all the firms he serves in either of those capacities without a cheat sheet or the disclosure of other matters.

If the examples from the Internet are accurate, Matthew Tederick would be required to provide the following:

On the first page he is required to sign, he is required to identify the address for his business.

Schedule A: Disclose all business which you or a member of your immediate family is an officer or director and receives …

Schedule D: Business Interests and Rental Property. Note that Business Interests and Rental Property are likely separate tables.

Schedule E: Real Estate

Not having a copy of the document that Matthew Tederick should have completed when he became Interim Mayor in front of me – I hope the town had him complete one, as it appears they skipped many other common sense requirements and just ran full-speed over others for both the Interim Mayor and/or Interim Town Manager positions – puts me at a slight disadvantage.

A question I have – who is responsible within town management to ensure the accuracy of the material Matthew Tederick provided. I know it is not the public.

Why have a form submitted if no one bothers to check the accuracy of the information provided?

It would be very compelling for someone to look at what he may have included in that document, if completed, against the information provided below.

As a matter of fact, the LLC that Front Royal may be paying Matthew Tederick by (which he requested when he assumed the position of Acting Town Manager and still refuses to publicly state the name of the LLC) MUST be included as an LLC in that Conflict of Interest/Financial Disclosure statement. The reason it must be stated – LLC’s must pay for services to an LLC member or to a potential service provided activity which means he must have a position within that LLC. To be paid by an LLC, Matthew Tederick must be the owner, a partner or act as the Registered Agent – all positions that could be influenced by activities dealing with the Town of Front Royal. It would be also important to determine if the LLC is a wholly owned LLC or another form of an LLC, and his role in that LLC, something the Town SHOULD HAVE DONE PRIOR to any financial agreement with this LLC and Matthew Tederick.

An LLC is not a person – it is an entity that pays a member or a person for services. Hence, it would be interesting to identify his position/role in that LLC. Is he the sole owner or a partner? – It matters from an IRS perspective. I would say based on what I have collected, that it is a wholly owned LLC. Again, this is not a tax issue but rather a “did we contract out the current Acting Town Manager” position to an LLC? It’s rather simple. If so, then the LLC must be made public and documented on the COI, per the IRS agent I contacted.

Also, why hide the LLC? The LLC is not a bank or a financial institution. For the reason of this arrangement, I would say it is a wholly-owned LLC by Matthew Tederick – if so, again, why hide it?

Now, I will admit that sometimes people forget items, misspell words or just ignore items because it takes time to correct. So, one or two missteps could be accepted, but I would take my time to ensure it was accurate if I was completing this legal form.

However, if that is the case in most, or many, of the below, then I am just as concerned to his lack of attention to detail, as I would be to his honesty. Both are critical in either the Mayor or Town Manager’s position. Remember the below information is from official sites, available company information, etc.

To make it somewhat simple to follow, I have included a table that shows LLCs or Incorporated entities in the left column, the status of the firm today as stated by the official Virginia SSC filing office in the next column to include the Filing Number, the middle column identified the address and status along with the DUNS number if available, and the last two columns provide connections to his home address or to the 100 Peyton Street address to which he sold to Dollar House LLC (remember that name when you see the table) with that entity if it could be located. The last column identifies Matthew Tederick’s position with that firm. As many of the below do not have company websites, positions like President or Owner can be difficult to ascertain.

Note that the definition for a Registered Agent and what a DUNS number is provided immediately after the table due to its length, but one should not understate its importance as to how a State deals with an LLC or firm. All of this information is available for the general public to view.

Key phrases or specific words used for these searches included:
-Matthew Tederick
-Matt Tederick
-Matthew A Tederick
-Tederick Front Royal
-100 Peyton Street
-21 Edgewood St.
-21 Edgewater St. (address used in 100 Peyton St. sale)
-And names of firms identified in my searches
-DUNS and (any firm identified, addresses identified or the name Tederick)
-SCC Filings Virginia

COMPANY VIRGINIA SEC FILING

ACTIVE/INACTIVE and SCC Filing Number

DUNS #

status from official Web Site

what is/was DUNS #

ADDRESS USED TEDERICK CONNECTION

(based on the internet)

(appointment date)

Dollar House LLC Active

S5113915

Active

023434636

100 Peyton Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

Gentle Knight Solutions LLC Active

(Fees in Delq 2019)

S374685

Active

061691590

100 Peyton Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

Tederick Miller Investments LLC Active

S013223

Shows as Tederick Miller Investments

Shows as Miller Tederick as Out of Business

065489788

No Tederick Miller shown

16 Chester Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

Information Intelligence & Operations LLC Active

S648419

No matches

065489788

100 Peyton

Also shows 21 Edgewood

Mathew Tederick

Registered Agent

Victory Communications LLC Active

S1297011

Active 100 Peyton
Blessing Gods Way LLC Active

S1319211

Active

184621162

21 Edgewood
Trinity Home Investments LLC Active

S7283452

Active 100 Peyton
Media Bridge LLC Active

S5287349

Active Spotsylvania Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

1839 Capital LLC Active

S8280598

Not Listed Alexandria VA Matthew Tederick

Listed as President

Redneck Political Alliance Active

06446959

Not Listed Matthew Tederick

Employee

GTS Direct LLC

(does lobbying strategies and voter modeling)

Active

S7257746

Active 100 Peyton Website states that

Wealth Management is

Registered Agent (which is

Tederick)

Stronghold of Virginia LLC Purged

S1391707

Active

182969167

100 Peyton Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

Tederick Real Estate LLC Active

S1582511

No matches Shows 29 Edgemont by no such address – believed to be typo for 29 Edgewood Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

Child Care Property Developers LLC Purged

S2799536

Active

018636056

Shows 100 Peyton St

21 Edgewood Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

Wealth Management Inc Active

05892526

Not shown as Wealth Management Inc or LLC  – shows link to  Dominion Financial 100 Peyton Matthew Tederick

President and

Registered Agent

Dominion Financial Services LLC A Website says

Tederick President

(See above under

Wealth Management)

Rexx Group LLC Auto Canx by State

T0635880

No matches 100 Peyton Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

Patriots Alliance

Or Patriots Political Alliance

Old name as Patriots Alliance Active

023500332

100 Peyton
Matthew Tederick Not shown Out of Business

Was 149704280 Alternate name LPL Financial Services

100 Peyton
Shenandoah Valley Leadership Pac, Inc., (Pri) DUNS #1 Purged by State

06128375

Not listed 100 Peyton Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

Shenandoah Valley Leadership Pac, Inc., (Pri)  DUNS #2 Purged by Sate

06104236

Not Listed Not listed Matthew Tederick

Registered Agent

A/O NOV 2019

What is a Registered Agent (RA) by legal terms?

“A Registered Agent is a responsible party who is located in the same state in which a business entity was established and who is designated to receive service of process notices, correspondence from that state’s Secretary of State and other official government notifications, usually tax forms and notice of law suits – on behalf of the corporation or LLC. The state where the business is registered needs to know it has a contact person for the business in the state during business hours (thus, PO Boxes are not acceptable for registered agents). If you don’t have a physical location in that state, the requirement is especially urgent that the business have a registered agent to accept document on the firm’s behalf.”

What is a DUNS Number?

“The DUNS Number is linked to your company’s business credit profile with D&B; which is used by lenders, suppliers and potential business partners to help determine if a company is creditworthy and/or financially stable. One important thing to note is your company is not issued a DUNS Number when you apply for an EIN.” An EIN number is what the IRS uses, as well as bank/financial institutions to show a business entity for tracking purposes.

I would say based on the statement of what a Registered Agent is responsible for, one could rationally make a statement that the RA acts as an agent for the LLC or firm and therefore would be considered a member of that entity for a specific reason. Again, I use the term a member of an entity for the following reason: If an individual is a member of LLC (wholly owned or partnership), one would assume that it should be included on any COI paperwork as a potential conflict of interest. That would include the employed Town Manager.

IF, Matthew Tederick now states that he was unaware of the fact he was still acting as a Registered Agent of an active firm as identified by the State, or that he thought the firm was no longer operational for a lack of a better term, then again my earlier comment regarding a total lack of attention to detail should concern all.

Is that the person this town needs in a position responsible for the management of millions of dollars on a weekly basis? I would say, be careful – who needs another missing or misplaced $17 million dollars unaccounted for?

Below is a screen capture of what the State of Virginia provides those doing searches on a firm’s status. It provides the firms name, entity number and if it is still active or not. For this example, I used the term “Tederick Real Estate”, since Tederick Real Estate owns the home adjacent to his home address.

With all the data provided above to include the definitions, let’s now take a look at just three examples, as there are numerous, that hopefully alert you, as it did me, as to why I do not believe Matthew Tederick is the right person leading the day-to-day activities of this fine town.

Those include 1839 Capital LLC, Dollar House LLC, and the address 100 Peyton Street located in Front Royal.

For our first example let’s look at 1839 Capital. After he agreed to become Interim Mayor, the firm 1839 Capital filed the documentation you see below. It shows a start date of July 2019 with Matthew Tederick as the President. The website for 1839 Capital also shows Matthew Tederick as President with a location of Alexandria. What specifically does the form state is the business expertise for this firm? A “Global Investment Firm” with emphasis on “Commercial Real Estate” per the submitted form and the website. As I stated in my first article published November 11th in the Royal Examiner. It was surprising that Matthew Tederick knew so little about how to deal with the Crooked Run West request when he stated in his 1839 Capital bio as President the following:

“Utilizing his governmental, real estate, and investment knowledge, Matthew Tederick developed a thriving business solving complex problems for national residential and commercial construction entitles … In many cases, Matthew Tederick led the entitlement team consisting of attorneys, engineers, and architects in order to accomplish client objectives. Matthew Tederick spearheaded over 35 projects ranging from single parcel to 1,500 acres, mixed use (residential, commercial, industrial, institutional) developments.”

I have heard that Matthew Tederick signed a statement regarding the fact he will devote full time and effort to the performance of the Town Manager’s duties only. Does that mean his other business-related activities are put on hold? I wonder what firms like 1839 Capital will do without their President.

For my second example let’s look at Dollar House LLC. Dollar House, per the VA SSC filing, started in January 2004 with Matthew Tederick as the Registered Agent using the address 100 Peyton St. I am not sure if he holds any additional positions within the LLC. Remember, the owner of an LLC may also serve as the Registered Agent if they are the sole individual associated with the LLC.

Although I could find information on Dollar House from official websites and one additional website named Bizapedia.com which confirmed Matthew Tederick as the Registered Agent, there is NO Dollar House LLC website which will allow the reader to find out any specifics as to its owner, etc.

Dollar House LLC per Warren County, shows that Dollar House owns two properties within the county. The first being 0 Peyton which was purchased from Matthew and Susan Tederick on June 25th with Dollar House using the address of 21 Edgewater St., and the second property, being adjacent to 0 Peyton St, being 100 Peyton St., which was also purchased June 25th from Matthew and Susan Tederick. Again, the address used by Dollar House is 21 Edgewater St.

A strange condescendence possibly, but the address provided for Dollar House in Front Royal is incorrect, as there is no 21 Edgewater St. in Front Royal. Besides numerous out of state addresses of the same, the only one in Virginia with that address is located in Chantilly. I would assume, without any hesitation, that the address should instead be 21 Edgewood St. in Front Royal.

Strange but that is Matthew Tederick’s home address as documented in several websites. So now it appears that 21 Edgewood St. is the home address for the LLC named Dollar House. That is too close to home (ha), and I wonder if Dollar House and his relationship with the LLC is documented in any Conflict of Interest statement to the Town of Front Royal? It would also be very interesting to see Matthew Tedericks’ real position, besides as a Registered Agent, with Dollar House LLC. Remember he was Interim Mayor prior to the sale, so both properties would have to be listed in the COI under his name since it was his name on the agreement and not a real estate firm, etc.

I wonder who Dollar House LLC, with an address of 21 Edgewood St., now works with to fill the apparently large empty lot known as 100 Peyton St. If Dollar House is indeed tied to Matthew Tederick these future earnings must also be reported on the Conflict of Interest document.

Now let’s look at our third and last example. That example is 100 Peyton St. We know that the property is now owned by Dollar House LLC and whatever relationship Matthew Tederick has with that firm, however, the address is used by numerous LLCs, firms, etc. If you look at the table I provided above, there are 13 that use that address that I did additional research on. In addition, I was able to identify several more that use that address just this morning. They included but are not limited to: Williamsheacock LLC and Kie Law PLC which have active DUNS numbers but show cancelled or converted by the Virginia SCC.

Of particular note from the table was Gentle Knight Solutions LLC. This LLC was established in 2014 and uses 100 Peyton Place (sorry) Street, as its business address with Matthew Tederick as its Registered Agent which agrees with the States SCC filing.

However, of interest was that in a local newspaper article dated May 29th of 2019, after Matthew Tederick was selected as the Interim Mayor, it states that Matthew Tederick also serves as the Vice President for Gentle Knight Solutions which was confirmed by a second website. The news article states that Gentle Knight Solutions “dabbles in Health Care” — that’s a strange term for what a firm does. But since Matthew Tederick was now the Interim Mayor, I wonder if he had listed Gentle Knight Solutions, for either his VP position or his RA position on the Conflict of Interest form he would hopefully fill out shortly. Possible he just quit the firm, but their website still shows him as VP. Possible he is working for free.

Remember he made the statement that he would not work outside business related activities while serving for the Town of Front Royal. Did all the firms to which he serves as a Registered Agent or in a senior position such as President or Vice President just go by the wayside – I doubt it. And did the Town of Front Royal document that he could not work on outside activities such as these in their Agreement?

Like in the movie “Peyton Place” or the television show, the ending is not kind. Let’s see what happens to the live “Tederick’s Peyton Places” show in Front Royal to see this as yet unscripted ending.

His record as a businessperson begs questions, as does the address 100 Peyton which he owned, and may still own under Dollar House LLC. But just as important is what did he list on his Conflict of Interest Statement with the Town of Front Royal? Was it filled with the whole truth or just a few examples of what he does? Words matter – as does transparency and the truth.

NOT SURE I WANT TO WATCH this show’s ending.

Simon Mays
Front Royal

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Opinion

New Special Grand Jury needed

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With the announcement of charges against Mr. Poe being dropped by the new Prosecutor, the lack and complete absence of any further indictments by either the Special Grand Jury or the Federal Grand Jury, and the growing rumors of a plea agreement for Ms. McDonald, it is apparent that the judicial/law enforcement system has broken down.

Investigations are noteworthy in the complete lack of focus. Investigators have yet to talk to Mr. Egger who could provide a treasure trove of information. They haven’t interviewed any of the Supervisors, any of the EDA Board members and may not have even interrogated Jennifer! Her Attorney has tried to contact the VSP to set up an interview but they have not returned his call.

The new Prosecutor has already complained that he can not focus on the charges. The understaffed VSP has been overwhelmed with information provided by the Feds when they dropped out of participating in the Grand Jury. Several heroic citizens have done a remarkable job in uncovering evidence and providing it to Law Enforcement. But, is that really their job?

We need a Special out of County Prosecutor focused only on this outrageous crime. The Special Grand Jury has turned out to be infected with personal relations and incredibly strong bogus charges (misfeasance of the Supervisors) that cost citizens more money in paying for the defense of the Supervisors (against patently bogus charges).

We need a completely new Special Grand Jury. Held out of County, made up of non-Warren County residents eliminating any hint of conflict of interest.

We need a dedicated Virginia State Police Task Force that focuses on this County and this investigation.

True, the Prosecutor and Law Enforcement have other crimes and issues (training, travel, etc.) that precludes their full time efforts. They have highly qualified Special Agents trained in investigative accounting.

What do we need to do to get these programs? Let your Governor know, let the Attorney General know.

Fred Schwartz
Warren County

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Opinion

Missile Attacks

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historically speaking

If anyone was hoping for a calmer more peaceful decade, then surely by now they are disappointed. With just a few days into 2020, the major news story already is a drone strike and death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Instantly political sides were drawn as Trump supporters praised the president’s actions as a strike against terrorism and protection for American lives. Trump detractors criticized the decision as dangerous. Presidential contenders have all denounced the president, calling him basically a war monger and a murderer. As always, I am not here to comment on the president’s decision. There is enough of that already. But historically speaking, the president’s actions are far from new. We have seen presidents strike Middle Eastern targets as far back as there have been Middle Eastern issues. You can claim he had ulterior motives, the same as previous presidents, but you can’t claim his attack is out of the ordinary.

Though most modern presidents have used missile strikes, I want to focus on two, President Clinton and President Reagan, both of whom made similar decisions. When Reagan took over in 1981, one of the principal “bad guys” was Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. Similar to Iran today, Libya in the 1970s and 1980s was a principal supporter of terrorism. They were outspokenly anti-Israel and supported terrorist groups in Palestine and Syria. Like Iran, they were also actively trying to start a nuclear program.

The 1980s saw an uptick in Islamic terrorism when 239 marines were killed in a bombing in Lebanon in 1983. 1985 saw bombings in Vienna and Rome airports, the high-jacking of a TWA plane and an Italian cruise ship, both with American deaths. Finally, in 1986 American service men were killed and injured in a disco bombing in Berlin. Libya had ties to them all. After the disco bombing, Reagan ordered Operation El Dorado Canyon, which were air strikes against Libya hoping to kill Gaddafi. Unfortunately, Gaddafi was warned of the strikes and escaped before the bombs fell on his compound, sparing his life. The bombing did very little to curtail Libya’s support of terrorism as they continued throughout the 1980s. The United Nations condemned the attack, but Americans overwhelmingly supported Reagan’s actions, strengthening his popularity.

Two presidents later President Clinton launched his own Middle Eastern attacks. The first time was in June of 1993 when Clinton hit sites in Iraq. Supposedly the attack was in response to an assassination attempt against former President H.W. Bush while he was visiting Kuwait. Saddam Hussein was seen as a leading sponsor of terrorism and, like Iran, was supporting terrorism around the globe. The missiles hit the building where the assassination was planned but did little to curtail Saddam Hussein’s support of terrorism. The show of force did help Clinton’s poll numbers, which had dropped in recent months.

Clinton’s second strike came in August of 1999 and targeted a then little-known terrorist origination known as Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda had recently attacked American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Clinton’s response was a missile attack against Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. The attacks killed 24 but missed Osama bin Laden. This attack has more in common with Trump’s recent attack as it was seen more skeptically. Clinton was in the midst of his own impeachment issues and many saw it as an attempt to divert the nation’s attention. The catch phrase of the day was “the tail wagging the dog.” Clinton had taken a hit with the Black Hawk Down incident and was hoping this show of force would help his image. In the end the attacks on Al Qaeda did little to stop their growth as we all found out on 9/11.

Trump’s latest missile attack has some differences and some similarities. Iran is a supporter of terrorism, both in Iraq and Syria, and Soleimani was behind much of the violence. As with Reagan and Clinton, Soleimani and Iran can be tied to several key attacks. Last May they supported the terrorist group that attacked Saudi oil fields. In June two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman and a U.S. Navy drone was shot down. In July they captured a British oil tanker. In September they once again supported a terrorist group that attacked Saudi oil fields. In December rockets killed U.S. service men in Kirkuk. Finally, in December they attacked the American embassy in Iraq. Also, all the while, they continued to work towards nuclear weapons. Yes, during the escalation the president and Iran carried on a verbal battle which seemed childish considering the consequences, but the list of terrorist activities is not unlike the list from Libya or Iraq.

The key difference between all these attacks seems to be that Trump was the only one to hit his target. Another difference is that outside of the bin Laden attack, the other attacks occurred in the target’s own nation. Soleimani was not in Iran, but Iraq. What we cannot know is the retaliation. Libya, Iraq, and Al Qaeda all vowed retaliation for the bombing. None of the previous presidents stopped the terrorists and we did see more mass destruction, though we can never know if attacks were a response or would have been carried out anyway. Iran did launch missiles at American bases in Iraq, but there were no casualties. Maybe that will be enough for the Iranians to save face. Only time will tell. They do not want to look weak, but are they willing to escalate?

The other major difference is the American response to the attacks. Clinton took some flack, but most of the attacks by American presidents, including Bush and Obama, have been met with positive reviews. Obama was even praised by both parties for taking out Bin Laden. With Trump, as expected, the attacks have come swiftly and brutally. All the major candidates trying to secure the Democratic ticket have condemned Trump. Historically speaking, maybe what Trump has done is no different from past presidents. Maybe it’s we who are different and more cynical.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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A Christmas poem for our troops

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TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE MADE OF
PLASTER AND STONE.

I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO
IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.

I LOOKED ALL ABOUT,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.

NO STOCKING BY MANTLE,
JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.

WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,
A SOBER THOUGHT
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.

FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.

THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING,
SILENT, ALONE,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.

THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED
A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.

WAS THIS THE HERO
OF WHOM I’D JUST READ
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,

THE FLOOR FOR A BED?

I REALIZED THE FAMILIES
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS
WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.

SOON ROUND THE WORLD,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE
A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.

THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.

I COULDN’T HELP WONDER
HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.

THE VERY THOUGHT
BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES
AND STARTED TO CRY.

THE SOLDIER AWAKENED
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
“SANTA DON’T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;

I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON’T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS.”

THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN’T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.

I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS,
SO SILENT AND STILL

AND WE BOTH SHIVERED
FROM THE COLD NIGHT’S CHILL.

I DIDN’T WANT TO LEAVE
ON THAT COLD, DARK NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR
SO WILLING TO FIGHT.

THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, “CARRY ON SANTA,
IT’S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE.”

ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.”


Written by a Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan

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Opinion

2019 Silent Ideas

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How do college students mentally “wrestle with a wide range of ideas” when they prevent those ideas from being expressed? This is not a rhetorical question. It is spawned by remarks made by a dean of a prestigious American college.

That dean stated, “education requires them (students) to wrestle with a wide range of ideas which sometimes means engaging speakers with controversial messages, and sometimes, it means making use of their own free speech to combat objectionable ideas.”

This dean — Michele Murray, dean of students at Holy Cross – failed at both logic and leadership with this one statement. Why?

How can students wrestle with a wide range of ideas if they refuse to hear those ideas? One can neither agree nor disagree with that which one has not heard.

Dean Murray says her students were “making use of their own free speech to combat objectionable ideas.” But the students had not heard the “objectionable ideas” when they, in a premeditated action BEFORE THE LECTURE, blocked many others who wanted to listen to the talk by filling up the venue’s seats. This, the Dean fails to notice, is not a response!

No, this was no “unruly student protest” during a talk at College of the Holy Cross. It was premeditated, planned, and executed with chants of “my oppression is not a delusion” and “your racism is not welcome.” The target of this action was Conservative scholar Heather Mac Donald, an American political commentator, essayist, and attorney. She is a Thomas W. Smith Fellow of the Manhattan Institute.

But the students knew all this beforehand. So did Dean Murray.

And the college? College of the Holy Cross is a highly respected college of Jesuit Catholic tradition in Worcester, Mass.

Two of my neighbors are Holy Cross alumni. They are among the smartest people I know. And yet?

Wouldn’t we expect such deny-first-amendment antics from Stanford or U. Cal Berkeley? Anti-intellectualism seems to be contagious! Perhaps Dean Murray might wish a transfer.

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Opinion

Historical Christmas II

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historically speaking

Christmas is the time of year when everyone seems a little happier and are a little nicer to each other. It is when we look forward to spending time with family and friends enjoying all of our favorite Christmas traditions. Yet, historically speaking, this was not always the case. Especially in America, we did not celebrate Christmas until the 1820s with the publication of a couple of important novels.

What was originally called the Feast of the Nativity reached England in the sixth century and began being called Christmas. Don’t think of it as the same holiday as we celebrate today. It was more a drunken party similar to Mardi Gras or Halloween than Christmas. It was gangs of poor going door-to-door demanding gifts. Think of some early Christmas carols. In “Here We Come A-Wassaling” there is the line, “We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door; but we are neighbours’ children, whom you have seen before.” In “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” we sing about going house to house basically demanding food.

This debauchery at Christmas played a part in America’s founding. The radical religious sect known as the Puritans wanted to rid the Church of England of all things Catholic, including the pagan practices that had crept into the Church. One of those practices was Christmas. There is no mention of Christmas in the Bible and no set date for the birth of Jesus. The Catholic Church had set Christmas during the winter solstice to help convert the Germanic tribes by claiming their religious feasts. The practice of Christmas was one of many doctrinally differences that led the Puritans to the New World to set up their “City on the Hill.” With Puritanism being one of the most influential institutions in American culture, Christmas was not practiced in the colonies. During and after the Revolutionary War, many British practices, including Christmas, were seen as taboo. In fact, Christmas does not become an official American holiday until 1870.

Christmas as we know it comes in the 1820s because of two important works of fiction (reading really does change the world). America’s first great author was Washington Irving. We had many writers at that point, but they mimicked British writing. Irving was the first to write something uniquely American. In 1819 he wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent that includes some of his most famous stories such as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”. The one entitled “Christmas” showed an English squire inviting peasants into his home for Christmas. Irving believed Christmas should be a peaceful time where all classes could live in harmony. In his story he invented ancient customs such as family members returning from far away “once more to assemble about the paternal hearth, that rallying-place of affections.”

The second book, of course, was The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This 1843 novel, even more than Irving, shaped our current idea of Christmas. The message of charity and good will to all struck a chord in America. I don’t have room to discuss this here, but childhood had only recently become a thing. Before, children were just small adults. Now with childhood, parents had a day to lavish their children with gifts without appearing to spoil then.

Reading these stories, Americans came to assume this is how Christmas was supposed to be. Christmas quickly became seen as a family holiday, with peace towards all firmly part of the Christmas celebrations.

Being my last article of the year, I want to give a quick thanks to everyone who makes Historically Speaking possible. A huge thank you to my wife Melissa Finck and Dr. JC Casey who edit all my stories. I could not do this without them. I now have a student assistant who does all the distribution. So, thank you Chris Wilson. Thank you to the editors who run these stories. Lastly, thank you to all the readers, especially those who have sent me positive feedback. I put a great deal of time into these stories and it makes it worth it knowing so many of you enjoy them.

I hope this season does bring you the happiness that Ebenezer Scrooge and Irving’s English squire found in their lives. From my family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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Opinion

Second Amendment Sanctuary

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I couldn’t contain my amusement from afar when Warren County became a Second Amendment Sanctuary, particularly as local Democrats regurgitated worn out talking points. The Chairman of the Warren County Democrats claimed to see similarities between the sanctuary and the Massive Resistance of the 1960’s, and another of Warren County’s “best and brightest” took the curious position that resistance to unconstitutional usurpations was unconstitutional. Their Confederate forefathers would be quite proud.

Such dogma has clouded the unique history of these constitutional disputes. The doctrine of nullification was best articulated by Thomas Jefferson in 1798 in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts. It played a unique political role in the years preceding the Civil War. In his Farewell Address to the Senate in 1861, Jefferson Davis condemned the Northern states for their “disregard of its constitutional obligations.” Just what were these obligations? Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act.

The most heroic instance occurred in Wisconsin. The state legislature called for “positive defiance” of efforts by federal marshals to capture and return runaway slaves. “Personal liberty” laws were common in the North at the time. But local Democrats, then as now, seem to think that this act of resistance was just simply awful. Then as now, they would defer the matter to the Roger Taney’s of the courts for settlement. (Apparently the Second Amendment’s protection as an individual right hasn’t been settled by the Supreme Court according to local Democrats. But I digress.)

To their ignorance they have built common ground with the proponents of Massive Resistance of the 1960’s. In 1680, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation making it illegal of a black person to carry any weapon. In 1723, they specifically forbade firearms. Predictably enough disarming blacks received support among the terrorist wing of the Democratic Party, the Ku Klux Klan. Rosa Parks recounted that her husband “slept with a gun nearby for a time,” and Frederick Douglass recognized that “A man’s rights rest in three boxes. The ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.

From the apocalyptic outrage at the election of a Republican president to Ralph Northam’s classless costume choice, Virginia Democrats are certainly living up to their Confederate heritage.

Devon Downes

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