Thursday, July 5, 2007

How I See It: The Talk We Need

By Gerry Mandel

Did you ever notice how much talk there is today? It seems everywhere you turn, someone’s talking. Taking a position, giving an opinion, analyzing a situation. You hear it on TV and talk radio. Thanks to cell phones, you can’t even escape talk in a restaurant or a library. I play tennis and almost got into a fight with a guy who thought he had the right to make cell phone calls from his court. From the condition of his backhand, I hoped he was talking to a tennis pro.

Talk is even encroaching on an area once considered inviolable. Cartoons. Yep, animated features, according to a recent article in the New York Times, are loaded with talk while lacking movement, which makes them less entertaining. Think of the classic Road Runner cartoons, or Tom and Jerry. Those guys didn’t talk. They moved. They acted and reacted, and we all got it. Charlie Chaplin made the world laugh and cry without saying a word.

To tell you the truth, I think all this chatter is the cause of global warming. Those over-stimulated frequencies have to go somewhere, right? One of my favorite musicians is Mose Allison. He wrote a song called “Your Mind is on Vacation and Your Mouth is Working Overtime.” An anthem for our times.

So where am I headed with all this talk about talk? I’m going back over 60 years, back to World War II, back to June of 1944 and the beaches of Normandy. Tens of thousands of men landed on those beaches. Sadly, thousands of them died there. Most of them, however, came back home. But there’s a sadness in that as well. Because so many of them never talked about what happened there, what they saw, how they felt. And how they feel now, more than 60 years later. It’s not easy for them to talk about their experiences, especially to their families. But isn’t it a shame that these men who earned the right to talk have chosen to keep it all in? Tim Russert of “Meet the Press” says they possess a “quiet eloquence.” I like that. Quiet eloquence.

I play senior softball with a guy named Charlie. I like him a lot. He’s 82 years old, which gives me hope that I’ll still be able to swing a bat when I’m 82. I had known Charlie for a year or more, when I told him about a book I had read, called “Flags of Our Fathers.” It’s the story of a young man who learns that his dad was one of the six guys who raised the flag on Iwo Jima in 1945, an event I know you’re familiar with. He found out about it after his dad had passed away. Charlie said, “Gerry, I was on Iwo Jima too.” He surprised me. I knew he was a Marine, but not much else. I asked him if he’d ever told his wife or his kids about what he went through. He said, “They never asked, they didn’t seem interested. Anyway we were just doing a job.” Quiet eloquence. Still, I could feel there were undercurrents in his life that he didn’t want to acknowledge.

I wonder how many stories and memories are locked up. How many sons and daughters, and grand children, will never know what pop or grandpa went through. Time keeps on moving. The older we get, the faster it moves. I hope there’s time for these men to bring their families into their past. I hope they talk about it. It’s the kind of talk we need. Anyway, that’s how I see it.

How I See It: The Talk We Nee

By Gerry Mandel

Did you ever notice how much talk there is today? It seems everywhere you turn, someone’s talking. Taking a position, giving an opinion, analyzing a situation. You hear it on TV and talk radio. Thanks to cell phones, you can’t even escape talk in a restaurant or a library. I play tennis and almost got into a fight with a guy who thought he had the right to make cell phone calls from his court. From the condition of his backhand, I hoped he was talking to a tennis pro.

Talk is even encroaching on an area once considered inviolable. Cartoons. Yep, animated features, according to a recent article in the New York Times, are loaded with talk while lacking movement, which makes them less entertaining. Think of the classic Road Runner cartoons, or Tom and Jerry. Those guys didn’t talk. They moved. They acted and reacted, and we all got it. Charlie Chaplin made the world laugh and cry without saying a word.

To tell you the truth, I think all this chatter is the cause of global warming. Those over-stimulated frequencies have to go somewhere, right? One of my favorite musicians is Mose Allison. He wrote a song called “Your Mind is on Vacation and Your Mouth is Working Overtime.” An anthem for our times.

So where am I headed with all this talk about talk? I’m going back over 60 years, back to World War II, back to June of 1944 and the beaches of Normandy. Tens of thousands of men landed on those beaches. Sadly, thousands of them died there. Most of them, however, came back home. But there’s a sadness in that as well. Because so many of them never talked about what happened there, what they saw, how they felt. And how they feel now, more than 60 years later. It’s not easy for them to talk about their experiences, especially to their families. But isn’t it a shame that these men who earned the right to talk have chosen to keep it all in? Tim Russert of “Meet the Press” says they possess a “quiet eloquence.” I like that. Quiet eloquence.

I play senior softball with a guy named Charlie. I like him a lot. He’s 82 years old, which gives me hope that I’ll still be able to swing a bat when I’m 82. I had known Charlie for a year or more, when I told him about a book I had read, called “Flags of Our Fathers.” It’s the story of a young man who learns that his dad was one of the six guys who raised the flag on Iwo Jima in 1945, an event I know you’re familiar with. He found out about it after his dad had passed away. Charlie said, “Gerry, I was on Iwo Jima too.” He surprised me. I knew he was a Marine, but not much else. I asked him if he’d ever told his wife or his kids about what he went through. He said, “They never asked, they didn’t seem interested. Anyway we were just doing a job.” Quiet eloquence. Still, I could feel there were undercurrents in his life that he didn’t want to acknowledge.

I wonder how many stories and memories are locked up. How many sons and daughters, and grand children, will never know what pop or grandpa went through. Time keeps on moving. The older we get, the faster it moves. I hope there’s time for these men to bring their families into their past. I hope they talk about it. It’s the kind of talk we need. Anyway, that’s how I see it.

Patriotism: What It Means to Me

By Sue McKleveen

On a cold February day in Pennsylvania, seven men stood with guns at the ready by my father’s graveside. An American flag draped his casket to remind onlookers of his many accomplishments. While I stared at the dark wooden coffin covered in red, white and blue, I reflected on my father’s duty to his country.

As an enlistee in the Army during the Korean Conflict, my father went to California for a crash course in the Romanian language, then was sent to Europe to crack codes for the intelligence section of the Army. I grew up hearing stories of the people he’d met and the situations he’d encountered. My father was proud to serve his country. He was a true American to his last breath.

We were taught early on what it meant to be an American. My parents were born at the beginning of the Great Depression, making all five of their children realize what we had was not a privilege. Instead, the freedom of living day to day was earned. As American citizens, we were more fortunate than others around the world, having been born in the land of the free. We were told to clean our plates, to show we respected the benefit of having food on the table. Brave men and women had served their time and sometimes lost their lives to defend our way of life. My siblings and I were told not to let America go to ruin, to fight for what was right in our country. We still believe that to this day.

The bugler began playing Taps near my father’s casket. Those haunting twenty-four notes were like a tribute to the fallen soldiers, telling them their time was well spent and we, as a country, congratulate them on a job well done.

I’m told that the three-volley salute, using seven guns, each firing three times, was originally used on the battlefield to indicate that all shooting should cease to clear the dead from the land. The twenty-one sounds of gunfire at my father’s funeral made me appreciate all the people who’d died to make my country as great as it is, realizing they’d given their all on the battlefield.

Finally, it was time for the flag-folding ceremony. My sister, a celebrant, read the meaning of each fold for all present, while two chosen Veterans folded the flag thirteen times, representing the thirteen original colonies. The stars and the blue part of the flag symbolize the states our soldiers served, standing for honor and justice, while the white means purity and the red stands for valor. The folds themselves represent life, eternal life, a portion of the soldier’s life to attain peace throughout the world, trust in God, a tribute to our country, our pledge of allegiance to America in our hearts, a tribute to our Armed Forces, honor to our mothers, fathers, ancestors and religion. When completely folded, it is to remind us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

When the ceremony was completed, the folded triangular flag and a copy of the words were presented to my mother, sitting near the casket managing to look noble on such a cold and bleak day. I felt such pride for my father’s life, knowing he wanted me to carry on, fighting for what was right in our homeland.

So what is patriotism? According to Webster, it is “love for or devotion to one’s country.” I think it’s more than that, including the deep passion that stirs in one’s heart to fight for fellow Americans to preserve our way of life. It’s the feeling I had when I looked at the waving fields of grain across the Midwest or when I saw the Rocky Mountains in their glory for the first time. I felt even more patriotic when I gazed up at the Lincoln Memorial, when I walked the steps of the Washington monument so many years ago, and when I marveled at the faces carved into Mount Rushmore. I felt that passion to preserve America while crying for the lost on 9/11 and the day I stood in reverence at Arlington’s National Cemetery and at the Vietnam Soldier’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. My experiences made me want to guarantee America stays the way it is for my children and their children.

America is, by far, the greatest land in the world, giving us priceless freedom and encouraging us to succeed. I’ve met citizens from other countries, and we, as Americans, have no idea how good we truly have it. Market places are readily available for us, unlike other countries. Our medical care is second to none and our innovations help everyone around the globe. We have the ability to speak our mind or move across the country without being questioned. It truly is the land of opportunity, where the sky is the limit. I don’t take these things for granted, but appreciate it every time I vote—a freedom much of the world can’t freely exercise.

This country is great, thanks to every soldier and American who’s ever lived. Each citizen has his or her job to help the United States become even greater, from the weakest to the most powerful. We’re all in this together, and only we can keep this country extraordinary, by dreaming of the future. Together, we’ve sent men to the moon, created new technology, and solved problems all over the world. I’ve seen much of it happen in my lifetime and can only imagine what the future holds for us. I can’t think of any other country that encourages their citizens to dream of the best possible outcome, then allows them to make it happen.

My father’s casket lay naked, the flag resting in my mother’s hands while tears trickled down her cheeks. Yes, my father was a true patriot. He loved this land, as do I. Thank you, Dad, and thank you to all the brave men and women who have served this land to preserve my freedom. You’ve made me believe in the United States of America and I hope we can all make you proud, by keeping patriotism alive. God bless America, my wonderful homeland!

What Does It Mean to be Patriotic?

By Beth M. Wood

I was working on my writing degree in 2001, teaching preschool at “Love ‘N Laugher” in the morning for extra income. It was a small school – sixty families in an 80-year old home that the owner had converted into a preschool. White brick with little red awnings, sidewalk chalk up and down the driveway, clapboard fence surrounding a happy playground filled with swings, slides and running toddlers. It was quaint. Cozy. Safe. One of a million little schoolhouses all over the world.

Once the children were down for their nap, the afternoon teacher would relieve me, and I’d head to my own classes. Universities tend to lean left, politically, and at the time, I was married to a right-wing Republican. I never had much opinion on political matters. Instead I tended to let my husband sway me, just as our parents’ beliefs sway us in our youth. Once I went back to school for my bachelor’s though, I became a little more opinionated. Maybe it was the University environment, maybe it was the strain on my marriage, maybe I was finally finding my voice, and over time, confidence in that voice. Whatever it was, I felt more and more compassion for the soldiers, and less and less for the government – ours or anyone else’s.

July 4 was always a favorite of the preschoolers at Love N Laughter. The kids celebrated by waving little American flags, singing “patriotic” songs and creating “firework” art by throwing paint-drenched Koosh balls at black construction paper. I can remember walking into the little school house the morning of September 11, 2001, a weary eye on the sky, half expecting to see fighter jets flying overhead. I can remember wondering if there were preschool teachers walking into little schoolhouse in Iraq, or Cuba, or Vietnam that morning. What makes us different from any of them? Surely they were familiar with the fear of the unknown, as I was for the first time that morning.

I can’t imagine anyone talking or writing about Patriotism without mentioning 9/11 in some way. Pre-9/11 America and Post-9/11 America. Of course, most would say that, as a country, we are much more “patriotic” now.

But what does that mean? Because our country was attacked in such a massive, public, horrifying way, that we suddenly became more proud of our country. Willing to fight back? We got flag happy, I think. We rallied around the troops, the government, and the “war on terror”. These aren’t bad things, of course, but it did feel very “Republican”.

If patriotism is this simple, why does it always seem to be a political issue? If we are against the “war on terror” then we’re not patriotic. If we’re all for it – we’re murdering, war lovers. What if patriotism is just about having that sense of peace within us that somehow things will be okay? What if it’s just about waving that little flag and smiling as you walk past a stranger – sharing a common bond – even for just that day.
It’s our right as Americans – born in a free country – to choose our politics. Are we Republican or Democrat? Do we back the president, or back away? Whichever way we lean politically – we should be proud that we have that right. We should be grateful for the opportunity to choose and speak out without fear. Why fight with the leftist next door because you’re right wing? Be glad that both of you have respect and love enough for your country to use your rights. Be patriotic – and smile at the opposing team – just for today.

That first 4th of July – 2002 – was a big one for our country. But things at Love ‘N Laughter were exactly as they’d been for the past 19 July 4th celebrations. Same little flags, same paint-smattered little hands, same smiles, giggles, shouts.

That little school house hasn’t changed in the last six years. There is still no lock on the front door. No iron gates at the end of the driveway. No metal detectors or rent-a-cops.
It is still the same, peaceful, cozy place it was pre-9/11. One small sign that maybe we really our patriotic – we really do believe in our peace. Is it na├»ve? Maybe. But it’s American. How patriotic is that?

The Modern Patriot

By Janet Denton

You asked the question; the modern patriot, who are you?
My answer; I am the modern patriot.
Patriots are those who love their country dearly and zealously support its authority and interests. They serve and defend even to death. They are leaders and an inspiration to those around them, and a true believer in their countries abilities.
Today’s modern Patriot is not much different from those of yesteryear. We fight a good fight and maintain that our country is number ONE! Being a good patriot does not mean we are better than others, only that we are proud of what we have accomplished in this country -and that we have no intentions of giving it up.
I consider myself a patriot in every sense of the word. I love my country devotedly. As a patriot, when I stand and salute the flag of the United States of America, I see beyond the cloth, beyond the colors, beyond the waves as it flies. I see what the U.S. Flag embodies, security, peace, freedom for every man woman and child, all of the things this country stands for and is based on. It makes me feel a part of something greater than anything I could be as an individual.
When I look at that flag and I say the Pledge of Allegiance; I know exactly what the words mean and mean every word of it, and I believe deep in my heart that it is worth fighting for the right to proclaim it in public places.

I taught my sons to take their hats off and stand in respect of the flag and what it represents. If you know anything about Texas men, you know, that is the only time they take their hats off.

I support and respect the president, even when I vehemently disagree with his decisions, and I vote in every election, even if it is just a school board election. I believe that to be a true patriot one must stay informed on what the government is doing, and exercise our freedom of speech to disagree with our government. It is not unpatriotic to provide constructive criticism on policies that we disagree with. It is the patriot’s duty as a citizen. I have been told many times that I am politically incorrect; to which I reply, it depends on ones politics.
A true patriot understands that freedom and democracy come with a price, and if necessary, you must be willing to defend it with your life.
As a patriot, I fight the wrongs of this world and oppose tyranny where I see it. Even within my own country.

When I think of all those who came before me, it makes me extremely proud to do my patriotic duty, although I really don’t look at voting as a duty, it is a pleasure and an honor for me. A true patriot exercises their right to vote, understanding the platforms of the candidates, and making an informed decision based on the good of all Americans and not just based on a political affiliation. I have seen so many countries that do not allow the people to vote, and if they do vote, they are reprimanded by beatings, rape or death. I watched the news as many people in Iraq went to the polls to vote. What courage it took for them to do that. I wondered how many would die in retribution.
My family came here from Ireland. I know all the stories about the Irish Catholics, the fights, the drinking, the ignorance. I also know how hard my parents fought to overcome the stereotyping. My parents believed in America and their patriotic duty to raise good patriots for this country. We were sent to school and expected to learn and achieve. My parents did not drink and we were not allowed to either. We were expected to go to work and be productive members of society. We were expected to help others in our community who were in need and to volunteer wherever needed. We were taught that patriotism is considering the needs of others as well as our own. It is giving back to ones community and country.
My parents believed that the American Dream existed, and was attainable, but that you had to be willing to work hard to achieve it. I believe that this is still true today. The problem I see is that so few are willing to actually work. We belong to a generation of “give me everything for free, and everyone owes me and I shouldn’t have to work for it”.
My parents did everything in their power to be true Americans. They both became American citizens in 1950. It was the proudest day of their lives.
I have twin brothers who both became police officers, then they went off to Vietnam. They did what their Commander–in-Chief asked of them. They fought, they killed, they lived a horrible existence, because war is hell! And they came home to be spit on. They were treated worse than the true traitors in our country today who are now being treated as heroes! It was a good thing they were both cops before becoming Vietnam Vets, they had learned how to deal with ignorant people. The war took its toll on both of them, but today they are leaders in their communities.
A true patriot appreciates our Armed Forces, not just during times of war, but in peace as well, and we appreciate the sacrifices they and their families make every day they serve.
I also spent two years in Vietnam as a nurse. The pain of so many young men wounded and dieing still haunts me to this day. It fills my soul and my senses. I can sometimes still smell the death and decay. And yet, at the same time it lifts me up and fills my heart with joy. I was proud to go to war and help to heal so many who were there doing as our country’s leaders commanded. Yes, it was hard, so much death and pain surrounded me for so long. I learned then that I had to fight for what was right in this world.
I saw my youngest son off to desert storm. Three of my grandsons and a granddaughter are in Iraq as I write this and another is over there somewhere, but we are not allowed to know where due to the sensitivity of his work. I am so proud of them and what they are doing for this country. I pray to God that this country has learned its lesson on how to treat and to welcome home those who have done their duty to this country.
Patriots are the people who protect this country. They take the battle to the enemy so the battle is not fought here on our land. Patriots stand up to be counted and are the first to volunteer when there is a need anywhere.
I am the modern patriot, and so are those men and women now fighting this war on terror.

Patriotic Writing Contest Winners

By Pamela S. Meek

It is July and as our minds turn to Independence Day and we think about what is happening in our country today, we think about patriotism and what it means. Hot psychology asked for Patriotic articles and we received them!

We offered three different themes
The Modern Patriot, who are you?
What does it mean to be Patriotic?
Patriotism, Then and Now.


We are very proud to announce our three top winners. It was a very hard decision to choose from all the really fine entries. Thank you everyone who entered. And a really big Thank You to our panel of judges.

CONGRATULATIONS to our winners

First place goes to …

The Modern Patriot
By Janet Denton

Second place goes to…

What Does it Mean to Be Patriotic?
Beth M Wood

And our Third place winner is…

Patriotism…What It Means To Me
Sue McKleveen

Each of our winners will win a Hot Psychology T-shirt and their award winning essays are as follows.

CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ALL
And Thank You for entering the second annual HP Writers Contest.

Pamela S. Meek
Our Culture Editor