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Local Editorials

Discussing the holidays — and the fireworks that come with them

I haven’t done this in awhile, but today we are in for another super sized edition of Ty’s Take. Originally, I was just going to discuss celebrating the Fourth of July here in town. However, something happened during one of my beats, and I just had to put my two cents in on the matter.

To say I was a little disappointed in the Newton Community School District’s decision to have school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is an understatement. When I left Monday’s meeting, the feeling I had was a mixture of anger, disbelief and sadness.

I left feeling an extreme disrespect was dealt to MLK. Here I am, the only person of color in the room and yet, not allowed to make any input on the matter that was at hand.

Growing up in an urban school district, MLK Day was sacred ground. We usually would spend the week before examining his legacy, reflecting on the changes he steered us toward and showing gratitude for everything he did for race relations in this country.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a literal martyr for the colored citizens of America, and when he was rewarded a federal holiday, it was a startling achievement for Black people everywhere (I don’t go by the PC term of African-American, but that’s an entirely different story).

There isn’t going to be a W.E.B. Du Bouis, Huey Newton or Malcolm X Day. So, for my people, MLK Day became a symbol.  It showed that maybe we were getting closer to total acceptance (except Arizona).

Having a federal holiday named after a black man in America is an astounding feat, especially when you consider that just 45 years ago, some forms of segregation were still legal.

As far as MLK Day goes, it’s right up there with 2008 Presidential Election in terms of significance for Black America.

I have to truly say that board member Nat Clark has become one of my heroes after that meeting. In addition to being a Desert Storm veteran, he was the only member of the board to vote “no” on the matter.

Granted, he placed MLK Day in category he referred to as “other bogus holidays,” but he made valid points in that meeting and went against the majority.

Clark was a shining example in that meeting of the freedom of speech.

And yes, the board said they would make the day special and use it to educate the students on our “increasingly diverse community,” but why just have one day for that?

When the matter was discussed on the Daily News Facebook page, Jesi Lynn Landwier made what was easily my favorite comment.

“It may be ‘just another day’ to most, but it’s not just another day to the country, or our freedoms or what we even stand for as a country,” she wrote. “(I don’t know), it just seems wrong.”

And with that off my chest, let me tell you about how awesome my holiday was.

It’s America’s birthday, one of your best friends is in town and you need something to do. Luckily for me, the city of Newton and its residents came through for me once again.

Since I moved here, one of the things I’ve heard about constantly was the Fourth of July Parade, and it didn’t disappoint. As a guy who has been working extensively with the veterans in our community, I feel that the theme of “Salute to our American Patriots” was very well done and received.

It was pretty cool seeing the guys from the Freedom Flights in the parade and pointing out which guys with the American Legion and the VFW I had interviewed. I also ran into some folks in the crowd who I had previously talked to and got complimented on my new mug shot for the paper.

As a side note, it should be noted that I have had numerous young ladies around town tell me how much better looking I am in person and that my old picture looked nothing like me.

My BFF, who was in town, saw that picture and died laughing. She said, “It looks like you were trying to get your model on.”

So, that picture is dead, and let’s forget it existed, until I have to use my hard card at Iowa Speedway this weekend (sigh).

My only complaint about the parade was that the little kids were hogging all of the freezer pops, and this one kid wouldn’t throw me any beads. I have his face memorized and he will never be in our “Kids Say” segment on Fridays.

Unless he has beads, then we are cool again.

After the parade we hit the American Legion, and that place was packed. I talked with folks, ate some good burgers and hot dogs (major credit to Andi Lappin) and just hung out.

Next on the agenda, I paid a visit to the Allen residence, where I was once again fed delicious grilled goodies and got to meet the guys that are a part of Mel’s  Arizona coffee group. (I’m taking applications for when I start my coffee group in 35 years).

Things are always interesting when you visit the home of Mel “The real-life most interesting man in the world” Allen.  His son informed that they spend winters in Arizona hunting for lost Civil War-era pistols, and I found out his great-grandson is also a sneaker head.

As much as I can put down when eating, I knew my limit, and it was nap time. I bid the Allens farewell and headed home for my nap.

When I woke up, I got a text from our newest staff writer — and a member of one Newton’s most elite families — Kate Mallot.

She invited us to another grill out, and we got to hang out with the Nelsons. More grilled goodies and some homemade ice cream made for a nice pick-me-up and was a great way to set-up for the main event of the day.

As packed as the Legion had been earlier in the day, Agnes Peterson Park maybe quadrupled that. Parking there was easy, but leaving was a totally different story.

The park was so full of life, and I got to check out the arboretum for the first time, and it was lovely. I even investigated the gazebo, which is where the medallion for our “2013 Great Treasure Hunt” was hidden.

After visiting it, I can totally picture the raccoon moving the medallion now.

We left the arboretum, and I got a great surprise when none other than “Grandma Debb” Smith was helping park cars. I got my big hug, and although she didn’t have any food for me for once, it was great to see her.

Next up, we found a spot to watch the fireworks as I devoured some Cardinal Corner ice cream and enjoyed the show.

Overall, it was a great way to experience my first Fourth away from my family and only my second outside of Kansas City. Thanks for showing us a wonderful time Newton.

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