MAY BEGINS at WVRC – the 6th

We were honored to have a large group of Firefighters from Station 37, our ‘home’ station, at 10905 Veteran Avenue, just north of Wilshire. They were with us to help honor their comrade, Engineer Dave Allen – more on that shortly. Meanwhile, PP JOHN SINGLETON led the Pledge, supplemented by his passing out some handy notebooks with the Pledge wording on the back side, which JOHN suggested we read as we recited.

LENNY FRIEDMAN and JACK HARRIS were our musical leaders, and we sang America – always a popular choice. HENRIETTA LIAN located no Visiting Rotarians, but there were guests. MIKE YOUSEM started off, by announcing that he had found this lady in the parking lot – turned out to be Sheila, but YOE would opine that MIKE has perhaps more guts than some of us in stating his case this way. Anyway, his phraseology was well received. Pres. PETER brought Shirley.

This being the first meeting of the month, birthdays were announced. BURLEIGH ARNOLD came along on the 12th, in Lewistown – and I’m sure you all know that is in Missouri, right? Shortly thereafter, SALLY BRANT appeared on the 14th, in good old LA. HOWIE HENKES made his mark on the 16th, in Vincennes – and again, that is of course in Indiana. GEORGE COX and TONY DERYAN both arrived on the 27th, GEORGE in Westmoreland (CA, that is) and TONY returning us to LA.

Pres. PETER had some slides of the District Conference in Costa Mesa, which showed much of what went on. Those of us who attended the first plenary session on Friday morning were reminded that Rotary today has 1.2 million members, in 31,149 clubs, divided into over 500 Districts, and is established in 163 countries worldwide. Truly, we are a huge organization – and we must continue to remember PP BOB WESSLING’S comment that we are the best kept secret anywhere. Let’s spread the good word!

On Saturday evening, PP GEORGE DEA was presented with a special award, entitled Special Recognition to a Courageous Rotarian, for dedication and leadership with continuing participation in Rotary District 5280. This was certainly well deserved, and we thank you, GEORGE, for all your good work in the Parkinson’s Exercise Program and with the UCLA Rotaract Program. We received a total of seven Gold Awards, three Silver Awards, and five Bronze Awards. Our members who died in this Rotary Year were named – PP ROY BELOSIC, JOHN QUILICO, JAYNE SPENCER, BILL BLOOMFIELD, and PP HOWARD SISKEL. They remain in our hearts.

PP STEVE DAY came forward to present a Paul Harris Fellowship. He asked HENRY TSENG and BURLEIGH ARNOLD to come forward. HENRY had originally sponsored BURLEIGH into WVRC, and now wished to make him a Paul Harris Fellow. At the same time, BURLEIGH made the same decision, so PP STEVE ended up presenting him with what amounted to a dual Fellowship. As you probably know, these Fellowships are the main source of income to the Rotary International Foundation, which is turn sponsors and finances our Polio Eradication Campaign, our Ambassadorial Scholars, our many Matching Grant Programs and the multitude of other good works in which Rotary is engaged worldwide. This Foundation was established in 1947, and you become a Member by donating one thousand dollars to the Foundation.

I came up to oversee the presentation of our Firefighter of the Year Award to a member of Fire Station 37. The honoree, Engineer Dave Allen, was introduced by his Captain, Frank Lima. Capt Lima noted that Dave was the longest serving member of Fire Station 37, having transferred there in 1990. The job description of Engineer means that he drives the hook and ladder, decides which hoses to use, and leads his crew in their every action. He is also the hardest worker among them – a real example and leader for all to follow. Prior to joining the LAFD in 1977, he served in the Marines. His wife, Michele, and daughter, Loren, were with us – seated at my table, actually – and it was fitting that they should share in his honor. Also present along with over a dozen firefighters from #37 was Battalion Commander Daryl Arbuthnott – and ten minutes after the presentation, they were called out to fight a brush fire alongside the freeway, so we just fitted them in. In addition to his Plaque naming him the Firefighter of the Year for 2003, Dave was made a Paul Harris Fellow, so he took home a lot of award hardware. I must editorialize here for a moment – this support of local fire, police, and volunteers is something which we can point to with pride. These hard-working citizens seldom get the credit they so richly deserve for their efforts, so our annual awards are both important and must be maintained. Engineer Allen very nicely thanked Rotary for these awards, noting that he loved his family, loved his team, and felt blessed to be where he is today.

We had already decided earlier that when HANK HEUER did arrive, we would then have him give his planned Invocation – and it was worth waiting for. He began with a Five Surgeon joke, which was well received. Then, “We thank you for the food, and remember the hungry. We thank you for health, and remember the sick. We thank you for friends, and remember the friendless. We thank you for freedom, and remember the enslaved. May these gifts to us stir us to your service.” I don’t know where else to put this in, but the latest on RALPH BEASOM is that he is still home, but suffering from internal bleeding. They have not yet located where this is occurring, so he is subject to blood transfusions while they continue to take tests. He needs our support.

Our Speaker was Al Rantel, who was introduced by SHANE WAARBROEK. Al graduated from Oklahoma State, then went to work on radio in Florida, and moved to LA about six years ago. He is on 790 and can be heard from 11-12, and from 6-9 p.m. Based on the applause that followed, he has a wide audience among WVRC members.

Al began by commenting how pleased he was to see us honoring these heroes. We certainly see them differently now than we did before 9/11. He feels strongly that radio can unite people, and it now seems to him to provide an electronic Town Hall. He recently talked about Pat Tillman, the football star who gave up a 3.5 million dollar career to join the Army, so he could fight in Afghanistan. When asked why he did it, he said he couldn’t reconcile tackling football players when he needed to tackle something more important than that. He was killed while leading his unit, carrying his radio – one casualty that day, a long way from home.

Al recalled the words of Churchill, who observed that the appeaser is the man who hopes the crocodile will eat him last. He noted President Reagan’s characterization of the Evil Empire, and observed that we have a new enemy now. Our enemies espouse a culture of death, killing innocent people, which presents a unique challenge. They certainly want to come to the US again, and there are many contrary opinions on how to combat them. Remember that these decisions will be evaluated by history, not by immediate reactions.

We are the only country that can win the war we are now in. On his visit to Arlington National Cemetery, he felt all you could see were the white stones. They are all there so we can be here.

Where else in the world are more people trying to enter? And remember that we have about 6% of the world’s population – it really is a small, random chance that you were born here. LENNY FRIEDMAN asked if we lose the war in Iraq, would that cost Bush the election. There is tremendous risk, and if it goes well, he gets the credit – but…

ELLIOTT TURNER, who should replace Rumsfield. He is feeling a failure of command, but remember that the real enemy is who we are fighting. RAY ZICKFELD, how do we deal with all the other countries that are not democratic. They have no culture of democracy, no experience with it. Remember that it took us 13 years, for instance, between the Declaration of Independence and our first Constitution. We had a Civil War – and this was part of the process of our learning about democracy – it takes a very long time, and we are not likely to be as patient as we should be. Al feels that God perhaps has a sense of humor, putting all that oil in the land below these crazy Iraqis.

Getting back to time, it took General MacArthur seven years to rebuild Japan. PP BOB WESSLING, should we start a draft again. Al hopes we won’t have to, since volunteer

fighters are better – they choose to be there. A little known fact about Vietnam is that most of those who served there were enlistees. LEE DUNAYER, how can we understand Iraqi culture and their different value systems. You cannot seduce evil, you must kill it.

You wouldn’t want to negotiate with Hitler, would you?

Al Rantel, thank you for a most provocative visit.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe