This article is not meant to be disrespectful to patriots, veterans, law enforcement officers, politicians, American flags, Freemasons, fifth-graders or Dollywood season pass holders.
Rep. David Davis is a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the 1st congressional district of Tennessee.
A news article yesterday reported that he had spent the day Thursday in Sevierville, Tenn., a town of 15,500 that is 95% non-hispanic white, tucked away in the Smoky Mountains in northeastern Tennessee, six miles north of Pigeon Forge, home of Dolly Parton's Dollywood, and about 12 miles north of the Gatlinburg resort area. I've visited the area many times; it's pleasant, peaceful and panoramic.
Rep. Davis, accompanied by Sevier County Sheriff Ron Seals, spent the day giving away American flags. I assume U.S. taxpayers paid for the flags.
First stop was the local American Legion Post No. 104, where Davis discussed veterans affairs and talked about how he had been instrumental in getting Christmas cards to hospitalized veterans and to active duty military personnel. Davis presented post commissioner Frank Ham an American flag, citing the local American Legion post for providing "patriotic service" to the community since 1924.
"If you want patriotism, call on us, we'll help you in some way," Ham said.
Ham told a reporter that he is working with Davis to try to bring a veteran's clinic to Sevier County.
Next stop: Mountain Star Masonic Lodge No. 197, where Davis presented an American flag to W. Bro. Don Floyd.
To emphasize that the lodge is primarily a service organization to the community, the reporter quoted Bro. Floyd as saying, "If someone needs a porch, we'll build it."
Later in the day, Rep. Davis and Sheriff Seals went to Boyds Creek Elementary School to give away yet another American flag.
Again, I don't mean to be critical here... but I'm just asking: Is this an appropriate use of taxpayer funds and personnel? Is this what we pay sheriffs and U.S. representatives to do, go around to non-profit (American Legion, Masonic lodge) and government (elementary school) facilities, giving warm and fuzzy speeches while giving away flags?
Is this a function of their jobs?
Oh, did I mention — both Rep. Davis and Sheriff Seals are up for re-election this year? Actually, the sheriff is up for election, not re-election, since he was appointed to the position of sheriff less than a year ago, after the death of his predecessor.
So, is it appropriate that these two men spent the day giving speeches under the guise of giving away American flags?
Oh, did I mention? — I should be referring to Sheriff Seals as Brother Seals. He's a Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite, and a Shriner. How do I know that? His memberships are predominantly featured on his election campaign website. He's a member of Mountain Star Lodge No. 197, the lodge Rep. Davis gave the flag to.
A few weeks ago I was blasted by a Mason for using this blog to endorse a presidential candidate. Since I am a Mason, some felt it inappropriate for me to publicly state a preference for one candidate over another, as if free speech was something a man gives up when he becomes a Mason.
What do you think about Rep. Davis and Bro. Sheriff Seals, spending the day (and maybe other days) "politicking" under the guise of patriotic speeches and flag-waving? (Obviously Sheriff Seals is not acting in the capacity of bodyguard for the Congressman.)
Is this accepted Standard Operating Procedure for today's elected officials?
And is it appropriate for Sheriff Seals to list his Masonic affiliations on his campaign website?
Image: U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, of Tennessee's 3rd district, presenting a new flag to an elementary school in his district. Apparently, doing the flag giveaway thing at elementary schools is common practice, at least in Tennessee. Is this patriotism, or politics?
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