Cops and Me


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Cops surround me even at breakfast.

Cops love me, I tell ya.  We have a special relationship.

Cops and me have met on official business while on the road.

Three times between 2008 and 2010.

But I have not seen the inside of a police car, paddy wagon or jail.

Don’t you wonder why?  I had three chances to do so in two years.

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Leaving Cars and Coffee, Irvine, CA, 2008.  How is it cops can spot my car from a mile away?

During the first two-plus years after customizing my car, I was lit up by CHP, police and sheriff black and whites.

Just once for each law enforcement branch to be modest.

The first time was on my way back from a Ford Mustang car show in San Diego.  Heading north back to LA and after passing Camp Pendleton – home of the US Marines’ famed 1st Division – I noticed a CHP motorbike merging onto the freeway in my rear view mirror

I am very good at spotting CHP, you know.  Especially since the CHP – for some silly reason – is attracted by bright orange¹ Mustangs without mufflers.

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See… Cops love me. A lot of them. On my way to have Jack Roush of NASCAR fame sign my dashboard.

Traffic was heavy heading away from historic Camp Pendleton being a Saturday evening; the entire 1st Division must have just been issued liberty.  I was pretty much boxed in on the highway.  Going with the flow, you know.  There were SUVs and passenger cars all around me, most with tinted windows which are illegal here in California.  I remember one SUV with limo tint.

But sure enough, before Las Pulgas Road and the border check point, the motorcycle cop lit me up.  Hmmm.  I wonder why?  Could it be because my car is orange with racing stripes?  Nah.

So I pulled over, rolled down my tinted windows, put my left arm and hand out my driver’s side window, with my right hand on the top of the steering wheel.  Common sense given the car.

The CHP officer carefully walked up to my passenger window and peered in.  He walked to the front then came back.  “You were speeding back there, have tinted windows and no front license plate.  Driver’s license, registration and insurance, please.”

Speeding?  No problem.  I wasn’t going to bicker with him about the speeding since we were all going at XX mph.  I told him I need to get into my console to which he nodded his head.  He looked at my driver’s license.  He pulled down his sun glasses.  I could see he was MUCH younger than I.  He then looked up from my license, stared at me, then stared back at my license.  He looked into my back seat area, hoping to see if anyone else was back there like a 16 year old son.  “Is this YOUR car, sir?”

I yelled over the traffic noise, “Yes, sir… and I bet I’ve been driving longer than you’ve been alive.”   He smiled.

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Me doing my Lightning McQueen thing.

He walked back to his bike and I’m sure he checked for wants and warrants.  No big deal.  I would want him to do that on every stop. I want to protect my kids, you know.

He came back and handed me a “fix it” ticket while saying, “I’m letting you off on the speeding but you have 60 days to get these violations fixed.”  I now had to officially get my window tint removed and front license plate installed on my then show-quality car, then have an officer sign it off.

“Ok, sir.  Thank you… but you never answered my question if I’ve been driving longer than you’ve been alive.”

He grinned, patted my passenger door’s window sill and said, “Have a good day, sir,” while smiling and walked back to his bike.²

Gee.  I didn’t get tackled to the ground, handcuffed or guns drawn on me.  I wonder why?  Instead, he just smiled.

And I am glad he didn’t ask me to pop the hood…  That’s a whole different type of fix it ticket under there.  It would have been a gold mine for the CHP money bucket.

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Assembling for a cruise to Blackbird Airpark. Now you gotta ask: If all these supercharged Mustangs were going 85 mph and you were a cop, who would you single out?

Another time was at lunch.  I can’t exactly say for sure but perhaps I was speeding just a teensy-weensy bit.  Anyways, a Fullerton PD black and white lit me up.

Same routine.  Pulled over, rolled down my tinted windows and put my hands where he could see them.  He did say he had seen the car driving around before and that he was going to let me go on the window tint, the missing plate and a VERY loud car…this time.  But I do think he recognized the “Voss Performance” stickers all over my car.  Voss knows a lot of cops around there, thankfully.

The other time, the same routine and results, thankfully.  I think the LA County Sheriff felt sorry this nice car was being driven by a decrepit old man in a higher crime area.
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But each time, I did not make mainstream mis-media.  You know, CNN and the like.

I followed the officer’s orders.  Plain and simple.

Nobody came out to say I was being discriminated against because I got picked out of a dozen cars going the same speed, some with a LOT darker tint than mine.  What if I were of a different race and I went after the cop?  Is it because the cop is a racist?

And please don’t say it was just a traffic stop. It’s the same if a cop approached me on a street corner. I interacted with a cop.

But one thought I do have.  Slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago.  There’s nobody alive today from that time – well, at least not since George Burns passed away.  Yet, they still speak to it in volumes in our children’s US history books.  But don’t you find it curious they pretty much overlook WWII which was only 70 years ago?

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My 13 year old son’s US History textbook.  There are pages and pages about discrimination in our children’s textbooks and that it hasn’t improved much. To me, this becomes one overriding concept taken away from school by our children.
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More focus on discrimination. What are the children learning about our nation’s greatness? Can this be a cause for certain people the world is owed them?  Are they thinking America is BAD?
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There were only about four+ pages on WWII with a lot of side bars. There was no true learning about individual sacrifices as a nation to become victorious but ask the children to instead think about discrimination against minorities.

And if any one “race” has a reason to scream discrimination, it would be my father’s generation about 75 years ago.  People of Japanese descent in the “West Coast Exclusion Zone” had all their citizenship and rights stripped away and worldly possessions taken.  I don’t recall any other “race” en masse having their citizenship taken away by the stroke of a President’s pen and put behind barbed wire.

I do feel one thing.  All this poppy-cock about it being solely the cops that caused the riots in Ferguson, Baltimore and unrest in Philadelphia.  It was WRONG for anyone to have NOT complied with the officer’s orders in the first place.  Simple as that.  Why resist arrest or fight a cop?

If someone doesn’t have drugs, weapons or outstanding warrants on their person, complying would be the end of it… like with me.  The only crime I committed was being old.  Well, I guess the tint, no license plate, no mufflers and supposed speeding, too.

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Hmmm.  Do you think I burned rubber while leaving?  Pretty tempting with 505 hp.

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Why isn’t attention being focused on why these so called race incidents occurred in the first place?  Some jerk did not comply with an officer’s orders.  Plain and simple.

Has NOT complying become accepted as an appropriate behavior for thugs when stopped by law enforcement officers… and then for it to be pretty much overlooked if something happens just because of their race?  That a cop can be assaulted and to say afterwards its part of their job to be a glutton for punishment and not have the right to protect himself/herself?  If they fight a cop, what would they do to YOU?

No, I am not condoning someone dying for whatever reason.  But we have to stop overlooking the perpetrators themselves and then using their upbringing as the excuse for their behavior… and make them – and their parents – be accountable for their own actions.  We need to stop giving them hall passes in every way, shape and form.  In essence, we have to stop making ANY race feel special just because of their race.  I blame the DOJ, too, for not placing any blame on the “victims”.

If we don’t, this spiral will never end.

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Notes:

1.  It is orange.  Not yellow!

2. By the way, there are no more “fix it” tickets here in California.  You are cited for tint, no plates or whatever else with no chance to appeal.  Each type of infraction, I believe, is about $160.

She’s Killing Me #8


She’s killing me, I tell ya.

My Little Cake Boss Diva.

She is faithful… Faithfully late, that is.

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She reminds me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  By virtue of his timepiece, the rabbit knows he is late and is frantic about it.

From http://clockworkbrothers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/alice_in_wonderland_1951_1.jpg

And my Little Cake Boss Diva Rabbit also has a clock; it is the world’s biggest clock and it is on the home screen of her iPhone.  You know.  She has to swipe through it to get to her precious texting screen.

But unlike the rabbit, she does not panic when she sees the world’s biggest clock for it apparently serves no useful purpose.    Perhaps she is blind.  For her, it is better to be three hours late than one minute early.

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Believe me.

It is a daily school nightmare ritual when she stays with me.  The school bell rings at 8:55 am.  Sometimes, she finally gets into the car at 8:54 am… still barefoot.  But by the time we get to the school, she is still barefoot because she has been messing around with her hair in the backseat while looking at herself on her iPhone…  You know, the one with the world’s biggest clock.

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Her precious dance classes are no different.  Let us take one example; mind you, she has EIGHT dance classes a week.

Her ritual is this.  Say her dance class starts at 6:30 pm.

Brooke at 6:15 pm from her bathroom (with a mirror that the vain and wicked stepmother in Snow White would be jealous of), “OK, I’m ready.”

I can still hear her hairbrush clanking against the sink along with the occasional hiss from her hair spray.  I don’t move from my couch.

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See? My Little Cake Boss Diva didn’t even look at the clock on her cell phone from when she was little. It took her an hour to get her hair bun just to look like that, too.  There is great truth in “the past is the best indicator of things to come”.

Me, at 6:25 pm: “Brooke, we need to go…”

Silence… but I can hear her rustling in her room.  Maybe she’s looking for her dance shoes.  She’s got four kinds of them, you know.

Me, at 6:29 pm: “Brooke, I’ll be waiting in the car, okaaay?”

Silence…

A minute later, out she comes…  Yes!  Oops.  She goes back in again.  Half a minute later, she emerges and runs to the car…barefoot.  But she drags along her bag that has Nordstrom’s entire shoe selection in it.  No kidding.  I guess she couldn’t decide which dance shoe to wear for this one class.

We get to her dance school in a couple of minutes but it’s 6:32 pm already.  I carefully drive into the cramped war zone called a parking lot; it is filled with crazed dance moms who stop their battle tank dead in the middle of the aisle instead of off to one side to let their daughters off.  One mother actually turns on her emergency blinkers.  Nobody can move until that mother moves.  But they don’t care… because their battle tank is equipped a 105mm cannon…front and rear.  Nobody dares asks them to move to one side.

Brooke?  She’s still putting hair pins into her “bun”.

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She is still putting in hair pins; class started five minutes ago. She is giving me the evil eye.

There are other late mothers lining up behind me, still trying to battle their way through the war zone littered with SUVs and minivans going every which way except forward.  I can see she still is not ready so I need to find a parking spot in this war zone.  Unfortunately, these mothers in their SUVs think they truly are in M1A1 Abrams battle tanks and take up two spots.  They do it on purpose, relegating us lowly men to one.  They believe they are entitled to two spots.  After all, this is California, land of entitlement.

After a minute or two, I step out of the car.  I can’t stand to watch.  She is still fussing with her hair bun.  (Remember: she said she was ready at 6:15?)

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She is still putting in the world’s supply of hair pins.

Oh-oh…  Here she comes.  It’s 6:40 pm.  Class started ten minutes ago.

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She has her shoes on. Unbelievable.

What’s this?!  She’s got her shoes on?  Golly-gee-willikers.  And she’s running like the rabbit?  Perhaps she has finally realized she is… late?

Nahhh….

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By the way…  I am always on time.  My oldest daughter is always on time, too.  She got that from me.

…But my Little Cake Boss Diva’s (non-)sense of time?  You can figure that one out.

Old Man Jack-ism #9


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My supercharged Grabber Orange Mustang lived outside 24/7 for her first five years. Old Man Jack’s driveway is to the very left; he would on occasion call me over to his garage to chat.

I was out front one morning, enjoying a gorgeous holiday weekend.  While pointing in my general direction, Old Man Jack said to me from across the street, “Koji, she needs to come in at night.”  My car was in between Jack and me.  He loved my car…almost as much as his F4U Corsair.

Why would he tell me to put my Grabber Orange Mustang into the garage?  He knows it’s parked outside 24/7 because the aggravating ex took away my garage without saying a word beforehand.

“Say what, Jack?” asked I…

I was humbled shortly thereafter by this exceptional and aging WWII combat vet who went to war as a young boy.

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Indeed, I had to park my supercharged, car show winning Grabber Orange Mustang at curbside 24/7.  Blistering sun, rain, ashes from wildfires, toxic sea gull poop and dog pee on my chrome wheels, I tell ya.  The sea gull poop was the worst: unless you got if off before the desert-like sun microwaved it, it would leave the vinyl graphics underneath stained.  Crap.

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Sea gull bomb.
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Aftermath of sea gull bomb – the stain.

But I had to park it outside on the street, as I mentioned, as my darned ex decided to secretly take over my man-cave just months before I got it.

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After the divorce and after throwing a lot of the stuff she didn’t take, this is what the garage looked like. The illegally built room took up about 75% of the space. She even had a door, lights and curtains installed. Definitely no room for a car… Well, maybe a Smart car…but that isn’t a car. 🙂

If you thought Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack, the ex’s takeover of my man-cave was a blitzkrieg.  Let’s just say it was a helluva shock to come home from work one day to find an illegal alien well on his way into putting up walls in the garage.  She was building a “massage room”.  Well, in the end, it was used for much more, unfortunately.

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The cleared out space after I paid my AMERICAN citizen buddy to tear it down and haul it away. My car now has a home.  Notice the door and the window with curtains she had installed. It’s going to cost a pretty penny to have them torn out and filled in. Oh… Look at the bottom right corner… Six feet of my driveway is missing. That is another ex story.

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But back to Old Man Jack telling me that “she needs to come in at night”…

“Jack, I can’t put the car in the garage.  You know that,” I said.

“No, not the car, you dumb shit.  The flag!” he said with his boyish trademark grin and with great fondness.

“Huh?  The flag?” I asked.

“Shit, didn’t they teach you anything in school?  You gotta put a light on her if she’s staying out at night,” he said.

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Old Man Jack with his happy face on and me. He would pass away about a year later.

I then realized he had pointed to the flag behind me and not my car.  Duh.  I had put the red, white and blue out for the holidays as always and had simply left it out – and yes, for convenience.  He must have seen it left out the night before.  But then again, he must have been biting his tongue for years as I had left it out before.

As Popeye, the Sailor Man would say, “How embarrassinks.”

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Well, Old Man Jack was right; there has to be a light shining on the flag at night.  And yes, I had learned that flag etiquette as a youngster in school but just plain forgot with time.  Heck, me and this other kid had the honor to take down the flag on a regular basis while in the 6th grade.

Anyways, I had remembered that story with today being Memorial Day.  I had the flag out in reverence to our fallen.  I even caught the tail end of a flight of four WWII T-6 Texans just north of us in a missing man formation.

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It is now dark outside and yes, I brought her in.  Can’t upset Old Man Jack, you know.

But it ate my heart out to see it draped over his casket just about three years later.

I was alone with Old Man Jack during visitation.  It was good as I was able to say good-bye in private... The mortuary didn't invest in good quality Kleenex, though.

Thanks for reading and revere our fallen.

Two Old Keys to Memorial Day


There cannot be enough posts about Memorial Day. Let us honor those killed so violently on a faraway battlefield…and not a Memorial Day sale.

Masako and Spam Musubi

2014-05-21-12-17-02 Old Man Jack entrusted me with his house keys “…in case he shot himself in the foot” as he put it. Now covered in dust is Old Man Jack’s favorite baby – the F4U Corsair albeit a toy. He would push that button in once in a while, listen to this toy’s engine sound and watch the prop spin… It would echo a bit in my hallway…

I looked at these two old keys in my hand.  They belonged to Old Man Jack and the thought of Memorial Day instantly crossed my mind.

Two old keys to Memorial Day.

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A year ago, I had written a blog about Memorial Day (“It” and Memorial Day).

At times, I feel the meaning of Memorial Day has either faded or has changed.

In essence, many people living in today’s “politically correct” society have taken the sacrifices of our fallen to…

View original post 535 more words

Old Man Jack-ism #8


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After recovering from a flood of memories, Old Man Jack stares at the other girl in his life: the F4U Corsair. Planes of Fame, March 3, 2003. Copyright Koji D. Kanemoto.

“….The son-of-a-bitch had no legs…” said Old Man Jack from his wife’s blue wheelchair.  His arms were making like windmills.  Well, windmills as fast as his 88 year old arms could go.  He had a comical yet strained look on his face, his bushy white eyebrows still prominent.

But you could see the pain behind those eyes…and in his deadened voice.

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Several months have passed since I visited with Old Man Jack at his grave.  With Memorial Day around the corner, May 17th was a beautiful day to visit him.  A recent rainstorm had just passed and the blue skies were painted with thin, wispy clouds.

I could see no one had stopped by since my last visit; at least no one that left flowers for his wife Carol and him.  The hole for flowers was covered up and grass had crept up onto his gravestone.

I had brought along something for Jack this time; something I thought he would enjoy.  So after cleaning up his resting place, it was placed atop his gravestone – his beloved F4U Corsair:

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He loved the F4U Corsair. He reflected on seeing the entire patrol return to base at wave top, do a victory roll then peel off with a tear in his eyes.

I’m hoping he was beaming.  He couldn’t possibly be happier, being with the two most beautiful ladies in his life.

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But back to his story.

A few months before he was taken away from his home, we had been sitting in his cluttered garage, talking about this and that; I just can’t recall what.  But something in our talk triggered an ugly war flashback from his tormented and mightily buried subconscious.  By that day in 2011, I could tell when he was enduring one, having sat in his garage with him for ten years.

He began as he did before.  He would suddenly stop then gaze down at his hands for a couple of seconds.  His left ring finger would begin to rhythmically pick under his right thumbnail.  His white, bushy eyebrows now made thin with time would partly obscure his eyes from me when he lowered his head.

While I am unable to recall his exact words, he slowly allowed an ugly event to surface:

Old Man Jack began, “We were ordered to go on a patrol.  We were issued rifles and hoped to God we wouldn’t come across any Japs,” he said in a remorseful way.¹  “Then, we came to these rice paddies… We could see hills around us… but that also meant the Japs could see us.”²

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Perhaps it was this rice paddy in Okinawa. Archival image.
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…Or this rice paddy. US Army photo.

“We just followed the guy in front of us like cattle,” he said.  “We were making it through the rice paddies when a couple of shells came in.  Man, I hit the ground real quick.

Then all of a sudden, all hell broke loose.  Rounds were coming in like crazy all around me.  They had this area zeroed in real good.”

He continued.  “I ain’t ashamed to say it.  I was scared real bad.  Then we all started to scram.  I got up and started to run.  I dumped my rifle and ran like crazy.”   While in that blue wheelchair that belonged to his beloved wife Carol, Old Man Jack made like he was running, much like Popeye in this clip:

He then took his gaze away from his hands.  “Then I saw this guy flying through the air with his arms making like he was still running… but the son-of-a-bitch had no legs!”  He pointed his finger and made an arc like a rainbow, then swung his arms like a windmill.  Apparently, an enemy round had hit his comrade, severing his upper torso from his legs then throwing him into the air.  Although the comrade met a violent end, Old Man Jack was describing how he saw his arms flailing.

He stopped.  His eyes returned to his hands.  I still cannot imagine the torment he was enduring, even after 70 years.

I never will.  I just hope he didn’t take it to his grave with him.

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While Old Man Jack was fortunate to have survived combat unlike my Uncle Suetaro or Sgt. Bill Genaust, it was but a physical survival.

Combat tormented him forever.

Let us remember this Memorial Day our fellow Americans who perished so young for the sake of their families and friends, no matter which conflict… and also firmly support those in uniform as I write.  They, too, are being forgotten by many, even as they fight – and die – for us in godforsaken faraway places.

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My friend’s first husband, Sgt. Robert W. Harsock, US Army, Viet Nam, posthumously bestowed the Medal of Honor. National Medal of Honor Memorial, Riverside National Cemetery. Copyright Koji D. Kanemoto

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NOTES:

1. I would like to remind my readers that Old Man Jack had no hatred to me or my family when he uttered the word “Jap”.  He is digressing to a most vile period in his life in which he could be killed the very next moment.  If you are offended, it is suggested you participate in an all-out war; perhaps you will understand why.

2. At his funeral, the minister read off the islands he fought on.  Based solely on his description of the large rice paddy and hills combined with what the minister said, I firmly believe this was Okinawa 1945.  Oddly, while Old Man Jack mentioned Guadalcanal, Rabaul, Bougainville and Green Island, he never mentioned Okinawa.

The Magic of Churchill’s Speeches


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Sir Winston Churchill and his cigar. From http://www.express.co.uk/news/

While avoiding any political endorsement of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, he did lead England to victory over Hitler’s Germany during World War II.

It was a grave time for England¹.  While I am certainly not a military historian, his famous speeches – with his distinctive speech and delivery which helped keep the British morale bolstered  – always intrigued me.  They were always stirring.  Why is that, I thought.

As an example, an excerpt of one of his more famous WWII speeches follows, broadcast to the free world at the end of the Battle of Britain¹.  He pays homage to the brave, young RAF pilots who flew countless of sorties in defense of their homeland against numerically superior Nazi warplanes.  The radio broadcast recording is set to start moments before his famous words of Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few:

But there IS something in his speeches that captivated the common English layman of war-ravaged England…and me.  He captured the populace with his radio broadcasts, from chimney sweeps to the most learned elite.  This in a time when Nazi Germany laid siege to the island nation, eventually bombing London itself (which was part of a key tactical blunder²).

Nevertheless, his tone is generally reserved during his speeches; yet, it is stirring.  It certainly is not animated as that of his psychotic foe, Hitler; it is said Churchill would merely sit behind the microphone on a desk while his faithful cigar burned at his side while broadcasting his speech.  (Hitler is one of the most animated, dynamic speakers I have watched even though he was inhuman.)

An archival image of Sir Winston Churchill broadcasting to the English population, 1942.

Then, a couple of years ago, I had stumbled across an article about his speeches.  I think I was researching in support of one of my son’s school projects when I came across it.  But it finally laid bare his secret to me for his successful speeches: it was the simplicity of his words.

His speeches not only excluded complex words, like perpendicularity or discombobulation for the most part, his ultimate secret was the number of syllables in a word.

It was rare he used any word with more than three syllables.  Yes, three syllables.  Amazing, isn’t it?

With his cigar going, Sir Winston Churchill visits Hitler’s destroyed Chancellery in July 1945. Archival photograph.

In an excerpt from his speech on June 4, 1940 below, you can see his perfect choice of words.  There are only three words with more than three syllables (bold italics).  Simplicity was his preference and key to his success:

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

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Sir Winston Churchill, with cigar going, visits British troops in France six days after D-Day. Archival photo.

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Anyways, I just thought it was fascinating to finally learn one key to Sir Winston Churchill’s successful and historic speeches.  After he carried England through the war, I am sad he was voted out as Prime Minister in Britain’s first elections after Germany’s surrender.  He passed away in 1965 at the age of 90.

But one thing is for certain.  My Little Cake Boss Diva has instinctively mastered Churchill’s speech skills.

“Papa…  Why do you do it that way?  Do it this way!”

See?  All three syllables or less…  She must be captivating although she is a bit more animated than Churchill was.

Someone help me.

By the way, my text above has twelve words that have more than three syllables.  🙂

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For a collection of Sir Winston Churchill’s speeches, please click here.

NOTES:

1.  It is but my belief that England’s situation in 1939 while dire was not as gloomy as history presents it to be.  Nevertheless, it was a most dangerous time to be a Londoner.

2.  Perhaps in the future, I will write about this “blunder” by Hitler and most of all, Goering.  One unbelievable tactical error was ordering his Me-109’s – arguably a better fighter plane than the British Spitfire – to fly alongside his bombers in a defensive move.