Dennis Delaney

Commentator

Dennis Delaney is a former Republican State Senator.

Back in high school English class our teacher introduced us to the timeless poem Elegy in a Country Churchyard; then he made us memorize all 128 lines of it.

Lately we’ve been seeing what I suppose are well intentioned efforts to erase problematic bits of the historic record – but I think they’re seriously misguided.

There’s a book in my library titled Whisperers by a Russian historian of the Stalin era in which everyone tells on everyone else. And I was reminded of it recently, when I set out for a hike with my dog Fred in my rusty old pick-up truck. I love the old wreck and when Fred and I go places in it, we’re kings of the road.

President Trump has moved a portrait of President Andrew Jackson into the Oval Office, prompting a comparison from which some intriguing similarities emerge.

America has always had a split personality when it comes to immigration. On the one hand we have Emma Lazurus’ soaring verses on the base of the Statue of Liberty, both words and hands beckoning to those “yearning to be free.”

Delaney: Evil Acts

Aug 12, 2016

Soon after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, President Obama gave a speech in which he called the violence “an act of evil.”

These are words we rarely hear today. We don’t use them very often because there’s a vagueness about them, an abstract quality with philosophical, religious and perhaps even superstitious overtones.

But listening to the President I was struck that – more than terrorism, racism, homophobia, or madness – those words capture for me the awful reality of the new and sinister malevolence stalking our country today.

A fierce fight is already underway in the United States Senate over how and when to appoint the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s successor on the Supreme Court.

History often teaches us good lessons if only we’re wise enough to learn from them. Some lessons affirm our American greatness; others give us pause for shame. As the country debates, too harshly it seems to me, whether and how to accept Syrian refugees, I’m reminded of another time, nearly forgotten now, when we shunned those abroad who were desperate for refuge.

A friend of mine, a former police officer, once described the legislature while in session as a “romper room” but he said it with a grin.

I never hesitate to say what’s been the best part of my life – and I have much to choose from. But hands down, being a parent trumps everything else. My favorite word is “dad”, followed closely by “grandfather.” And as a teacher I’d often look at the young faces in front of me and delight in the thought of life’s great adventures before them.

Her name was Emma Lazarus and she was a Jew, born in New York, in 1849. She studied literature and languages but her passion was Jewish history – especially as it related to Jews who fled persecution in Czarist Russia and immigrated to America.
Emma wrote the six lines that were inscribed in bronze, in 1903, at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

There’s a new hot issue abroad in Vermont-land that’s giving me serious pause.

It was 5:29AM, just past dawn on July 16, 1945. The plan had been to start at 4 but the weather had been unsettled. The place was the Jornada del Muerto, or the trail of death – so named by Spanish explorers centuries before. It was a remote and arid spot in the New Mexico desert – with water so alkaline that drinking water had to be hauled in. The site became known as Trinity, a name it bears to this day. When the button was pushed and the bomb ignited, mankind’s path was changed forever.

I love my home in Vermont, but I travel quite a bit and it’s always fascinating for me, even fun, to discover the many things elsewhere that we Vermonters are not, or don’t do. Here’s one of the latest from my recent travels - and it’s a whopper.

I spend a lot of time away from the Green Mountains – too much I sometimes think. But with the simple graces of memory and discovery I carry Vermont with me wherever I go. And it embodies my definition of home.

They usually come in from the east, up high, one at a time, like a tribe of aliens insinuating itself on campus, faster and faster, hearts pumping and cool fresh air streaming over their faces. Some smile. Others concentrate. But many just seem to affect an above-it-all casual look. Once in a while velocity meets gravity. Gravity wins and the brio of youth takes a tumble.

They are the campus skateboarders on what the French smartly describe as “une planche a roulettes,” a board on little wheels.

Delaney: Soaring

Dec 1, 2014

As you rise swiftly into the air, you feel the wind slipping below you, and you ride that wind higher and higher. Those simple words describe soaring, and it’s what happens on an aircraft with no engine – also known as a glider.
 

Recently a friend of mine invited me to go soaring, with him as pilot and me as passenger; both of us wearing parachutes. Our flight took us over the incredibly beautiful desert and mountains of southern New Mexico.

October is here. Foliage blazes and leaf peepers invade. All over the state chicken pie suppers abound – they are so good - and they put their unique culinary signature on our cozy autumn evenings. Many Vermonters can be seen stacking cordwood in strategic places around the house.
 

I don’t know what the following story says about me but it really doesn’t matter. What I did just popped out of some restless instinct. I acted quickly, without thinking. I did what I felt I should, split second. It was a rescue –not really the heroic sort, like jumping into a lake and pulling a struggling child ashore – but frankly I’m proud of it and would do it again. In fact I did do it again about a week later but on a different road, in the country, with no traffic.

Most Vermonters remember the famous Russian exile that lived among us for many years - in Cavendish to be precise. Although a recluse, he was sometimes seen at the local town meeting, casual but attentive. His name was Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and he was both victim and chronicler of the bleakness and inhumanity of Soviet Communism.

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