Presidents’ Day 2016

Today America honors those who have served as Presidents. On Presidents’ Day we remember George Washington’s “I cannot tell a lie” after cutting down the cherry tree, likely an apocryphal tale but one embedded in the minds of American school children of my generation. But then there was also “honest Abe”. We were taught to be like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

We expect much more from a President or a candidate for President, although in recent decades we’ve lowered our expectations. Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky, and the Iraq War have taken us a far distance from the myths of George and Abe who couldn’t tell a lie.

But the American expectations of a President are not just about truth-telling. They are also about stature, decorum, propriety, decency, wisdom, the ability to hold one’s  tongue in sensitive situations. Qualities of character and skill that, if we forget them, lead to cheapening the Office of President to the society’s lowest common denominator. Flash forward to South Carolina, two days before Presidents’ Day, 2016.

“For a number of weeks Ted Cruz has just been telling lies. He lied about Ben Carson in Iowa. He lies about Planned Parenthood and marriage. And he makes things up.” – Sen. Marco Rubio, candidate for President, accusing Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz.

“You are probably worse than Jeb Bush. You [Ted Cruz] are the single biggest liar … This guy will say anything. Nasty guy. Now I know why he doesn’t have one endorsement from any of his colleagues.” – businessman Donald Trump, candidate for President regarding fellow candidates Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush.

“I gotta tell you. This is just crazy, huh? This is just nuts. Okay. Oh, man.” And “these attacks, some of them are personal. I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this.” – Governor John Kasich, candidate for President.

Back when I was a kid at Marple Elementary School, someone would shout the worst thing we could say to each other – “Liar, liar, big fat liar!” Both the accused liar and the accuser would end up in Pop Warfel’s Office for a lecture. Pops was the Principal.

Where’s Pops when we need him? RIP. Thanks for the lesson in civics.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 15, 2016


Two Flags

Confederate flag, Lake City, FL

Confederate flag, Lake City, FL

A huge Confederate flag waved high over the interstate north of Lake City, Florida in stark contrast to Steve Shoemaker’s verse about Lincoln (posted earlier the same day).

Abraham Lincoln is perhaps America’s most revered President. The spirit of Lincoln is still with us. So is the spirit of John Wilkes Booth and the KKK.

It’s not everywhere in the South you will see the Confederate flag flying. You won’t see it in Key West, the southernmost spot in the United States of America. But some things die hard, and other things never seem to die. Like guns. Like white supremacy. Like war.

– Gordon C. Stewart, writing from Jackson, MS, Feb. 21, 2015



Events: You’re Invited

Join the celebration of the spirit of emancipation in the 150 Year Anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation: Becoming Free – Go Fly a Kite,Tuesday, October 1, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Steve Shoemaker and President Bill Clinton

Steve Shoemaker and President Bill Clinton

Rev. Steve Shoemaker, host of Univ. of Illinois Public Radio interview program “Keepin’ the Faith” and published poet. Location: Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church, 145 Engler Blvd. in Chaska

The Slaves Speak: Voices from Slavery, Tuesday, October 15, 7:00 p.m.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Anticipating Emancipation Day (Oct. 26) Shepherd of the Hill Dialogues presents dramatic readings from the hearts and minds of the slaves and ex-slaves, like Sojourner Truth, pictured here with Abraham Lincoln.

Dramatic readings, insight into the period, the movement toward emancipation in our own time, and communal singing of the songs from the cotton fields (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; My Lord! What a Morning, and other spirituals).
Location: Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church.

Emancipation Day Celebration, Saturday, October 26 3:15 – 8:30 P.M. Location: Chaska High School

Sojourner Truth and President Abraham Lincoln

Sojourner Truth and President Abraham Lincoln

Mark the 150th Anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation celebrate the spirit of on-going spirit of emancipation for our time. Guest speaker and Music by guest artists Dennis Spears, Jerry Steele, Momoh Freeman , and the Valley Band and Chaska High School Choir.

Sponsors for Oct. 26 Emancipation Day Celebration: the Cities of Carver, Chanhassen Chaska and Victoria (Mayor’s Proclamations); Chaska Police Department, Chaska Human Rights Commission; Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church; District 112 Office of Community Education; Carver County Library.