Thursday, President Biden fell at the Air Force Academy graduation exercises.  He apparently tripped on a sandbag being used as an anchor for something.  Apparently, earlier in his commencement address, he ‘pardoned’ any student at the Academy who had been written  up for something or other – Academy students are, after all, kids as we all were, once.  I hope the one who planted the soon-to-be famous sandbag isn’t disciplined, and if so, I hope the pardon covers him or her, too!


The lowly Sandbag brings a few thoughts to mind as this weekend begins.

On Sep 22, 1962, I got my introduction to the Air Force Academy.  I was in the Army, cross town from Colorado Springs at Ft. Carson CO, and  a significant number of us got to see an Air Force Academy  football game.  My memory was that this day they played a Colorado school; the statistics for that year indicate it was Sep 22, 1962, and AF Academy won 31-0. It was the first game of the season.  (Here’s the AF Academy history).

I took this photo that day:

U.S. Air Force Academy Sep. 1962, photo Dick Bernard

I was 22 that day, which means that everyone you see in front of me or on the field below was roughy my age or older.  If you wish, add in everyone who existed anywhere at the moment in history when I clicked the shutter.  Time marches on for everyone.


Of course, “Sandbag” has another set of meanings: Here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say.

Of course, the narrative is being marketed that President Biden is too old.  Full disclosure: I’m 2 1/2 years older than he is.  As the saying goes, “he’s just a kid”.

On the other hand the skid marks life inevitably brings to anyone have their advantage.  It’s called “wisdom”.  Every dot you see in the photo above is at least 61 years older today, if they happen to be alive still.

One of the cautions, of course, is to ‘act your age’.  At my most recent doctor appointments a routine question concerns falling.  So far so good.  But we elders look carefully at ladders and step stools and things like that.  Occasionally unnoticed obstacles like that errant sandbag, trip us up.  But otherwise, mostly common sense keeps us on the straight and narrow.

Of course, in the exact same week where President Biden took his fall seen round the world, the Debt Ceiling drama was resolved, as I was sure it would be, after the requisite street theatre.  I spoke to this in the first part of my May 20, 2023, post, here.

For the record, sanity prevailed.  For a moment something rare happened: Democrats and Republicans both voted for something; as other Democrats and Republicans voted against the same thing.  And at the end, President Biden signed the bill.  There will be endless ‘spin’ about what this means.  From me: sanity prevailed.  We could use a whole lot more of it ongoing.

Here’s the votes:

House of Representatives: 314-177, Yes 165 D, 149 R, No 46 D, 71 R.  Senate: 63-36, Yes 44 D, 17 R, 2 I; No 4 D, 31 R, 1 Not Voting.  President Biden: 1 Yes.

There were some on both sides deeply disappointed by the outcome because of certain specifics in the compromise.  Anybody who has ever negotiated anything, from working out a disagreement between a couple, to ending a World War, knows the drill.

If I could tone down the outrageous rhetoric that precedes any inevitable political settlement, I would do so.  But as the saying goes, “pigs will fly” before that is accomplished.

We citizens can just get more engaged in what is important to us beginning at the local level.  That’s what makes democracy work.

POSTNOTE:  Yesterday, separately, I sent to some on my list a really outstanding interview with long-time mayor of St. Paul, George Latimer.  Even if you’re not familiar with the name, I think you will find interesting his comments about contemporary and past politics.  He’s about 88 years old, and just given a reprieve from hospice care for a bit, but even with that caveat, you’ll be very surprised at how he comes across, especially if you knew of him in the old days.  Here’s the link.

Comments are welcome, of course.