Last month I was watching TV coverage of a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The camera captured President Trump as he and a high-ranking military officer placed a wreath in front of the tomb. Then the president backed up and placed his hand over his heart as they played the national anthem. The camera stayed on the president and the officer next to him. As Trump stood with his hand over his heart, the officer presented a rigid salute.
But watching this, I was bothered by another scene playing out. Just behind the president a young girl, perhaps about 10 years old, was playing with her cellphone. She had the earphones in her ears and she was tap-tap-tapping on her phone all through the national anthem. Where was a parent to tell her to put the phone away and stand in reverent attention with her hand over her heart?
Maybe the parent was on her own phone and not paying attention. I have seen it enough times lately where a family sits down at a restaurant table and Mom, Dad and children all pull out phones and stare at them. Nobody actually talks to anybody.
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Last summer during one of Atascadero’s Tuesday Night in the Park events, I saw a young couple walking along a path. They were holding hands. But each had a phone in the other hand with earplugs firmed planted in their ears.
They should have been plugged into each other.
Once a critic of the cellphone, I’ve come to see that it is useful not only as phone or camera, but also to be able to text friends and family members at any time. Living alone, I love knowing my daughters, my brother and friends are a keystroke away.
But we have an epidemic on our hands that is destroying our ability to talk to one another.
Even though there are countless stories in the newspapers and on television about accidents caused by people trying to text and drive, the practice continues. We are seeing many accidents caused by distracted driving. I’m sure you all see teens and adults talking or texting on their cell phones as you drive around town.
The hands-free feature is nice, but even glancing down at the steering wheel to push a “talk” button can be dangerous.
I’m encouraged to read about new cellphones or apps for them that render the device inoperable if it is moving. It’s probably the only way to protect us from one another.
A little girl playing with her cellphone during the national anthem can only be corrected by a parent.
Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.