‘Columnists Day?

Can you guess my first thought when I read the e-mail to yours truly that read in part: ‘I thought you might like to know that the governor of Michigan has proclaimed April 18, 2004, as National Columnists Day in the state of Michigan . . .?
My thoughts went something like this . . .
‘Stupid joke.?
Then . . .
‘I hate junk mail.?
Then . . .
‘Hard-ee har-har.?
I closed out the on-line stuff and ran a bunch of computer scans to clean my hard drive of any invasive bug that may have piggybacked its way into my domain via the e-mail. With a clean slate and a fresh perspective I thought to myself, ‘Could it be? Could it be true that babe-ilicious Gov. Granholm would set aside a day to recognize opinionated blow-hards like me??
I quickly ‘Googled? her, adding ‘columnists day.? And, holy yellow journalist, Batman — Jenny In The Hood actually signed off on the deal. Right there on the Gov’s website was this:
Whereas, Columnists are a vital part of every newspaper, making significant contributions to the journalism profession in general; and . . . blah, blah, blah cut to the chase . . . To increase public understanding of the column-writing profession, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists established National Columnists Day to be observed each year on April 18, the date Ernie Pyle, who symbolized the best among columnists, was killed World War II; and now therefore be it,
Resolved, That I, Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of the State of Michigan, do hereby proclaim April 18, 2004, as Columnists Day in Michigan
Last Sunday, (April 18) was National Columnists Day in 10 states, including Michigan.
April 18, 1995, was the first day set aside for columnists — 50 years after the death of wartime columnist Ernie Pyle. Pyle, a Pulitzer Prize winner, died when he was shot in the head by a Japanese sniper. Ever the self-centered columnist, up until about 17 years ago, I didn’t know any Pyle history. As a matter of fact, the only Pyle I’d heard of said, ‘Shazam!? and ‘Gol-i-l-y.? His name was Gomer and on TV reruns he was a United States Marine.
But, when I did find out about Pyle I was hooked — not because of his touching columns written about the ordinary solider during World War II; not because of his being shot on the front lines. Nope, nothing so deep. (Remember, I am columnist — say it with me, ‘shal-low.?) My interest was piqued cuz then publisher James Sherman, Sr., had a prized possession: an antique typewriter in his office.
It was an old Corona travel typewriter. Let me say my love affair with old typewriters started when Mother gave me hers when I was in the fourth grade. I love the round keys, the mechanical movement, the bell that sounds when you get to the end of a line. I love ’em. The typewriter Mr. Sherman had, however, wasn’t just any old typewriter, it was a beaut.
Inside the carrying case of the Corona was a 1982 note: ‘Jim, Since you seem determined to be a peripatetic publisher, you might want to use this. It’s about 75 years old. My dad won it in a north woods poker game. He swore to me then it had been used by Ernie Pyle. But, this was the same father who was always trying to get me to go snipe hunting with him. Pat?
What a story! Whether or not it’s true doesn’t matter, that is how I came to know of Ernie Pyle. (Why I was snooping around the old man’s office is a column for another day or a story best forgotten.)
Back to the future . . . Now it’s 2004. National Columnists Day was upon me. I was waiting for congratulatory notes for ‘being a columnist.? I kept an ear open for the phone to ring. Maybe Mom would call to say, ‘Happy Columnists Day, Dear.? I checked my e-mail, maybe readers would send me an electronic Columnists Day card.
Nothing. No flowers, no call, no e-mail, no nothing. How’s that for gratitude? I sweat and toil each week for the last 18 years, pen 900 or so columns and I got nothing. Zip, zero, nothing.
On the bright side, I have been labeled as narrow-minded, homophobic, bigoted, lower on the evolutionary scale than the common yard ant, chauvinistic, mean-spirited, racist suburbanite, pompous, rude, ignorant and all-around not-nice guy.
At least I can go to my grave knowing my sons will have a standard to shoot for when they grow to become whatever they end up being.

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