A National Anthem Prophecy Fulfilled
Posted on 09.22.16 by Danny Glover @ 10:48 pm

To hear many Americans tell it today, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been a cherished anthem of national pride almost since the day Francis Scott Key penned it in 1814. But the government-sanctioned reverence the song enjoys in the 21st century actually didn’t take root until the start of the 20th century — and not everyone thought it was a good idea then.

The song gained plenty of attention, particularly in the military, after Scott wrote it to celebrate the American victory over the British at Fort McHenry in Maryland. But even the military didn’t start incorporating “The Star-Spangled Banner” into its flag-raising ceremonies until 1889. It took another 27 years for Woodrow Wilson to give the tune the stamp of presidential approval in an executive order.

The song’s evolution from battle hymn to national anthem still wasn’t complete, though, and the final hurdle on Capitol Hill wasn’t easy to clear. As the National Park Service noted in its history of the national anthem, 11 lawmakers tried to push 15 different bills and resolutions through Congress between 1910 and 1917, and all of them stalled.

Even after a determined Rep. J. Charles Linthicum, D-Md., adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner” as his personal cause in 1918, he had a years-long fight ahead of him. Congress didn’t clear the bill to President Herbert Hoover until March 3, 1931, a day before adjournment would have killed the idea yet again.

That brings us to a surprising editorial that the Baltimore Evening Sun published the day after Hoover signed the bill. With the amateur poet Key being a favorite son of the city, the newspaper had good reason to celebrate the patriotic development. But it saw cause for concern instead:

It must be pleasing to all Marylanders to have a Maryland song thus honored, and yet the occasion is not yet quite one for unreserved joy. Unofficially, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has long been recognized as the national anthem, so nothing much is added to its dignity by this act of Congress.

On the other hand, now that it has official standing, we formally prophesy that not six months will pass before someone comes forward with a proposal to inflict pains and penalties upon those who do not accord the song what the proposer regards as a proper measure of respect.

That is to say, “The Star-Spangled Banner” will now become another excuse for badgering people who do not conform to the patrioteers’ idea of decorum; and this seems a somewhat unfortunate prospect for a fine old Free State song.

Eighty-five years later, the paper’s prophecy has been fulfilled. The new country that repelled the British in the Battle of Baltimore and the War of 1812 is now embroiled in a tense debate about police shootings of black Americans, and the anthem that united us then divides us now.

It’s not enough that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played at memorial holidays, military ceremonies and athletic contests across the country, or that the vast majority of the nation’s 324 million people (including me) solemnly stand for it, sing it and revere the symbolism behind it. Every single American must embrace that norm or be reviled as an un-American outcast who should shut up or leave the country.

This, indeed, is an unfortunate fate for a fine song written in a Free State, for a free country.


Filed under: Government and History and Holidays and Media and Military and News & Politics and People
Comments: None

How Air Force One Got Its Name
Posted on 08.05.16 by Danny Glover @ 7:24 pm

Originally published on the FAA’s internal website and at Medium
By K. Daniel Glover

Piecing together history can be as difficult as solving a complex jigsaw puzzle, and sometimes you never can fill all the slots. So it is with determining the exact role the FAA played in naming the president’s airplane — but the agency definitely was part of the discussion back in 1954.

The origin of the call sign Air Force One became newsworthy this past March when a restored Lockheed Constellation took flight for the first time in more than a decade. The aircraft’s given name is Columbine II, but it was also the first presidential aircraft to be called Air Force One. Now the plane’s new owner, Karl Stoltzfus of Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater, Va., wants everyone to know the true story behind the name, not the myths floating around the Internet.

“I’m not interested in a ‘better’ story,” said Stoltzfus, who has contacted presidential and Air Force historians and the former personal secretary of Air Force One pilot William Draper. “I’m interested in accurate history.”

Columbine II takes off from Marana, Ariz., in March. (Photo: Ramon Purcell)

Columbine II takes off from Marana, Ariz., in March. (Photo: Ramon Purcell)

The history of Columbine II began at a Lockheed factory in Burbank, Calif., in 1948. It left the plant with the tail number 48–610, a designation that would become important six years later. Lockheed Air Service used the plane for shuttle flights between New York and Iceland for a few months in 1949, but it was converted from military transport to a VIP aircraft in 1950.

This particular Constellation served the U.S. Air Force secretary until Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president in November 1952. The plane’s first mission for the president-elect fulfilled his campaign promise to personally visit Korea in an effort to end the Korean War. Weeks later the plane officially became Eisenhower’s aircraft, and he named it Columbine II after the flower of wife Mamie Eisenhower’s adopted home state, Colorado.

The transfer of the plane to presidential service set the stage for a momentous air traffic control encounter involving Columbine II and a commercial flight with a similar call sign. But nailing down the details of that incident is a herculean research task.

“There are about six different urban legends out there on the Internet,” said Air Force historian Robert Spiers, who started the legwork in 2007 after numerous queries about how Air Force One got its name. Some stories, like the fanciful tale of a mid-air collision that damaged the undercarriage of Columbine II with Eisenhower on board, are far-fetched.

“If that had actually happened,” Spiers said, “it would have been all over the media.”

Read the rest of the story at Medium.


Filed under: Aviation and Government and History and Human Interest and Military and People
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The Arsenal Of Democracy Remembered
Posted on 12.12.15 by Danny Glover @ 12:14 pm

Back in the spring, I took a media flight aboard a B-25 bomber the day before the Arsenal Of Democracy flyover of the nation’s capital. The official footage of the actual flyover was released a couple of days ago, and it is amazing!

This was taped in some of the most restricted airspace in the country and took months of planning with multiple federal agencies. You’ll probably never see air-to-air video like this again, so take a few minutes to watch it.

If you’re in a hurry, the best clip runs from 2:22 in the video until the shot of the breakaway plane in the missing man formation ends at 3:07. I flew aboard Betty’s Dream. She gets a two-second cameo at the 2:37 mark.


Filed under: Aviation and History and Military and Video
Comments: 1 Comment

Why Post The French Flag Colors On Facebook?
Posted on 11.15.15 by Danny Glover @ 7:25 pm

One of my friends asked a good question on Facebook today: “Why change your profile picture to have the French flag colors on them? Changing your picture does what and for whom?”

I actually gave the question some thought before I changed my picture — a first for me and thus not something I do lightly — and again after he asked the question, so I thought I’d share my explanation here in addition to on his Facebook wall.

For me, a profile picture with the French colors superimposed on it makes a multifaceted statement:

One of empathy with the people of France. I was in Washington on 9/11, within walking distance of the White House, one of the presumed potential targets of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. I remember what it was like walking to the Metro at the end of that workday, the capital city all but empty except for military vehicles and armed soldiers. The terror was palpable.

One of solidarity with the French government. However you decide to pursue and punish ISIS for this evil, I am behind you. (Hours ago, the French bombed some ISIS targets in Syria.)

One of purpose for our president, lawmakers and military leaders. I want them to stop saying terror is “contained” and start committing the money and people necessary to do it.

One of importance to my Facebook friends. As I mentioned, the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks on France mark the first time I’ve been motivated to change my Facebook profile picture for a cause. That has been intentional. Many things matter to me. I write about some of them on Facebook and on this blog. This particular historical event matters enough to also merit a simple, symbolic gesture that won’t change anything but will let people know the attacks have changed me.


Filed under: Blogging and Family and Government and Military and News & Politics and Social Media
Comments: 1 Comment

Danny’s Nightmare Aboard Betty’s Dream
Posted on 05.29.15 by Danny Glover @ 9:11 pm


Three weeks ago, I had the most exhilarating and at the same time the most sickening airplane ride of my life. I relived the highs and lows in a personal essay. If you’re an aviation buff or a fan of World War II history, the coverage includes plenty of photos and videos of our takeoff and the bombers in formation.

Here are the first few paragraphs to spark your interest:

If one slogan could capture my thoughts at lunchtime on May 7, this would be it: “I flew in the belly of a B-25 bomber, and all I got was this lousy motion sickness bag.” That’s how I felt as I exited the floor hatch of Betty’s Dream, stepped onto the tarmac at Culpeper Regional Airport in Virginia and inhaled a much-needed breath of fresh air after a rough flight.

But if a pilot in the Commemorative Air Force had asked me later that day whether I’d ever want to fly in a World War II aircraft again, I probably would have said, “When do we take off?” I don’t think I could resist an adventure like that — even though I get anxious about flying in general and even after having endured the worst flight of my life.

I am a writer for the Federal Aviation Administration and talked my way onto Betty’s Dream while reporting an advance story on the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover for agency’s internal website. With several high-profile media outlets covering the event, I figured my chances of getting a seat were slim but made my pitch anyway for a flight with good video potential.

Two months and many pestering emails later, I finally heard from Leah Block at CAF: “I will put you on one of the trainers, so you should be able to take some great shots. … You will fly from Culpeper. In the air about an hour.”

And that’s the point at which my nerves began to fray. The journalist who practically begged for a seat in a 70-year-old warbird suddenly remembered he used to drive up to 10 hours one way for assignments in order to avoid flying in modern aircraft.

Check out the full coverage at Medium.


Filed under: Aviation and History and Military and News & Politics and Photography and Video
Comments: 1 Comment

Life On A Nuclear Sub
Posted on 08.12.08 by Danny Glover @ 2:30 pm

The Navy appears to be engaged in a serious public-relations push, as the bloggers aboard the USS Kearsarge aren’t the only ones reporting on life at sea.

J.J. Green, the national security correspondent for WTOP News was a passenger for a week on the nuclear submarine USS Miami. His stories, including photos and audio reports, are available at the WTOP blog Hidden Hunter.

It sounds like Green got a better deal than me. I had to pay $20 for three days of food when I left the Kearsarge, and his tab for a whole week was only $13.

But then again, he was underwater the whole time. The bloggers aboard the Kearsarge were able to get fresh air, such as it is 100 miles or so from the East Coast in summer, whenever we wanted.


Filed under: Blogging and Military
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The Sea Voyage Has Ended …
Posted on 08.08.08 by Danny Glover @ 1:32 pm

… so let the blogging begin. I’m sitting in Miami International Airport awaiting my return flight to the Washington, D.C., area. I spent the past two-plus days on the USS Kearsarge, a Navy ship headed on a humanitarian mission to Latin America.

I was one of a handful of bloggers on the ship as part of the Navy’s new media outreach. Let me just say they are definitely new at it — and not very good at it just yet. We were supposed to be able to blog from the ship; that never happened. Instead, I wrote blog entries in Microsoft Word during my stay.

I’ll be uploading and backdating the blog entries, as well as video and photographs, over the next few days. I wasn’t able to live-blog this voyage as I had hoped, so you won’t be able to read it as it happens, either.

To do that, go to the oldest entry in the Operation Continuing Promise category and work your way from bottom to top. I apologize in advance for the hassle, but I hope it will be worth your time.

Operation Continuing Promise certainly is worth the time of the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, nongovernmental organizations and foreign nations involved in the joint mission.


Filed under: Blogging and Military
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Time For A New Media ‘After Action’ Report
Posted on 08.08.08 by Danny Glover @ 1:15 pm

The Navy really doesn’t know what to do with us bloggers. Apparently we’re a bit nosier than the other people who come aboard. We ask questions that to us seem pretty basic but that apparently have never been asked.

Yesterday, for instance, I dared to ask, “I know this is a humanitarian mission, but is there ammunition aboard the Kearsarge?”

Admittedly, it was a stupid, poorly phrased question. (I can’t help it; I’m a journalist.) A Navy ship isn’t going to be at sea, or anywhere else, without ordnance. What I really wanted to know was what kind of ammo and weapons were onboard, what kind of protection the Kearsarge has even when it’s headed to the Third World to offer medical and engineering expertise.

My question was followed by a pause and a non-answer: “I can’t answer that question.” In other words, I wasn’t going to hear any more than a silent “yes.”

Then today, during our tour of the bridge, another blogger asked about a radio tower just outside the bridge. The answer he got: “It’s just a great big antenna.”

That’s when the communications guy giving us the tour admitted that he hasn’t been prepared for some of the questions he has been getting this week. And he’s cautious about giving answers because he knows it could end up all over the Internet.

I appreciated his honesty – and his hesitancy. I’m a journalist and blogger, and even I’m a bit reluctant to answer questions from my colleagues, especially now that I’m part of the imagined “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

But the Navy trains for everything else. Why weren’t Navy communicators better trained how to interact with bloggers before this life-at-sea outreach effort began? Why didn’t they ask some bloggers for advice on how to implement this new media plan?

Today, a couple of people, one in the Navy and one in the Air Force, reminded us that the U.S. military always assesses its missions and drafts “lessons learned.” The humanitarian work is new for the Navy, and Operation Continuing Promise is certain to generate reams of “after action” reports designed to make future missions run more smoothly.

The communications team needs to draft an after-action report of its own on the Navy’s first attempt at onboard blogger outreach. Kudos to the Navy for making new media a part of Operation Continuing Promise. It was a valiant effort. But there are definitely lessons to be learned, by both the Navy and the bloggers.


Filed under: Blogging and Military
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Three Square Meals A Day
Posted on 08.08.08 by Danny Glover @ 1:10 pm

That’s what the military promises, and that’s what it delivers. OK, the options are limited, but there’s plenty of food, and save for the occasional blandness, it doesn’t taste bad, either.

I haven’t felt deprived on this trip. You can get a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, grits and the like or dine lightly on fruit and cereal. Lunch options included the thickest cheeseburgers I’ve ever seen, pizza, and cheesesteak and fries. For dinner, the choices included fish, beef and other meats, as well as rice, mashed potatoes, vegetables and other sides. The officers’ mess includes a salad bar, too.

There is an array of beverage choices, including various fountain soft drinks, fruit juices, tea and coffee, that are available all day. And there are dessert options with every meal.

Our first night on board, we met the guy in charge of the ship store. He said he’s the most popular guy on the ship because he buys 11,000 pounds of chocolate goodies at a time. But Boston Maggie met the night chef a couple of days later, and he thinks he is the most popular. He never has to do his own laundry because sailors want to stay in his good graces.


Filed under: Blogging and Military
Comments: None

Urinalysis Day
Posted on 08.07.08 by Danny Glover @ 6:41 pm

This wasn’t a good day to be on an unfamiliar ship if you drank a lot of liquids, as I did.

The crew “secured” for random drug-screening the heads that all of us bloggers had been using , and we didn’t know where to find the ones that were open to the public. It wasn’t for lack of looking, either. We were all over several floors of the ship, and I never saw one bathroom that wasn’t closed – and no wonder because we also saw the huge lines of sailors lined up for the screening.

Another blogger did find one alternative not far from our living space – but it was occupied every time I checked. I finally found an unoccupied stall about 3 p.m., seven hours after my last pit stop.

By that time, I had to go so bad that I was willing to volunteer for urinalysis duty. I almost got in line and said, “Just give me a cup and let me go already!”


Filed under: Blogging and Military
Comments: None

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