Oh, there is so much to be grateful for

Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011


On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to make like an elementary school teacher, who, in recent days, might have assigned her students the task of writing about the things for which they are thankful. Except in this case, the assignment is for me. (Grading is optional.)

I’m most thankful for the gift of salvation that God has freely and graciously provided to me through the atoning work of his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, at Calvary. I accepted that gift as an 8-year-old in July 1969 in Green Forest, Ark., and I have never regretted it.

I’m thankful for my family, my home, my employment and the other opportunities I have to earn an honest living.

I’m thankful for my church and the time I have now to attend services regularly. I’m thankful for my pastor, his testimony and his determination to preach the Word of God rightly, honestly and without sugar coating. I’m thankful that through my work, I can give back to God and his church a portion of what he has provided to me.

I’m thankful for my health and well-being and the material things with which my family and I have been blessed. (May God always teach us to separate our wants from our needs, and may He teach us not to be wasteful and covetous.)

I’m thankful that I was born an American and live in the United States. I’m thankful for the rights, freedoms and opportunities that this great nation provides. I’m thankful for the men and women who once served in the military and for those who serve now. Without them, our freedoms might have been lost or today might stand in jeopardy.

I’m thankful for friendships, both new and rekindled.

I’m thankful for God’s magnificent creation — the seasons; the sunrises, sunsets and everything in between; the beasts and creatures of the field and of the sea; and all the wonders of nature.

I’m mighty thankful for the newest member of our family, granddaughter Kameron Riley Marshall, who was born on July 18, 2011. What a good baby she is and what a great joy and blessing she has been been — to all of us. I never knew that being a grandfather would be such a wonderful experience.

And I’m thankful that Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be just a one-a-year thing. May we all be thankful in our hearts each and every day.

This is granddaughter Kameron Riley Marshall, now 4 months old. She’s something else to be grateful for this holiday season. (Joe Braddy photo)

Harold D. Braddy, the editor’s father, was little more than a kid when he joined the military in the early 1950s. This photo only recently became known to the editor.

We love our veterans — especially those close who served

Friday, Nov. 11, 2011


I would be remiss on this Veterans Day 2011 if I didn’t say how much I am thankful for our U.S. veterans — those who served our nation honorably in the past and those who currently serve in war zones and in peaceful stations around the world.

I am especially grateful for two veterans most close to me: My late father, Harold Dean Braddy, and my younger brother, Dwight Richard Braddy (named for a U.S. president and a vice president who went on to become president).

Dwight served in the U.S. Marine Corps for a hitch that began not long after he graduated from high school in the early 1980s. I remember traveling up to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for his graduation from boot camp.

Also at the boot camp graduation was Dad, who then was about eight years into his retirement from the military. He was really just a kid when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s. He was in the U.S. Army when he completed more than 20 years of service in 1975, having earned the rank of chief warrant officer. I’ve never known for sure why, how and when the move from the Air Force to the Army occurred, but it seems to have worked out OK for Dad.

Unless you count my many years as an always-moving Army brat (twice the family lived on base at Fort Riley, Kan.), I never served in the military. But, I wanted to.

In the early 1980s, not long after my wife and I were married, I went down to the Winter Haven Armory, inquired about joining the National Guard and went to far as to pick up the enlistment papers. But, the wife would have nothing of that and any talk of enlistment talk was off. Forever.

I’ve fussed on this site about Dad and the unhealthy smoking and drinking habits that I believe cut his life very short, but I couldn’t be more proud of his military service and his two tours of duty in the Vietnam war zone in the 1960s.

My many years around but not in the military have left a soft spot in my heart for the institution and for those who have honorably and bravely worn the uniform.They have my undying respect and gratitude.

This photo of Central Baptist Church, 57 Sixth St., N.W. (U.S. Highway 17), Winter Haven, Fla., makes several statements. Can you count them? Go here for a larger photo and a list of the statements. (Photo by Joe Braddy)

Nine months after
the big change,
contentment holds

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011


Today is the eighth day of the month. It’s also a Tuesday.

Exactly nine months ago, on the eighth day of the month, a Tuesday, I worked my last day for the News Chief newspaper in Winter Haven.

It was a tough decision to leave my employer of many, many years — my employment comfort zone, if you will — and it carried considerable financial risk because I didn’t have another job lined up.

But I took a leap of faith that everything would work out well in the end.

Today, just as that day nine months ago, I have absolutely no regrets about my big move — my “retirement” from daily newspaper editing and publishing.


There are several reasons really, but the biggest is that the job was consuming me — and in all ways negatively.

The regrets I have now are about all the things — the really important things — that I ignored, sacrificed and missed out on in my attempt to do an excellent job for my company, the newspaper and the community.

Those really important things of life are faith, family, friendships and even simple daily pleasures. And work, as my dear and late father-in-law used to tell me, is just a means to an end.

I value work, especially the kind that is meaningful, enjoyable and personally satisfying and enriching, but the desire of my heart is to place more value on the God who created me, the Christ who saved me and the people most close to me.

Once I made the decision to leave the paper, I made a promise that at the very first opportunity following my last day of work there that I would be back in church. And I kept that promise. I have since realized how much I missed being in church, missed the singing and missed the preaching and teaching. I also have realized how very important all of those things are to my spiritual and personal well being.

Now that I’ve resumed regular church attendance, it truly hurts when work — yes, the Lord has blessed with many new opportunities and new sources of income — and other unavoidable matters interfere with the service times.

Nine months ago, despite the uncertainty then ahead of me, I was content and at peace for the first time in a very long time. Today, because I value more the really important things of life — and because I know God will provide — I remain that way.

And in the end, at least so far and at least as far as I’m concerned, everything has worked out. It has worked out quite well, indeed.

Delay of USF Poly independence probably prudent

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The future polytechnic university set for Polk County won’t get immediate independence from the University of South Florida.

But, there are steps USF Poly leaders can take to lead to eventual campus independence.

That was the result of a 13-3 vote Wednesday by members of the State University Florida Board of Governors.

The benchmarks set by the board for USF Poly independence include separate accreditation for the branch campus, implementation of programs listed in Phase I of its business plan, a threshhold of 1,244 full-time equivalency students and minimum conditions related to campus construction.

This all means that the polytechnic campus will be under the wings of USF leadership for quite some time.

And that’s probably a good thing. No good will result from rushing into independence unprepared and without a solid foundation of facilities, curriculum, programs, faculty and students.

There’s also this matter: The name of the future independent school.

The interim steps to independence will give USF Poly leaders time to come up with a good and solid name for the school — something minus USF.

What we don’t want to have is something like Polk Polytechnic University, generating PPU (Yuck!) for short, or even worse, something like Florida Polytechnic University or just Polytechnic University.

Can you imaging the fun people would have with PU or FPU?

Yep, the name for and marketing of the school will have to be given a lot of thought. A lot of thought indeed.

My reflections about the News Chief

If you have the whim to read it, I’ve written a column about my almost-35-year relationship with the News Chief, the Winter Haven newspaper that celebrated its 100th birthday on Sept. 28.

The column appeared in a special section in the Sept. 11 issue of the News Chief. It’s also online at http://tinyurl.com/6j82zt9.

The published version was edited down a bit to fit the space the News Chief had for it. The longer version can be found here.

Many thanks.

Joe Braddy

Quiet time lends
itself to thinking

In the course of the past several months, I've almost totally shunned the radio, CDs and other background noise while I'm traveling alone in the old Buick sedan or the even-older Chevy pickup.

In a world full of noise and distractions, I've come to value any opportunity for quiet time. It gives me time to think, ponder, reflect and medidate (with eyes wide open on the road, of course).

If I’m alone at home, the television is seldom on. Is there really anything but Florida Gators football (and that might be a stretch this season) worth watching? I’m a news guy by trade, but even TV news and commentary, with its leftist slant and just plain idiocy, is too maddening to watch, so I don’t.

I write this as perhaps a too-long and convoluted lead-in to my main thought, which came to me during a Monday morning drive to the dentist’s office in Winter Haven.

With the radio off and the only noise being that of the Buick's engine and the muffled outside traffic, it occurred to me during the drive that a job, however necessary and appreciated, can really interfere with the important things in life, such as family, church and the truly meaningful things one most likes or wishes to do. And then this statement came to mind:

“If your job gets in the way of your work, a change in your life might be in order.”

Original? I hope so. Worthy of consideration? Maybe. Just maybe. — JB (Oct. 26, 2011)

‘W’ (‘Bush 43’) gets some mobile praise

I was in the family sedan the other evening, riding east on State Road 540 near Eagle Lake, when we came up behind an SUV just ahead of us.

I noticed something small, round and black on the left rear glass of the SUV and didn’t make out what it was until we were right behind the vehicle.

It was a sticker, about 3.5 inches in diameter. And in the middle of it was a big “W” with the small words “Thank you” underneath it.

Putting 2 and 2 together brought a smile to my face. It was a simple message of thanks to former President George W. Bush (“W” or “Bush 43”) for his eight years of service in the White House and, presumably, for his tireless efforts to keep America safe after the horror of Sept. 11, 2001.

About the sticker’s message, I say “Ditto.” — JB (Oct. 20, 2011)

An excellent resource for conservatives and conservative ideas: http://www.heritage.org/

Another good source of news from, for and about the right: http://www.1776coalition.com/

An interesting read on our great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln: http://lincolnlaughing.com/

For great and trendy technology:

A great community project: http://ritzoncentral.com/

A good movie: It’s a low-budget film called “Fireproof,” starring Kirk Cameron. You'll cry — if you have any kind of heart at all.

For breakfast out: Fred’s Southern Kitchen, 1551 Third St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), Winter Haven. The breakfast buffet is wonderful — even after the $5 special has run its course.

For supper out: The wife and I tried the new Manny’s Original Chophouse at 1100 Third St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), in Winter Haven the other day. And I like it — well enough to recommend it here. If it hasn’t done so already, Manny’s will eat (pun intended) into business at Winter Haven’s Longhorn Steakhouse, a place with great food but always-rising prices.

A marquee outside a local personal storage business: “Land of the free because of the brave.” (It’s on bumper stickers, too.)

A local church sign: “In the dark? Follow the Son.”

Another church sign: “Questions are in life. Answers are in church.”

Still another area church sign: “God isn’t withholding anything from you. He’s holding it for you.”

An open invitation to attend: http://centralbaptistchurchwh.com/

Stars: To the Central Intelligence Agency and its drone strike teams teams for taking out another bad guy. A missile fired Friday (Sept. 30) from an aircraft piloted remotely by the CIA over northernYemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the fiery U.S.-born Islamic jihadist and propagandist for al-Qaida. The world is a better place without al-Awlaki and certainly a better place without Osama bin Laden, the long-sought al-Qaida leader killed in a lightning strike by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan in May. Yea for the good guys! Yea for our side in the fight against Islamic terrorism!


Oh, the irony of it all

This piece of art, created in the wake of the recent protests against corporate America and Wall Street, is making the rounds on the Internet. It shows well the irony of the protests and the hypocrisy — idiocy? — of most of those doing the protesting. We have a few things of our own to say about these protests, so check back soon. In the meantime, go here for a larger version of this illustration.

Examine the genesis of ‘They are born citizens’ to uncover its twisted logic

Monday, Nov. 7, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — When and how in the wide, wide world of sports did America conclude that a child of a noncitizen, born within our porous borders, is indeed a citizen of the United States of America?

Not only is the child a “legal” citizen, the mother and child both are eligible for the many “entitlement” programs. This unfunded judicial compassion currently costs American taxpayers more than $200 billion annually.

Perhaps it’s Abraham Lincoln’s fault.


Daily commute pleasant, full of interesting sights

Thursday, Nov. 10 , 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this site the five-day-a-week drive to my “day job.”

It’s about 25 minutes one way, but it’s not a bad drive. On the contrary, it’s very pleasant most of the time.

For much of the journey, I take the easternmost leg of the Polk Parkway (State Road 570), the approximately 10-mile section that runs from Winter Lake Road (State Road 540) north to Interstate 4.

The end of the section, from about Mile Marker 21 to Mile Marker 24 (I-4) has been under construction for quite some time. It’s been interesting to watch since mid-May the daily progress of the work as crews widen the parkway and put in a major interchange leading west to the future University of South Florida Polytechnic campus (which, for now, will keep its USF ties) and east to Berkley Road, north of Auburndale.


What’s the truth about Social Security? Is it a Ponzi scheme or is it a perpetually viable and dependable financial safety net for older Americans? (Illustration by Joe Braddy)

Social Security (1935-2011): Where is the rage?

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Recently, there has been some controversy regarding the administration of Social Security. One Republican presidential candidate had the audacity to suggest it was a Ponzi scheme. Another Republican presidential candidate suggested otherwise.

Let history be your guide. Since 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, the trillions of working-men and women dollars, placed in trust for their eventual retirement have, indeed, been faithfully doled out to retiring workers.

For several decades, more dollars flowed into Social Security than required for disbursement. Naturally, our elected officials (aka “politicians”) couldn’t help but notice the mounting pile of (formerly) silver certificates. They were fast to take advantage. Rather than expose these silver certificates to the vagaries of the (gasp!) stock market, where, from one day to the next, who knew what fate awaited the innocent!


In a photo dating back to at least January 2009, U.S. military personnel stand respectfully around flagged-draped coffins resting aboard a cargo plan in Dover, Del. The coffins contained the bodies of servicemen killed in Iraq. (U.S. Department of Defense handout photo)

Casket flags rekindle thoughts of Charlie Jackson

Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011


Charlie Jackson had served in World War II on the deck crew of an aircraft carrier. The noises encountered in that work led to him wearing hearing aids later in life.

I first met Charlie when he moved into my neighborhood in Maine. It turns out he had known my wife Bette when she was a girl back in Massachusetts. In those days, insurance salesmen, like a lot of salesmen, came to one’s house to collect time payments. He also took a part-time job as a policeman in the next town.

As chance would have it, Charlie rescued a boy from drowning. When the story broke in the newspapers, he lost the insurance job he had held for 18 years. The company had a policy of not allowing employees to hold a second job. Those were tough times.

As a result, Charlie became a full-time police officer and, before too long, the department's chief. In time, he relocated to Maine as chief in two other towns. His last position was as executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, a job he held with distinction. He spearheaded the erection of a monument next to Maine’s statehouse to honor officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. 

We became good friends. Charlie was a very energetic, well-organized, decisive and hard-working man. In 2008, he lost his life to cancer, the only thing that could ever slow the man down. Close to the end, because of a mix-up when his doctor was out of state on vacation, he had to wait 16 days for a bed to open in the Maine Veterans Home Rehabilitation Center.

I lived with him those 16 days to help him out and never heard the man complain. Interestingly, after he was admitted, I had my left knee replaced and found myself just two doors down the hall from him while I had my physical therapy. We enjoyed each other’s company for several weeks at meal time. The Maine Veterans Home, one of six private rehab centers in the state that contracts with the VA, served fine meals, in addition to its comprehensive therapy program.

After several days of being too weak to come out for meals, Charlie died. There was respectful hush on the ward and in the open cafeteria as his body was moved out of his room by gurney on the way to the undertaker. I was surprised to see his body bag covered with our nation’s flag. I have seen many flags on caskets, but one rarely sees a deceased person exit a medical facility room, let alone with a flag as a respectful cover.

The flag should not have surprised me. The MVH is a first-class institution. It gave me a lump in my throat to see it. To this day, a casket flag reminds me of Charlie, and the lump returns.

Jack Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla. He can be reached by e-mail at jackmurphy27@gmail.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.)


Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. — 2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

“No great man ever complains of want of opportunities.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” — Lee Greenwood, singer, “Proud to Be an American”

“Nothing will work unless you do.” — John Wooden (1910-2010), college basketball coach

“What doesn’t kill you won’t hurt you. — Author unknown (but it sounds like a Yogi Berra-ism)

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Great Britain

“Ask yourself this question: ‘Will this matter a year from now?’ ” — Richard Carlson, writing in “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”

“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” — Albert Einstein, mathematician and physicist

“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.” — Unknown

“America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people.” — George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president (2001-09)

“Every artist was first an amateur.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet

“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)

“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.” — Billy Graham, American evangelist

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” — Author unknown

“By associating with wise people, you will become wise yourself.” — Menander, Greek dramatist (342-291 B.C.)

“The devil is not afraid of a Bible with dust on it.” — Unknown preacher

“Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.” —
George Washington, American patriot and first U.S. president

“When you invite trouble, it’s usually quick to accept.” — Quoted in “P.S. I Love You,” compiled by H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“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)

“If you had to specify, in one word, why the human race has not, and will never achieve its full potential, that word would be meetings.” — Dave Barry

I wish the buck stopped here. I could use a few.

A retired husband is often a wife’s full-time job.

Sign in a police station: It takes about 3,500 bolts to put a car together; but only one nut to scatter it all over the road.

A boss with no humor is like a job that is no fun.

“My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.” — Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a libertarian-learning GOP candidate for president, speaking during the Sept. 22 Republican “debate” in Orlando. (We hear that radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh used a similar line earlier in the day.)

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.

It’s getting
a bit scary

Dr. Ron Paul, a Republican member of Congress from Texas and GOP presidential candidate, is warning Americans about a truly frightening new invasion of our personal privacy and liberties by the federal government.

You can read about it here:

TSA Releases
VIPR Venom on Tennessee Highways

New FBI tool is alarming

From Nextgov.com, we learn that the FBI soon will activate a nationwide facial recognition service that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos.

And Florida is one of four states that will serve as testing grounds for the alarming new technology this winter.

You can read about it here:

FBI to launch nationwide facial recognition service

Are you ready?

The pastor preached a powerful message this glorious fall morning (Sunday, Oct. 2) in Polk County, Fla. It was about the absolute certainty of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The bottom line to the message was this: Are you ready?

It’s a question that has to be asked. — JB

Little ones
to Him belong

It was a blessing on a recent Sunday morning (my birthday, no less) to witness the baptism of not one, not two but five little girls at church.

The girls were giddy with excitement as they hopped into the baptistry pool. And, after giving a public “Yes” to the question “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?” each was “buried in the likeness of His death” and “raised in the likeness of His resurrection.”

Baptism won’t get anyone to Heaven, the Bible teaches, but it is commanded by Jesus as a symbolic and public acknowledgement that one has received Him by faith as lord and savior.

Heaven and Christians rejoice when anyone — young, old and anywhere in between — is saved, but it is a particular joy to see children commit their lives to Jesus when there is so much life and service to the Lord ahead of them. — JB






Site contents copyright © 2011 PolkCommentary.com.