Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Charles Brotman's Inaugural Parade

I fear for America. It is somehow sad to me to think that my first blog of 2017 would be to say those four words. I have had a bit of time to pull back, to reflect, to rest, to have my right hip replaced and recover a bit from that, to let politics post-election play out. I began to look forward to a better year than 2016 both personally and politically. But I can't help it, I can't stay away. I hear people say we must stand behind our new President even before he actually is President. We should not criticize him. We must understand that what is in his heart is not necessariloy what comes out of his mouth. He will be the leader of the free world in ten days. And I fear him. I am a loyal American, patriotic enough to stand up for the things I believe best represent American values and oppose things I fear would undermine those values. It is how I was raised, by a passionately democratic immigrant father who came to America in 1952 seeking the American Dream. He dragged me along. I was two years old, so I, too, am an immigrant. By 1952, Charles Brotman had become a celebrated public announcer for local Washinbgton DC sporting events, most notably the Washington Senators baseball team. In 1956 he met President Eisenhower, there to throw out the first pitch, and was the one who introduced the President to all the players and made sure he was comfortable. In November he got a call asking him to be the President's announcer at the inaugural parade, an offer he said he felt he was not worthy to receive but he wasn't going to let it go. It became his once-in-four-years gig, part of his American Dream. He's been doing it ever since, for sixty years, fifteen inaugurations, and eleven presidents. He recently lost his wife of 65 years, and the only thing that kept him going was preparing for parade number 16. But Donald Trump's transition team told him, essentially, we admire you and plan to honor you with a nice seat near the President, but you're fired. Brotman is 89, still vital and engaging in that wink of the eye kind of way old men seem to acquire. Annouuncing the parade had become a tradition, and a harmless one, that held not a single party line. But Trump said no. There was no compassion, no kindness, no effort to be reasonable. There was no explanation given, no chance for appeal, no chance for rebuttal. It was, as businessmen like to say, a done deal. Trump got what he wanted and all else be damned. That's what scares me: will he treat this own country that way, without care, comnpassion, or kindness but just as a pathway to whatever he wants, his way or the highway. Will he spend his presidency in petty squabbles with famous people who disagree with him and exercise their freedom of speech to say so? What happens when people start to say, No, no more, Donald? Will that day even come? I have waited and watched for weeks now as a man elected by less and a quarter of the country prepares for office. My fear only grows.

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