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Prince Philip came to our county in 1983

The death of Prince Philip took me back a few years.

In March 1983 Queen Elizabeth and Philip came to California. I was able to snatch press credentials to be at Sutter’s Fort when they visited there. We were told ahead of time not to speak to the queen unless spoken to.

The limo pulled up and I’ll never forget her green coat and hat. She did look our way once as she walked up the dirt path, alongside a docent or actor playing John Sutter. Philip seemed very regal and cordial. They went inside the fort where actors played their parts.

The next day I caught wind that Queen Elizabeth was on her way to Yosemite after being flown to Castle Air Force Base in Atwater. She didn’t fly on helicopters and besides the weather was horrible that day. The route took her to Snelling and up J-59 to eastbound Hwy. 132 through La Grange.

We went to La Grange where we found a slightly inebriated Jerry Selia, the local store owner, had made a sign welcoming her.

The first sign that the motorcade was coming was the CHP helicopter buzzing overhead. Then came a parade of cars in the drizzle. The queen’s limo rolled past us and I could clearly see her gloved hand as well as the outline of Philip. It was around the curve at the end of town and out of site. Whenever I go that way up to Coulterville I think the Queen must have gotten carsick.

Disaster awaited their eyes up the road where three Secret Servicemen were killed in a crash with an oncoming Mariposa County Sheriff’s car.

The queen was routed around the crash site on Jalapa Way and she could see it all.

Horrible weather greeted the queen in Yosemite, and the deaths cast a pall on the weekend.

I saw the mangled car before it was towed off by McLean’s, a Waterford tow truck company.

A few years ago I visited the spot and found a piece of the death car with original paint still on it.

It was unforgettable and I consider it a highlight of my career to have seen royalty on home turf.

* * * * *

To me the scariest thing about the entire COVID-19 lockdown story is how willing and ready Americans were – and are – to let the government infringe on their freedoms. Americans, through a one-sided and complicit national media who saw COVID as the way to slay the Orange Giant (Donald J. Trump) they hated last year, were all too eager to burn their “Live free or Die” card.

If you will remember, Gov. Newsom used some scary and dire statistics in March 2020 to suggest that tens of millions would be dying. That was based on the far flung and way off-base predictions made by a doctor in the UK Imperial College model.

We were told to put up with the end-life-as-you-know-it plan and told to stay at home for two weeks. We are now going on over a year … for a flu that is 99.7 percent survivable. We shut down our schools with teachers’ unions threatening that members wouldn’t go back to school unless the government met their demands of a laundry list of liberal demands like defund the police and increase school funding even as they stayed home. 

Now we are being forced, more or less, to get a vaccine that is questionable as far as long-term effects. The threat is you can’t get on a plane or go to the ballpark unless you have your “papers,” reminiscent of Nazi Germany. New York state launched its digital passport system called Excelsior. It’s supposed to be voluntary but mark my words, it will eventually be required to do life.

Newsom wants to do the same thing in California.

* * * * *

Did you hear that the New York Times put out a hit piece on white evangelicals? The crux of the article suggested that it was white Christians – read that as Trump supporters – are the problematic group who are resistant to getting the vaccine. They paint me types as being distrustful of science.

The article notes that 5,000 doses were spent to Uganda but only could administer 400 because of the hesitancy of the Christians. The Times article suggested that it is American Christians who influence the thinking of others throughout the world.

The idea is that if these stupid Christians don’t get the vaccine, then the pandemic will be around much longer.

As I’ve said before the only easy target that is allowed is shot at in this country anymore is the white male and especially the white Christian. The Left portrays them as a danger to the world; after all, they elected Trump.

You will never see such a piece framed against people of other faiths, such as Buddhists, Muslims and Hindu.

* * * * *

The vaccines are not without their own problems.

According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), between Dec. 14, 2020 and April 2, 50,861 individuals had adverse reactions to the COVID vaccines with 2,249 deaths and 7,726 serious injuries. Nineteen percent of the deaths related to vaccine deaths were cardiac related, 45 percent were male. The average age of those who died was 77.7 years. The youngest death was an 18-year-old.

A million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines failed to meet quality control from its Baltimore plant. Richard Terrell, 74, of Goochland, Va., suffered the rare reaction of peeling skin and a painful rash. I saw the pictures on the website and I can tell you it’s horrible looking.

In Munich they pulled the AstraZeneca vaccine for those under 60 years of age because of blood clots, of which nine people died.

* * * * *

Call me stupid or fatalistic but I have not altered my lifestyle at all since this whole pandemic started. I never stopped working when the rest of the world did. I’ve never worn a mask at work or rarely played the “work at home” game many are playing. I didn’t stop going places. I do wear a mask to stores out of consideration. When my church opened again late last year, I attended, without a mask and I shook hands. I saw no fear. I haven’t got sick.

Of the rare instances where family members got COVID, none had serious problems.

I don’t make light of those of you who have lost friends and family. But don’t walk around in fear if you are a healthy person.

* * * * *

Then we have the problem of interfering social media.  Forget Russian hacking, we have social media tech giants meddling in our national discourse, all too eager to counter the truths that some folks put out there.

* * * * *

I walked into a store last Wednesday. I had a mask on because it was required of me as a customer, not because Joe Biden demands that I do.

In the spirit of friendly conversation, I asked a simple question of the clerk: “What is the point of a vaccine if we still have to wear a mask?”

She answered: “I suppose it’s to protect others.”

It was a rhetorical question to get her to think. When will this mask “mandate” end? Never? Will we always be like China where they were covering their faces before COVID hit them?

My brother wore a mask when he was out and still got COVID-19. He was fine after a few days of illness. He passed it on to my stepmom who is 73. She was fine after a few days. My dad, who is 80, never got ill.

Some governors have not responded like Newsom.

The Arkansas State Senate voted to block the governor from ever imposing a mask mandate in the future.

Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also dismissed their mask mandate but suggested her citizens wear it as “the right thing.”

No wonder people are leaving California in numbers.

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at