Tony S, serial rescuer and mensch:
Peekskill, NY is probably more demographically representative of the USA than any isolated rural enclave. Though it is thin on the high end, the community is demographically and economically diverse. Based in prosperous Westchester County, Peekskill is seen by surrounding towns as a place to be exploited and disrespected.
Most Westchester communities resist affordable housing to the death. A huge proportion of Peekskill’s homes are dedicated to affordable housing, in everything from mid-to-relatively large developments to buildings owned by predatory landlords and packed with tenants.
My wife and I live in a 115-year-old home with a number of dogs, most of whom are elder pups. A couple of houses down from us is a 130-year-old house absolutely packed with people of all ages. Many of the oldest and youngest only speak Spanish. But the kids who are old enough to be in school are clearly one thing, and one thing only — Americans.
Peekskill schools don’t score well on standardized tests. But in my 20 years here, I’ve seen them do amazingly well and helping children lean how to be Americans — in the way they speak, their attitudes, their energy and even their actions.
I’ve always felt that the most special thing about the United States is the fact that it’s dedicated to an idea, not a group, religion, or person. I want this to be a positive post, so I won’t talk about specific people, or presidents. I will present the Congressional Oath of Office, which Congress seems to have forgotten. It is not an Oath to to an individual or a party. It is an oath to a document that represents a set of ideals. This is special, and when it was written close to 250 years ago, it was unique among nations.
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
So, where do the pups come in? A few weeks ago, one of my neighbors, a nine-year old girl I’ll call D., knocked on my door and asked if had seen a pup that was missing from a friend’s home. She was direct, focused and obviously intelligent.
My pack, which consists of mostly beagles, shrieked and howled in the background. D., asked if she could come for a visit. I said, mumblingly, “Sure.”
Recognizing an attempted dodge, she said, “Tomorrow?”
It was not a request. She then said, “11.”
She showed up the next day with her sister and some friends. Older and younger beagles got to play and get cuddled. Neighborhood kids got a chance to experience safe dogs. Our two eldest dogs, whom we only adopted a year or so ago and are about 14-15, demonstrated that, yes, they had grown up with kids, and they really, really missed them.
If we want a country that is growing and healthy, we must let in people from the rest of the world. If want to live up our ideals, we need to rejoice that we swear to a constitution and a republic, not a person.
I love that last photo. That is a happy, happy dog.
I’m still lounging around in my bathrobe at 12:30 in the afternoon, but soon I will shower and put on my t-shirt that features the preamble to the Constitution, because it’s the 4th of July. And at some point, we’ll watch 1776.
West of the Rockies (been a while)
Sit down, John!
Happy dogs and happy kids! Yay! What’s going on in the first photo? Is the wee one narrating the picture?
Very, very well said.
Also, a Fourth of July treat for my fellow Hamilmaniacs — the performance of “The Battle of Yorktown” from the Tonys. Trigger warning: President and Mrs. Obama have a recorded introduction.
Trivia note: they performed the number without guns that night because it was the day after the massacre in Orlando and they felt queasy about pointing guns at the audience.
Davis X. Machina
Re that oath: The organs of the State — for example, its legislature — exist to serve the needs of the Party, and not the other way round, because it is the Party, not the State, that is the Vanguard of the Revolution.
As it is, the State is ultimately fated to wither away after the Revolution.
In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been delivered for governance into the hands of Leninists.
Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (Formerly Mumphrey, et al.)
This really is what makes this country unlike any other. We don’t all have to go to the same church, or, indeed, any church. We don’t all look the same, we don’t all have to speak the same tongue. Our forebears didn’t all come from the same place. What we do believe, or at least we need to believe if we want to be real Americans, are the ideals set forth 240 years ago. That’s our secular religion. We don’t always live up to those ideals. We’ve never lived up to them. But they’re there, always, beckoning us on toward the light. This is what makes us what we are.
Thanks Tony. It’s a small thing, but small things change lives for the better.
@West of the Rockies (been a while):
The new DVD that got released a couple of years ago is a director’s cut that improves it quite a bit. It’s hard to explain exactly how, but the timing has been fixed so the whole thing flows much more smoothly. Definitely worth the investment if you have an older DVD.
la caterina (Mrs. Johannes)
Looks like a very well behaved bunch, the pups and the kids. They’re lovely- they deserve each other. Thanks for the feel-good post, Anne Laurie and Tony S.
Also, I love the kid who wrangled an appointment to play with the dogs. That girl will go far, if allowed.
I wonder when the FNYT will send a journalist to report on the people of Peekskill, NY?
I have happy tears. Thank you.
@Mnemosyne: I just ordered that; should be here tomorrow. Glad to know it was worth the 7 bux.
Awwww. I love this post.i love the pics. Happy dogs = Happy kids.
We got to see it on the big screen with a discussion by the director afterwards. Even while I was watching it, I was like, Wow, this is moving a lot faster than I remember, and it was because it was a new edit of the film.
What a lovely post, and thank you.
What a great story. This is America.
@Cheryl Rofer: Just saw Tay send followers to you for payload expertise.
A perfect Fourth of July story. Thanks and happy 4th everyone.
One of my favorite scenes from a movie is when Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson, having a difficult time adjusting to life in America, goes into a diner on the Fourth and in frustration says he doesn’t understand what’s so great about America anyway, and the other diners, mostly immigrants begin reciting the Declaration of Independence. I just love that scene.
@Mike J: That was pretty cool. But Twitter, like BJ, is pretty slow today. As it should be.
@West of the Rockies (been a while): “Does anybody see what I see?”
J R in WV
Are the dogs making the kids happy, or are the kids making the dogs happy, or both!!!
My money is on both. A great piece for the 4th.
We slept late, I had lots of trouble getting to sleep last night, til 4 am. So I was surprised to see that it was nearly 1 pm when I woke up the last time. Had coffee and cookies then, and crackers and peanut butter (crunchy peanuts the only ingredient, wonderful stuff) with big glasses of milk not long ago.
Planning on a cocktail shortly, and steak (prime fillet) and potatoes later on, with red wine. Doing nothing on the 4th is nearly a tradition. Surfing and reading and listening to the TV news.
Proud to be your fellow jackal, Tony S! Happy 4th!
O. Felix Culpa
Beautiful story, all the more so because real. Thank you!
Beautiful pictures and post Tony S. Thank you so much!
I needed to see something like this today. Thanks so much.