Thursday, November 25, 2010

Discovering The Bitter Bugle Truth

The other day I attended a funeral followed by the burial ceremony.  The deceased was one of the Greatest Generation: He served in the Pacific during historic battles with Japan in World War Two.

So it was a fitting and quite poignant moment when a sailor clad in dress whites raised his bugle to blow taps.

Tears welled up in the eyes of the assembled grieving crowd as those mournful notes echoed into the outer reaches of the cemetery.

Then I noticed something odd.  The bugler wasn't blowing.  The notes came out of the end of the shiny brass instrument but without so much as a breath exhaled by the sailor.

Later I asked one of the cemetery attendants and he confirmed my suspicions.

It was a fake bugle.

The gloriously polished bugle was incapable of creating real music.  Embedded in the horn end was a  digital chip and speaker that played the somber tune perfectly---every time you hit the "play" button.


At the gravesite no one knew.  The sailor faced away from the gathered faithful.

Up to now,  I've told  no one.

I called a local VFW Chapter and learned the shocking truth:  The shortage of buglers in the military service has given way to this digital trickery. I was told that this chicanery has been going on for years.

 No one gets hurt and  no one knows the difference, he said.  Why miss the chance to provide a cherished moment for a widow remembering her fallen hero?

 Which is worse, he asked, a burial with the digital substitute or  no bugle at all?

He made a good point.  I yield to technology to create a special moment, especially since almost nobody would know the truth.

Just one last thing:  Pretend buglers, puff out your cheeks occasionally like Louis Armstrong or Dizzy Gillespie.  Fake it well.  Our fallen deserve at least that much.

Some of us are watching.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Rachel needs a good dose of reality

Rachel Brackett, I’d like you to meet Fannie Stubblefield.

Fannie Stubblefield scrubbed floors so she could send her daughter Ruth to college.

Ruth Stubblefield knew her education was precious, made possible by the gnarled fingers, calloused knees, and stooped back of her mother, scrubbing floors in the homes of the well to do.

Ruth Stubblefield couldn’t and wouldn’t dishonor the sacrifice and devotion of her mother. She went to class every day. Her dedication to her studies was her way of paying tribute to that little old lady of scrub brushes.

The glorious result was the success of Ruth Stubblefield. She was named President of Smith College in 1995, the first African American woman to head a Major University.

Why do I want Rachel Brackett to meet Fannie Stubblefield?

Here’s why.

Northern Arizona University has installed a high tech class attendance system that automatically records when a student enters a classroom. Student ID’s contain a chip detected by a computer that documents your attendance.

Professors now have an accurate report of attendance each semester generated without wasting class time. Stimulus funds paid for the new system. Thank you, Mr. President.

Cue the whiny brat, Rachel Brackett. A junior at the University, she has formed an organization to oppose the automated attendance taking. Her protest has even launched its own Facebook page.

Rachel Brakett insists students have the right to skip class. Here’s a quote from Rachel: “One of the biggest issues for me is that it should be our choice to go to class. Maybe we still have some growing to do, but that’s how you grow up.”

Grow up? Please tell me she didn’t say that.

Rachel Brackett and the other 1600 students joining her protest don’t know what growing up means.

Rachel Brackett, do you know that there are thousands who’d gladly take your seat in class (if you are attending today) but who can’t afford the tuition? Do you know that every major study shows student attendance improves student performance and success?

Rachel, I’d like you to meet Fannie Stubblefield.

When the rich white families in the suburbs scheduled Fannie to scrub their floors, Fannie showed up on time. No sleeping in.

And guess what, Rachel? Fannie didn’t have a digital monitor recording her attendance. She had something else motivating her. Courage. Dedication. Love.

So let’s can the protest and show up for class.

Hey, Rachel, did you hear me? It’s time to get up. Sometimes life doesn’t have a snooze button.

Just ask Fannie Stubblefield.