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Do something nice for a veteran next week

Veterans Day is Monday. Some people get the day off. Some don’t. There will likely be a lot of flags, maybe some red, white and blue cupcakes. Some will travel to Las Vegas for a parade, or watch it on TV.

Some will make a trip to the Nevada State Veterans Home to visit a special friend or family member. In fact, the facility will host its annual Veterans Day ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Still, like most holidays it has become a bit commercialized. We may think of it as just another day off.

Still, I see it as important.

As interim editor here in Boulder City. I gave myself an assignment to photograph the annual Veterans Olympics at the Nevada State Veterans Home a couple of weeks ago.

I thought about my old editor David Ellingson who was a Vietnam veteran, and he believed in the freedoms of our country. Mainly, the right to criticize the government, which he did often.

David was a hard-core editor, who had worked for several McGraw-Hill publications in New York and Newsweek. He taught me a lot as a cub reporter. One of the most significant lessons I learned from him is don’t be afraid to ask anything. You have that right.

Freedom of speech to him was like a religion. Every time he hit the typewriter, he would wrap himself up in the rights of the pen and plug away. But with that right, he would say, came responsibility: You must be accurate and fair, you must have done your research. There can never be too much research.

I was one of many young reporters Dave mentored over the years. He was not for the fainthearted. He could be kind and giving, but he was also a taskmaster. He’d pick and prod your story from every angle, making sure it was solid, had no holes or crevices.

He drank, smoked, cursed and was one of the most stubborn editors I have ever had. And I loved him for it. He never settled for what was easy. He wanted everything done right. Dave may not have been a traditional kind of vet, but he did teach me a lot about honor, respect and integrity.

Over the years, rheumatoid arthritis robbed him of the ability to walk, and he was wheelchair bound. Still, he was the boss of his life, and no doctor was going to tell him what to do.

He clung to his independence for more than a decade before things got so bad he had to enter the Nevada State Veterans Home.

He did not go quietly. He cussed and complained the whole way. He feared they would take away some of his rights. And he wasn’t so sure he would get along with all those veterans.

“But you are a vet,” I told him from his bedside in a room he rented in a private group home for people like him who needed assistance but wanted to be on their own.

“So?” he said.

When my friend Jamie McKee and I finally got him settled in to the fine Boulder City facility, we all three breathed easier. It was apparent he was safer and would have better care.

Pumped full of vitamins and antibiotics he would roll out onto the grounds, enjoying the piped music and a cigarette. Holding one had become increasingly difficult, but he managed.

Our long talks about newspapers, politics and philosophy over dinner and drinks had become walks along the paths that wound around his new home; maybe some coffee and conversation at one of the park benches.

Dave was a newspaper man, and for years we had discussed at great length the stories that had appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In the last few years of his life he turned his focus on the Boulder City Review. He read it up until the last few weeks of his life. He always had a comment, criticism, maybe a little praise for the articles that appeared in what was now his hometown paper.

As the end drew near, I asked him if he wanted me to get the chaplain. He never talked about religion, and I wasn’t sure if he had ever belong to a church.

“No. I’ve already kicked that guy out of my room three times this week. I know what’s going to happen when I die. I’ll be part of the sky, the ocean, the forests. I’ll be part of you.”

That’s the last time I talked to Dave.

Where ever he is now, I’m sure he is at a desk somewhere, reading the R-J and the Boulder City Review.

Hey, Dave, there is a new editor in town. Forward all your comments to Hali Bernstein Saylor at 702-586-9523.

Alumni events, marriage and a real Nazi

Ron’s column from a few weeks ago inspired me to tell a story about a weird event from my past. Mine is not as exciting as his in that there is no wrestler named Silo Sam. But there is at least one Nazi. And, no, not the current “I disagree with your politics so you are a Nazi” version. An actual card-carrying member of the party.

Las Vegas Veterans’ Memorial to Boulder City?

Veterans’ memorials can be found all over the Silver State. They are well deserved. They honor individuals who served the nation, and also commemorate battles and events regarding the many military anniversaries in Nevada.

City manager bids fond farewell

I may be leaving Boulder City, but it was not an easy decision. From the first time I came in and met the staff and community leaders, I saw a city filled with people who truly care about where they live and work. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with some incredible people.

Is the grass always greener?

Many people in the past played a golf game to cement a business deal, didn’t they? They also played golf to socialize. Has Boulder City recognized lessening play on golf courses? Or, from another perspective, what happens when million-dollar homes are placed around our open space golf course with views of the McCullough Mountains? Do fewer people play golf on the Boulder Creek golf course?

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Shakespeare was the man when it came to comedy and tragedy. His ability to make people feel the intense emotions of the characters is still imitated today. The past few months have been filled with a bit of excited anticipation at City Hall as several longtime and high-level employees have found new roles in other acts. I’m here to borrow some Shakespearean lines, the first being from Ophelia, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)

Me, my brother and Silo Sam

Recently, I’ve been enjoying watching shows on A&E related to professional wrestling back in the earlier days, with profiles on wrestlers I grew up watching as well as classic rivalries.

Let’s talk about the ‘D Word’

OK, as a starting point, I must note that it’s weird to think that I might be writing something that would put me in agreement with the Language Police.

Make a new plan, Stan

A plan is a method for achieving a desirable objective. It’s a program of action, usually memorialized in writing. Plans start with goals and ideas. But ideas alone (even good ones) don’t constitute a plan.

Time to recognize unsung heroes

We have so many functions within the Boulder City Police Department, from school resource officers to road patrol to the detective bureau. The work that they do keeps Boulder City among the “Safest Cities in Nevada” (newhomesource.com, alarm.com) year after year. One unit is the backbone of our public safety response: Public Safety Dispatchers.

Honoring National Public Health Week

In my eight decades of this amazing life, I have worn a great many hats: son, brother, father, major (USAF), grandfather, council member, state representative, state senator.