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DALLAS – A Texas museum hopes a document found in its archives turns out to be an authentic government copy of Abraham Lincoln‘s eloquent letter consoling a mother thought to have lost five sons in the Civil War.

The famed Bixby Letter, which the Dallas Historical Society is getting appraised as it prays for a potential windfall, has a fascinating history.

The original has never been found. Historians debate whether Lincoln wrote it. Its recipient, Lydia Bixby, was no fan of the president. And not all her sons died in the war.

The letter, written with “the best of intentions” 144 years ago next week, is “considered one of the finest pieces of American presidential prose,” said Alan Olson, curator for the Dallas group. “It’s still a great piece of writing, regardless of the truth in the back story.”

Historians say Lincoln wrote the letter at the request of a Massachusetts official, who passed along news of a Boston woman grieving the loss of her five sons. The letter is addressed to “Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass.” and begins with an acknowledgment that nothing written could possibly make a grief-stricken mother feel better about such a horrific loss.

“I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming,” Lincoln wrote.

After thanking Bixby on behalf of a grateful nation, Lincoln wrote that he would pray that God relieve her anguish and leave her with only the “cherished memory of the loved” along with “the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

The letter, as was the president’s custom in his personal correspondence, is signed “A Lincoln.”

“It is so beautifully written,” said James Cornelius, curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. “It is an extraordinarily sensitive expression of condolence.”

There was renewed interest in the letter after it was read in the 1998 film “Saving Private Ryan.” It also sparked a new round of debate centering on Lincoln’s authorship and the fate of Bixby’s sons.

Evidence indicates two of Bixby’s sons died, a third was a deserter and a fourth ended up in a prisoner-of-war camp, Cornelius said. A fifth is believed to have received a discharge, but his fate is unknown.

Historians have also argued that John Hay, one of Lincoln’s secretaries, wrote the letter. Hay was an accomplished writer who wrote a biography of Lincoln and later became ambassador to the United Kingdom.

“Lincoln probably wrote it,” Cornelius said. “Hay did on some occasions write letters in Lincoln’s name and sign them — or have Lincoln sign them — but probably not something like this that purports to be so personal and individual and heartfelt.”

The letter received widespread attention days after it was written. Bixby either sent it to the Boston Evening Transcript or a postal worker intercepted it and tipped off the newspaper, which reprinted the letter, Cornelius said.

The touching note came about two months after Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman had broken through Atlanta on his march to the coast and about two weeks after Lincoln won re-election. Union spirits were high, Cornelius said.

“The letter was so popular that it was published in newspapers and people copied and sent it to relatives,” Olson said. “That letter and the words in it affected the nation. It tugged at people’s hearts at the time of a really bloody period in America.”

Olson hopes he has an official government copy of the Bixby Letter and not something one relative sent to another. In an era before photocopiers or carbon paper, secretaries hand-copied documents to be retained for their files, he said.

The paper and ink appear authentic to the Civil War era, he said. The historical society has asked an expert at Christie’s auction house in New York for an opinion.

Stacy McDermott, an assistant editor at The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, estimated that an official government copy of the Bixby Letter would fetch millions of dollars.

But Cornelius doubts the letter is authentic. He said the Lincoln White House would have been unlikely to make a copy of such a personal letter and points out that a pair of rival New York companies sold copies of the letter as keepsakes beginning in the 1890s.

Olson said he stumbled across the letter over the summer in the historical society archives, which contain about 3 million items. He said he does not know how or why the letter ended up in the archives.

The discovery, Olson said, will provide a teachable moment even if it doesn’t prove to be a bankable one.

“If it’s not worth a lot of money — too bad,” Olson said. “It’s still a fascinating story and it’s still a great display piece.”

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1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to God about what is going on in your life. Buy a lock if you have to.

3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, ‘My purpose is to __________ today. I am thankful for______________’

4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild A laskan salmon, broccoli , almonds & walnuts.

6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

7. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

9. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

11. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

12. You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

13. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.

14. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’

17. Forgive everyone for everything.

18. What other people think of you is none of your business.

19. GOD heals everything – but you have to ask Him.

20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

21. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch!!!

22.. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.

24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You’ll be smiling before you know it.

This morning, I read this post on Elwood’s internet site. This particular post read:
 
In response to Obama’s complaint that FOX News doesn’t show enough Black and Hispanic people on their network, FOX Network has announced that they will now air ‘America ‘s Most Wanted’ TWICE a week.
What hit me, perhaps for the first time, is that my son will probably have to deal with certain profilings once he leaves the comfort of Kettering where the name Jolliffe-Haas is unknown.
 
I wrote the individual who posted the first comment:
 
Hello,
I was reading segments of Willkie’s Pride and ran across a an item you had posted regarding FOX News.
 
I grew up in Elwood, Indiana, and like so many when I ventured beyond Elwood’s borders, was always trying to shed the stereotypical beliefs about Elwood’s racism. Throughout college, Black students I’d meet would always act hesitant at first, and eventually ask me about my views, mostly in regard to the Ku Klux Klan.
 
In 2004, I adopted a 12 year old Hispanic boy, Jose. Today, at nearly 17 years, my handsome young son is:
  • a good student,
  • a member of the percussion ensemble,
  • a member of this past season’s marching band – in which he had a featured percussion moment/solo,
  • sings in the high school’s concert choir,
  • attends church,
  • is a member of a fantastic youth group,
  • and works in the dining service of a very posh retirement community where he has become respected and loved by a number of the retirees – several of which are retired band directors and my friends.

Jose is adored by his teachers, youth leaders, employers and many other adults who praise his wonderful personality, good manners and courtesy, his kind and thoughtful nature, and his tremendous sense of humor.

Normally, I am not a sensitive individual, nor am I without humor.

However, this morning’s post regarding Hispanic’s and African Americans seemed to smack at the very principles many of us from Elwood have tried to uphold throughout the years regarding Elwood’s racist mentality. I, for one, do not always yield to the current phrase of “political correctness” as it has – in my opinion – gone a bit too far at times. But this morning, I realized I was no longer a former citizen of Elwood fighting stereotypes. This morning I discovered I am the proud father of a young Hispanic son who will probably always battle racial profiling.

This morning I discovered just how sensitive I was to a post that indicated Hispanics were common fodder for “America’s Most Wanted.” I am not ignorant to the various ethnicities and the problems that plague so many. I am also not ignorant of the fact that in Elwood, most of the heinous crimes (murder, rape, child molest) are conducted by mostly Caucasian individuals.

Due to the fact that my son shares the same ethnicity indicated in your post, I have come to understand the great uphill battle that lies before me as a parent.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against drugs.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against tobacco use.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against alcohol.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against sex.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against gangs.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is with people – even from my own home town – and elsewhere throughout our nation – that do not see the harm in racial profiling. Because my son is Hispanic, he is relegated to third, or fourth, or fifth class status as an American citizen.

Your post this morning opened my eyes a great deal to the work in education that must be accomplished, both for my son, and for individuals who cannot comprehend sensitivity for other nationalities, or ethnicities. My son, no longer in a neglectful birth-family home, and no longer a responsibility of the child welfare system, has a marvelous life that most 16 year old boys would love to have. As his parent, I will see to it that he continues to grow and mature, understanding how to rise above, and beyond, the tremendous wall of unkind, racist views that will probably confront him throughout his adult life simply because he was born of a race that is not Caucasian.

Since I apparently am not equipped to educate my son fully in these areas, I forwarded today’s post Re: FOX News to the NAACP and several Hispanic organizations, asking advice on how I, as a parent of a young Hispanic boy, can better educate my son on the racial profiling that will  certainly haunt him throughout his life.

Until this morning, I simply thought I was the proud father of a great young man. Tonight, I realize I am the proud father of a son who will be categorized a failure, even a criminal in the minds of many — simply because he had the great misfortune to be born of a race so different from mine, and that of a community in which I grew up.

Sincerely…

 
This makes me want to push Jose even harder at being an even stronger student and invidual.
 
 

(CNN) — A jury awarded $2.5 million in damages on Friday to a Kentucky teenager who was severely beaten by members of a Ku Klux Klan group because they mistakenly thought he was an illegal Latino immigrant, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

Jordan Gruver, then 16, was targeted and beaten by Klan members, his lawsuit alleged.

Jordan Gruver, then 16, was targeted and beaten by Klan members, his lawsuit alleged.

The jury found that the Imperial Klans of America and its founder wrongfully targeted 16-year-old Jordan Gruver, an American citizen of Panamanian and Native-American descent.

The verdict included $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages against “Imperial Wizard” Ron Edwards.

The law center said before the verdict that a large damage award could break the Klan group, allowing the teen and the law center to seize the group’s assets, including its headquarters, a 15-acre compound in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.

“We look forward to collecting every dime that we can for our client and to putting the Imperial Klans of America out of business,” said SPLC founder and chief trial attorney Morris Dees, who tried the case.

Gruver, backed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed the personal injury lawsuit last year seeking up to $6 million in damages from the Imperial Klans of America and two of its leaders — Edwards and “Grant Titan” Jarred R. Hensley.

An all-white jury of seven men and seven women deliberated for five hours after three days of testimony. The suit alleged that Edwards, Hensley, and the Imperial Klans of America as a whole incited its members to use violence against minorities.

“The people of Meade County, Kentucky, have spoken loudly and clearly. And what they’ve said is that ethnic violence has no place in our society, that those who promote hate and violence will be held accountable and made to pay a steep price,” Dees said.

According to testimony, three members of the Klan group confronted Gruver in July 2006 during a recruiting mission at the Meade County Fair in Brandenberg, Kentucky. They taunted him with ethnic slurs — inaccurate ones — spat on him and doused him with alcohol .Two of the men, including Hensley, knocked Gruver to the ground and repeatedly struck and kicked him.

Ku Klux Klan

  • Founded as violent white supremacist movement by Confederate officers after the Civil War, lasted until the 1870s
  • Klan began again in 1915, still active today
  • Most recent surge of activity came during civil rights movement of 1960s
  • Membership exceeded 4 million in 1920s; now a few thousand members in splinter groups

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

“All I could see was a bunch of feet,” Gruver, now 19, told the jury. “As they were kicking me, I prayed to myself. I said, ‘God, just please let me go. Please let me make it home.’ ”

When the blows stopped, Gruver had a broken jaw, broken left forearm, two cracked ribs and cuts and bruises.

He testified that he has suffered permanent nerve damage and psychological trauma. He doesn’t leave his house and rarely sleeps more than two hours at a time because he has nightmares, CNN affiliate WLKY reported.

Among the evidence the jury saw was a pair of red-laced, steel-toed boots. A police witness testified that Hensley wore the boots the night he and another Klansman attacked Gruver.

Edwards acknowledged from the witness stand that the boots were the “weapon of choice” for skinheads and that the red laces carried special significance — that “someone should shed blood for their race.”

Also revealed during testimony: An alleged Klan plot to kill the Southern Poverty Law Center’s attorney, Morris Dees.

Former Klansman Kale Kelly, once a member of Edwards’ inner circle, testified he was told to kill Dees because of the center’s lawsuit in Idaho against the Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi supremacist organization.

The plot was thwarted by the FBI in 1999, according to testimony.

Kelly, who since has left the group, cried on the witness stand during his testimony.

Other former Klansmen also testified that they were encouraged to use violence. One said he was conditioned to kill.

Gruver’s assailants already have gone through the criminal courts, striking plea bargains and serving time in the Kentucky state prison system, according to court documents. The case was not treated as a hate crime.

Dees alleged that on the night in question — July 29 and 30, 2006 — Edwards “sent his agents out on a mission.” During that mission, which included recruiting and distributing Klan literature at the fair, Gruver was beaten because the men mistakenly believed he was an illegal immigrant.

Edwards, who represented himself, told the jury he had nothing to do with the attack. “I stay within the law. I don’t break the law,” he said.

At an earlier court deposition, Edwards demonstrated his contempt for the center and its lawsuit by tattooing a profane reference to it on his freshly shaved head.

On its Web site, the Imperial Klans of America refers to itself as a Christian organization exercising its rights of free speech and assembly under the U.S. Constitution.

The site carries this proviso: “If you are not of the White race, this Web site is not for the likes of YOU!” It then goes on to name the races and ethnicities it “hates,” adding, “This is our God-given right.”

The Web site disavows violence or any kind of criminal activity.

Edwards lives in a trailer on the Klan group’s heavily guarded, gated compound in rural Dawson Springs. The compound is the site of the Klan’s annual white power rally and music festival, know as “Nordic Fest,” according to the suit.

It was at the compound, the suit alleges, that the Klan group incited its members to use violence against minorities.

The Klan seems to thrive during times of political and financial turmoil, according to organizations that monitor its activities.

The first incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan was founded by a group of Confederate generals at the end of the Civil War to promote a white supremacist agenda. The Klan was driven underground, but re-formed after World War I. Klan activity increased during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and has surged again since 2006 as a result of opposition to gay marriage and immigration.

There is no single, centralized Ku Klux Klan. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the Imperial Klans of America is the second largest KKK group after the Brotherhood of Klans Knights, based in Marion, Ohio.

Booth Gunter, the center’s spokesman, said there are 34 named Klan organizations across the country, with 155 separate chapters.

The Anti-Defamation League estimates there are more than 40 different Klan groups, with as many as 5,000 members in more than 100 chapters, or “klaverns,” across the country.

It is not the first time the Southern Poverty Law Center has taken a supremacist group to court and won.

In 2000, for example, the center won a $6.3 million jury verdict that forced Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler to give up the group’s Idaho compound. In 1987, a $7 million verdict in Mobile, Alabama, targeted the United Klans of America.

 
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:

Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men — Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans — in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

“I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days… Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done.”

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae’s dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l’Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. “His face was very tired but calm as we wrote,” Allinson recalled. “He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer’s grave.”

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:

“The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene.”

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.

I love this air of hopefulness, this air of accomplishment, this air of vision and foreword thinking. In 2000 we missed the feeling of change, the feeling of renewal because of that hotly contested election that dragged on well into December. In 2004, we missed that air of change and renewal because we were engaged in a war (that had been declared over a year before), and there was really no new change – we were bringing in the same man.

ST-C22-1-62

I hear the previous generation discuss what it was like when Kennedy was elected in 1960. There seems to be a similar excitement – a fresh young senator, a beautiful wife who is both intelligent and cultured, and adorable little girls. I can see why folks are comparing this president-elect to one elected 48 years ago.

theodorerooseveltfamily

The only time before that was when Theodore Roosevelt entered the White House at age 42 upon the death of President William McKinley in 1901. Roosevelt brought with him six young children – including the irrepressible, Alice – and an energy that propelled us into the Twentieth Century. President Clinton’s youth and invigorating personality was similar, but it seemed his administration/family was always bogged down in one accusation after another.

I like this change.  I like the youthfulness, the energy, the vision, the drive, the class and culture, and the hope that seems to be ringing through the land – at least for those who are willing to hear it.

 

This past week’s election seems to have ignited a multitude of bright shining moments – moments that have touched others in a deep, hopeful manner.

This particular story was on Indianapolis’ Channel 8…

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When President Elect Barack Obama delivered his victory speech Tuesday night thousands of people were on hand to hear his message. But a Hoosier was also on stage to deliver his message to the deaf and hard of hearing.
“I keep reliving it over and over again,” Lisa Warren said.

On Tuesday night November 4th in Grant Park in Chicago thousands of people watched as President Elect Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech.

“And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices,” Obama said.

Also there to hear President Elect Obama’s speech was Lisa Warren of Indianapolis. Warren was called on by the Obama campaign to interpret his speech for the deaf.

“There’s nothing else that I could ever do in life that’s going to compare to that moment,” Warren said.

Warren signed every word and emotion, “You could see it on my face, you could see it with my body language the emotion that was coming out of him.”

Warren is a certified interpreter with years of experience.

“If you would have asked me would I have ever interpret for the president or let alone be in a moment in time where history was made,” Warren said.

Even before Warren could talk she spoke with her hands, “American Sign Language is my first language because both my parents are deaf. So I’ve been signing since probably about 10 months old.”

Warren is no stranger to the Obama campagin. She signed for Vice President Elect Joe Biden. Warren even signed at an event with future first lady Michelle Obama in Fishers.

When President Elect Obama campaigned at the Indiana State Fairgrounds she was there at his side.

“He is signing I love you to a group of ten deaf folks that were there,” Warren said.

Warren said she was surprised when the Obama campaign called her up for his Chicago Rally. She is hoping they will consider her for his Inauguration on January 20.

Jose, 16, began a science experiment for his biology class last Friday. He placed an egg in a mug and filled it with vinegar. It was a pretty neat transformation into a gel-like form.

100_6635

Wednesday, I noticed the newly transformed egg was wrapped in a napkin in the refrigerator. So, I placed it in the “dairy” compartment in the refrigerator’s door, and replaced it with a regular egg in a napkin.

The next afternoon, after teaching, I noticed another egg in a mug of vinegar. I asked Jose about it and he said he took his egg to school and could not believe that the shell had grown back. The teacher tried to convince him that the could never have returned to its original form.

I sent a note to the teacher to explain…

Tuesday morning, I hurried my morning routine along so I could be out the door by 8:45am to vote. As I was getting into the car, I twisted my back – somehow – and was in great pain. Muscle spasms shot through me, and I questioned whether I should even be driving. After all, the church was just across the street; but there were a few errands to run after voting.

I walked right in, signed in with no wait, and took a seat. Normally, I always have experiences at this particular polling site – my political affiliation shouted from one elderly worker to a very deaf elderly worker; a resident from One Lincoln Park who seriously believed my joke that Eleanor Roosevelt was running for president; touch screens that are too difficult to push; and workers that are not adept at policy. 

Today was different.

I sat, gently, in one of the folding chairs set up for those anticipated long waits. A nicely dressed gentleman entered, full of enthusiasm and charisma. The location had been moved from a small, cramped room to the gymnasium in the church, and the elderly gentleman insisted we all get a game of basketball going.

This man had an energy, and enthusiasm about life that made me forget about my painful spasms shooting through my back. I heard him tell the workers, “I will probably be the oldest person voting today.” The one female worker assured him there would be folks older than their 80’s.

“Nope! I am one hundred three and a half years old!”

I looked up to examine the centurion with an additional three and one half years tacked on. Due to my condition, he was walking more erect than I was, and even had a bounce to his step. He finished signing in. There were a dozen chairs set up, and I was the only one seated. I was not in the mood for a chat, but he aimed his stride right towards me, and took a seat. 

He immediately charged into the conversation, sharing that he lived in One Lincoln Park, the retirement village next door to the church (and where my son works).

I asked him when he first voted.

“1924. I voted for Calvin Coolidge.”

I chuckled. My grandmother was born that year.

“I was born in 1905 and Teddy Roosevelt was president. The Wright Brothers had just flown a year or so before.”

I perked up. I asked if he was born in Dayton.

“Yes, I was.” He went on to explain where he lived but I was not familiar with that particular neighborhood.

I asked if he ever had a chance to see Wilbur Wright who died in 1912.

“I saw Wilbur several times and up close. Nice man. I was about six or seven when he died. I remember the funeral – all the carriages and all the bells rining all over town. A few days later my parents took me to the cemetery – you know, the one by the university. There were so many flowers. I met Orville a number of times, too.”

I asked a few more questions about Wilbur but he could not recall much more – just that he had seen him in person and that he, along with his brother, seemed like a nice man.

I asked if he went to dining service at One Lincoln Park.

“I never miss a chance to be with people. I go there every meal.”

I asked if he knew the tall, thin Mexican boy.

“Jose? Of course. He is such a delightful young man. Polite and kind. Do you know him?”

I explained he was my son and the gentleman really sized me up… I knew what was going through his mind.

“I adopted Jose.”

“Ah! Good for you. You chose a good young man.”

The gentleman looked around and said, “I hope this doesn’t take too damned long. I have a walk to get in this morning.”

I asked how often he walked.

“Every day. Two miles.”

Smack! I needed that one. I sucked my stomach in and tried to look a little more perky.

He went on to describe that he gets up at 6:00am every day and is often frustrated that other people are not yet up and “ready to start their day.” He looked over and said, “some people fight old age and don’t welcome it.” I learned that he plays cards, goes to concerts at the Fraze Pavilion in the summer, goes to the Rec Center when the snow and ice cover the sidewalks, chats with others as much as he can, and will not watch television in a group of people. “I like to talk to people – see what makes them tick. You can’t learn anything about others when the TV is loud because most of my friends are completely deaf, and most fall asleep.”

It was my turn to vote. I offered to let the gentleman go before me.

“I’m one hundred three and a half, not one hundred and eight. You go right on.”

Before I left he said, “When I was a kid I loved saying I was six and a half or what ever age I was. Then I stopped using it. When I turned 90 I realized it was time to start saying ‘one half’ again. That ‘one half’ was just as important as the landmark age.”

He soon stepped next to me at his booth and had difficulty figuring out where the credit-card card went.

“Now where in the hell does this damned card go?”

I showed him.

I finished voting and took leave of the wonderful spirit. He wished me well and said he hoped to see Jose soon.

Despite my painful muscle spasms, I was walking a little taller. I tried to match the spring in his own step, but it hurt too much.

Still, I was invigorated.

I had just touched history… all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt and the Wright Brothers. I write about these great Americans. Today, I met someone who remembered them first hand. This gentleman seemed to sum up what life, and our country is all about – hope, enthusiasm, determination, gratitude, and love for mankind.

Now, that is a blessing!

 

Tonight, an incredible dawn has begun to emerge. Though there will surely be some storms, we now have a captain that will steer the ship safely into the harbour. We have redefined our national spirit, and rededicated our vision to a better tomorrow.

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presidents-c

Look at the collection of presidential portraits. Yes, the first African American’s photograph will soon be added… something historic.

But it matters not.

What does matter is that this ‘experiment in democracy’ is still strong. President-elect Obama now belongs to this great fraternity that has led this experiment.

iamanamericanjpg

It is 8:30am, and I will leave in a few minutes to cast my vote for the 2008 election.

Right now, I am watching Barack Obama casting his vote. The first African American presidential candidate voting for himself to become the next president. His young daughters are at his side – what a day for them.

Sadly, his grandmother had already cast her vote, but passed away yesterday.

What a mixed day of emotions for this presidential hopeful…

And sadly, Tim Russert’s voice is silent today. His son has been doing a remarkable job, and hopefully, my son will know the name Russert in his own life.

Tonight… our country will be moving in a new, different direction depending on the man who accepts the nation’s nod.

Yesterday, Jose wanted to hike through historic Woodland Cemetery. We grabbed Flyer, the camera and set off on the 5 minute ride.

A beautiful day, and tons of gorgeous photos!

In about 36 hours we may know who our next president shall be. I pray it does not become a fiasco of 2000.

Whomever accepts the country’s charge, I trust like President John Adams wrote his wife upon his first night in the White House (November 2, 1800):

“I pray Heaven to bestow the best blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

Today, the lyrics from the wonderful musical, LES MISERABLES seems to refresh me:

“One day more! At the barricades of freedom, tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in heaven has in store. One more dawn, one day more!”

I thought this was incredibly interesting – the break-down of what to expect Tuesday night.

7 P.M. ET
Polls close in the first six states. We’re pretty sure that South Carolina and Kentucky will go to McCain and Vermont to Obama, but three of the states bear close watching. Obama has been leading in Virginia and he’s even in Indiana — both states have gone Republican since 1964. If McCain wins both, he’s still in the game. If either of them goes for Obama, his campaign is on life support.

7:30 P.M. ET
There’s more potential drama here. Ohio was always destined to be a key battleground just as it was in 2004. This is a state McCain must win. North Carolina has seen a massive infusion of Obama’s money and volunteers, so a McCain victory is a hint of real late movement toward the Republican.

8 P.M. ET
A floodtide of polls close at 8 — fifteen states and the District of Columbia. We know where most of those states will go — at least we think we do. But there are three to keep an eye on:

Florida is another one of those contests McCain must win; it’s where Obama’s money advantage has been overwhelming. Missouri, a state that mirrors national results usually, became more Republican in 2000 and 2004. This year, it’s a dead heat.

And Pennsylvania — Democratic for the last five elections — is the ‘blue” state McCain has to win to make his road to the White House plausible. Keep this one in mind, if McCain cannot win Pennsylvania, he almost certainly cannot win the election.

9 P.M. ET
Fifteen more states close at 9 — we’ve assigned most of them, by the map, to where we think they’re going to wind up. If you’re looking for what may be the story of the night, though, go West. Obama has been leading in Colorado and New Mexico; both went for Bush last time. But remember, the real drama of this may be taking place to the East, where votes in the early closing states are still being counted. By 9 o’clock, we should know if we’ve got a clear-cut winner, or if we’ll be up into the morning.

10 P.M. ET
At 10, four states close. I’ll be watching Nevada, usually an easy win for Republicans. It’s another state where Obama has thrown a lot of money and manpower, and has worked the rural areas very hard. 

11 P.M. ET
Take this to the bank – I promise 11 p.m. will bring 77 electoral votes from California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii into Obama’s pocket. You need to remember this throughout the evening. Because if Obama has won Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado by 11 o’clock, he will be declared the winner of the presidency as soon as votes from California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii are tabulated for him.

Of course, there’s always a chance that this will come down to a handful of votes in a state or two, and we’ll have days or weeks of court challenges and recounts… Well, good luck. I will have fled to an out-island in the Bahamas, but I’ll be back in time for the inauguration.

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And… will I ever miss Tim Russert this Tuesday…

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