Newsletter Posts

Yankee Doodle Dandy

July 5, 2024

Unlike the George M. Cohan song, I was not born on the 4th of July, but I was born in Washington, DC. I rather like that corny old song, and think of myself as a Yankee Doodle Dandy. I love our country. I have been fortunate to travel the world, working in and visiting more than 50 nations. I also have worked in and visited all but two states.

My older son, who just graduated from UCLA, plans to spend the next year or two driving the country, visiting every state in the continental U.S. He’s in for a treat. I’m going to give him the names of the scores of co-ops we have assisted.

When my wife and I married, we lived on Capitol Hill. On each July 3, we would wander down to the West Lawn of the Capitol to listen to the dress rehearsal by the National Symphony Orchestra for their performance on the Fourth. We would return the next night, listen to the orchestra again and watch the fireworks. It seems like a different era. There were no gates or checkpoints around the White House or the Capitol then; no heightened security. In fact, for years when I worked on Capitol Hill, I had a parking spot at the steps leading to the Senate. It thrilled me every time I got to drive onto the grounds in front of that magnificent building.

Terrorism, violence, threats of violence and more have changed all that. Today, the Capitol is more like a fortress. My wife worked on the 9/11 Commission and wrote the first chapter of the report that was issued. The plane that was downed in Pennsylvania might have crashed into the Capitol building had the passengers not bravely overtaken the terrorists. According to the 9/11 Commission report, “United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania at 10:03:11, 125 miles from Washington, DC . . . . Despite the discussions about military assistance, no one from the FAA headquarters requested military assistance.” The passengers were on their own.

I believe the passengers of United 93 saved lives and the greatest symbol of democracy in the world. They were true patriots.

You hear a lot about violence and retribution in our politics these days, a lot of cowboy talk by people who aren’t cowboys. For nearly 250 years, men and women have sacrificed much to protect our country. For countless, “they gave the last full measure of devotion,” their very lives.

On this July 4th, I remembered those men and women on United 93. May their memory be for a blessing.