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Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Day to remember the Alamo

Monday, the last week in February. Pretty dreary isn't it? At least you are here and not up North. Even the Olympics are gone and you won't have to watch curling or figure skating again for another four years.

At least I hear the mayor is back in town from his global ramblings, spreading the word about Tampa and that the Bucs have a new logo on their helmets.

I suppose if you want to remember anything about today you might remember the Alamo. I read an article recently where someone was trying to compare what happened in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 to what happened when nobody came to save the defenders of the Alamo.

I don't quite buy that but it was on another Feb. 24 in 1836 that Col. William Travis, who had moved almost 200 men inside the Spanish mission outside of San Antonio de Bejar, looked out over the walls and saw Mexican Gen. Santa Anna and close to two thousand soldiers setting up a siege.

Travis rounded up several couriers and sent out message looking for help, ending each message with "Victory or Death.''

Well, you've seen the movies and know how that turned out 13 days later. I remember the first time going to visit the Alamo, with this vision in my mind of an old mission out on the prairie and discovering that it is now in the middle of downtown San Antonio a few blocks from their version of the Riverwalk. It is still a moving place to be.

Awards a point of light

An event worth mentioning was last week's ninth annual "Be More Awards'' put on by public television's WEDU. I'm sure it pales compared to the upcoming ''Bollywood Awards'' that will be held here in April, but the ''Be More'' awards has grown to where the fire marshal wouldn't let any more people into the cavernous A La Carte Pavilion where nonprofit organizations from around west central Florida were recognized for what they do.

There was an article in Newsweek a couple of weeks ago claiming that Tampa has an "identity crisis'' and went on to suggest that about all we have going for us is Gasparilla.

Too bad the writer couldn't have been at this event to see some of the things that are going on around here, from organizations such as "Wheels of Success,'' which helps people secure transportation and is now becoming a national model, to "Feeding Tampa Bay,'' which helps feed thousands of hungry people.

I was allowed to give out an award to a woman named Becky Forsell. Back in 1996 she discovered she was going blind. Finding that not all the resources she needed were available, she started her own support group.

That grew into another organization she formed, "YES! of America United,'' that is a support organization for people with differing disabilities that helps build self-reliance.

Flogging a solution?

Finally, here's one letter from a stack that continues to grow on the recent "wilding'' incident of young people going on a rampage at the Florida State Fair.

"Your column today (Friday, Feb. 21) about the Russian Cossacks treatment of the Pussy Riot rockers and your suggestion that the mayor might consider importing some Cossacks to protect the buses from the rock throwers was tongue in cheek and appropriate but specious as a solution.

"If the hooligans are identified and brought before a judge it will be a waste of time as they will be reprimanded and released, gloating and increasing their street cred for being arrested. The same will apply to the hooligans wilding at the State Fair. Certainly they should not be put in jail, but there is a need for appropriate punishment.

"Our jails are full of people who are serving time for soft drug possession and other minor issues. We have more people in jail than Communist China. ... A proposed solution for rock throwers and State Fair hooligans may be found in a book ... titled 'In Defense of Flogging.' You might read it for a future column or recommend it to the mayor.

Peter J. Brock, Sun City Center''

I like the idea and remember my wife was all in favor of flogging when she was a teacher, but I'm not sure we could pull it off here. On the other hand, think what a draw it would be if we could sell tickets to floggings on board the Jose Gasparilla down by the city docks. Maybe I will mention it to the mayor.

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