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The “shot heard round the world”

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The Battle of Lexington, 19th April 1775, 1910 (oil on canvas by William Barns Wollen) / Source: wikiart.org

245 years ago, on April 19, 1775, the “shot heard round the world” was fired at the battle of Lexington and Concord.

A handful of American farmers and storekeepers, patriots engaged a British Army, who were to take and/or destroy our powder and weapons. Eight of our men were killed right away guarding our powder.

Our American patriots decided they would no longer be molested, abused, brutalized, restricted to their homes, robbed of their weapons, their voices outlawed, unallowed to speak freely, unallowed to elect their own government leaders, have no representation to determine their taxes, nor would they continue to have a standing Army rule their communities and live in their homes, taken by force! THEY RESISTED and confronted their oppressors.

There were over 1,500 British soldiers that they faced this day! A handful of men faced the British at dawn. By the end of the battle, nearly 4,000 civilians, patriots had joined the fight! The enemy retreated. 49 Patriots were killed, 39 wounded; and 73 British Redcoats killed, 174 wounded.

Among our leaders was a young doctor, Dr. Joseph Warren, the man for whom our County is named. Here in Warren County, his picture and history now hangs in every school and government building, and I am honored to have had a small part in having him seen and remembered in our County.

Two months later, on June 17, Joseph Warren, age 34, would die a martyr’s death fighting at Bunker Hill, so that you and I could live free under a Constitution… a FREE people… not ruled by a tyrant king! We live free because our forefathers shed their blood for us.

PLEASE, NEVER ALLOW WHAT THEY GAVE US BE LOST!

The Rev. Larry W. Johnson
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Back the Blue Now

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I never thought we would see this sad day in America. Law enforcement officers are being targeted in cities across our country. In this nation, law enforcement is the glue that holds our civil society together — but they are increasingly under violent attacks. Earlier this month, two sheriff’s deputies were ambushed at point-blank range in Los Angeles, and another two officers were shot last night in Louisville.

For months, the leadership of the Democrat party has failed to condemn violence, rioting, and anti-police, extremist rhetoric. Here in Virginia, Democrats in the General Assembly have introduced legislation to lower the penalty for assaulting an officer from a felony to a misdemeanor, practically inviting attacks against officers. The dangerous and counterproductive “defund the police” movement must end now. The time is overdue for ALL public officials, and every American, to stand against these attacks on officers.

For years as an elected official, I have stood with our law enforcement officers. Recently, I participated in two “Back the Blue” rallies in the Sixth District. When I served in the House of Delegates, I introduced legislation to increase the penalty for assaulting current and former law enforcement officers. Now, in Congress, I support common-sense police reform. I am a sponsor on the JUSTICE Act, which was developed in concert with law enforcement agencies to provide increased funding for training, transparency, and accountability to ensure America continues to build strong relationships between law enforcement and our communities. These bi-partisan reforms ensure we support our law enforcement officers while addressing the concerns of aggrieved communities.

Our men and women in uniform serve people of all backgrounds. When an officer responds to a dangerous dispatch, they risk their lives to protect the victim — all victims. Please join me in taking a stand in support of law enforcement.

Ben Cline

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Opinion

September 25th is the birthday of the U.S. Constitution

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Our Bill of Rights was approved by the Continental Congress 231 years ago today. It is the peoples’ protection, our protection, against tyranny. September 25, 1789, must never be forgotten.

Our Constitution and these “rights” defend us from oppression, and it is up to us to preserve and defend these God Given Rights. They were purchased by the shed blood of our forefathers and foremothers. Their blood screams out from our American soil… To Stand Strong, Resist Evil, and to Trust in God!

Larry Johnson, The Liberty Man
Front Royal, Virginia

Photo / Larry Johnson

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4-H Center is a hidden gem

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It has been a pleasure this summer to discover a hidden gem just outside Front Royal with the Blue Ridge Mountains hugging the countryside: the Northern Virginia 4-H Center. The genius of 4-H has been to teach farming, gardening, environmental stewardship, home care, sewing, and community leadership as life skills and character building for children and adolescents. It also sponsors and supports camping with meeting facilities like the one located just a few minutes from the city limits of Front Royal. We learned the land was gifted from Virginia Tech as an agricultural education outreach project. Its conference center offers meeting space with stunning views.

The use of this facility has been a gift for those of us who could not travel or use public swimming pools in other jurisdictions this summer. The 4-H pool generously opened its Olympic-sized pool for the public at designated hours. We were particularly fortunate to attend the senior aquatics program taught by Katie Tennant, the new program director who moved recently from Ohio with her family. Well-trained and professional, she kept us on task for the aquatic therapies she instructed with a gentle firm touch. While the pool was a respite from the summer heat, the aquatics class, in a time of sheltering at home, provided a way to strengthen joint and body movement in a safe, healthy manner.

This senior water exercise program enabled us to learn techniques that we can continue to use in the coming months of uncertainty. As we swam, we worked to regain health, balance, movement, and cardio fitness. In sum, the 4-H pool is a gift to the community and one more reason to celebrate the Commonwealth of Virginia and the County of Warren.

Sincerely,
Mary E. Neznek
Washington DC (educator and wellness coach)

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Historical Boycotts

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historically speaking

It is often said that words matter.  Historically speaking, this is often seen by using a particular word to connect to the past.  The Whig Party chose that name because in the 1830s everyone knew that the Whigs in England were the ones who had opposed the King.  By calling themselves the Whigs, they were criticizing Andrew Jackson by implying he wanted to be a monarch.

Recently this idea has played out with a Twitter beef between certain sports writers and LeBron James.  After the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Milwaukee Bucks announced they would not play their opening round game against the Orlando Magic.  Quickly the rest of the NBA games were canceled as players refused to play in light of the most recent shooting.  The NBA came out in support of the cancelations and announced the games would be played at a later date in the near future. In writing about the games, many writers referred to the canceled games as postponements.  It was at that time that LeBron James tweeted, “Boycotted not postponed.”

Why does the name make a difference?  Either way, postponed or boycotted, the games were all held two days later and the playoffs continued.  May I suggest that James, understanding the historical significance of boycotts, wanted to connect his actions to the past.  By insisting what he did was a boycott, the current movement could be seen in a similar light as, say, the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  James did not articulate his reasons for his Tweet, but there must have been a reason for his insistence he was boycotting.

To be fair to the journalists, they had reasons for their word choice.  First, traditionally in sports a boycott has referred to players skipping a game or event while the game went on without them.  When past NBA All-Stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elgin Baylor boycotted games because of racial injustice, the games were still played but without them.  So when the NBA rescheduled the recent playoff games, to many it seemed more like a postponement.

Secondly, though not required, to make a good sports boycott story, some amount of sacrifice is usually made.  There are some excellent examples in history.  In 1936, the Olympic Games were held in Hitler’s Germany. Hitler planned to use the games as a showcase for his achievements and show off he did. He built amazing venues and used the world’s captured attention to turn everything into a pageant of Nazi propaganda. He also showed off his nation’s athleticism by dominating the games and winning the most medals. Even while cautious of Hitler, most of the world arrived in Berlin anyway, not wanting to let politics ruin the games. However, there were some athletes who just could not bring themselves to ignore Hitler’s treatment of the Jews.

One such athlete was Albert Wolff, a French fencer. Though Wolff had a chance to medal in the Olympics, as a Jew he simply could not tolerate Hitler’s Jewish views. Instead of competing, he gave up any chance of Olympic glory and remained at home. He never gave up on his Olympic dreams, however. In 1948, twelve years later, when the games commenced again after WWII, the now 42-year-old athlete finally got his chance to compete. Much older now and out of his prime, this time he represented his new home of America and had the honor to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremonies. It’s worth noting how Wolff spent his time between the two Olympics. Instead of sitting in his hotel suite for a few days, eating room service, he decided to enlist with the French army and left for the front, willing to die for his beliefs. He did not just fight; he earned his nation’s highest honor for bravery. Eventually, he was captured by the Germans and sent to a Jewish war camp. He managed to escape the camp and made his way to Portugal and then eventually the U.S.  Once in America, he enlisted in the American Army and was sent back to the front in Africa to fight again.

There are other famous boycotts. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Russia because of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. Many athletes who had trained for years for this one event were forced to give up their only opportunity to ever win a medal. There was some satisfaction for America, not the summer athletes, but for the winter ones. Later that year America did play in the winter games.  That was the year when the American hockey team beat the Russians during the “Miracle On Ice” game, arguably the most inspirational American Olympic game ever.  By not sacrificing even one game, James’ boycott does not seem to measure up for many.

In the end it really does not matter what the game stoppage was called, the playoffs have continued and James looks poised to win his fourth championship.  James wants to be seen as fighting for social justice like those who came before him.  However, maybe it is the very fact that he might win that fourth title that some have questioned his choice of words and have denied what he did was a boycott.


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 www.Historicallyspeaking.blog.

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

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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

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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 www.Historicallyspeaking.blog.

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