June 6, 2020 – Golfing with the Secret Service

Today is June 6, 2020, National Yo-Yo Day and the birthday of Donald F. Duncan, Sr. Donald Duncan was a American businessman who, during the years of the Great Depression, popularized the yo-yo in the United States. Did you ever try to play to with a yo-yo? I was…and still am…lousy at yo-yo-ing, even with a Dunacan yo-yo. Though today is named National Yo-Yo Day, June 6th was selected for the commemoration because it is Donald Duncan’s birthday. By the way, Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon demonstrated their yo-yo skills while in office. If you’ve never tried playing with a yo-yo, it is still a worthwhile endeavor. And you can still purchase a Duncan yo-yo at Duncan Toys. Check out the wide variety they carry!

How Does It Feel to Live in a Poor, Black Community?

I am a fan of the PBS Newshour and I try to watch it every night. It, along with National Public Radio, is my primary source of broadcast news. This week’s Humble Opinion segment was particularly compelling. This week’s opinion was offered by an author and journalist who made the point that the pandemic gives everyone a chance to know what it is like to live in a poor, black community. Ms. Turner’s presentation is powerful and brief. Please take 2 minutes and 46 seconds to watch How the Coronavirus Crisis Offers a Glimpse of What Poor, Black Communities ‘Feel every day’

golfing with the secret service

Trump is not the only person who plays golf with the Secret Service. I have played at least twice with them myself.

Okay, so they weren’t on duty…because they were actually playing golf rather than watching me play golf.

Last summer I met two young men on the golf course who were in their first year with the Secret Service. Both were assigned to the White House at the time and I assume they still are…which is what really worries me.

They were both very nice young men in their early 20’s and seemed fresh out of college. They looked nothing like you might expect a Secret Service agent to look like – you know, like NFL linebackers. One of the guys was slightly taller than me, the other about my height, but neither of them looked particularly “bulked up.” They were polite, well-spoken, and friendly.

I played twice with them quite serendipitously. I happened to be there on their day off both times and I ran into them on the golf course. In all, I saw them about four times at the course over the summer. Each time I always enjoyed seeing them and got to chat for a little bit.

They were, however, not very good at golf. I remember the first time we played together. They were quite amazed that a guy who was the same age as their grandfathers could beat them so badly. My drives were going further and my score was considerably better than theirs. They couldn’t quite figure it out but they were impressed. Oddly, this may be what opened the door to some very interesting conversation.

When I learned they protected the President I immedately had two questions. The first was: How do they train you to take a bullet for the President? Their answer was immediate: It is not something anyone can teach you; it is a decision and commitment you make for yourself.

My second question was: How do you feel about protecting this president who is so controversial? This time the answer was still immediate, but it a bit more nuanced: It is not about a person; it is about the Office of President. That is what we protect.

Both answers actually made a lot of sense and I was impressed with their responses. In fact, it is quite admirable that the young Secret Service officers could make that distinction between the Office of President and the occupant.

Recently I’ve been thinking about these two young golf buddies and their duty to protect the Office of President. The phrase “Office of President” is itself interesting. I always thought it included the word “the,” as in “Office of the President.” However, as you can see from the Constitution, it does not:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Article II, Section 1, The Constitution of the United States of America

The absence of “the” suggests the Office of President stands apart from any particular person, including the current occupant. Perhaps this is why Merriam-Webster refers to it as “the American governmental institution.” It is an instution that is greater than any one person…no matter how great a person thinks he or she is.

Had I been thinking about it then, I would have asked the two young Secret Service officers one more question: Since you are sworn to protect the Office of President, what do you do when the occupant of the Office is dishonoring it, failing to live up to his or her oath of office, or otherwise putting it at risk?

When I saw the Federal law enforcement officers, including Secret Service, in their “battle gear” lined up against the protesters in Washington, DC earlier this week, I thought of my golf buddies.

  • I wondered if they were there on the front line.
  • I wondered if they helped clear LaFayette Park so Trump could take his “courageous” walk.
  • I wondered if they stood guard the other nights, “locked and loaded” for trouble.
  • I wonder today if they are mulling over that third question I would have liked to ask them last summer.

The quality of the two young men I discerned last summer on the golf course leads me to believe they are. I hope so. I hope they can find the moral courage to protect the Office of President despite any order Trump gives.

The view from Jeff

Jeff explains: I’m all for being safe and minding other people’s boundaries but I was in a drive that seemed to have social distancing between the cars…Is this a thing or are we just getting used to spacing in line ups?

chickenman – Episode 50

Chickenman, with a little help from some friends, comes back to himself. However, the mayor…well…that’s another story.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.


Author: Tom Klaus

My name is Tom Klaus and I am the founder and president of Tenacious Change. I am convinced the secret to almost any good thing happening among people is relational trust. Want to be loved by your spouse, children, and family? Want to work well with others? Want to be an effective leader? Want to help your neighborhood, community, state, or country change for the good? Want world peace...actually, peace with anyone? Building relational trust is when fear, animosity, conflict, and the status quo begins to transform into cooperation, respect, collaboration, peace, and working together for social change and the greater good of all. A good day for me is when I can help social profit, nonprofit, and public leaders and their organizations grasp the importance of relational trust, let it guide their decision making, and inform their strategy. This is just one of the ways that I am animating and equipping leaders, organizations, and communities to lead change for the greater good. Tenacious Change is about changing forward into a future that prioritizes the greater good for all. We can do this better together. Come on along!

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