Letters to the Editor 9/13/18


Protest is free speech

I support free speech. It is the honor, the privilege of being an American.

I support Colin Kaepernick, Nike and Peaceful Protests. In that same breath, I can also love our flag and honor the sacrifices that were made so I can choose to hold my hand over my heart and say the pledge. It’s my choice. And yours. Each and every time.

I also honor the fact that there are real and valid concerns for communities of minority citizens who live in a nation that still is filled with systemic racism.

You can boycott Nike or alternately, you can boycott the NFL. In those boycotts, you too are exercising your power, your freedom of speech (and free thought) and your right as an American.

Whatever you choose, it won’t change the facts. Racism is alive and real in our America today. If you cannot appreciate a man, simply and peacefully taking a knee, to exercise his freedom of speech to protest racism; but can “respect” that same freedom of speech our president uses via Twitter, I call your hypocrisy to the table.

We live in an amazing country. So, toss your Nikes out in the trash, or never watch the Jags suffer through another losing season – whatever your choice, remember you were blessed with the freedoms to make it. Isn’t that amazing?!

And now from one of my favorite movies of all time, which I’ve seen 1,000 times, President Andrew Shepherd from “The American President” explains why

America isn’t “easy:”

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.’ You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.”

Meg Terry

Orange Park native

Seniors, its’ time to celebrate

September is designated as National Senior Center Month. The theme for 2018 is “Senior Centers: Building Momentum.”

This recognition began in 2007 when the National Institute of Senior Centers designated the month of September as Senior Center Month. The Council on Aging of Clay County operates four Senior Centers in Clay County. They are located at 604 Walnut St. in Green Cove Springs; 414 Stowe Ave. in Orange Park, 3916 Section St. in Middleburg and 125 Commercial Cir. in Keystone Heights.

Senior Centers have become one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults. If you have never been to a senior center, they frequently go unnoticed.

The purpose of Senior Centers is to provide programs and activities in the local neighborhood that are accessible every day to senior citizens. The benefits are that this will help keep seniors active as they age.

By keeping active, both mentally and physically, you stay stronger which helps to support independent living. This is especially important to those who are aging in place in their own homes. Coming to the Senior Center is an excellent way to socialize with other senior citizens and develop new friendships.

There are many benefits in staying active versus remaining isolated in your home after retirement. Research shows that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental and economic well-being.

Learn what activities may be offered each day at the Senior Center in your neighborhood by contacting your local center or viewing the monthly calendar of activities available on the Council on Aging website, www.clayccoa.com. Most of the programs are free, while others have a small fee.

We strongly encourage senior citizens in Clay County over the age of 60 to attend one of our Senior Centers to see if there are programs and activities they might enjoy. A hot lunch is served at each of the Centers Monday through Friday. All seniors 60 years of age and over, regardless of income, are eligible to participate in and receive free meals in a congregate meal setting. These programs contribute greatly to senior nutrition and health. Transportation is frequently available, depending on where you live. The Council on Aging Senior Centers offer a wide variety of programs and services, including meal and nutrition programs, information and assistance, health, fitness, and wellness programs, transportation services, volunteer and civic engagement opportunities, social and recreational activities, educational and arts programs, pool tables are available with active play each day and shopping trips and other outings.

Al Rizer, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Council on Aging of Clay County

Reader takes stand for press freedom

Last week (September 6), a writer took issue with newspapers across the country, including the Clay Today, demonstrating solidarity for freedom of the press. It was precipitated by the continuous attacks by President Trump saying the “press is the enemy of the people.”

When you repeat the “press is the enemy of the people,” as the president and many of his followers do, you are in the league with Joseph Stalin and Mao and other autocrats who use this to divide a country into us versus them.

It’s dangerous. If you respect the idea of a free press in our American-style democracy, then you desire news media from the weekly Clay Today to the L.A. Times fact-checking politicians, local to the national level.

The President can’t cry “fake news” when he has made well over 4,000 false claims since he took office. This is according to the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement made by the president and other politicians. The press is working overtime as these untruths average about 6 a day. These false claims have been on issues of great importance as well as the more trivial. These “alternative facts” are the real fake news.

So, quit blaming the messenger. In the early days of our republic Presidents Washington and Jefferson complained about the press and their writings.

It comes with the territory. And it may be worth recalling that President Abraham Lincoln told the truth when he proclaimed, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”


Dave Neal

Fleming Island


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