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Posts Tagged ‘Americans’

Have you ever thought about what a member of the military eats when deployed?

Those splashy marketing videos never seem to show it and we’re left to wonder what’s in those MRE’s.

When we commemorate the men and women who have died while in military service we tend to talk about “the troops” in an abstract form these days.  Bumper stickers remind us to “support the troops,” which is the functional equivalent of a bumper-sticker request to “imagine world peace.”

The nightly news, when they depart from the daily Trump “Groundhog Day” spotlight, will sometimes feature “In Remembrance” lists of “The Fallen,” which quickly scroll across our screens—distancing ourselves from them—their complexity, their individuality, their family, their humanity, before the next re-run of Seinfeld begins.

Memorial Day involves parades and a variety of solemn services, but most often, it involves barbecues.  Which for many allows us to be ignorant of what “the troops” service entails in the first place.  It’s not, of course, that “the troops” don’t deserve our admiration; it’s that they deserve much more than one day or weak displays of convenient gratitude on a bumper sticker or the empty logic of “support our troops” in a Twitter tweet.

The National Moment of Remembrance Act, encourages all-Americans to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a moment of silence to remember and honor those who died in service to our nation.

So on Monday, May 29th, please take a moment to reflect and ask what it’s like, what it’s really like, to be a soldier.  And honor those who died in service to our nation.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs has posted a list of Memorial Day events across the state on its website.

Photos taken by author’s father in Vietnam.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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President Barack Obama has been re-elected for 4 more years and we remain a collection of polarized red and blue states.

The first instinct of some will be to blame the voters — to say they just don’t “get” it — or to imply the “takers” simply outnumber the “makers.”

To my way of thinking, Americans should have been outraged by what happened in Benghazi. Or outraged by the increasing debt — or by the fact that the unemployment rate actually rose during Obama’s first term.  But it’s the job of the political spin “machine” and party movements to persuade Americans to buy into their “reality distortion field” — vision.  And clearly they aren’t buying what Republicans are selling.

So while most will focus today on Obama’s reelection victory and mandate this or mandate that, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their families.

I’ll admit it — Mitt wasn’t my guy in the primaries.  But when he got the nomination, I put a few of my differences aside to join him in supporting the many other things we have in common from a business background.  As the campaign went on, he grew on me — especially after he chose Ryan to help confront some serious spending issues.   They ran a good and dignified campaign.  Many of you may disagree, but I felt President Obama lowered himself and the office of the president with mudslinging class warfare and immature name-calling.  It’s debatable, but I felt Romney kept his eye on the bigger picture.

At the end of the day, I respect Mitt Romney.  As one of the 48%, the loss is a disappointment, but I’m proud to have been represented in this election by a man who carried himself with dignity, even when he faced vicious & narrow-minded attacks on his personal character, his work ethics and his faith.

As he stated in his gracious concession speech, that he “left everything on the field” and for that, I wanted to provide him a sincere shout out.

To Mr. Obama: The campaigning and election are over. It’s time for governing and making things happen.  Please do it!

Full disclosure:  I have a major distrust of government that wants to manage every aspect of my life.  I believe in balanced budgets and that private enterprise creates wealth, but I also know that some of Wall Street bankers and corporate executives are so overpaid you’d think they solved world peace and don’t get a pass.

Photo courtesy of Scripps Media.

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At Willamette National Cemetery

I remember watching the Vietnam War as a kid and seeing shooting and blood and bodies—and people were serious.  Very serious!

Then years later on the first night of Desert Storm in 1991, while watching CNN the contrast was stunning.  I remember thinking, are they reporting on a war, or are they trying to sell me on it?  These days the media is problematic as they would rather be first than be right!  Endless commentary without much reporting.  I’ve always thought that people should get information to make themselves smarter, not just to make themselves feel good and reinforce their viewpoints, but I’ve digressed.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day which commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.  It is set aside so that we might reflect on the honor and sacrifice of those who courageously gave their lives to safeguard us and our way of life. Freedom surrounds each of us everyday—as we openly speak our minds, ride motorcycles freely in any city, where worship is feely exercised and where ballots are freely cast to change who will govern this great county.

It is a great county, and let’s take a few minutes today to remind ourselves of the consequences of war and remember the families of our Fallen.

Photo taken by author at Willamette National Cemetery.

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Spc. Eric Richardson Beaverton, Ore., left, who was wounded in Kandahar, Afghanistan, bows his head in prayer before President Barack Obama addressed military personnel who recently returned from Afghanistan, Friday, May 6, 2011, at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Monday is Memorial Day and it’s a special holiday in America because it commemorates U.S. men and women who died during their military service.

You might be to young to recall, but in 1968, with new bodies returning from a deeply unpopular war, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Act, moving Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Washington’s Birthday to Mondays, to allow for convenient three-day weekends. The loss of focus on this once-somber day had become institutionalized. The change in the holiday was contemporaneous with a larger change in attitude among many Americans toward their government, its wars and those sent to fight them.

Young men such as my father or my cousin Mike sat in Vietnam and read letters implying they were pawns in an immoral game, with nefarious intent to terrify kids in a jungle thousands of miles from home. Their dead were not to be honored upon their return, but rather shunned as emblems of a country in crisis… as people celebrated the beginning of summer rather than Memorial Day, one could debate that a generation grew up not understanding what the day’s name really meant.

My cousin was “KIA”, and recently a good buddy of mine had a family member, Spc. Eric Richardson from Beaverton, OR. , who fought in Afghanistan come home wounded, but alive.  He was shot in both legs in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Earlier this month at Fort Campbell, KY., he was selected to sit in the front line as one of the most recently wounded veterans when President Barack Obama addressed military personnel who  returned from Afghanistan.  He could barely stand and almost passed out from pain before he was finally able to sit down.  It was a proud moment for his family.

Sure, we’re all looking forward to an enjoyable Memorial Day barbecue and get-together, but regardless of one’s politics, independent of class, race or religion, there should be a basic acknowledgement and respect for those who have given their lives protecting an ideal.  I’m grateful for all those who currently serve, have served, and those who have lost their lives defending our freedom.

I hope that amidst the fun and sun rain, we might all perform some simple act of respect and honor all our brave service members.

Photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak).

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Meetings.  Talking.  Meetings.

We’re always being reminded that political leaders, policymakers and industry leaders are “gathering” to hash out ideas on how to get the mojo back and what the key is to unlocking innovations and jobs of the future.  We’re suppose to feel good, but from my vantage there is little visible in the way of action.

The White House has made a quiet but extensive effort to reach out to corporate executives in a series of dinners and lunches at the White House with President Barack Obama.  Attendees have largely been kept secret or at minimum very quiet… until now!

Politico.com states Keith Wandell (Harley-Davidson CEO) had dinner with Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other top White House officials.  Another comprehensive list is available HERE.  It’s not clear if it was at an off-site local restaurant or something more elegant in the White House.  Given the state-of-the-states, I seriously doubt the motor company will be creating any new jobs soon. In fact, the recent ratified agreement calls for a drawdown of nearly 50% of the employee’s base at the York, PA operations.  Asia or India look like expansion alternatives and I suspect it won’t be long before we hear about plants being set up there.  So, what did Mr. Wandell share w/ the White House chief of staff?  Would H-D coming to the government to offer ideas on how they can help be a startling conversation changer?  Does H-D have eyes and ears on future trends that they can grab and then be able to exploit?

I’m not sure, but do you think the U.S. is still the world’s center for innovation, or is it falling behind countries such as India and China?  Fueling the debate is a new poll on innovation published by Newsweek. One interesting finding: while 82% of Chinese citizens believe the U.S. remains a technologically innovative country, only 74% of Americans feel the same way.

At any rate,  the other industry officials who joined Mr. Wandell at the June 16, Rahm Emanuel dinner were:

Penny Pritzker, CEO, Pritzker Realty
Mark Gallogly of Centerbridge Partners
Mike Fascitelli, CEO, Vornado Realty Trust
Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO, Alcoa
Dave O’Reilly, CEO, Chevron
Richard Smith, CEO, Realogy
Mike Ullman, CEO, J.C. Penney
Keith Wandell, CEO, Harley Davidson

I’m not attacking or implying that only favor-curriers are “sitting at the presidents table” but I’m not reading a lot about how the voice of the average lower and middle class American are being heard.  As the White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers has recently urged attendees at these dinners to “think about what your institution should be called on to do, not in its own interest, but in the broader national interest.”

Photo courtesy of Presidential inauguration.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Concert In The Park

Concert In The Park

Do you feel it?  The smell of fall as the lazy, hazy days of sunshine dwindle faster than a Harley-Davidson financial comeback.

Too soon the leaves will fall, rain will flood the roads and snow will fill the air as television news canvas the area to report fender-benders over and over.  Before this happens, however, there is still time to ask: “Am I making the most of my 2009 summer riding season?”

In trying to stretch out summer as much as possible I attended an outdoor concert last night.  Was it motorcycle exhaust fumes mixed with cigar smoke and classic rock music like Summerfest in Milwaukee?   No, but Body & Soul reunited last night to perform high-energy Tower of Power, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder and classic rock.

Speaking of classic rock,  I’m not talking about Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” or Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, rather it’s about Steely Dan and “My Old School.”  Remember it was the “boomers” who grew up with music at the center of their lives.  There were no cell phones, there was no Facebook.  They lived to twist the AM dial in the coupe, if lucky had a FM radio and a phone in their bedroom.  The glue that kept them together was the music.  They call this music “classic rock”.  Classic, as in aged, as in done.  But, I beg to differ.

Body & Soul Music Group

Body & Soul Music Group

Insiders will tell you the best Steely Dan album was the second, “Countdown To Ecstasy“, the one that ended their touring career, the one sans any hits.  I disagree. It was “Can’t Buy A Thrill” which was truly a masterpiece.   At the concert last night Body & Soul performed “My Old School” and hearing those guitar riffs made me want to blog about it.

For the uninitiated, or those who grew up in the mid-west, or even further left, Annandale-on-Hudson is the location of Bard College, where those who were smart, but thought high school was B.S and didn’t have the grades commensurate with their intelligence ended up going to college to further their creativity.  It’s where Walter Becker and Donald Fagen went to school before moving on to back up Jay Black as two of his Americans and ultimately getting a deal with ABC Records.  They were forced to get a lead singer, David Palmer, since Fagen’s voice was “supposedly” deemed not radio-ready by the studio execs.  Mr. Palmer sang the lead vocal on a legendary track, but I like this version of “Dirty Work” however, when performed live it hasn’t got the same power with backup singers taking the lead.

SDAfter struggling in the music trenches for years, plying their trade far from the spotlight, Steely Dan became a success and was an AM radio fixture.  Not an FM staple.  Remember back… FM was in the process of getting dumbed down, featuring meat and potatoes rock as opposed to intelligence, but when the hooks of “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ In The Years” poured out of one speaker it could not be denied by AM radio and the album “Can’t Buy A Thrill” became a huge hit.  It was an album seen most often in dorm rooms of those not quite hip, but didn’t have to worry about their cred.

For those of us who lived through it, when we hear Steely Dan songs we’re brought right back.  I’ve seen Becker and Fagen at the Gorge Amphitheatre a couple of times.   Their troupe of hired musicians return us to what was and who we used to be.  And one could say it was aged music, but like wine, some things get even better as the years go by.

Even though youngsters these days might not understand, they positively get awesome musicianship.  It’s not about staging or production it’s about the music. Yes, the sun is setting on these baby boomer acts.  Their audience is getting older, fans don’t feel the same need to go to the show.  But if you’re a musician you play anyway.  That’s what you’re in it for, the SOUND!

Steely Dan and Body & Soul photos courtesy of respective web sites.

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