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My interest in Major League Baseball peaked when I was around 9 years old. While I probably couldn't name a dozen major leaguers today, I can still tell you the entire lineup for the 1974 and 1975 Chicago Cubs. One player in particular, centerfielder Rick Monday, will forever be in my memory. It was on this day, thirty years ago, during our nation's bicentennial, during an untelevised day game in Los Angeles against the Dodgers that two pieces of human debris took the field and attempted to burn the American flag...but they hadn't counted on Rick Monday.
In his own words:
In between the top and bottom of the fourth inning, I was just getting loose in the outfield, throwing the ball back and forth. Jose Cardenal was in left field and I was in center. I don't know if I heard the crowd first or saw the guys first, but two people ran on the field. After a number of years of playing, when someone comes on the field, you don't know what's going to happen. Is it because they had too much to drink? Is it because they're trying to win a bet? Is it because they don't like you or do they have a message that they're trying to present?
When these two guys ran on the field, something wasn't right. And it wasn't right from the standpoint that one of them had something cradled under his arm. It turned out to be an American flag. They came from the left-field corner, went past Cardenal to shallow left-center field.
That's when I saw the flag. They unfurled it as if it was a picnic blanket. They knelt beside it, not to pay homage but to harm it as one of the guys was pulling out of his pocket somewhere a big can of lighter fluid. He began to douse it.
What they were doing was wrong then, in 1976. In my mind, it's wrong now, in 2006. It's the way I was raised. My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corp Reserves. It was also reinforced by a lot of friends who lost their lives protecting the rights and freedoms that flag represented.
So I started to run after them. To this day, I couldn't tell you what was running through my mind except I was mad, I was angry and it was wrong for a lot of reasons.
Then the wind blew the first match out. There was hardly ever any wind at Dodger Stadium. The second match was lit, just as I got there. I did think that if I could bowl them over, they can't do what they're trying to do.
I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. It's soaked in lighter fluid at this time. Well, they can't light it if they don't have it. So I just scooped it up.
After the guys left, there was a buzz in the stands, people being aghast with what had taken place. Without being prompted, and I don't know where it started, but people began to sing 'God Bless America.' When I reflect back upon it now, I still get goose bumps.
He's not the only one who still gets goose bumps. As if being the centerfielder for Chicago Cubs didn't make someone a big enough hero to a ten year old suburban Chicago kid...saving the American flag from two asshats forever put Monday in a whole new category and is one of the 100 Classic Moments in the History of the Game as determined by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
That same season, Monday hit a career-high 32 non-steroid home runs before the Cubs traded him and reliever Mike Garman to the Dodgers for outfielder Bill Buckner and shortstop Ivan DeJesus. Monday went on to win three pennants with the Dodgers, one as the result of Monday's ninth-inning home run in the deciding game of the 1981 NL Championship Series at Montreal before beating the Yankees in the World Series. Monday is also famous for being the first player chosen in the very first draft in 1965 after leading Arizona State to a College World Series title. He was a two-time All-Star with impressive numbers during his 19 major league seasons. But, Rick Monday will always be most remembered for what he did one Sunday afternoon thirty years ago today.
The famous photograph, taken by James Rourke, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize but, of course didn't win because it wasn't at all anti-American...maybe if they had succeeded in burning the flag. A Super8 16mm video of the incident taken by a fan surfaced in 1984,
but hasn't made it to the internet yet [see update below]. The whole article along with more photographs by Rourke and the play-by-play call made by Vin Scully on the radio that day is available at MLB.com.
[Update I:] In honor of the 30th anniversary of Rick Monday saving the American flag, the Los Angeles Dodgers recognized Rick Monday on Sunday, April 23 with a video tribute. If this link ever stops working, please let me know. I have a downloadable version but didn't want to post it for bandwidth purposes. However, if you click on the picture you can see just the portion of the video where Rick Monday saves the American Flag.
[Update II:] See Patriot Guard Riders Bring Rick Monday Flag Through Oklahoma for more information and pictures of the actual flag that Rick Monday saved!
To all those who have been looking for a print of the photo of Rick Monday saving the American flag in center field, you can now order one from AP through Pictopia.
Today we joined the ranks of 46 million other people and saw Sesame Street Live. Drew had a great time seeing all his favorite Sesame Street characters live on stage. The show was all about Super Grover who had lost his superness.
The letter of the day was "K." The number of the day was "1" but at the Number of the Day Gym they weren't getting much exercise doing just one repetition so the number "0" joined in so they could do "10" repetitions. We learned about sometime foods, anytime foods and eating foods of different colors. We also learned about the importance of napping, exercise and good hygiene all with the help of the singing and dancing Sesame Street gang. With all the lessons learned, Super Grover was able to get his superness back!
Happy Easter everyone!
(More pics from Easter after the jump.)
Drew preparing for the Easter Bunny's visit by coloring eggs and setting out carrots.
It looks like the carrots were a success in attracting the Easter Bunny. He left lots of great gifts for one good little boy.
Drew on an Easter egg hunt at Grandma and Grandpa's house.
The end of a happy Easter Day.
It's that time of year again, April 15th...tax day. I'm old-school when it comes to taxes...pen, paper and my trusty HP-15c. If taxes are so complicated that people have to have someone else prepare them or rely on a computer, might that be a sign that the system is horribly broken?
Some facts about taxes:
* Individuals, businesses, and non-profits spent a total of 6 billion hours to comply with the tax code last year costing a total of $265 billion. In other words, for every dollar the government collected, it cost Americans an extra 22 cents in compliance costs.
* Members of Congress including those on the Joint Committee on Taxation do not
due do their own taxes because it's too hard.
* H&R Block, maker of the TaxCut software, couldn't even figure its own taxes correctly last year.
* Tax Freedom Day this year is April 26 which means that all the money you earn from January 1 to April 25 goes just to pay your taxes.
The system is broke. It's time to fix it and the FairTax just might be the answer. The FairTax proponents claim their plan:
* Abolishes the IRS
* Closes all tax loopholes and brings fairness to taxation
* Maintains our current Social Security and Medicare benefits
* Brings transparency and accountability to tax policy
* Allows American products to compete fairly
* Reimburses the tax on purchases of basic necessities
* Enables retirees to keep their entire pension
* Enables workers to keep their entire paycheck
For now, if it were up to me, I'd require the following reforms:
* I'd pass a law making election day April 15th.
* I'd pass a law requiring all members of congress to do their own taxes, that all their tax returns be audited and that they be subject to penalties and interest for miscalculations just like everyone else.
* It's a myth that your employer pays any portion of your taxes. They don't pay half of your FICA (Social security and Medicare taxes), it's all part of the cost of employing you along with your salary. I'd pass a law getting rid of this lie. It wouldn't affect anything except to change the name of some accounting entries, but it's one small step in the right direction to telling the truth about taxes. After passage you'd see your salary increase as well as your FICA tax from 7.65% to 15.3% which would result in the same take home pay. But, at least, your pay stub would now accurately reflect the taxes you are paying.
* I'd pass a law that in order to get your refund back, you'd have to write a pretend check for the amount of all the taxes you have given the government over the past year along with a handwritten statement, "I gave the government an interest free loan." Every year I hear: "Yeah, I'm getting a refund." All I hear is: "I'm an idiot, I just gave someone an interest free loan!" No one would ever give a bank $100 a month, January through December, followed by the bank giving them $1,200 the following April but they get all excited when they get $1,200 back from the government. It's the same thing!
One last thing. According to the latest data available from the IRS:
The top 1% of wage earners pays 34.3% of all income taxes.
The top 5% of wage earners pays 54.4% of all income taxes.
The top 10% of wage earners pays 65.8% of all income taxes.
The top 25% of wage earners pays 88.9% of all income taxes.
The top 50% of wage earners pays 96.5% of all income taxes.
The bottom 50% of wage earners pays 3.5% of all income taxes.
The top 1% is paying nearly 10 times as much as all of the bottom half!
Death and taxes...at least one brings eternal peace.
I went to the eye doctor this week and I just wanted to say one thing:
One looked just like two. Three looked just like four. There was no freaking difference!
We can looks at planets thousands of millions of miles away and stars trillions and quadrillions of miles away and know more about them than an ophthalmologist can determine by examining my eyes without my assistance. Why must he rely on my subjective evaluation of minute shapes which are more affected by whether I just blinked than anything he was doing with the phoropter? Eye doctors already use electronic devices to measure the curvature of your eye for contact lenses, can't they go the last mile and fully automate the process so I don't have to pretend that one is better than two and not just smaller and darker?
I also ordered some new eyeglasses...the frameless type, which cost more than glasses with frames. How does that make any sense?
So, I'm at a local FedEx-Kinko's late one night recently and while I'm waiting for my copies to be made and bound, I was walking around the store and was confronted by this sign which was part of their Self-Service card kiosk (I've added the highlighting):
It was late and I already wasn't thinking clearly, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not make sense of their pricing scheme. Why in the world would anyone buy 25 black & white copies for $3.00 when they could get 30 black & white copies for the same amount of money by buying them in $1 increments? The same problem exists in the pricing of the black & white prints.
I couldn't help wonder how many levels of bureaucracy, approval, editing, printing, proofing, etc., this rate structure had to go through before finally making it to the retail floor. When my order was ready, I asked the clerk about it and she agreed it made no sense.
Drew has always been amazingly good at getting his hair cut. He's never cried and was only a little frigidity when he was younger. Robyn always does a great job and she says that Drew is her favorite customer.
It's spring in Oklahoma and that means tornado season. We had a tornado warning this evening with circulation forming and starting to drop down above us less than a mile away. Fortunately, nothing more came of it. It all passed pretty quickly and, by the time I thought to snap some pictures, all the really scary clouds had already passed.
When I was taking pictures of the clouds, I asked Drew what they were made of. He said confidently, "white." The other day, he colored a sheet of paper all brown. Mary asked him what it was and he responded, "brown, it's comfy." He's very fond of it. Days later he asks, "where's brown?" We find it and he puts it where he can see it before going back to whatever it was he was doing.
Today Drew, his uncle David and I had a boys day out and went to the Wanenmacher's arms show, the world's largest gun and knife show covering eleven acres and more than 3900 exhibitor tables!
At the show, we got to meet ninety-one year old General Paul W. Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. He signed his book, Return of the Enola Gay, which had already been signed by the Enola Gay's navigator, Major Theodore J. Van Kirk. Tibbets also signed for us a photo of him and the Enola Gay.
General Tibbets is well known for having no regrets for his actions which comes as no surprise since, by most estimates, the dropping of the bomb saved a million U.S. lives and countless millions of Japanese lives which would have been lost in a full scale invasion of Japan. The argument can even be made that the dropping of the bomb was the greatest humanitarian act of all time. Can you think of another single act which saved more lives?
Interestingly, press releases of General Tibbets' visit to Tulsa had been sent to all the radio and television stations in town, yet none of them mentioned his visit. Does anyone believe if somebody from Hiroshima who survived the bomb blast had come to Tulsa that the media would ignore it? Or, if General Tibbets was an apologist speaking out against nuclear weapons? How sad that the someone of his historical magnitude gets the cold shoulder from the liberal media. If they can't rewrite history, they ignore it.
The Danz Family Forums, open for just a week, have already been more successful than I ever imagined. I've learned the names of my great-grandfather's parents, Sebastian and Katherine Danz, in addition to now having a photograph of them and their home in Germany from around 1860. I've been provided volumes of information about distant cousins and continue to have sent to me photos I had never seen before of relatives including this family photo of my great-grandfather and his ten surviving children taken around 1911:
Front row, left to right: Elmer, Ella, Clara, Harriet and their father Louis Danz.
Back row, left to right: Walter, Carl, Herman, Ernest, Otto (my grandfather) and William.
My great-grandmother Anna (Hoffman) Danz died during childbirth along with their eleventh child, Louis, in 1901.
I and the other forum members continue to post information related to genealogy as well as more mundane family announcements and exchanges of greetings. So, if you are a Danz or immediate family relative, send an email to the below address and ask for an invitation.