It was warm and slightly overcast, making for a comfortable day to explore and tour. We were extended an invite to the Kumquat Growers Citrus Farm and Benedetto’s owner Ben Pumo’s adjacent farm and hydroponic garden, located at 31647 Gude Rd. in Dade City, FL. As is always the case, we never pass it up. Supporting our local businesses and causes is always priority one.
In an area surrounded by lush forests, cow pastures, and farms, the setting couldn’t have been better. We arrived in time for the tour of both locations, complete with a tour tram that comfortably transported the visitors to the kumquat packing house and gift shop, the kumquat groves, then to the birthplace of fresh vegetables that Chef Ben Pumo proudly serves at his restaurant in Land ‘O Lakes.
Greg Gude, whose family has been growing on this land for generations, led the tour of the kumquat portion of the visit. He explained the history and uses of kumquats, and even demonstrated how to enjoy the fruit in its raw form. There were samples of kumquat pie and other edibles that were simply delicious, and pleased the crowd. To explore more about the Kumquat Growers and rich history, visit their website here.
After our visit to the kumquat farm, the tram headed to Ben Pumo’s farm and garden. This is the pride of Benedetto’s Ristorante Italiano, located at 21529 Village Lakes Sopping Center Dr., in Land ‘O Lakes, FL. Vegetables served in his restaurant are grown right here, with no chemicals or pesticides. While the cost is a little more than purchasing from suppliers, it’s obvious that there is a motive: Quality.
Ben led the group to his garden, where it was his turn to explain exactly what he does there and the type of vegetables grown. He explained the hydroponic process, as well as dishes he uses his vegetables in. If you’ve eaten at his restaurant, it all makes complete sense. Food is second to none in quality, taste, and presentation.
This group gathering was especially important to Ben, because his guests are also friends of his. He partners with them in the annual Gasperilla Parade. Called the Spirit of Cigar City Krewe, the collective members of the group have their own float in the parade. But, they do have a vision. According to their group site on Facebook, they are a “group of business men and women from different walks of life and from different locations, but with one belief. That belief is to promote the history of Tampa, Ybor City, and their diverse heritages by supporting charities and fostering civic pride.
To learn more about the Spirit of Cigar City Krewe, go to their website here.
As a friendly gesture to his friends and visitors, Ben put together quite the outdoor dining set. Friends of the group brought dishes to compliment each other. The sun was going down, and folks were ready to relax to a tasty meal near the fire. The only sounds to be heard in this quiet country location was the laughter and chatter. The food was impeccable, and at the end of the evening, guests were happy to have spent their day at the grove and farm.
Both locations are highly recommended for a leisure day out for the entire family. And Benedetto’s Ristorante Italiano? Any occasion will do!
by Brian Michael Smith
Leading up to Trump’s election as President of the United States, rally’s were very common for the billionaire developer. It was his way of reaching out to the masses with his messages and agendas. He was well on his way to Making America Great Again. We were there during his rally in February of 2016 at USF in Tampa, and when Trump took to the stage on July 31 at the Florida State Fairgrounds, also in Tampa, we were there again. But this time, in much better seats.
I got a special invite this time around – no press pass necessary. Friend Ben Pumo, owner of Benedetto’s Italiano Ristorante, 21529 Village Lakes Shopping Center Dr. in Land O’ Lakes, FL, is also the NFIB Florida PAC Chairman. NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) is “the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals.”
The NFIB sent Ben Pumo two VIP invites, and he extended one of them to me. This meant that we were seated behind Trump during his address to the massive audience. Speaking of which, the crowd was so large that thousands couldn’t get in. Trump’s team learned from the past, so they installed a large projector and speakers outside for the ones who couldn’t squeeze inside. Don’t believe the media, I saw it firsthand.
The anticipation was an anxious one. To be just several feet away from our president to show our support was an amazing opportunity, and we both made the very best of it.
Trump didn’t miss a beat, nor did he disappoint his supporters. His message was quite consistent, as he touched on not only the accomplishments over the months since being elected, and the agenda for the future, including the battle to ‘drain the swamp’ as he promised to do upon being sworn in as president. Trump had another motive for his visit to Florida. He was also there to officially endorse Ron Desantis, who is running for Governor of Florida.
Of course, the media got their usual dose of reality, but this time, it was from the crowd. While CNN reporter Jim Acosta was broadcasting live, rally-goers chanted, “CNN sucks!” It’s worthy to note that CNN did not broadcast the event.
Of course, there were the usual protesters, but not really in large numbers. It would appear that Trump supporters are tiring of the constant attacks, and are fighting back with counter protests. This may be playing a part in smaller protest crowds.
Trump also showed his humorous side. When addressing his critics who say that Trump doesn’t act presidential enough, he had quite the comeback, saying, “It’s a lot easier to act presidential than to do what I do.”
On his way to the stage exit, Trump stopped long enough to autograph a baseball, and playfully throw it back.
Some of us remember why holidays or observations are important, or at least important enough to designate a day of the year to it. When we ask kids if they know the meaning, most will contend it’s a day they don’t have to go to school, or align it with another day, out of confusion. To clarify to our young and the folks who don’t give it much thought, and in honor of our veterans who’ve served and risked it all, we want to explain to our local community what it means to us.
We have two major holidays honoring those who served. Memorial Day, for those who died for The United States of America, and Veterans Day, for those who bravely served in the armed forces for The United States of America. Many in this country who’ve served have been forgotten or lost in the cracks, and although we’ll leave politics out of this, it’s a shame for the ones who fought and volunteered to protect our great country and go widely unappreciated.
After World War I (most hostilities ended with the German signing of the Armisice, on the 11th hour, 11th day and the 11th month in 1918), Veterans Day was on its way to being observed. Thereafter, then-U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as our Armistice Day in 1919. President Wilson said of his Proclamation of Veterans Day:
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
Let’s not forget the ones who cannot attend our cook-outs, football games this weekend or the parents, children and friends of these brave souls who continue fighting for a free country. Oh, how some take Veterans Day and many other observances for granted. All of us wouldn’t be enjoying the quality of our lives without their dedication, sacrifice and service. I implore all to find ways of helping our veterans who’ve been used for a great cause and then forgotten, and those who sit by themselves wondering why this great country is slowly forgetting why Veterans Day comes every November 11th.
A special thanks out to all who have served in order to bring peace to all American’s. We know you did it without wanting a badge of heroism, and in our eyes will go down as the reason our Constitution will continue to be worth fighting for, many generations to come.
May we not take it for granted.
I remember back when we arrived in our classrooms at the beginning of the school day, nothing could commence before placing our right hands over our hearts and citing the Pledge of Allegiance. We would all face the flag that a student either held or was on a pole hanging from the wall. Every class had our national flag, and every student paid their respect.
Where has the proud, patriotic symbolism of our love for the United States gone?
I suppose we could debate this question among certain groups to no end. But as Americans, we all have the right to still pledge allegiance to our country, complete with ‘One Nation, Under God’ in our hearts and voices. The meaning of our freedom has been lost by those who haven’t fought for it, or those that take it for granted. But on July 4th, Americans who still have love for their country, the celebration really begins.
The date was July 4, 1776. It was the day the United States revealed the Declaration of Independence, thus declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. While the American Revolution was in full swing, legal separation of the 13 colonies took place (July 2, 1776). The United States had prepared a special document explaining this to the world. Thomas Jefferson led the way in writing the Declaration of Independence, a document that would solidify the United States as the land of the free and brave.
While the actual legal separation of the colonies from Great Britain was on July 2, 1776, Americans came to celebrate the federal holiday on July 4, the day the declaration was presented. There are also disputed dates among historians who claim the declaration wasn’t actually signed on that date. Additionally, John Adams wrote on July 3, 1776, to his wife:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
John Adams was close. By a couple days.
But he was right about one thing: It has been ‘celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.’ What’s more fascinating is that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only two signers of the Declaration of Independence to go on to be President, both died on July 4, 1826. Coincidence?
Here we are, arriving at July 4, 2017, two hundred and forty one years later. Our founding father’s were on to something big, as the United States went on to be the envy of the world.
Our family will observe Independence Day as a gift of freedom. The smell of barbecue and sounds of children laughing will be in the air. I think our founders had this very vision in mind. We’re eternally thankful.
Happy Independence Day to all our friends across the country!
I suppose we all have those memories that stop us in our emotional tracks. We all vary when it comes to emotions that make us think and ponder our own ending. After all, we must all face the inevitable. But even after we realize it, there’s a sense of denial; that it is a very distant event we have much time in which we must face it.
I wondered and fought with myself on what was occurring emotionally when the page was being turned with the passing of Aunt Sue and my father. It never dawned on me all through life that these people would leave this Earth, so I guess when they did, it was time to really grow up, once again.
A surreal reality chack.
My brother David and I arranged our father’s memorial at Lake Louisa Park on the same day as our Aunt Sue’s memorial at our cousin’s home on Saturday, January 28. The plan was to attend both while David was in Florida from Georgia, where he resides, in order to honor both his aunt and father. But before we could venture to cousin Jeff’s place for Aunt Sue’s memorial, we had to take a little trip to the location of dad’s residence before he moved to Georgia.
Our dad was cremated, just as his wife Lorraine had been. Dad saved her ashes for the sole purpose of being spread in to the lake together behind the home they shared before her death, in Mascotte, Florida. Dad asked that his ashes be spread in the lake with hers; David and I saw that the request was fulfilled.
After departing Lake Louisa, we directed our attention to the home in Mascotte. DJ, dad’s former neighbor, was more than accomodating. We chatted for a bit, then we launched a boat DJ loaned us. We paddled out a distance and sat a moment before David handed me one of the bags containing dad and Lorraine.
“I’m holding dad? Really? This is crazy, bro,” I said with disbelief. David nodded, “Yeah, it is.” He then handed me a knife to cut the bag open, and an eerie feeling enveloped me. The air was cool and breezy, the sun bright. The water was choppy and chilly. I was about to do something I had never imagined to have been possible.
None of it felt real.
On a more comedic note, David and I stepped through some very sludgy stuff on the bottom of the lake. We ran aground and had to walk the boat to the shore. DJ said to wash the peat moss off, otherwise it would begin itching. Something frightening crossed our minds when we wondered what it was that would have caused the itching, so we expedited the removal of the sticky substance.
Dad’s final wish to have his ashes scattered in to the lake with Lorraine was complete. It was the type of closure I didn’t count on, but it was closure, nevertheless.
Those who made it gathered on the shore for a spell. The intended time for the gathering was last-minute, so many weren’t able to make it since it was announced late. We figured that we’d do it the same day as Aunt Sue’s memorial, as it would be easier for those to come who traveled from afar.
We got in to our cars and headed to our cousin Jeff’s home in nearby Groveland. His mother Sue, and my aunt, had passed away the month before my dad, and his uncle. Jeff opened his home for the memorial, and what I would later realize, it was the perfect setting for the occasion.
It was great seeing all of my aunts, cousins, their children, and family friends. And as I’ve always lamented, it’s almost a shame that we must await a loss in order to enjoy what we have traditionally considered a necessity in the early days, years ago. I guess time has a way of doing that to families, as they spread out with their own lives and traditions.
A good amount of family and friends showed up for my Aunt Sue’s memorial. It was in the country, the mood was rather cheerful despite the occasion, and quite frankly, I couldn’t get over the assortment of animals Jeff has. It was like an adult petting zoo!
There were cows and bulls, a horse, a mule, a pig, dogs, and one blind cat. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Jeff claimed they were all pets. And yes, even the grass-eating cattle in his pasture.
It was difficult leaving when I did, but it was time to depart before sunset. As we close the doors on some things, we must reach down deep to open new ones. The younger generation in our family are left to do just that now, but the memories of my dad and Aunt Sue will forever remain a door I can open from time to time when I want to visit with them in my mind and spirit.
Memories are a glorious thing. Memories bring them back to life.
More pictures of the memorials and a couple of my dad before passing away, thanks to my cousin, Lisa. Strangely, I didn’t take as many as I’m accustomed to taking. If you’d like add your photos onto this online dedication to these wonderful people, please send them to me, as I can edit this any time.
All beginnings have an end
As they say, passing away is a part of life. I get that, but nobody ever said we had to easily accept it or be easily comforted by the quote. It’s an oxymoron in my vision, in that death is a part of living. The ‘mourning’ side of us doesn’t seem to comprehend the meaning too well. After all, dying isn’t living.
It’s also the end of our male lineage from my father’s generation. His three brothers passed away over the last several years; he being the last to die among them.
Dad joined his brothers on December 23, 2016. When I shut off the power to the machine delivering his oxygen, I turned to my brother, David, in a calm manner, softly telling him that dad had finally passed. David didn’t get excited, understanding that we knew it was coming soon, and that every moment were precious ones as we sat by his bed at 7 a.m.
God showed up to take my father with him.
We all knew dad wasn’t ready to depart, but he accepted it. It was also a tough pill for us to swallow because we felt he was still too young at the age of 75. So since the memories were cut short, the best is being made from them.
My dad was in the Army and stationed in Germany during the 1960’s. I was always amazed that his memories of the days he served our country were very sharp, telling us stories of his ventures with vivid detail. It was his early military career that he used to teach and guide us as children. But, he never tired of his tales and adventures in to later age.
Back to his brothers.
As I mentioned, Dad lost two of his brothers years back, but just this year, we also lost the oldest of the four, Jimmy Smith. Talbert and Billy Smith, uncles whom we also adored, passed away at younger ages. The memories of these four assembling the entire family each and every weekend, as I remember as a kid, will live on in my mind for the rest of my life.
I feel as if those days have died with them, as if there are not many of us left with the desire to carry on the torch. Our family is spread afar and it seems next to impossible to bring everybody together at once; in the same place.
I’m praying this will change before we lose too many more.
My dad lived in Florida most of his life, but in recent years (and after his wife Lorraine passed away), he relocated to Georgia where my brother, David, resides. I also lived and worked there for my brother’s company, a glass business, and after 2 years, I returned to Florida. We had some good times, but in the last couple of years, Dad decided that staying closer to home was better for him and travel a thing of the past, as his health became increasingly dire, and his body frail.
I swallowed with difficulty when I finally had the courage to read Dads obituary. I suppose I was distraught and discouraged to do so because after all, an obituary has traditionally left me to feel that it’s a passage of finality; reality.
Clifford Smith, 75, passed away on Friday, December 23, 2016.
Clifford was born on October 22, 1941 in Miami, Florida to the late Clifford Leon and Betty Daughtry Smith. A United States Army Veteran, he proudly served his country during the Berlin Crisis. Following his military career, Clifford worked for Yale Equipment Company and went on to devote 26 years as a mechanic with Brungart Equipment Company before retiring.
In his spare time, he enjoyed fishing and camping. Clifford also loved spending time with his family, especially with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Lorraine Smith.
His memory will forever be treasured by his loving children, Clifford Smith, Jr. of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Brian Smith of Dade City, Florida, and David Smith (Casey) of Warner Robins; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
All services will be private.
A reunion in Heaven
Jimmy, Talbert, Clifford, and Billy Smith are now departed. Remembering these men who were, together with their wives, pillars of our family, is still easy to do. The good times outweighed the bad ones. Every weekend when I was a child entailed large, regular get-togethers that I will never forget. Their children were close to each other, and there was always an adventure to be had among them. The eldest male generation now gone, I’m quickly realizing that their children are on deck.
Hard to believe we are all aged, and our fathers, gone.
Dad stated that he didn’t want a funeral or service. But he did say something that was somewhat of a surprise. Never the religious type, Dad asked for prayers and a pastor to discuss his impending end. This was of special meaning to me, as I had always explained to Dad that there was never anything to lose when it came to accepting Jesus.
“If you die and nothing happens, fine. But if you’re wrong, you’ll then realize that you had nothing to lose,” I’ve told him on more than one occasion.
Dad will surely be missed. It’s difficult to relay just how and how much. I can’t talk to him,only hoping that prayers are forwarded to him somehow. I’m not sure how it works, but one thing is for certain. The lessons from these men, and especially my father, will aid me on my path to old age, and ultimately, my end as well.
In 2005, after 4 years in the Portland, Oregon area, opportunity in hotel management took me to California. Sacramento, that is. Situated just east of San Francisco, west of Lake Tahoe (Sierra Nevada mountain range), and northeast of San Jose, Sacramento is the capital of California, initiated in 1854, when the state was just 4 years old. During this era, the California Gold Rush was in full swing – Sacramento being a major trading and distribution point of the mined gold.
I resided in Folsom, just outside of Sacramento. Despite the namesake of the prison that was popularized by Johnny Cash and the reputation of being violent, Folsom is actually an upscale area. During the summer it can get quite hot, while in the winter, mild and a bit on the wet side. Due to the bay breeze from the west however, the heat in the summer is kept in check at times, as the air is much cooler coming from the frigid Pacific Ocean.
There was also many outdoorsy things to do. There are river canyons everywhere, perfect for a camp-out or a day on the cold streams that run through. Fishing is huge, as is hiking and sightseeing. Speaking of which, some personal points of interest include Yosemite National Park, the mountainous region of Lake Tahoe, the beaches, and attractions in southern California, just to name a few. We will touch on those areas in later chapters.
It’s unclear with certainty when the earliest known inhabitants came to the area. Some estimates range between 10-25,000 years ago, when hunters from northeast Asia followed herds of grazing animals, which fossil evidence includes mammoths. During this era, the modern-day Bering Strait was frozen, allowing for such a passage in to the region.
In the 1500’s, Europeans laid their eyes on California for the first time. They discovered over 300,000 Native Americans, within about 200 tribes. These people lived in relative peace among tribes, and since the climate was a dry one, agriculture was very limited. Instead, they became experts at making use of roots (for both food and medicinal remedies), fruit gathering, and fishing.
The first trip designated to exploring was San Francisco. I quickly discovered that driving through the roller coaster of hills through town was a challenge. So, parking the car and hiking was the best way to go.
I always wanted to see the famed Alcatraz Island, a prison that was decommissioned in 1963. There is a rich history of the island, located about 1.25 miles off shore in the San Francisco Bay. Made famous by inmates such as Al Capone (who served time for tax evasion), and Frank Morris, who with two others escaped the fortress in 1962 on a makeshift raft (they were assumed to have drowned, but no evidence was ever found to the contrary), there is no shortage of intriguing stories. Learn more on the history of Alcatraz here.
San Francisco also began as a result of the gold rush in 1849. Almost overnight, the city became the most populated in the west, and due to the natural harbor that is San Francisco Bay, it was a mecca for shipping and trade. There’s much to tell about San Francisco, and a lot to learn. There’s more to see at History.com.
Although California is a “gold mine” of things to see and do, there is a down side. Taxes are through the roof, and the government, it would seem, has been plagued by scandal for many decades. But since I knew I’d be there a while I made the best of it, taking advantage of any and every opportunity I could to see and enjoy the sites.
The adventure in California was aplenty. In later chapters. we’ll be touching on the many national parks to be seen in the respective states visited.
It’s always amusing when science clashes with the existence of God, as science has always been at odds with those who believe humans arrived here via divine placement. And although we all can agree that there is a universe in the skies above and beyond, society is in a deadlock over how it all began in the first place. There are two sides of this coin: Those who believe in God, and those who do not.
Both sides need to open their minds.
The universe is a massive place, and humans can only measure it by its observable properties. That is, what we can detect or see with modern technology. There have been advances in methods of measuring distances within our universe (and expansion of it), along with its size, and the numbers are numbing.
According to Space.com:
“Astronomers have measured the age of the universe to be approximately 13.8 billion years old. Because of the connection between distance and the speed of light, this means they can look at a region of space that lies 13.8 billion light-years away. Like a ship in the empty ocean, astronomers on Earth can turn their telescopes to peer 13.8 billion light-years in every direction, which puts Earth inside of an observable sphere with a radius of 13.8 billion light-years. The word “observable” is key; the sphere limits what scientists can see but not what is there.
But though the sphere appears almost 28 billion light-years in diameter, it is far larger. Scientists know that the universe is expanding. Thus, while scientists might see a spot that lay 13.8 billion light-years from Earth at the time of the Big Bang, the universe has continued to expand over its lifetime. Today, that same spot is 46 billion light-years away, making the diameter of the observable universe a sphere around 92 billion light-years.”
92 Billion light-years in diameter. The size is unfathomable, and as top minds among worldly humans race, debate and otherwise claw at how the universe was produced in the first place, those who remain faithful in God feel they have the edge. After all, they feel there’s no work at all in proving God created the entire process in the first place. But, there’s much more to it than just faith alone, and science doesn’t want to acknowledge it.
The universe is packed full of matter. You know, material and physical substance. So lets say the Big Bang did occur for the sake of making a point. Where did the material in the Big Bang come from in order for a Big Bang to occur? Did it merely materialize out of thin air in a scientific branch of research yet to be discovered, or did it not exist at all until the time was designated? After all, even scientists agree that time didn’t likely exist before the Big Bang.
We could go in to theory, predictions, estimates and a million hypothesis’s endlessly, but what about the validity of God being the creator? What about God being the great one who began time, light and the universe as a whole? Perhaps to many, it’s the theory that makes the most sense, and it has nothing to do with life being proven outside of our planet.
Science has, for the most part, stated that if life exists in any place other than Earth, that God doesn’t exist. Why peoples of many generations were led to believe this hype is another wonder. As individuals, today’s Earthling’s must do something very vital for themselves, and that’s to look at what’s before their very eyes. By pulling a Bible out, reading it from start to finish, there’s something very interesting that is not in the book itself.
Nothing within it states there’s no life outside of Earth.
It would be naïve, given the sheer numbers and possibilities, to believe life doesn’t exist somewhere, somehow, outside of the planet we call home. So where the science community ever began believing that proving life elsewhere would prove God doesn’t exist is an irony that more than 2,000 years of staring at space has created.
Even Harvard’s Space Forum admits a short-coming of scientific discipline in understanding where it all began, stating, “Although astronomers understand what the universe was like just a few seconds after the Big Bang, no one yet knows what happened at the instant of the Big Bang – or what came before. What powered the Big Bang? Where did all the stuff in the universe come from in the first place? What was the universe like just before the Big Bang?”
Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology and Paleontology at Harvard said,”The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major
transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our
imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a
persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.”
It’s safe to say that the human race can be a little on the arrogant side. After all, the world was once flat, the Sun revolved around the Earth and now, the Big Bang theory proves God doesn’t exist.
Not so fast, science.
Donald Trump, the business man turned political foe that even fellow republicans fear, made it evident that the people want to speak – to be heard. Referred to as the silent majority, Trump enthusiasts are setting records to show support for their candidate.
Sometimes, we have to see things with our own eyes when it seems too good to be true, and for the last several months, the storm that has been brewing in the political world has been viewed from television, radio, and social media. The hype has implications that could, or could not, change the direction in which America is going.
Donald Trump’s team decided that Florida’s 99 delegates was a steak being dangled in front of them, thereby putting Tampa squarely in the cross-hairs as a stop. The USF Sun Dome was the target last evening. And, it didn’t disappoint.
The dome was filled with 11,000 attendees, with thousands more outside who could not get in the door. According to Sun Dome officials, it was, in fact, the largest attendance of any other venue, including Elton John’s visit in 2012. To give a better perspective, Trump has left a path of the same in Barton, Arkansas, where 11,500 people eclipsed the attendance record last set by ZZ Top, way back in 1974. And let’s not forget Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Trump supporters topped 12,000, setting yet another record at the River Center.
Why all the hype?
The lines were long, so I was certainly glad I got there early. It was sure to be a longer day because of it, but we had to go there with our own eyes for readers. After hours of waiting to enter the front doors of the Sun Dome, we were in, and luckily, had a good choice of seats. But that wasn’t the same story for all who wanted to catch a glimpse of their hero.
Admission was free (attendees were required to register online for the event), but parking was $20. It seemed justified with the amount of security that enveloped the entire USF campus. Bomb-sniffing dogs, police patrolling crowds by bike, and other security measures were in tandem with the Secret Service, who mingled among those waiting to gain entrance.
Not everyone was there to see Trump in all his glory. Protesters, who numbered about 100 despite the misreporting of thousands by the mainstream media, yelled at Trump fans, waving their signs. Some yelled back, but most simply ignored what was described as a feeble attempt to cause unrest. Mostly however, the protests were civil.
As the line to get in to the Dome swelled, there was no shortage of vendors selling pins, flags, hats, and t-shirts. “Bomb the shit out of ISIS” and “Hillary for prison” was themed on the merchandise, and the crowds adorned them. It’s also important to note that among those there, thousands were young adults, some even wearing shirts with “Reagan/Bush ’84.” It was the largest turnout of young adults that I could ever recall at an event such as this. It’s telling of how involved more Americans are becoming, and it’s likely due to the crisis facing Americans that has all age groups uniting for Trump.
Many vets turned out as well, and it touched me deeply to see these younger citizens thanking them for their service. Bill Isaly, a marine who served from 1961 to 1968, said he was quite proud to see the millennials participating. When asked if he was there to support Trump, Isaly rested his American flag on his shoulder. “Yes, but I also have to support our volunteers,” he said.
Not all in attendance had their minds made up. Voters still on the fence about Trump showed up to hear his message, and many of those found themselves applauding.
USF student Casey Carson is an example of the new young, curious voters who are trying to make sense of it all. Carson, who is majoring in Economics of Health, said she is interested in how Trump is going to pay for health care if he repeals the Affordable Healthcare Act. “It sounds good, but what he is going to try replacing it with and how it’s going to be funded is what I’d like to know,” she said.
Carson said she is a Rand Paul follower, but understands very well that Paul may not have the support needed to get past Trump. “NSA is a big deal. Too much government control over our lives. The war on drugs is a failure. I’d rather the government leave us alone. It’s just too large,” Carson continued.
When Trump took the stage of the highly anticipated rally, the atmosphere turned electrifying. Trumps message of taking America back for the people was a strong one, as the confident Trump called for securing American borders, paving a way to shrink national debt, job creation, repealing executive orders made by the Obama Administration, and regaining the respect of the international community.
Trump also lashed back at fellow republicans, making it clear that their tactics are only making him stronger. With arms out, Trump shouted, “Bush spent 20 million dollars on negative ads about me. What the hell did I do to him?” Trump didn’t spend too much more time speaking about other candidates, and went on to explain how countries of the world think America is a big joke.
It has become clear that the candidate with no special interests and who funds his own campaign is a serious contender. Coming off of a huge victory in New Hampshire where Trump won by double digits, the fear of losing is beginning to set in among democrats and republicans alike. Why they fear a Trump win is rather obvious, and should he win, the “establishment” as we all know it now will crumble to the ground, not to mention investigating the many laws that have been broken by the Obama Administration.
The fear is real.