Commentary

Wed
26
Aug

Bob Hope and fleeting fame

Years ago, my Uncle Jerry (my dad’s younger brother) sent me pictures from his time in Vietnam with the First Cavalry Division as a combat engineer.

In some pictures he’s working in the field, others he has a cigarette dangling from his mouth as he poses with an unnamed friend.

And in a few pictures, Uncle Jerry was in the crowd during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour. Some shots showed an older man, just shy of six feet tall, known affectionately among friends as “Old Ski Nose.”

Bob Hope.

For his years in USO entertaining troops, the English-born, Cleveland-raised Hope would receive a rare honor from the U.S. government: honorary veteran.

Hope also was an actor, comedian, avid golfer and was close friends with many U.S. presidents.

I thought a lot about the pictures as I recently visited the temporary Bob Hope Exhibit at the National Museum for the Pacific War.

Wed
26
Aug

Horse racing in limbo as politicians target entity

Enjoy your time at Gillespie Downs watching the horse races this summer season? We certainly did.

Yet we hope this isn’t the last of that sport which has a long history in Gillespie County.

The Texas Racing Commission was scheduled to meet Tuesday to reverse a decision to allow “historical racing” — betting on simulations of old horse races with identifying information removed — at the state’s horse and dog tracks. That decision was made a year ago in an effort to bring more revenue to struggling race tracks that still exist around the state.

Wed
19
Aug

Packing a 'Schmalz' sandwich for school

By this time next week, the Gillespie County Fair will be history and school will be in full swing at many of the schools in Gillespie County.

And while the school bell rang for most on Monday, the students at St. Mary’s Catholic Church returned last Monday, Aug. 17, and others are returning in the next few weeks.

There was a time years ago when students didn’t return to school until the middle of September. Since farming was a family affair in those days, children were busy until the middle of September working alongside their parents picking cotton and tending to other end-of-season chores.

Most of the children in rural areas attended “country schools” in their communities rather that traveling into town for classes.

Wed
19
Aug

Commemorations honors sacrifice, end of WWII

Humility was key attribute of generation that defeated tyranny, built the country

Friday’s “End of World War II” ceremony at the National Museum of the Pacific War was a solemn occasion.

Gen. Michael Hagee called the six WWII veterans in attendance a part of the “Greatest Generation,” the phrase made famous after Tom Brokaw’s writings. “I know you hate that moniker,” Hagee joked with them, “but you’re stuck with it.”

Sometimes we can romanticize the past through a filter of only good memories. Times weren’t perfect in those days, and neither were the individual people.

But that generation answered the call of the greatest global challenge ever seen from a dogged and determined enemy. Every big city and tiny town lost individuals united in a common cause. Tiny Gillespie County, known for its Fleet Admiral hero Chester Nimitz, also lost 32 of its young men.

Wed
12
Aug

Voting Rights Act was key to freedom ideal

Last week marked a half century since African Americans were fully welcomed to the ballot box. And it was a Stonewall rancher who helped them overcome this continued discrimination a full century after the Civil War broke the chains of slavery.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson was shrewd in that he used his bully pulpit and the still-fresh assassination of President Kennedy to move this legislation. Many questioned whether that could have been done two years before or two years after those events.

Johnson’s deserves praise for his courage and foresight. This was a seminal moment for civil rights in a country that has often failed to live up to its Constitutional ideals where fairness and equality are concerned.

Wed
12
Aug

There's something swell about 'cool'

There are slang words that go in and out of style. They’re popular one year only to be thrown out the next (as in, “Oh, that’s so 2014!”).

But, on the other hand, there are slang words that have been around for a long time and show no signs of losing their popularity. You’ll hear them (and even use them) for generations to come.

They were spoken when I was a kid and they’re still in use today by younger people.

For example, “cool” is one of those words that has transcended the generations. Since at least the 1950s (when I was in the process of growing up) it’s had the same basic meaning — something that is good, acceptable and to be cherished. In other words, it’s cool to be cool. And everybody understands the meaning of cool.

Your mom and dad might have called something “cool,” or your grandchildren could also use the word these days to mean the same thing.

Wed
05
Aug

Some dreams squashed by our lock-’em-up culture

Like many young boys, I dreamed of being a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Yet, my eyes were opened to the world of contact sports in seventh grade.

Douglas Dunn was one of my classmates and a talented, hard-charging running back. As a somewhat late bloomer, I was stuck on the B-team defense to line up against Doug and the starters.

I still remember Douglas breaking through the line and me waiting on him out in my defensive back position. He had open field all around, but he ran right at me and flattened all of my 80 pounds into the practice field ground. I remember thinking tennis might be my sport.

I was reminded of this while reading a recent editorial in the Dallas Morning News about incarceration rates. You see, Douglas was black and lived on the other side of our small town, literally “across the tracks.” Douglas did not have the home life, the supportive structure or the educational opportunities I had.

Wed
05
Aug

ACC stepped into offer higher education here

Austin Community College will wrap up its tenure next week as this town’s higher education partner. But before they leave, a big thank you is in order for their 20 years of service.

In 1994, the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board designated its service areas around the state. Fredericksburg had been approached by Howard College in Big Spring to offer courses here, but Gillespie County ended up in ACC’s service area.

The community founded a Higher Education Steering Committee, spearheaded by Hill Country Memorial Hospital who wanted a nursing program.

ACC began to offer dual-credit courses to high school students, who could rack up some college hours. And in the past 20 years, ACC has not charged Fredericksburg High School students for that opportunity. Bob Hickerson, executive director of the Hill Country University Center, estimates that has saved local families more than $200,000 each year.

Wed
29
Jul

Farmers’ markets have an eye on our health

“National Farmer’s Market Week” will be held Aug. 2-8 and we hope everyone goes to the Fredericksburg Farmer’s Market to pick up a bag of good health.

The U.S. Agricultural Secretary marked the 16th annual National Farmer’s Market Week to honor the role these markets play in local economies. We also think they help with a community’s overall health.

Farmers’ markets provide consumers with fresh, affordable, convenient and healthy products from local producers. The USDA has a “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, which focuses on outreach and education to consumers. And, boy, could we use it where our food and health are concerned.

Recent studies show substantial weight gains in both men and women, according to the Washington Post. Since 1960, both men and women have packed on about 30 pounds in “average” weight. And that’s not a good trend.

Wed
29
Jul

Trump trips over war hero comments

In early July, real estate developer and Republican presidential candidate contender Donald Trump made controversial remarks about Mexico, accusing the Mexican government of allowing many criminals and other undesirables to enter America as illegal immigrants.

If you thought that was a strong statement, Trump denounced Arizona Sen. John McCain during a July 18 Family Leadership Summit in Iowa. There, Trump said McCain wasn’t a war hero.

Did he really say that? I thought as I read an account on an online news outlet.

At the Iowa forum, “The Donald” accused McCain of not doing enough to help veterans get the medical attention and benefits they deserve.

When reminded that McCain was a war hero, due in part to his five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Trump said, “[McCain’s] not a war hero. He’s considered a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

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