Monday, March 27, 2017

Ballot Box Biology?

Last year, Montanans for Trap-Free Public Lands launched a noble, but unfortunately failed, ballot initiative called I-177 that would have banned trapping on public lands. Trappers responded with the usual slew of lies that many Montanans always seem to swallow, claiming that the initiative was backed by “out-of-state animal rights extremists” who “are uninformed about wildlife and are trying to destroy our way of life.”  And the old slippery slope fallacy:  "Once they stop trapping, they will come after hunting, and fishing, and ranching, and logging and Tiddlywinks!" Many of my fellow hunters came to the defense of trappers, repeating the same tiresome, easily-refuted lies.

Such is the simple-minded, ignorant responses I often see from fellow hunters, particularly in regards to predators. It’s all black and white to them; you’re either “one of us, or one of them.” There is little, if any room for civil, rational, reasonable discussion and debate; if you don’t agree, they attack with Trump-like, childish fervor.

A lot of hunters and hunting organizations also dusted off the old “ballot box biology” defense – that such decisions should be made by wildlife professionals based on good, sound science, not by citizens based on emotions. We hunters love to claim wildlife management is based on good, sound science. One of the very tenants of our North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (which is tossed around nowadays and interpreted by many hunters who don't actually understand it like the Bundy crowd talks about and interprets the Constitution) is that wildlife management be based on good, sound science. It should be, but it’s often not.

In Idaho, the fish and game department conducts aerial shooting of wolves and sends bounty hunters into wilderness areas to eliminate wolf packs despite the good, sound science and what we know about wolf behavior, ecology and biology.

That’s not management based on good, sound science.

Throughout the West, we continue to carry out a war on coyotes and wolves despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that such actions disrupt the social and breeding behavior of these animals and can, ironically, result in even more coyotes and wolves. (
See "Killing Wolves: A Hunter-Led War on Science and Wildife")

That’s not management based on good, sound science.

I remember when Colorado proposed a ban on the baiting and killing of bears, based on scientific evidence that the baiting of bears was having negative impacts on bears by habituating them to human handouts and changing their natural habits and habitat use. The state’s chief bear biologist at the time, Tom Beck, penned a piece in support of the baiting ban for Outdoor Life. Before it was published (and before anyone even read it) hunters and hunting organizations rallied against Outdoor Life and successfully prevented the publication of the piece. Two editors left their jobs over the incidence. (See
"Hunters Close Ranks and Minds" by Ted Williams.)

That’s not management based on good, sound science.

In the Clearwater region of Idaho several years ago, black bears were killing an unusually high number of elk calves.  Research showed that the calves had become more susceptible to predation because a lack of mature bulls in the herd, from hunting, had changed elk breeding behavior and timing, causing calves to be born late, missing the flush spring forage, and not gaining enough strength quickly enough to evade predators. Researchers recommended changes in hunting regulations and motorized access to reduce bull elk vulnerability, increase habitat security and boost the number of mature bulls in the herd.  Idaho citizens didn’t buy it. They demanded more bears be shot and killed. Idaho Fish and Game appeased the hunters.

That’s not management based on good, sound science.

Wildlife management decisions are often and largely based on public needs and desires, and that should be part of it. But sometimes those needs and desires go against good, sound science. Trappers, hunters and the agricultural industry have a lot of power over our legislature and wildlife management.  Other citizens often, and justifiably, feel left out of the decision-making, and they are often ridiculed and attacked by ignorant, arrogant hunters and trappers. Many hunters and hunting organizations tend to either avoid these controversial issues or take the side of hunters to appease their base (or, as Aldo Leopold put it, to satisfy the “lowest common denominator.”)  Our system, with all its tremendous achievements, has some flaws, and those flaws can lead us closer to animal husbandry than good, sound, science-based wildlife management.

A recent report about the
flaws of the North American Model summed it up this way: "The scientists also express concern that the interests of recreational hunters sometimes conflict with conservation principles. For example, they say, wildlife management conducted in the interest of hunters can lead to an overabundance of animals that people like to hunt, such as deer, and the extermination of predators that also provide a vital balance to the ecosystem."

But hunters tend to circle the wagons and defend the indefensible out of paranoia and fear of anti-hunters and the slippery slope (“but if we let them stop bear-baiting, or game farms, or drones, or trapping, they will surely try to stop hunting, take our guns, and destroy America and the universe!”) But as my friend Jim Posewitz likes to say, “circling the wagons is not a good defense when there are far too many people already outside that circle.”

And some of those people outside the circle are good, knowledgeable, informed people who care about our wildlife and wild places. Some of them are fellow hunters. We alienate them by dismissing their concerns and attacking and insulting them. We turn people against us when we circle the wagons and defend the indefensible and insult intelligent people who disagree -- informed people who sometimes have more good, sound science on their side than we do.

I recently heard a guy who makes hunting videos -- and hunts for amusement, entertainment and profit -- criticize the “animal rights extremists” who file lawsuits to protect wolves, claiming such lawsuits went against “sound, scientific management” and our “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.”  And yet those citizens – many of them informed by good, sound science -- filed those lawsuits in response to states doing things such as gunning down wolves from helicopters and sending in bounty hunters to eliminate packs in wilderness areas. 

That’s not management based on good, sound science.

The executive director of a large, influential hunting organization has repeatedly called wolves “the worst ecological disaster since the decimation of bison,” and claims wolves and grizzly bears are “annihilating” our elk herds. (See, "A Once Proud Conservation Organization Has Lost Its Way")

That’s not promoting or supporting management based on good, sound science.

Our behavior and actions can bring about lawsuits and ballot initiatives. Some of these ballot initiatives are, indeed, “ballot box biology” in the sense that they defend and demand good, sound science when state wildlife agencies won’t.

We’re our own worst enemies. We bring these ballot initiatives on ourselves. If we don't change our ways, we best get used to it.

The famed ecologist Aldo Leopold, widely considered the "father of wildlife management," changed his ways after killing a wolf when he was hired to hunt and trap mountain lions, bears and wolves for the Forest Service early in his career. In an essay called "Thinking Like A Mountain" he wrote:

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

From his experiences grew what he called a "land ethic," that acknowledges the importance of all living things in an ecosystem. In his 1949 classic, "A Sand County Almanac," he defined it as such: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Nearly 68 years later we still haven't caught up.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Keep Public Lands in Public Hands!

Like people everywhere, we Montanans don’t always agree. We often engage in spirited debates and disagreements about how our wildlife and wild places should or shouldn’t be managed. But one thing that unites most all of us: Our love for public lands.

Setting aside these lands is one of the greatest things our nation ever did. It's a unique American heritage that, particularly here in Montana, shapes and enhances our lives. For many of us, it defines who we are. What would life be like without the freedom to hunt, fish and roam our public wild lands?

If some folks get their way, we might find out.

There is a bill under consideration in Congress that would lead to the sale of our public lands throughout the West, including Montana. Several Montana state legislators support and promote efforts to sell or transfer our public lands. There are powerful, influential organizations, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council and the American Lands Council, pushing for the sale or transfer of our public lands.

We won’t let them have it.

We Montanans get pretty riled up about proposals to sell or transfer our public lands. Yesterday, January 30, more than 1,000 of us, from all walks of life -- Democrats, Republicans, hunters, anglers, environmentalists, bird watchers, hikers, photographers, loggers, ranchers, Native Americans, and others, from all over Montana -- converged on the Capitol in Helena to convey a loud, clear, unified message: KEEP OUR PUBLIC LANDS IN PUBLIC HANDS!

As Governor Steve Bullock succinctly put it at yesterday’s rally in the Capitol: “Every one of us owns these public lands, and the beauty is we don’t need permission to go on them, do we? Efforts to sell or transfer public lands have no place in this building and no place in Montana.”

These are our lands; we plan to keep them.

Thanks to the groups who organized and sponsored this great rally:
Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Audubon, and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers -- and thank you to everyone who showed up.
If you'd like to show your support for Montana's public lands, please sign this petition:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

These Lands Are OUR Lands: Let's Keep It That Way!

On Tuesday night, January 24, 2017, several hundred people gathered at the Radisson Colonial Hotel in  Helena, Montana, to learn about the recently-released draft Forest management plan revisions for the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. This was the second of nine public hearings being held throughout western Montana during which we citizens -- local citizens -- could participate in and influence the future management of OUR public lands.

Contrary to what those who want to sell and transfer OUR public lands claim, there were no bureaucrats from Washington D.C. there, who know nothing about the land, dictating how the forest will be managed. However, there were local Forest Service wildlife biologists, foresters, engineers, fisheries biologists, timber specialists and other experts there, folks who live here, who are our friends and neighbors, who know and study the land, all there to share their knowledge and recommendations based on good science.

There were no "out-of-state environmental extremists" there, as opponents of public lands would have you believe, "forcing their agendas" upon us poor local folk. However, there were a diversity of local Montanans from all walks of life -- hunters, anglers, hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, snowmobilers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, bird watchers, photographers, loggers, ranchers, miners, business owners, community leaders and others -- sharing their views and opinions on how they'd like to see OUR public land managed.

We don't all always agree. Some of us locals would like to see less logging, less motorized use and more wilderness. On the other hand, some of us locals would like to see more logging, more motorized use and less wilderness.

The professionals who work for the Forest Service listen, consider all views and opinions, and strive to strike a balance that protects fish and wildlife while meeting their multiple-use mandate, supporting local communities, and meeting the needs and desires of local citizens and all we Americans who own OUR public land.

Compromise is key. Not everybody gets everything they want. That displeases some folks in the extractive industries -- who would like to see all of OUR land open to unsustainable logging, grazing and mining regardless of its impacts to fish, wildlife and recreation -- people who put greed and profit above all else.

So they make up lies. They tell people that all decisions regarding the management of OUR public lands are dictated by bureaucrats in D.C., and "out-of-state environmental extremists," so they can rally people to support misguided efforts to transfer and sell OUR public lands.

Ironically, most of the people leading the attack on our public lands are out-of-state representatives of extractive industries and their corporate lobbyists in D.C. They want OUR public land, and they perpetuate and disseminate lies, myths and misconceptions in their fear-mongering, deceptive efforts to take away what belongs to all of us.

They want to steal OUR public lands.

We won't let them have it. These lands are OUR lands, and we all have a say in how they're managed. Don't let greed and profit consume OUR lands. Get involved; keep it public.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Buy L.L. Bean

For the first time I can recall, I agree with something Donald Trump Tweeted (although for very different reasons): “Buy L.L. Bean.”

Yes, it’s unethical and inappropriate for an incoming president to be endorsing and promoting a company. Yes, Linda Bean should be held accountable if her personal donation to a Political Action Committee (PAC) supporting Trump exceeded the legal limit.  But to take that out on the L.L. Bean company is almost as misguided and childish as Trump’s usual behavior. 

L.L. Bean is a great company.   

As a child growing up along the coast of Connecticut, I got excited when the L.L. Bean catalogs arrived in the mail from the company’s headquarters in Freeport, Maine. The north woods of Maine had a strong, alluring mystique to me in those days, and I was eager to grow up and explore the wilds (wearing L.L. Bean gear, of course – like the rugged outdoorsmen portrayed on the covers and throughout the catalogs).

I read all about Leon Leonwood Bean (1872-1967), a hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman. I read his classic 1942 book, “Hunting-Fishing and Camping.” 

Leon was frustrated he could not find a good, light boot to keep his feet warm and dry on his wilderness adventures, so he made his own, with leather tops and rubber bottoms.  In 1911, with a $400. loan, he began making and selling them out of his brother’s basement, and offered a 100-percent money back guarantee if people were not satisfied – a policy the company sill remains known for.  His boots became (and remain) popular, and grew into the huge catalog and retail company known as L.L. Bean. 

During my first excursions into the wild -- particularly during damp, cold, chilled-to-the-bone New England winters -- I wore L.L. Bean from head to toe; Wool hats, shirts, jackets, gloves, pants, long-johns and, of course, the classic “duck boots.” The customer service was, and remains, excellent, and the products are tough, durable and dependable. 

Linda Bean is Leon’s granddaughter. She is one of 50 people who serve on the company’s board of directors. She has little involvement in the day-to-day operations of the business. She owns her own business, called Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine, which includes selling lobsters. She has pushed for the sustainable harvest of lobsters. She is a Republican. She made several failed runs for Congress. She has contributed a lof of money to Republican candidates. She once compared President Obama to Hitler.  She reportedly donated $60,000 to a Super PAC supporting Donald Trump, which exceeds the $5,000 limit.  She has a cousin who was one of the largest contributors to President Obama.

The Bean family, like many American families, is apparently a large, extended family with a diversity of opinions and views.

The L.L. Bean company itself does not get involved in politics. They do not endorse or contribute money to any candidates.  From all I’ve read and heard, it’s apparently a great place to work: Fair and competitive wages, great insurance policies, same-sex benefits, generous employee discounts, ample vacations and time off, and they even have an employee outdoor club that encourages workers to get out and enjoy the wild places they also help protect. 

They helped protect Katahdin Lake and the forests surrounding it. They donated $1 million to help the Trust for Public Lands purchase and protect land that expanded the size of Baxter State Park. They gave $1 million to the National Park Foundation. They support the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative to protect and expand public lands and recreational opportunities throughout the state. In the past 10-years they have donated more than 30 million to a diversity of nonprofit outdoor-recreation and conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Maine Audubon, The American Canoe Association, the Maine Islands Trail Association, Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited.

They support sustainable forestry. They're part of the Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Initiative. They seek and implement ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. They converted their fleet of delivery trucks to biodiesel. Their headquarters in Freeport is a model for sustainable, "green" design, construction and efficiency.

They fully support the Constitutional right of freedom of speech for their diverse employees and board members – and their rights to support any political candidate they want on their own time and with their own money.  As it should be.

L.L. Bean is a great company.

I don’t agree with Linda Bean’s politics. That’s her business. It has nothing to do with her grandfather’s business.

Buy L.L. Bean.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Humbling of an Asshole

For those of you who have known me for more than a few hours, this should come as no surprise: I can be a real asshole at times. Particularly when I am angry, which doesn't happen as much as it used to or as much as some people seem to think. What usually angers me most is rude and of obnoxious behavior from others, directed towards me or others. In other words, asshole behavior in others brings out the asshole behavior in me.

It doesn't happen all the time. It depends -- Kind of like a wild grizzly who might tolerate a person one day, but attack the next. I'm certain it has a lot to do with their mood, and mine.

The other day I was in one of those moods, and was then provoked.

A guy in a big huge truck came right up behind my Subaru and started riding my ass, within inches it seemed. And his rig was jacked up so high that his lights shone right through my back window. It made me think of one of those movie scenes in which an alien ship descends on a car and lights the whole thing up. And then he lays on the horn. Bright lights and loud noises is a bad, sometimes volatile mix for me.

I had stopped behind a line of traffic backed up from a red traffic light, and backed up so far that I could not get into the left turning lane, even when the left-turn green arrow started blinking and everyone within that lane had turned. But a white car blocked my freedom.

Which bugs me. A lot. I remember my dad showing me places along the Connecticut coast and tell me things like, "See that subdivision there? That used to be a salt marsh where we went skinny-dipping, caught crabs, and fished for snapper blues." And now here I am, 40 years later, stuck in traffic where, just to the left of me (where the Home Depot and the mega, multi-movie-theater complex now is -- along with a mega chunk of earth now sealed off by concrete and asphalt) is where I used to hunt pheasants, ducks, geese, and white tailed deer when I first moved here.

And this is where the guy is riding my ass. Bright lights and loud noise. So I do what I've done numerous times before; I get out of my car and walk back to have a chat with the obnoxious asshole. Usually they roll their windows up or keep them up, lock the doors, and yell through the glass things such as, "What, are you crazy? Get back in your car." I usually respond with things such as, "Come on, please, just lay off -- back off and be nice. Okay?"

Which is exactly what I sad to the ass-riding, horn-honking asshole while holding up traffic near the box stores and parking lots where I used to hunt. Most the time people respond by saying things such as, "Okay, okay, I'm sorry, now get back in your car." And so I do, and that is that.

Until the other day.

This guy didn't do that. He told me to "fuck off," and then flipped on his high-beams and laid harder on the horn. Bright lights and loud noise. Then I say, "Wow, you really are an asshole." He opens his truck door, leans out, and says, "What the fuck did you just call me." This about the time when the asshole in me emerged. I walked up to him and yelled, "You're a fucking asshole, now stop!"
He punched me. Hard. And he had a hell of a punch. My glasses cut into my eye. I was totally unprepared for that; I was caught off guard. I was shocked and awed. I responded with violence.

Which bugs me. A lot. Once, not so long ago, I took a court-ordered anger-management class. The instructor was awesome, if not harsh, and called me on (and made me aware of) my bullshit.

"Ah, so you're the savior, you're going to confront all rude behavior in the world and put an end to it," he would say. "And we can thank you for that?"

But they deserve it; there should be consequences for their actions.

"And you have appointed yourself judge, jury and executioner?"

But sometimes I can't help myself, I can't control myself.

"Oh bullshit, Dave. You have full control of your behavior, but you're turning that control over to them -- you're letting them control you!"

Ouch! I hate being controlled.

And so it happened again. I let the ass-riding, horn-honking asshole control me. He called my bluff. I met my match. Christine Stalling has long told me to stop doing this crap. "Someday you're going to do that to someone as crazy as you and it won't work out like you hope." As always, she was right.

It turns out he is a fellow Marine. Much younger; maybe 25, or 30. A good-looking guy, with a hell of a punch, and a temper. He seemed like an asshole.

Just like me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Plight of the Bighorns

Back in October I took a break from elk hunting to photograph bighorn sheep at the National Bison Range in Moise. I was surprised how close one ram let me to get, and then I noticed something was wrong. Several times he dropped his head to the ground and struggled to lift it back up. The weight of his heavy horns he long proudly carried had apparently become too burdensome. He was dying. I returned the next day and found his body.

After posting a photo of the ram on Facebook, and speculating about his death, my friend Stacy Courville, a wildlife biologist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe, said the sheep most likely died from pneumonia, which had recently infected the Bison Range. So I talked to Jeff King, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manager who oversees the range. Courville was correct: A bacteria called  Mycoplasma ovipheumonia had infected the bighorn populations, causing pneumonia. More than 35 wild sheep had died in just a few months. King and others suspect that the bacteria was transferred to the wild herd from a domestic sheep herd about a mile west of the range.

Once the bacteria infects a herd of wild sheep, it can be devastating, and not much can be done.  

Mycoplasma ovipheumonia has no cell wall, so antibiotics do not work on it,” says Mark Penninger, an Oregon-based wildlife biologist who heads up the bighorn sheep program for the U.S. Forest Service. “It is carried with no ill effects by many domestic sheep and goats, but is deadly to wild sheep. Our wild sheep have not evolved with this pathogen. It can sometimes kill wild sheep by itself, but is often a precursor that compromises the respiratory system's ability to move things, such as bacteria and viruses, out with mucous. Then the sheep die when their body responds by producing more mucous, which results in pneumonia. It is quite the dilemma when trying to protect and restore bighorn populations.

When a bighorn sheep population is initially infected, often as many as a third, and sometimes up to 90%, of the herd may die of pneumonia. Most survivors are apparently immune, but their lambs are not and usually die before weaning. In some populations, annual pneumonia outbreaks in lambs continue for decades after the initial infection, which prevents the population from bouncing back. In other populations, lamb survival returns to normal relatively quickly. Why some populations recover and others do not is one of the most important questions scientists are trying to answer. Some researchers hope that wild sheep herds could eventually develop an immunity.

But in the meantime, bighorns are being infected and dying throughout their range.

More than 90 bighorns recently died of pneumonia near Plains, and another 39 died near Gardiner. “We’re losing hundreds of wild sheep to this disease every year and it is decimating herds across the west,” said Kyle Meintzer, director of the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) based in Bozeman. “For example, in 2013, 400 wild sheep in California were lost, and that’s 80 per cent of what was the largest herd in the state. Wildlife managers were forced to sacrifice the herd in the Tendoy Mountains in Montana due to recurring pneumonia and low lamb survival. Wildlife managers, with the help of hunters, will remove 100 per cent of the herd and later will repopulate the herd with healthy bighorns.”

Unfortunately, killing wild sheep because of suspicion of exposure is the prudent thing to do in many cases, according to Mark Penninger. “A wandering wild sheep can cover a lot of miles and return to its herd with death in its breath. Killing one sheep could prevent the loss of an entire herd. Capturing and testing is rarely practical due to urgency and terrain.”

Although scientists don’t know exactly how the disease is transmitted, what factors contribute to transmission and whether transmission of other bacteria, even among wild sheep alone, contributes to the bighorn die-offs, mounting evidence suggests that domestic sheep are a major vector. A 2008 study by Colorado Division of Wildlife scientists showed that a single domestic sheep that wandered onto bighorn winter range caused a die-off of more than 86 bighorns from 1997 to 2000.

What can be done? The most viable – yet controversial – proposals involve separating wild sheep from domestic sheep by large distances so they cannot come in contact. “The science is clear that domestic and wild sheep can’t live together,” says Kevin Hurley, Conservation Director for WSF.

In the Salmon River country of Idaho, where 76-percent of the bighorn populations was lost to pneumonia, legal battles ensued between sheep herders, conservationists and the U.S. Forest Service when the Payette National Forest decided to keep domestic sheep off grazing leases within bighorn sheep range. In 2008, a U.S. District Judge ruled in favor of the decision. But leaders of hunter-conservation organizations, and wildlife biologists and mangers with state and federal agencies, would prefer to work with the sheep ranching industry to find viable solutions rather than fight things out in court.  

The WSF recently met with members of Congress and federal wildlife agencies on solutions to create safe zones against deadly pneumonia bacteria and viruses that are infecting wild sheep herds in the U.S. “Having a disease-free zone around the new herd is necessary to prevent new infection and assure the success of restoration,” says Kyle Meintzer.

Steve Torbit, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center in Boulder, Colorado, calls for “livestock producers and wildlife folks to roll up their sleeves and work together to find areas suitable for domestic sheep.” Torbit and other bighorn advocates hope they can persuade western sheep ranchers and federal officials to develop a strategy that will allow bighorn sheep populations to expand through conservation and further reintroductions across the West. “I don’t want to start a new range war, because it’s not good for anybody, and it’s certainly not good for wildlife,” he says. He favors a collaborative process that brings ranchers, sportsmen, tribes and conservationists together to protect the range and wildlife but still allows ranchers to thrive – creating safe zones for wild sheep far from domestic sheep, and setting aside other zones for domestic sheep far from bighorn habitat.

As Kevin Hurley puts it: “If you believe in compromise and conservation, both sides have to give up something.”

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of the Montana Wildlife Federation's newsletter.

Friday, November 11, 2016

United We Stand (Happy Veteran's Day)

Veteran’s day held particular relevance to me this year, coming three days after the most divisive election I can remember. As I gathered with fellow veterans this morning at the Western Montana State Veteran’s Cemetery, it reminded me of this: We’re still united.

When I served in a Marine Corps Force Recon unit in the early 1980s, I served with people from all walks of life, with a diversity of values and beliefs, from all the various parts of our nation, and from all social-economic spectrums. Sure, we had our disagreements. We argued. We got angry with each other at times. But we worked together when it counted. We risked our lives for each other. Some gave their lives for us.

I often feel the same bond with fellow hunters and anglers. Sure, we have our disagreements. We argue. We get angry with each other at times. But we work together when it counts to protect the wildlife, wild places, access to our public lands, and our hunting and angling heritage and traditions.

It’s the American way.

So thank you to all who serve and have served this great, big diverse nation of ours. May we always fight together when it counts.