On this day, a website is born

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — We are pleased, proud and excited today to launch Polk County's newest website, polkcommentary.com.

We couldn't think of a better time to introduce the site than on this day, Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the wicked attacks on the United States by Islamic extremists.

This site is just what the name implies, a place for commentary — in long form, short form and everything in between — about local, state, national and international events and issues. About social, political, economic and religious issues. About life itself.

While it isn’t a news site, we hope to provide, through the words here, some useful and relevant information about current events.

The commentary that appears here will be, without shame or apology, conservative in content and tone. We are pro-America, pro-democracy, pro-liberty, pro-U.S. Constitution, pro-capitalism, pro-military, pro-family and pro-traditional values.

We will praise and promote all the positive qualities that made the United States — founded without doubt on Judeo-Christian principles, — the best and most prosperous and most free nation on Earth.

We will promote hard work; thrift; common sense; and personal, business and government responsibility.

We will support a U.S. policy of peace through strength.

And, also without shame or apology, we will lift up the Lord Jesus Christ as the light and savior of the world and promote the good news of His Gospel.

While the commentary here sometimes will be tough, sarcastic and biting, we will work diligently not to be cruel, viscious or hateful.

We begin modestly today with a single Web page and a just a few pieces of commentary and reflection, but look for this website to grow into something much larger and with more “bells and whistles.”

Contributions from like-minded individuals and institutions are welcome. For now, communication can be done through e-mail by writing to jd2braddy@gmail.com.

Enjoy, and may God bless.

My reflections about the News Chief

If you have the whim to read it, I have a column about my almost-35-year relationship with the News Chief, the Winter Haven newspaper that celebrates its 100th birthday this month (Sept. 28).

The column appeared in a special section in the Sept. 11 of the News Chief. Once I find the online version, I’ll provide the link here.

Many thanks.

Strikes: To recycling-pickup workers with Republic Services-Florida Refuse who, with their rough handling, absolutely destroy the heavy-plastic recycling bins provided to Polk County residents.

Stars: To Brooks Stayer, Juanita Delgado and others with Polk County Waste Resource Management for their very quick response to my request for a recycling bin to replace a destroyed one. The county staffers outdid themselves by providing not one but two bins. A public “Thank you” to you. (An aside: We recycle at our house. Do you?)

Stars: To the much-maligned “rednecks” of our community, county, state and nation. (Can we call them “outdoor laborers”? Nah.) Without rednecks, who would build our roads, construct our houses and offices, plant and harvest our crops, dig our ditches, string our utility lines, lay our sod and then cut our grass once the sod has matured? We need our rednecks. We love our rednecks.

Stars: To our nation’s first responders — police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel and others — who go into harm’s way daily to keep the public safe and especially to those who risked everything 10 years ago when our nation was attacked on two fronts.

Strikes: To those silly folks among us who still contend, after all this time, that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the towers of the World Trade Center were, for whatever strange reason, the result of a U.S. government or Jewish conspiracy. Puh-leeze.


This photo shows the magnificent Grand Canyon. (U.S. government image)

The words to ‘America the Beautiful’ are, well, beautiful

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Have you ever paid attention to the words of “America the Beautiful”? I mean really paid attention?

I was thinking about that Sunday morning as we sang the song as part of a 9/11 remembrance event at church.

As wonderful as music is, it sometimes gets in the way of the lyrics and the power and beauty of the words within.

Here, without the benefit of music, are the lyrics to “America the Beautiful.” Soak ’em up — and don’t be ashamed to shed a tear or two.

America the Beautiful

(Lyrics by Katherine Lee Bates; music composed by Samuel A. Ward)

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves
of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Where were you when the towers fell on 9/11?

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Momentous events ingrain in our memory where we were and what we were doing when we first first heard about them.

The first “big event” I recall is the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission in July 1969. I remember, as an 8-year-old, sitting in front of a black-and-white television in the living room of my house in tiny Green Forest, Ark., looking at a grainy picture from the moon and listening to astronaut Neil Armstrong as he said: “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I recall, just after moving to Lake Alfred, Fla., in late April 1970, the ill-fated Apollo 13 space mission and keeping up with the effort to bring our astronauts home safely through newspaper clippings on the classroom bulletin board. I remember that I was paying a telephone bill in downtown Winter Haven, Fla., when I got word that President Ronald Reagan had been shot in an assassination attempt.

And I recall where I was and what I was doing when our nation was attacked without warning by Islamic terrorists the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

I was working at the News Chief newspaper at the time but, for some reason, was still at home when the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York occurred. Not having yet turned on the TV that morning, I received a phone call from my wife, Lana, who told me “They've attacked the World Trade Center.” She didn't specify who “they” were. We could guess who the attackers represented, of course, but no one at the time knew for sure.

I turned on the TV while my wife was still on the phone with me from her workplace and got up to date with whatever news was being reported at the time. And then there was the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

I’m a career journalist, but I wasn’t working in the News Chief newsroom at the time. Even so, I quickly got ready for work and rushed down to the office to see what I could do to help with any kind of newspaper special edition or special section the editors might have been preparing.

I remember first being numbed by the attacks and then feeling the numbness give way to anger and a need for retribution. (I've deliberately avoided all the 9/11 anniversary TV news shows and documentaries because I don’t want to be bitterly angry or sad for most of my days.)

That's what I remember from that fateful day 10 years ago. Where were you and what were you doing when the twin towers fell?

Joe Braddy, of Winter Haven, Fla., is a 35-year journalism veteran and a former managing editor of the daily News Chief newspaper in Winter Haven. He can be reached by e-mail at jd2braddy@gmail.com.

Lincoln vs. Obama

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — After his inauguration as U.S. president, Barack Hussein Obama chose several items provided to 16th President Abraham Lincoln, including the desk Lincoln used in the Oval Office.

Lincoln provided the slaves of the South with their freedom and our great nation with certain immortal truths:

  • You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
  • You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot build character by taking away people’s independence.
  • You cannot help people by permanently doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Several pictures have been taken of Obama leaning comfortably back in his chair, with sleeves rolled up on his tie-less shirt, and feet and shoes planted atop Lincoln’s legacy to our nation.

That, ladies and gentlemen of the voting public, is all you need to know about Barack Hussein Obama.

James W. MacMeekin III, of Winter Haven, Fla., is an author with five books to his credit. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he is a former investment manager and educator. He can be reached by e-mail at jameswmacmeekin@yahoo.com.

Keep watching this space and see the bird as it takes on new personalities in a series drawn by James W. MacMeekin III. (Exclusive rights are granted to PolkCommentary.com for publication of this cartoon series. No other publication is permitted without written consent of the artist.)


“Work spares us from three evils: Boredom, vice and need. — Voltaire

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau, American author

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” — Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. president (1981-89)

“Lost time is never found again.” —
Benjamin Franklin, American patriot, statesman and inventor

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” —
George Washington, first U.S. president

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding. — Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)


Did you hear about the two radio antennas that got married? The wedding was terrible, but the reception was excellent!

It’s not hard to meet expenses ... they’re everywhere.

You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.

Government philosophy: If it ain't broke, fix it ’til it is.

A big, bright and beautiful full moon in the eastern sky was spectacular enough tonight (Sept. 11, 2011) from Central Florida. But there was more — much more — to see.

Driving on U.S. Highway 92 east from Lakeland to Auburndale, I saw the moon seemingly hung in the sky above a thunderhead cloud., with other thunderheads scattered around.

Adding to the light produced by the moon, lightning danced in and behind the storm clouds, providing new evidence that oftentimes the best shows are the absolutely free ones produced by nature and the rest of God's universe.

Joe Braddy




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