Author Archives: John Flannery

Stanley Caulkins – No Ordinary Shopkeep

Stanley Caulkins (l) and former Mayor Frank Raflo (r)  at the 1963 groundbreaking of Godfrey Field

Stanley Caulkins (l) and former Mayor Frank Raflo (r)
at the 1963 groundbreaking of Godfrey Field

The measure of a hero is found among the doings in a day to day life, when the exceptional act or word appears more regularly, so that it becomes “expected,” and reveals the character of a person as “a hero.”

Stanley Caulkins was such a person.

Stanley was a World War II B-17 radio operator, an airman, and his love of flight and aircraft, discovered in the armed forces, carried over into his private life back home in Loudoun County, where he became a moving force in organizing the Leesburg Airport Commission in 1962.

Stanley was at the groundbreaking for the first local airport in 1963 with former Leesburg Mayor Frank Raflo, an effort made largely possible by the then famed entertainer, Arthur Godfrey, who lived in the area, and preferred to fly to NY to air his show.

Stanley was in the thick of it again at the celebration of a second airport, the one off Sycolin Road.

After the war, Stanley learned watchmaking and, by fits and starts, established his own jewelry store on King Street.  He worked in that shop for 60 years until a fire forced him to close in 2015. Continue reading

The Story of Flight From Central America

Young Dylan Keefe at the DC March to bring families together

Young Dylan Keefe at the DC March to bring families together

Our neighbors from Lovettsville, and across Loudoun County, traveled as best they could this past Saturday from their homes here to Washington, DC.

They made the journey despite the harsh 90 degree summer heat, by car, bus, train, and on foot, to protest the separation by our government of young Central American and Mexican Children from their parents.

Most of these migrants insisted, through interpreters, that this was a story of flight from the dangers that they had to leave behind, from what had been their home.

They fled the abuse and danger they suffered there, to find asylum and safety in these United States, as had the many who came before them to find peace and a new life.

Migrants who anticipated that this Administration might resist their asylum petitions said they had no alternative. Continue reading

Government – Just Leave Us Alone!

There was a time when a diary that you wrote in long hand, in India ink, kept confidential in a false drawer in your worn mahogany desk, was private, and safe from the prying eyes of anyone including our government – as a matter of law.

Not so anymore.

I advise my clients these days to destroy their mental notes.

From the vantage of a criminal defense lawyer (and “recovering” federal and state prosecutor), I’ve seen the most craven governmental intrusions into individual privacy – shocking to any Accused person who never before had to endure the unwanted embrace of a criminal prosecution.

Little has improved since the author’s privacy article published in 1972

Little has improved since the author’s privacy article published in 1972

Here in Loudoun County, if you’re arrested and denied bail, when you are jailed in Loudoun’s Adult Detention Center (ADC), don’t make the mistake of talking about your case on the jail house phone with your wife (or anyone else), because everything you say is taped – and they’ll use it against you.

We have an “expectation” of what is private, predicated upon our 4th Amendment right to be secure in our person and property, and the penumbra of other constitutional rights.  This is what must be protected.

Who would expect it was right and just to intercept a family conversation when the Accused has no other way to talk to his family?

We believe we get to control what information is circulated about ourselves – in or out of jail.

But practice and the law is more complicated than what we might fairly expect and what common sense dictates.

When I was a puppy law student, I was concerned with privacy, so much so that I wrote about it for our journal, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

Our technology was relatively primitive in the 70’s.   Indeed, I wrote how intrusions into a person’s privacy might not have been possible “if the information was manually handled and manually disseminated.”  Continue reading

A Dad’s Duty

Dad_in_profile_St_Thomas_cuWhen younger, a child, your child, is the Gerber creation, a puffy cheeked, but still inarticulate goo-gooing charmer, consuming your every eager and cherishing attention without end or complaint.  And you wouldn’t have it otherwise.

There are the parental touches, for comfort, amusement, the cooing assurances, the baby talk, the light play, washing, dressing, cleaning, among the many acts that introduce your child to a world of sensation, of caring and of love.

Anything less would be neglect, and we know random or failed attention to a child’s needs in any familial or institutional setting prompts, among other things, poor impulse control, social withdrawal, problems with coping and regulating emotions, low self-esteem, pathological behaviors including tics, tantrums, stealing, self-punishment, and poor intellectual functioning.

Good parents, Dads and Moms, prepare their children for the world coming at them.

And here’s the rub.  It is never over.  They are always our children no matter that they become adults. Continue reading

On Suicide

A troubled man – sketch by the author

A troubled man – sketch by the author

Mike was older and I thought invincible.  One day he summoned us to visit him at a hospital. Mike was having tests and, when we were alone, he said, “I feel great, don’t feel any different.”  He paused, struggling to understand what he felt, “but they tell me I have cancer that will likely kill me.  It doesn’t seem possible.  But I’m going to fight it.”

Mike took the painful therapy to combat the cancer but, in the end, it was too much for him and he cut short his own life.

What incredible pain or suffering makes life not worth living and compels one to desire death instead?

We understand intuitively that those who jumped from the World Trade Center on 9-11 to avoid the intense heat and flames were suicides only technically, that they were more like homicides, forced to choose how to end their lives.

In recent days, we have had two celebrated persons who seemed to “have it together” and yet they took their lives.

The Kate Spade news headline that Kate had taken her life prompted one lady close by to say involuntarily, “No, it can’t be.”  It wasn’t the purses that Kate designed, so chic, functional, artful, and “different,” though that was part of it, some have said.  It was how Kate made others feel, her vision of life, now suddenly ended.  Kate’s husband said, “There were personal demons she was battling.” Continue reading

RFK – A Man of Courage and Compassion

RFK, Investigator Walter Sheridan, and their “target,” IBT Pres. James Hoffa

RFK, Investigator Walter Sheridan, and their “target,” IBT Pres. James Hoffa

Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed 50 years ago on June 5, 1968.

In difficult times, “Bobby” had spoken of the dignity and equality that was the promise of the Declaration of Independence yet to be fulfilled.  He also spoke of peace.

In 1967, I was a Fordham College Physics undergrad when one of our political circle, T.R. Ellis, who was working for “Bobby,” writing speeches, told us we were welcome to spend time with Bobby when he visited the Bronx Rose Hill Campus to give an important address.

Bobby was soft spoken, seemed modest, and we talked.

When the time for Bobby to give his address was upon us, we stood nearby, about 50 feet from Bobby, on University steps overlooking a field before us of eager witnesses, quite eager ourselves.

A change came over Bobby, he seemed to gather himself, his voice loud and firm, he spoke with passion.

Bobby said, there was a Chinese Curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

He said, “Like it or not we live in interesting times.”

He paused, “These are times of danger and uncertainty but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.” Continue reading

Remember Vets – By Doing Something!

At the Vietnam wall of remembrance

At the Vietnam wall of remembrance

We have had another Memorial Day and remembered the sacrifice of the men and women who served this nation.

But we really should be doing a lot more than simply – “remembering them.”

We must do better and demand that our elected and appointed officials “do something.”

My late uncle, Charles Flannery, served in the armed forces led by General Patton when the Allies attacked by way of Sicily, landing on the beaches of Italy.

Charles was shot in the chest, lifted off his feet, spun around, knocked unconscious, and taken prisoner.  He returned home quite emaciated.

Years after the war, Charles died in a hospital in the Bronx that, according to my elders, refused to give him more blood, to save him from that earlier chest wound.

Ours was one family, as young as I was, that resented the nation’s unfulfilled promise to our Uncle Charles.

Our nation has been long on promises to vets when leaving our shores to serve our nation abroad, and quite uneven, often indifferent, falling way short to meet their needs, upon their return home broken and damaged by their service at war.

One clear indication of how we are currently failing our service men and women is the statistic that we lose so many soldiers upon their return to suicide. Continue reading

The War Continues

Paul Muth, Vietnam Vet

Paul Muth, Vietnam Vet

Brunswick’s Paul Muth was a medic assigned to Anloc in ‘Nam.

An Lộc is in Bình Phước Province in South Vietnam, about 72 miles north of Saigon.

Paul left the service in ’74 and thus not before the North Vietnamese offensive in ’72, when 100s of the North Vietnamese, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, outnumbering Paul’s Division, overran their position along Highway 13.

There was hand-to-hand fighting and Paul only lived by pulling a dead body on top of himself in a trench, hidden from the enemy’s advance by this fleshy cloak of death.

When the Viet Cong attack was successfully halted and pushed back, Paul was saved by the airborne; they pulled Paul from beneath his brother-in-arm’s lifeless body.

Paul’s war nevertheless continues. Continue reading

Enough Development Already!

Lovettsville Glen structure

Lovettsville Glen structure

There was a professor of political science at Columbia College, Charles Hamilton, who wrote how citizens are manipulated.

Those in power allow for the expulsion of political energy by the masses who oppose change.

The political class proposes a path of exhausting process, seemingly giving the public a voice to object, knowing full well that the process is outcome determinative, and will end as it was contemplated to end when it began.

Under a veil of legitimacy, the process begins, wheels spin, springs compress, political levers are applied, and the public immerses itself in meetings, soft-voice facilitators, hearings, digitally memorialized opinions, statements, and papers galore.

The public enjoys high hopes that what they honestly want will be enacted by their “elected” representatives.

Many well-meaning citizens are thus engaged, and mollified with the hope of prevailing, as they participate like the dickens in the process until the last suspenseful moment, when they find that their “vision,” and all that they said and did, was never meant to be taken seriously. Continue reading

Truth Ache

jonflan-shadowWe do not need to read the philosophy of Wittgenstein or Socrates to know what is true or false.

But perhaps we need to review what goes awry in human psychology when a person with a seemingly right functioning mind defies what is known to be transparently true and argues instead for what is patently false.

Some clearly suffer an impaired cognitive function when their operative principle is that they wouldn’t see it — if they didn’t already believe it.

Plato devised an allegory of citizens in a cave, locked in position, looking forward, seeing only the reflected shadows before them on a wall projected by unseen actors behind them; shadows were their reality.

Others know very well what is true but they lie as a means to an unworthy end. Continue reading