You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘White House’ category.

I felt like a kid, tonight.  In fact, it felt like I had the excitement of all my birthdays and Christmases all combined.

Quintin and I met Brian Pollock at The Greene to watch the movie I’ve waited several years to see.

The theatre, at 6:30pm, was packed for the 7:00pm showing, and we sat down in the lower tier, or as Brian aptly stated, “laying down in front of the TV on the floor.”  I was thrilled to see the theater packed.  At first, when I saw the immense lines of young teen girls, I was hopeful that LINCOLN-fever had reached their generation; however, I soon learned they were there to see the new TWILIGHT movie.

My bottom line reaction:  BRAVO!

I am sure the historians will find fault with this movie.  Naturally, there were items I knew, or believed to be historically inaccurate, but this is not a documentary.  LINCOLN is a fictional account based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, TEAM OF RIVALS.  Tony Award winning playwright, Tony Kushner, delivered a tight, believable, and emotional script that highlighted some of our country’s greatest individuals set against the backdrop of the Civil War.

Before the movie even hit theaters, folks were complaining about Sally Field being too old, photos of the White House set not being accurate, or a myriad of other picky items.  Folks were concerned the script would not be accurate.  Again, it was a fictional account, based on actual events.  If we were to examine THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE KING AND I, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, GYPSY, and others, we would be appalled at the truth versus the fictional accounts portrayed on stage.  LINCOLN is no different.

Following a robust applause, the credits scrolled upward.  It was an impressive line-up of names!  I asked Brian if there any actors left in Hollywood to film other movies while this was being filmed.  Incredible performances from some incredible actors.

Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field, as President Lincoln & Mary Todd Lincoln, were everything I hoped they would be.  I was not let down.  Hal Holbrook was brilliant, and I did love the fact that a former Lincoln-actor, LINCOLN (television 1974-1975), was included in this list of stars.  There was not one performance that disappointed me.

For me, the most delightful performance was delivered by Tommy Lee Jones, portraying Pennsylvania congressman, Thaddeus Stevens.  Outstanding!  I smell a supporting actor Oscar nomination!

Many have commented on Daniel Day Lewis’ voice in the movie.  I think everyone believes Abraham Lincoln had a booming baritone voice like James Earl Jones; however, Lincoln’s voice was described as “high pitched, thin and reedy.”  It served him well during speeches before thousands of spectators in an era without electronic sound amplification.  I believe Daniel Day Lewis captured Lincoln’s voice.

In the early stages, several colleagues were fearful of Sally Fields being 20 years older than Daniel Day Lewis, and not matching the 9 year age difference between Lincoln and Mary Todd.  I oft reminded the critics that Mrs. Lincoln, at age 44, looked much older, and with the blessings of Max Factor, Sally Field would be right in the ball park.

And, she was!

Sally Field has succeeded a long line of well-known actresses who have portrayed the first lady:

  • Jane Curtin
  • Donna Murphy
  • Sada Thompson (opposite Hal Holbrook)
  • Glenn Close
  • Ellen Burstyn
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • Julie Harris (in the Broadway play, THE LAST OF MRS. LINCOLN, penned by fellow Ball State University graduate, James Prideaux)
  • Lillian Gish
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald
  • Ruth Gordon
  • and dozens more…

When Gore Vidal’s LINCOLN premiered on television, I was horrified by Mary Tyler Moore’s abrasive portrayal of Mrs. Lincoln.  With the combined script, direction and acting, I felt Tyler-Moore’s particular portrayal was just awful.  Sally Field, for me, personally, was Mary Todd Lincoln.  Ms. Field was terribly believable, capturing Mrs. Lincoln’s fire, intelligence, grace, doubts, feelings and frustrations of being left out of her husband’s White House work, charm, political savvy, tender and protective maternal nature, and a Mary that was very capable of holding her own in a world ruled by men!

Were there items I feel should have been included to better round out the character of Mrs. Lincoln?

Of course.  But this movie was not about Mary Todd Lincoln.  It focused on President Lincoln and those who fought to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.  The writing and directing of this particular character was far better than previous attempts, and Ms. Field’s professional, and personal choices pleased me very much.

There were a few scenes that were historically adjusted, but those moments seemed to strengthen Mary Lincoln’s heartbreak and devastation at the loss of her son, Willie, who died within their first year of residency in the White House, as well as the fire and capacity that Mrs. Lincoln exhibited, much to Abraham’s success.

So… go see LINCOLN.

If you are a historian, take off your historian cap, as I did, and simply rejoice in the truly great work, and the fact that the Lincolns are currently a fairly hot commodity in motion pictures!

gfyjg

Mock trial finds

Mary Todd Lincoln was not insane

Re-enactment at presidential museum finds former first lady wrongfully committed

By Jason Nevel

Posted Oct 01, 2012 @ 10:44 PM

SPRINGFIELD —

Jurors in 1875 made the wrong choice in committing Mary Todd Lincoln to a mental institution, a retrial of the famous case found Monday.

The re-enactment was held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, with area judges serving as attorneys arguing for and against the widow of President Lincoln. The audience served as the jury.

In 1875, the nation’s former first lady was judged insane during a trial in Chicago and ordered to a Batavia sanitarium. She obtained an early release, and, one year later, another jury found her sane.

First Lady Mary Lincon

For more than 100 years, historians have debated whether there was enough evidence to ever commit Mrs. Lincoln to an institution. In Monday’s event, actors in period costumes portrayed Mary Todd Lincoln and her son Robert Lincoln, who filed the petition to have his mother involuntarily committed. The retrial lasted more than two hours.

The vote on whether to institutionalize the troubled first lady was 68 for and 159 against. A similar retrial was held Sept. 24 in Chicago. Audience members there also overwhelmingly disagreed with the initial verdict.

Beth Pendergast, a Springfield audience member, said she believed there was enough to prove Mary Todd Lincoln was insane based on her erratic behavior.

Historical accounts describe Mary Todd Lincoln as slowly going insane after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the death of three sons. However, some people argue Robert Lincoln was trying to protect the family’s reputation.

To open up the trial, Robert Lincoln, portrayed by Zach Kenney of Chicago, was questioned by a lawyer portrayed by Ronald Spears, a circuit judge in Christian County.

Robert Lincoln said his mother, for unknown reasons, thought he was ill and traveled from Florida to Chicago to see him. On the train ride there, she said someone tried to poison her coffee and steal her purse, he said.

While staying at a hotel in Chicago, Robert Lincoln further testified that his mother thought the city of Chicago was on fire, she could hear voices through the walls, and his mother thought he was going to kill her. There was also testimony about Mrs. Lincoln’s spending habits.

Having her committed was for her safety, Robert Lincoln said.

“I want to protect her and provide her the treatment she needs,” he said.

Mrs. Lincoln’s defense said she feared for Robert Lincoln’s safety because her three other sons had died of illness. Her actions were motivated by her desire to protect her surviving son, her lawyer said.

Actress Sally Field as First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln

Since I was very young, I’ve immersed myself in presidential history, and have loved visiting historical sites associated with our nation’s leaders.  Today, my friend, Jeff Carter, and I were discussing our bucket lists of places to visit, and I decided to make a list of places I wish to visit, and places I’ve visited.

Presidential Sites I wish to visit:

  1. Truman’s Independence, Missouri home
  2. Truman’s Library & Grave in Independence, Missouri
  3. Eisenhower’s grave in Kansa
  4. Wilson’s Washington DC home
  5. Wilson’s birthplace in Staunton, Virginia
  6. Roosevelt Campobello Island summer home
  7. Roosevelt’s Warm Springs in Georgia
  8. Adams’ Peacefield Home & Birthplaces
  9. Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia
  10. Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas
  11. Nixon’s Library, Grave & Birthplace
  12. Ford’s Library & Grave
  13. Reagan’s Library & Grave
  14. Kennedy Library
  15. Andrew Johnson’s Home/Gravesite in Greensboro, Tennessee
  16. Buchanan Pennsylvania home/grave in Pennsylvania

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Presidential Birthplaces & Homes visited:

 

Carter

Birthplace Site

Plains, Georgia

Carter

Home

Plains, Georgia

Grant

Birthplace

Point Pleasant, Ohio

Grant

Boyhood home

Georgetown, Ohio

Harding

Birthplace site

Ohio

Harding

Home

Marion, Ohio

Harrison B

Birthplace site

North Bend, Ohio

Harrison B

Home

Indianapolis, Indiana

Harrison WH

Birthplace

Berkeley Plantation, Virginia

Hayes

Birthplace site

Ohio

Hayes

Home

Fremont, Ohio

Jackson

Home

Nashville, Tennesee

Jefferson

Home

Monticello – Virginia

Lincoln

Birthplace

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Family home

Springfield, Illinois

Monroe

Home

Ash Lawn – Virginia

Polk

Home

Columbia, Tennessee

Roosevelt F

Home

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt T

Birthplace

Manhattan, New York

Roosevelt T

Home

Oyster Bay, New York

Taft

Birthplace

Cincinnati, Ohio

Tyler

Home

Sherwood Forrest – Virginia

Washington

Birthplace

Virginia

Washington

Home

Mount Vernon – Virginia

Presidential Grave Sites:

 

Grant

Manhattan, New York

Harding

Marion, Ohio

Harrison WH

North Bend, Ohio

Harrison, B

Indianapolis, Indiana

Hayes

Fremont, Ohio

Jackson

Nashville, Tennessee

Jefferson

Monticello – Virginia

Kennedy

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Lincoln

Springfield, Illinois

Monroe

Richmond, Virginia

Polk

Columbia, Tennessee

Roosevelt F

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt T

Oyster Bay, New York

Taft

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Taylor

Louisville, Kentucky

Tyler

Richmond, Virginia

Washington

Mount Vernon – Virginia

Wilson

Washington Cathedral, Washington DC

 

Presidential Related Sites Visited:

 

Carter

Various Sites

Plains, Georgia

Jefferson

Memorial

Washington, DC

Kennedy

Limo @ Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn, Michigan

Lincoln

Mary Todd Home

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Mary Todd Birthplace Site

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Todd Family Graves

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Home

Kentucky

Lincoln

Harrogate Museum

Harrogate, Kentucky

Lincoln

Sarah Bush Site

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Lincoln

Ben Hardin Helm Grave

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Lincoln

Lincoln Museum & Library

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Chair @ Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn, Michigan

Lincoln

Memorial

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Peterson House

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Ford Theater

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Law Office

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Church pew

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Old State Capitol

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Grave

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Sarah Lincoln Grave

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Pioneer Village

Rockport, Indiana

Lincoln

Robert Lincoln Home

Manchester, Vermont

Lincoln

Robert Lincoln Grave

Arlington Cemetery

Lincoln

Edwards Home

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Thomas & Sarah Lincoln Graves

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Sarah Lincoln Home (Moore)

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Gettysburg Sites

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Presidents

The White House

Washington, DC

Presidents

Smithsonian Institute

Washington, DC

Roosevelt

Eleanor’s Val-Kil Cottage

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt F

Home where married

Manhattan, New York

Roosevelt F

Memorial

Washington, DC

Roosevelt T

Island & Memorial

Washington, DC

Washington

Monument

Washington, DC

Presidential Birthplaces & Homes visited:

 

Carter

Birthplace Site

Plains, Georgia

Carter

Home

Plains, Georgia

Grant

Birthplace

Point Pleasant, Ohio

Grant

Boyhood home

Georgetown, Ohio

Harding

Birthplace site

Ohio

Harding

Home

Marion, Ohio

Harrison B

Birthplace site

North Bend, Ohio

Harrison B

Home

Indianapolis, Indiana

Harrison WH

Birthplace

Berkeley Plantation, Virginia

Hayes

Birthplace site

Ohio

Hayes

Home

Fremont, Ohio

Jackson

Home

Nashville, Tennesee

Jefferson

Home

Monticello – Virginia

Lincoln

Birthplace

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Boyhood home

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Family home

Springfield, Illinois

Monroe

Home

Ash Lawn – Virginia

Polk

Home

Columbia, Tennessee

Roosevelt F

Home

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt T

Birthplace

Manhattan, New York

Roosevelt T

Home

Oyster Bay, New York

Taft

Birthplace

Cincinnati, Ohio

Tyler

Home

Sherwood Forrest – Virginia

Washington

Birthplace

Virginia

Washington

Home

Mount Vernon – Virginia

 

Presidential Grave Sites:

 

Grant

Manhattan, New York

Harding

Marion, Ohio

Harrison WH

North Bend, Ohio

Harrison, B

Indianapolis, Indiana

Hayes

Fremont, Ohio

Jackson

Nashville, Tennessee

Jefferson

Monticello – Virginia

Kennedy

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Lincoln

Springfield, Illinois

Monroe

Richmond, Virginia

Polk

Columbia, Tennessee

Roosevelt F

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt T

Oyster Bay, New York

Taft

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Taylor

Louisville, Kentucky

Tyler

Richmond, Virginia

Washington

Mount Vernon – Virginia

Wilson

Washington Cathedral, Washington DC

 

 

Presidential Related Sites Visited:

 

Carter

Various Sites

Plains, Georgia

Jefferson

Memorial

Washington, DC

Kennedy

Limo @ Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn, Michigan

Lincoln

Mary Todd Home

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Mary Todd Birthplace Site

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Todd Family Graves

Lexington, Kentucky

Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Home

Kentucky

Lincoln

Harrogate Museum

Harrogate, Kentucky

Lincoln

Sarah Bush Site

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Lincoln

Ben Hardin Helm Grave

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Lincoln

Lincoln Museum & Library

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Chair @ Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn, Michigan

Lincoln

Memorial

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Peterson House

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Ford Theater

Washington, DC

Lincoln

Law Office

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Church pew

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Old State Capitol

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Grave

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Sarah Lincoln Grave

Gentryville, Indiana

Lincoln

Pioneer Village

Rockport, Indiana

Lincoln

Robert Lincoln Home

Manchester, Vermont

Lincoln

Robert Lincoln Grave

Arlington Cemetery

Lincoln

Edwards Home

Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln

Thomas & Sarah Lincoln Graves

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Sarah Lincoln Home (Moore)

Coles County, Illinois

Lincoln

Gettysburg Sites

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Presidents

The White House

Washington, DC

Presidents

Smithsonian Institute

Washington, DC

Roosevelt

Eleanor’s Val-Kil Cottage

Hyde Park, New York

Roosevelt F

Home where married

Manhattan, New York

Roosevelt F

Memorial

Washington, DC

Roosevelt T

Island & Memorial

Washington, DC

Washington

Monument

Washington, DC

From The Northwest Herald…

Morton: ‘Willie’ was second Lincoln child to die young

Video clips of presidential funerals from William McKinley to Ronald Reagan, in order of their presidency.

 

This is believed to be the oldest known recording of any U.S. President. It was recorded on an Edison wax cylinder sometime around 1889.

“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.” – Richard Nixon

This morning, while relaxing, I watched the movie, FROST/NIXON (2008), starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, and directed by Ron Howard.  I found the movie superbly crafted, and the lead actors were indefinably believable.  

Ironically, the other night, as I was preparing to fall asleep, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN came on television.

“Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them…       And then you destroy yourself.” – Richard Nixon

I was between the ages of 7 and 9 year when Watergate was hot on the airwaves.  I preferred watching the Watergate hearings on television over baseball practice – but, I had to go to practice.  The drama that engulfed our nation was inescapable, even at my age.  When my grandparents took me to Washington, DC in mid-July 1974, the air was thick with tension, and uncertainty. A few weeks later, my parents and I were vacationing at Myrtle Beach.  Mother called me in from the hotel’s swimming pool, and commanded me to to hurry up to the room. Within a few minutes of settling in front of the television set, President Nixon appeared before the camera, offering to the nation his resignation of the presidency.

President Nixon’s history continues to be researched, and translated, and probably will throughout my life-time. Now, that we have entered the 40-years anniversaries of the events that unfolded during Watergate, we will surely be reminded of the darkest hour of our country’s history that defined the end of the twentieth century, and redefined the presidency.

Before President Nixon died in April 1994, he had already defined his legacy through the many contributions throughout his years as an elder statesman.  I’ve always believed this president’s choices were similar to his predecessors, and those who followed, maybe more, perhaps less. I still believe he served the country with great courage, and tremendous dedication.

“Certainly in the next 50 years we shall see a woman president, perhaps sooner than you think. A woman can and should be able to do any political job that a man can do.”

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

Since March 1973 I have collected books, and other Lincoln memorabilia.  My most prized possession… the bust of Lincoln given to my by my uncle, Ron Barmes, 1973.  Another is a framed card de visite of Mary Todd Lincoln – signature on back; in emerald frame, a gift from my grandmother, Donna Barmes. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Edward Baker “Eddie” Lincoln (March 10, 1846 – February 1, 1850) was the second son of Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln. He was named after Lincoln’s friend Edward Dickinson Baker, and the youngest Lincoln son to die.  Eddie died one month short of his fourth birthday.

Eddie’s remains are buried at Lincoln tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, USA. Both parents were devastated. Some historians believe Eddie’s death began Mary Todd’s journey to instability. A week after Eddie’s death, a poem entitled “Little Eddie,” was printed in the Illinois State Journal (a newspaper).  Despite a century dispute over the authorship of the poem, the author of this blog firmly believes it was written by Mrs. Lincoln for his mother spelled his name “Eddie,” while his father spelled it “Eddy.”

Those midnight stars are sadly dimmed,

That late so brilliantly shone,

And the crimson tinge from cheek and lip,

With the heart’s warm life has flown –

The angel of Death was hovering nigh,

And the lovely boy was called to die.

The silken waves of his glossy hair

Lie still over his marble brow,

And the pallid lip and pearly cheek

The presence of Death avow.

Pure little bud in kindness given,

In mercy taken to bloom in heaven.

Happier far is the angel child

With the harp and the crown of gold,

Who warbles now at the Savior’s feet

The glories to us untold. Eddie,

meet blossom of heavenly love,

Dwells in the spirit-world above.

Angel Boy – fare thee well, farewell

Sweet Eddie, We bid thee adieu!

Affection’s wail cannot reach thee now

Deep though it be, and true.

Bright is the home to him now given

For “of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”‘


The final line is on the boy’s tombstone. The next child of Abraham and Mary, William Wallace Lincoln, was born ten months after Eddie’s death.

* The photograph included in this post has been in dispute since its discovery.  Some believe it is Eddie Lincoln, some believe it is his younger brother, Willie.  I, personally, have always believed it to be Eddie Lincoln.

From the 1927 Grand Council of American Indians

 

“The white people, who are trying to make us over into their image, they want us to be what they call “assimilated,” bringing the Indians into the mainstream and destroying our own way of life and our own cultural patterns. They believe we should be contented like those whose concept of happiness is materialistic and greedy, which is very different from our way.

We want freedom from the white man rather than to be intergrated. We don’t want any part of the establishment, we want to be free to raise our children in our religion, in our ways, to be able to hunt and fish and live in peace. We don’t want power, we don’t want to be congressmen, or bankers….we want to be ourselves. We want to have our heritage, because we are the owners of this land and because we belong here.

The white man says, there is freedom and justice for all. We have had “freedom and justice,” and that is why we have been almost exterminated. We shall not forget this.”

For a number of years I have always wondered why the West-front windows of Mount Vernon were off-set.  I found a “Ask Mount Vernon” link at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

I sent the following note: 

I’ve wondered, for several years, why the windows on the right side of the Western entrance are off-set. During the phases of remodeling was the staircase relocated to its present location thus forcing a shift in the window placements?

Thank you for your time in response!
Darin Haas
Kettering, OH

This morning I received the following note:

“Ask Mount Vernon”
Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens

Dear Darin,

Thank you for contacting us with your question re: the irregular spacing of the windows on the west front of the Mansion.

You have accurately deduced the reason why the windows to the south of the front door are off-set. The windows originally aligned with those in the basement when the house was built in 1735. When George Washington raised the building from 1.5 to 2.5 stories in 1758-59, he also changed out and enlarged the staircase in the hall. That meant that the window there was captured entirely within the stair landing — not a very good situation. So Washington elected to shift both first floor windows so that they would be within the Small Dining Room — and aligned the new second floor windows to match. The resulting assymetry became a more significant concern later on when Washington expanded the house again in 1774-1776, when he added the cupola and roof pediment partly in an attempt to distract the eye from the messy details down below. If you are interested in learning more about the architecture/building of the house, the best book on the topic is Geroge Washington’s Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America, by R. and L. Dalzell, Oxford, 1998.

I hope that this is the information that you were looking for, and thanks again for your interest in Mount Vernon.

Sincerely,
Dennis Pogue
Vice President for Preservation

I so appreciate the countless individuals, and organizations that help to keep history alive! 

 

Growing up in the late 1960’s, I was surrounded with many familiar words, or terms…

DMZ (demilitarized zone)

KIA

MIA

Viet Cong

Cambodia

POW

Tet Offensive

Ho Chi Minh Trail

On the evening news there were television images of helicopters and jungles.  I was glued to these images – not by a macabre force – but by the hope of seeing my uncle, Garry Jolliff, in those jungles or riding around in one of those nifty helicopters.  I can remember the thrill of having Uncle Garry’s letters read to me allowed by my parents.  I had a little rubber American GI doll that I called, ‘Uncle Garry.’  I watched the Bob Hope Specials, and sat close to the television set so I could search the crowds for Uncle Garry.

I was sure he would be there to see Bob Hope.

One night during one of the Bob Hope shows, I remember turning to Mother, who was standing behind the ironing board while the sweet smell of Spray Starch filled the air.

“Will I have to go to war?”

Since I was a very small boy, I am sure she was relieved to answer, “I hope not.”  However, there was also an expression on her face that was seared into my mind, and still vivid forty-odd years later.  I know that expression well.  My nineteen year old son is finishing up basic training, and the possibility of going to battle for an uncertain purpose looms in the near future.

Now, it is my turn to say, “I hope not.”

This evening, my sixteen year old son and I sat in my sitting room to watch GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM.  I knew most of the Vietnamese War jargon would be over his head, but I was certain he would enjoy Robin Williams’ portrayal of Adrian Cronauer.  And he did.  He asked how old I was when the movie came out…  twenty-three years old.  Did I like the movie when it came out?  Most certainly!  Robin Williams was a box office draw, and I returned to watch the movie several times while it was still in theaters.

Tonight, the movie was still hilarious, but I truly saw the movie for the first time.  It cried out to me like the musical, MISS SAIGON: ‘those living reminders of all the good we failed to do.’

Sunday, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I did not post anything on Facebook in regard to the modern day of infamy.  The same rhetoric was appearing over, and over on status updates, and nothing really spoke to me.  I am not saying I was not moved by the heart-breaking scenes that were linked across many of the television channels, I simply chose to remain silent.

Always remember… 

Never forget…

Tonight, when I finished watching the movie I thought back to my early youth when Vietnam was nothing but a very long, drawn-out, agonizing form of 9/11.  The dark foreboding of families fearing “the news” might be delivered seemed to linger, and in our own home, as well.  The nightly news tallied the number of soldiers killed that day.  Images of bombings, fires, tanks, helicopters, wounded soldiers blazed from the television set each night.  News of distant family and friends losing a loved-one in combat stuck in the air like the repetitive-scratchy sound of a record player that has run its course in playing a record.  There were scenes of destruction, scenes of a young spy being executed, scenes of Buddhist monks being engulfed in suicidal flames, scenes of… always, more scenes.  The day of 9/11 I saw the scenes live – much like scenes broadcast during Vietnam.  The days following 9/11, the scenes were repeated with numbness.

During 9/11, and especially this Sunday I heard about one hero after another.  As a young child, I do not recall hearing about heroes of Vietnam.  I remember Uncle Garry’s stories on the battlefield, and the story of the fellow soldier beside him on the helicopter who placed his own St. Christopher’s medal around my seriously wounded uncle’s neck – my uncle survived, but the soldier did not – but I cannot recall ever hearing anyone from that era referred to as a hero.

As I sit here in my study, typing out my thoughts of the movie, a National Geographic documentary on Henry Kissinger is rolling.  That voice, coupled with so many photos and video clips of the Vietnam era seems to be a sign that I will be conducting more soul-searching, more research.  For what purpose, I do not know.  Too many God-winks all in one evening.

The scars of WWII and the Korean War have all but vanished.  The scalding scars of Vietnam are healing, but will probably not be entirely extinguished in my life-time.  Two other wars have occurred since Vietnam.  But these wars talk openly about heroes.  It seems as though the Vietnam war had its own ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy but obviously nothing to do with Gays in the military.

I knew one particular hero who served in the Vietnam War.  He died nine years ago, physically crippled by wounds received in Vietnam, but a spirit that rose far beyond the jungles in which he fought.  When completely crippled veterans were only receiving 10% disability funding, Uncle Garry embarked on a mission far greater, far nobler than the mission he was coerced to serve as a twenty-one year old young man.  The veterans – those oft ignored heroes of ‘that’ war – now have full disability coverage.  However, I am confident they still live with those scars.  May God bless them, and aide them in their continued healing.

“And I think to my self, ‘what a wonderful world.'”

Sam Waterston�s Remarks at Monticello, July 4th, 2007

It’s wonderful to be here and a privilege, indeed, to congratulate you, the heroes of the moment in the great work of making and sustaining a government that derives its authority from individual liberty.

My father came to this country from Scotland via England, and became a citizen.  He knew beforehand that the ceremony was going to be a significant event.  Even so, he wasn’t prepared for the emotional power it had for him.  He became a citizen in a group like this, neither very large nor very small.  The ceremony’s power multiplied with their numbers.  Everyone in his batch of new citizens was moved for themselves, my father included, but they were all overwhelmed by each other, new members of a centuries old tide of migration here ‘to the empire of liberty’.  It lifted them out of what we mistakenly call ordinary life into the realization that properly understood, life is grand opera, as one is sometimes made aware by a wedding, or the birth of a child.

Something like that, momentous and every-day, is afoot here.  Brand new Americans are being made, and I’m delighted to be here to celebrate my father’s becoming an American citizen through your becoming American citizens, and your becoming American citizens through celebrating him, and through all of you, the rest of us, who were lucky to be given what you reached for and took.  It’s delightful.  We are all lucky, the old citizens in what we got for free, and you, the ones, in knowing what it’s worth.  We have a lot to tell one another. Congratulations.  Bravo. Yay.  The conversation begins now.

Monticello is a beautiful spot for this, full as it is of the spirit that animated this country’s foundation: boldness, vision, improvisation, practicality, inventiveness and imagination, the kind of cheekiness that only comes with free-thinking and faith in an individual’s ability to change the face of the world — it’s easy to imagine Jefferson saying to himself, “So what if I’ve never designed a building before? If I want to, I will.”) — to make something brand new out of the elements of an old culture, be it English Common Law or Palladian Architecture. With its slave quarters and history, it’s also a healthy reminder that our old country, your new country, for all its glory, has always had feet of clay, and work that needed doing.

So it’s good that you’ve come, fresh troops and reinforcement. We old citizens could use some help.

It’s a glorious day, making allowances for the heat. It’s the Fourth of July, the 181st Anniversary of the deaths of the second and third Presidents of the United States, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, the individual who impertinently designed this house. It’s a double birthday, of the country, and of your citizenship. A great American Supreme Court Judge, Oliver Wendell Holmes, describing a similar day, said that it looked as if “God had just spit on his sleeve and polished up the universe till you could almost see your face reflected in it.”

We know all the beauty of this day wasn’t arranged exclusively for those of us gathered here, we’re reasonable people, but you who are about to become citizens here, are within your rights to look at it all and see your own faces reflected there, as Justice Holmes said, because it really is a place and time made for you. You’re joining a country already in motion that looks for your effect on it, so that it can better know what it needs to become, for tomorrow.

Welcome. We need you. There’s much to be done.

My talk is, effectively, your graduation address, and every good graduation address begins with a call to the graduates to help the world they are entering discover its future. Consider yourselves called. And if the sea that’s America looks large in comparison to the size of your ship, don’t be dismayed. Let Thomas Jefferson be our example:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. The words are so familiar, so potent, so important, so grand and fine, it’s hard to believe that a person, any single person, actually wrote them, picked up a pen, dipped it in ink, and, on a blank white sheet, made appear for the first time what had never before existed in the whole history of the world. By scratching away at the page, he called a country into being, knowing as he wrote that the country was no more than an idea, and the idea might, at any instant, be erased and destroyed, and the United States of America become just another sorry footnote in the history of suppressed rebellions against tyranny…. And went on writing. You can’t help but be impressed by all that that one person, and the small group of individuals around him, not much larger than your group of new citizens, won for so many.

I guess you can see where I’m headed.

Abraham Lincoln called ours “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” I claim that the word ‘people’, as used there, stands for a great many individuals, rather than for a collective. It wasn’t a mob, but individuals acting in a group that made this country up out of whole cloth. These are just the sort of people the country needs now, individuals acting together for the common good.

How apt, how opportune, that you should come to join us just now.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The foundation stone of national life is, and ever must be, the high individual character of the average citizen.” That understates the case: the United States — a participatory democracy is one way political scientists describe it — counts on its citizens turning out to be above average, like all the students in Lake Woebegone.

And that’s where you come in.

Thomas Jefferson’s fragile idea looks pretty solid now, with all the history and highways and airports, and webs of all kinds tying us together. But for all the building and bulldozing, the wealth, and the resources, the United States is still a contract among individuals around an idea. If the saying is, ‘contracts are made to be broken’, we want this one to hold, which requires all hands to be on deck.

That’s where you come in. You come in from Togo; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Canada and Peru; Afghanistan, India, and Mexico; China, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom; Croatia, El Salvador, Ghana, the Philippines, and Vietnam; Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Guatemala, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Poland, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, and Turkey — The names themselves a poem about all the migrating peoples who come here. The United States may seem like a fixed star, but it isn’t. It is a relationship between citizens and an idea, and, like all relationships, it changes with the people in it. Its past is always up for reargument; its present is constantly unfolding, complex, a continuum of surprises; and the future is yet to be written. A country is alive, or it’s history. As long as this country endures, it will always be in search of how to understand itself and where to go from here.

That’s where you come in. That’s where we come in.

We all need to exercise our lungs in the discussion: what does our past mean, what are we to do now, and what will be our future? This is not a job just for the talking heads on TV and the politicians. Nor for moneyed interests, nor for single-issue movements. As the WWI recruiting poster said, “Uncle Sam needs you”, needs us.

You just heard John Charles recite the three cardinal rights that no one may take from us, to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. As newly minted citizens, they were already familiar.

But my question is for the rest of us, the ones who are citizens already. In the midst of the interests and pressures of our own lives, don’t we leave a good deal of Life and Liberty to the Government to attend to, so we may concentrate full-time on the Pursuit of Happiness?

Don’t we too often think of our part as being to vote, occasionally, not in very great numbers, and only if there’s time and inclination, to keep up with the news, if it’s amusing and entertaining, but, like the man in the song who was hardly ever sick at see, never, never, well, hardly ever interfere, as individuals, with the work of the politicians?

But if this be so, or partly so, would that be a reason to be concerned? History shows that America is the all-time greatest self-correcting nation. It almost seems to be both a perpetual motion machine and a self-righting machine. Why would any sensible citizen and patriot want to throw a wrench in the works, or try to fix what isn’t broken?

I would like to suggest that if we think this way even a little, we have the wrong idea. We are greatly mistaken to think sharing our views with the television set and our husbands and wives, and voting a little, is enough. Don’t you who are new pick up these bad habits from us.

America has been marvelously able to correct its course in the past because the founding idea — of individual freedom expressed through direct representation — has stirred its citizens to participate, and interfere. Information from the people makes the government smarter. Insufficient information from us makes it dumber. Or, as Abraham Lincoln more elegantly expressed it, ” Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?” Leaders, if they are wise, will be patient. But we mustn’t try their patience too much. For us, finding that ultimate justice means thinking and talking until we reach it, and continuing to speak until the politicians understand it.

We may not leave it to the three branches of government to sort things out, to bring us the right questions for decision, to make the right decisions themselves.

Never has that statement been truer than now. Our national politics have stalled over a quarter of a century over very large issues, including immigration, social security, health care, and especially, since it affects the countries you’ve left, the country you’re joining, and all the countries in between, the health of the planet. War has both parties running to extremes.

If you think the problems are not any more urgent, or the discord any worse, than normal, then, well, I disagree, but my point remains: in our country, things are ‘normal’ only when your voices are clearly heard. The old model of our citizenly relation to politics was of a group of people under a tree, taking turns on the stump all day, discussing the issues of the time. The old model was the town meeting where every citizen can have their say. Old citizens like me hope that between you and the Internet the old model will get a new lease on life.

Whether you work within the Democratic or Republican parties, or join in supporting a bi-partisan ticket for 2008 as I have, in an effort to drive the parties to work together and to show them how it’s done, do do something.

From your first breath as an American citizen, make it known what matters to you.

We can’t let ourselves become mere units of statistical analysis. It appears to be so, that if you ask any 1000 Americans their views on anything, you’ll have a pretty good idea what all Americans think. You might almost conclude that individuals didn’t matter at all anymore.

But then here you come in, and prove the opposite.

By individual choice and individual effort, you traveled the miles, and did the work required, to arrive here today to join the country whose whole monumental structure rests on personal freedom. Will you make yourselves content to become a mere grain of sand in a vast statistical ocean?

Don’t be discouraged by the odds. It isn’t all determinism and the tide of history. An individual can up-end what is determined, and speed or reverse the tide. The man on whose estate we stand, by pushing his pen across a blank page, proved that.

Besides, the science of statistics has another aspect. It appears that the most reliable way to know who will win the next election or whether the stock market will go up or down is to ask as many people as possible to make a bet about it. Their bets often tell more than all the opinions of the pundits and economists, politicos and market watchers. It turns out Lincoln was right about the ‘ultimate wisdom of the people’. But here’s the catch: if you don’t make yourself heard, your bet can’t be counted.

“Men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master,” as Jefferson predicted. But will we, by our silence, indifference, or inaction, give the trust away, cede it to the wealthy, present it to the entrenched, hand it off to the government, entrust it to any process or procedure that excludes our voices? It could happen.

“As a nation of freemen,” Abraham Lincoln said, “we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

That’s where we all come in.

As graduating citizens, you will know how the government is set up: the justly familiar separation of powers, the well-known system of checks and balances, and the famous three branches of government: the executive branch, the judicial branch, and the legislative branch.

If these are the branches, what is the tree? Do not think it’s the government.

We are the tree from which the government springs and spreads into its three branches. Every citizen is part of the root system, part of the trunk, no mere twig or leaf. Help our government never to forget it.

We have to bring energy, action, participation, and money to the three branches, or they get no nourishment, and nothing will prevent them from becoming brittle and dry, and unfruitful.

I hope you don’t waste all the time I have in figuring out how a citizen should relate to his government. Talk to it. Tell it what you like. Tell it what you don’t like. Vote, of course. Think about what you want our future to look like. Let the government know. Roll up your sleeves, stick out your chin, sharpen your elbows, get in the middle of things, make them different.

You will be bound to get a lot of things wrong. That’s what we do. But the possibility of error is no excuse for being quiet, and I say this on the good authority of past Presidents:

“Man was never intended to become an oyster.”

That’s Theodore Roosevelt talking.

“Get action. Seize the moment,” he said, and he also said, “The credit belongs to the man…. who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who… spends himself for a worthy cause”

And President Thomas Jefferson wrote,

“The evils flowing from the duperies of the people [— that is, the ignorant errors of folks like you and me —] are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents [ — that is, the arrogant errors of those who speak and act for us].”

So it turns out citizenship isn’t just a great privilege and opportunity, though it is all that, it’s also a job. I’m sorry to be the one to bring you this news, so late in the process. But don’t worry, it’s a great job. Everything that happens within this country politically, and everywhere in the world its influence is felt, falls within its province. It’s a job with a lot of scope. You’ll never be able to complain again about being bored at work. As we multiply our individual voices, we multiply the chances for our country’s success.

Which is where we all come in.

May your initiation here be a reminder to us all to put the participation back into ‘participatory democracy’.

May all our citizenship be individual, unflagging, and vocal, and may our old country, your new country, so prosper.

There’s lots to do.  All hands on deck.  Members of the class of 2007: Congratulations.  God bless you.  Let us hear from you.

July 4th, 2007, Jose and I were present for the naturalization ceremony that took place on the expansive lawn of Monticello, the mountaintop plantation of President Thomas Jefferson.  It was a poignant moment for me since this was also the dual-death anniversary of two American icons – Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

That morning, following the swearing-in ceremony, motion picture and television great, Sam Waterston gave the address.  I found it incredibly moving, and it has stayed with me to this day.

Tonight, Jose is working on an essay for his US Government class: What Makes A Good Citizen?

It came to us that a good starting point for his essay would be to read Mr. Waterston’s remarks from nearly four years ago.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Sam Waterston’s Remarks at Monticello, July 4th, 2007

It’s wonderful to be here and a privilege, indeed, to congratulate you, the heroes of the moment in the great work of making and sustaining a government that derives its authority from individual liberty.

My father came to this country from Scotland via England, and became a citizen. He knew beforehand that the ceremony was going to be a significant event. Even so, he wasn’t prepared for the emotional power it had for him. He became a citizen in a group like this, neither very large nor very small. The ceremony’s power multiplied with their numbers. Everyone in his batch of new citizens was moved for themselves, my father included, but they were all overwhelmed by each other, new members of a centuries old tide of migration here to the ’empire of liberty’. It lifted them out of what we mistakenly call ordinary life into the realization that properly understood, life is grand opera, as one is sometimes made aware by a wedding, or the birth of a child.

Something like that, momentous and every-day, is afoot here. Brand new Americans are being made, and I’m delighted to be here to celebrate my father’s becoming an American citizen through your becoming American citizens, and your becoming American citizens through celebrating him, and through all of you, the rest of us, who were lucky to be given what you reached for and took. It’s delightful. We are all lucky, the old citizens in what we got for free, and you, the ones, in knowing what it’s worth. We have a lot to tell one another. Congratulations. Bravo. Yay. The conversation begins now.

Monticello is a beautiful spot for this, full as it is of the spirit that animated this country’s foundation: boldness, vision, improvisation, practicality, inventiveness and imagination, the kind of cheekiness that only comes with free-thinking and faith in an individual’s ability to change the face of the world — it’s easy to imagine Jefferson saying to himself, “So what if I’ve never designed a building before? If I want to, I will.”) — to make something brand new out of the elements of an old culture, be it English Common Law or Palladian Architecture. With its slave quarters and history, it’s also a healthy reminder that our old country, your new country, for all its glory, has always had feet of clay, and work that needed doing.

So it’s good that you’ve come, fresh troops and reinforcement. We old citizens could use some help.

It’s a glorious day, making allowances for the heat. It’s the Fourth of July, the 181st Anniversary of the deaths of the second and third Presidents of the United States, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, the individual who impertinently designed this house. It’s a double birthday, of the country, and of your citizenship. A great American Supreme Court Judge, Oliver Wendell Holmes, describing a similar day, said that it looked as if “God had just spit on his sleeve and polished up the universe till you could almost see your face reflected in it.”

We know all the beauty of this day wasn’t arranged exclusively for those of us gathered here, we’re reasonable people, but you who are about to become citizens here, are within your rights to look at it all and see your own faces reflected there, as Justice Holmes said, because it really is a place and time made for you. You’re joining a country already in motion that looks for your effect on it, so that it can better know what it needs to become, for tomorrow.

Welcome. We need you. There’s much to be done.

My talk is, effectively, your graduation address, and every good graduation address begins with a call to the graduates to help the world they are entering discover its future. Consider yourselves called. And if the sea that’s America looks large in comparison to the size of your ship, don’t be dismayed. Let Thomas Jefferson be our example:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. The words are so familiar, so potent, so important, so grand and fine, it’s hard to believe that a person, any single person, actually wrote them, picked up a pen, dipped it in ink, and, on a blank white sheet, made appear for the first time what had never before existed in the whole history of the world. By scratching away at the page, he called a country into being, knowing as he wrote that the country was no more than an idea, and the idea might, at any instant, be erased and destroyed, and the United States of America become just another sorry footnote in the history of suppressed rebellions against tyranny…. And went on writing. You can’t help but be impressed by all that that one person, and the small group of individuals around him, not much larger than your group of new citizens, won for so many.

I guess you can see where I’m headed.

Abraham Lincoln called ours “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” I claim that the word ‘people’, as used there, stands for a great many individuals, rather than for a collective. It wasn’t a mob, but individuals acting in a group that made this country up out of whole cloth. These are just the sort of people the country needs now, individuals acting together for the common good.

How apt, how opportune, that you should come to join us just now.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The foundation stone of national life is, and ever must be, the high individual character of the average citizen.” That understates the case: the United States — a participatory democracy is one way political scientists describe it — counts on its citizens turning out to be above average, like all the students in Lake Woebegone.

And that’s where you come in.

Thomas Jefferson’s fragile idea looks pretty solid now, with all the history and highways and airports, and webs of all kinds tying us together. But for all the building and bulldozing, the wealth, and the resources, the United States is still a contract among individuals around an idea. If the saying is, ‘contracts are made to be broken’, we want this one to hold, which requires all hands to be on deck.

That’s where you come in. You come in from Togo; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Canada and Peru; Afghanistan, India, and Mexico; China, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom; Croatia, El Salvador, Ghana, the Philippines, and Vietnam; Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Guatemala, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Poland, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, and Turkey — The names themselves a poem about all the migrating peoples who come here. The United States may seem like a fixed star, but it isn’t. It is a relationship between citizens and an idea, and, like all relationships, it changes with the people in it. Its past is always up for reargument; its present is constantly unfolding, complex, a continuum of surprises; and the future is yet to be written. A country is alive, or it’s history. As long as this country endures, it will always be in search of how to understand itself and where to go from here.

That’s where you come in. That’s where we come in.

We all need to exercise our lungs in the discussion: what does our past mean, what are we to do now, and what will be our future? This is not a job just for the talking heads on TV and the politicians. Nor for moneyed interests, nor for single-issue movements. As the WWI recruiting poster said, “Uncle Sam needs you”, needs us.

You just heard John Charles recite the three cardinal rights that no one may take from us, to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. As newly minted citizens, they were already familiar.

But my question is for the rest of us, the ones who are citizens already. In the midst of the interests and pressures of our own lives, don’t we leave a good deal of Life and Liberty to the Government to attend to, so we may concentrate full-time on the Pursuit of Happiness?

Don’t we too often think of our part as being to vote, occasionally, not in very great numbers, and only if there’s time and inclination, to keep up with the news, if it’s amusing and entertaining, but, like the man in the song who was hardly ever sick at see, never, never, well, hardly ever interfere, as individuals, with the work of the politicians?

But if this be so, or partly so, would that be a reason to be concerned? History shows that America is the all-time greatest self-correcting nation. It almost seems to be both a perpetual motion machine and a self-righting machine. Why would any sensible citizen and patriot want to throw a wrench in the works, or try to fix what isn’t broken?

I would like to suggest that if we think this way even a little, we have the wrong idea. We are greatly mistaken to think sharing our views with the television set and our husbands and wives, and voting a little, is enough. Don’t you who are new pick up these bad habits from us.

America has been marvelously able to correct its course in the past because the founding idea — of individual freedom expressed through direct representation — has stirred its citizens to participate, and interfere. Information from the people makes the government smarter. Insufficient information from us makes it dumber. Or, as Abraham Lincoln more elegantly expressed it, ” Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?” Leaders, if they are wise, will be patient. But we mustn’t try their patience too much. For us, finding that ultimate justice means thinking and talking until we reach it, and continuing to speak until the politicians understand it.

We may not leave it to the three branches of government to sort things out, to bring us the right questions for decision, to make the right decisions themselves.

Never has that statement been truer than now. Our national politics have stalled over a quarter of a century over very large issues, including immigration, social security, health care, and especially, since it affects the countries you’ve left, the country you’re joining, and all the countries in between, the health of the planet. War has both parties running to extremes.

If you think the problems are not any more urgent, or the discord any worse, than normal, then, well, I disagree, but my point remains: in our country, things are ‘normal’ only when your voices are clearly heard. The old model of our citizenly relation to politics was of a group of people under a tree, taking turns on the stump all day, discussing the issues of the time. The old model was the town meeting where every citizen can have their say. Old citizens like me hope that between you and the Internet the old model will get a new lease on life.

Whether you work within the Democratic or Republican parties, or join in supporting a bi-partisan ticket for 2008 as I have, in an effort to drive the parties to work together and to show them how it’s done, do do something.

From your first breath as an American citizen, make it known what matters to you.

We can’t let ourselves become mere units of statistical analysis. It appears to be so, that if you ask any 1000 Americans their views on anything, you’ll have a pretty good idea what all Americans think. You might almost conclude that individuals didn’t matter at all anymore.

But then here you come in, and prove the opposite.

By individual choice and individual effort, you traveled the miles, and did the work required, to arrive here today to join the country whose whole monumental structure rests on personal freedom. Will you make yourselves content to become a mere grain of sand in a vast statistical ocean?

Don’t be discouraged by the odds. It isn’t all determinism and the tide of history. An individual can up-end what is determined, and speed or reverse the tide. The man on whose estate we stand, by pushing his pen across a blank page, proved that.

Besides, the science of statistics has another aspect. It appears that the most reliable way to know who will win the next election or whether the stock market will go up or down is to ask as many people as possible to make a bet about it. Their bets often tell more than all the opinions of the pundits and economists, politicos and market watchers. It turns out Lincoln was right about the ‘ultimate wisdom of the people’. But here’s the catch: if you don’t make yourself heard, your bet can’t be counted.

“Men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master,” as Jefferson predicted. But will we, by our silence, indifference, or inaction, give the trust away, cede it to the wealthy, present it to the entrenched, hand it off to the government, entrust it to any process or procedure that excludes our voices? It could happen.

“As a nation of freemen,” Abraham Lincoln said, “we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

That’s where we all come in.

As graduating citizens, you will know how the government is set up: the justly familiar separation of powers, the well-known system of checks and balances, and the famous three branches of government: the executive branch, the judicial branch, and the legislative branch.

If these are the branches, what is the tree? Do not think it’s the government.

We are the tree from which the government springs and spreads into its three branches. Every citizen is part of the root system, part of the trunk, no mere twig or leaf. Help our government never to forget it.

We have to bring energy, action, participation, and money to the three branches, or they get no nourishment, and nothing will prevent them from becoming brittle and dry, and unfruitful.

I hope you don’t waste all the time I have in figuring out how a citizen should relate to his government. Talk to it. Tell it what you like. Tell it what you don’t like. Vote, of course. Think about what you want our future to look like. Let the government know. Roll up your sleeves, stick out your chin, sharpen your elbows, get in the middle of things, make them different.

You will be bound to get a lot of things wrong. That’s what we do. But the possibility of error is no excuse for being quiet, and I say this on the good authority of past Presidents:

“Man was never intended to become an oyster.”

That’s Theodore Roosevelt talking.

“Get action. Seize the moment,” he said, and he also said, “The credit belongs to the man…. who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who… spends himself for a worthy cause”

And President Thomas Jefferson wrote,

“The evils flowing from the duperies of the people [— that is, the ignorant errors of folks like you and me —] are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents [ — that is, the arrogant errors of those who speak and act for us].”

So it turns out citizenship isn’t just a great privilege and opportunity, though it is all that, it’s also a job. I’m sorry to be the one to bring you this news, so late in the process. But don’t worry, it’s a great job. Everything that happens within this country politically, and everywhere in the world its influence is felt, falls within its province. It’s a job with a lot of scope. You’ll never be able to complain again about being bored at work. As we multiply our individual voices, we multiply the chances for our country’s success.

Which is where we all come in.

May your initiation here be a reminder to us all to put the participation back into ‘participatory democracy’.

May all our citizenship be individual, unflagging, and vocal, and may our old country, your new country, so prosper.

There’s lots to do. All hands on deck. Members of the class of 2007: Congratulations. God bless you. Let us hear from you.

In recent months, President Barak Obama has been needled by underground, or less-publicized media, and individual blogs for his support of Muslims celebrating their faith.

AN INVITATION TO THE WHITE HOUSE

I was just reading a passage in First Lady Hilary Clinton’s book, AN INVITATION TO THE WHITE HOUSE, in the “Christmas At The White House” chapter. The former first lady wrote (page 198):

“As much as Bill and I love our Christmas traditions, we’ve wanted to be sure other faiths felt welcome during the holiday season. In 1993 we put a menorah in the West Wing lobby to honor the Jewish festival of Chanukah. The President also lights another very special menorah in the Oval Office. Maryim Baram, an Israeli craftsman who lost his young son in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, created it from his love and grief and sent it to the President.

Starting in 1996, we have also hosted a Ramadan event to mark the end of the holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims and to increase understanding of Islam.”

Interesting….

Also, from THE WHITE HOUSE: George W. Bush we learn:

“President Jimmy Carter walked to Lafayette Park in 1979 and lit one candle or shammash (the candle used to light other candles) in the 30-foot electric silver menorah.

President Ronald Reagan visited the Rockville Jewish Community Center in 1983 and gave remarks following the lighting of the menorah.

The Synagogue Council of America gave President George H.W. Bush a menorah, which was displayed at the White House in 1989. President Bush participated in a Hanukkah celebration for staff in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in 1991 and also celebrated with children and local Jewish leaders.

President William Clinton lit a menorah in the Oval Office in 1997 and joined Israel’s President Ezer Weizman in lighting the first candle of Hanukkah in Jerusalem in 1998.”

Another site, MUSLIM REPUBLICANS, discusses the following, written in 2007:

“Ohio was the first state to declare October 10th, 2007 as “Muslim Day”. This was over 15 years ago. Now congress and the business world have began doing the same trying to capitalize on the Eid spirit.

On the national level, it all started about eight years ago when the United States Post Office began offering US postage stamps with an Eid theme. Since then, various other government and business agencies began doing the same.

For many years, it’s been well known that Republican White Houses are far more Muslim-friendly than Democratic White Houses. Muslims have held this long standing belief for many years, and one needs to look no further than how each handles Muslim holidays.

Unlike previous administrations which barely mentioned Eid and Ramadan, the Bush White House has held countless Iftars (break fast dinner parties) for the White House staff as well as Muslim community leaders. Previous Democratic presidents never held Iftars, and Clinton even cancelled the one Iftar which was planned due to some “political pressure” from other Democratic party supporters. The White House and President Bush are celebrating and recognizing Eid, in the latest White House statement:

‘I am pleased to send greetings to all of those celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the culmination of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.'”

In fact, the White House has an entire section of their website dedicated to Ramadan and Muslims:http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/ramadan/2007/ Click on the different years to see what this Muslim-friendly White House has been doing to celebrate Ramadan and Eid.

Further, Congress just passed House Resolution 635- ‘The Ramadan Bill’- “recognizing the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commending Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith.”

It is Monday, 1:00pm. The end of the restful, and enjoyable holiday weekend is creeping upon us.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the most perfect days we’ve had in weeks. Saturday was a bit steamy, but not too hateful. Sunday, however, returned with the higher temperatures, and humidity. Today is becoming its evil twin with highs expected to be in the lower 90’s. Tuesday through Thursday we are supposed to be in the mid-90’s.

Friday and Saturday were somewhat peaceful, and relaxing. Jose and I went to see ROBIN HOOD – quite good, and Saturday, Kelley, our delightful neighbor boy next door, joined us for the downtown Dayton fireworks. Several years ago we took a city bus down to watch the fireworks – and it was so simple! We walked out our front door, hopped on the bus, got off the bus downtown, walked several blocks to the river, watched fireworks, walked back to the bus, got off the bus right in front of our house. No traffic. No parking issues.

In 2001, I found a nifty parking place behind the United Methodist headquarters (commonly known as The God Box) next to the Masonic Temple. We were the only ones to park there! I could not believe it. Most years we have been on vacation over this holiday, and I figured our secret parking area would have been discovered by countless others. Nope! We arrived around 9:30pm, parked, walked a few hundred yards to the Masonic Temple’s hill (I always feel as though I am at the Custis-Lee Mansion at Arlington Cemetery), and watched a splended firework display over the river.

Sunday morning, Jose was out the door for work until 3:00pm. I made a cake, and chatted with Mother on the phone.

Cake: yellow cake mix with some lemon extract. Poured some of the batter into the pan and then scattered thinly sliced strawberries; added the remainder of the batter; backed; more strawberry slices, a packet of white icing mix with some almond extract added, along with some liquefied strawberry jam.

At 2:00pm, the cake and I headed next door for a cookout.

As always, the hours escaped me, and it was nearly 6:00pm when I returned home. I love spending time with my neighbors, who have become more like family. Since the crowd was not as large this time, I actually got to spend time chatting with Don who is usually kept busy at the grill, non-stop.

I came home, and began watching some television programs. At 9:00pm, The American Experience on PBS aired the conclusion of HARRY TRUMAN.

Ahhh…. what a unique politician, a giant of a man, and an incredible American was Harry S. Truman. He, along with President Lincoln, is one of my heroes.

This morning I was wide awake, as usual, around 4:00am. By 6:00am, I was retreating back to some sort of sleep, and lingered in bed to watch a great movie, WHITE SQUALL, based on a true story. Great movie!

Now, I am settled on the deck with my laptop. Flyer rests under my chair, and Logan is stretched out under another table across the deck. Jose is swimming with Brandon Tener.

What a great weekend….

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Well, not exactly…

This is the date in 1829 that James Smithson of England died (and not because Germany beat them in the World Cup in 2010).

Here’s the story…

How our country built The Smithsonian Institution

Today was the start of my summer teaching schedule. It had been delayed a week since a number of schools were not yet dismissed for the summer.

The morning began with the Bane children – Ellie and Jacob – who played the two children in last summer’s production, SOUTH PACIFIC. Ellie has been a piano student for two years, and Jacob began his saxophone lessons today.

It was nice to meet three new students today, and I am looking forward to meeting several more new students Tuesday, and again on Wednesday.

The day ended with Sophie Lockhart’s lesson. Sophie walked over from next door’s Miami Valley Jazz Camp carrying three saxophones – her alto, a tenor, and a baritone.  She is such a good worker, and a smart musician, making her lessons are always such fun.

Our neighbor boy, Kelley, kept Jose company as he cleaned out the car, and washed it. I will be taking it to a body shop to get an estimate on the damage from where someone backed into it.

Supper was brief, and I laid down for a nap which was not brief. Fortunately, I woke at 9:00pm in time to watch a PBS documentary on Andrew Jackson, narrated by my favorite actor, Martin Sheen.

All in all, it was a great day!

4:00am found me wide awake this morning, but I managed to return to two more hours of sleep.

After feeding Logan and Flyer, I settled down to write the morning’s entry on this blog site, and by 9:30am I was finally preparing my presentation on Robert Todd Lincoln for the Lincoln Society of Dayton. For several weeks I had been storing away items in my brain but had not committed any notes to paper. Everything flowed easily, and within an hour I had the entire presentation completed.

I was amazed at how easy it all fell together, but then, I have been studying the Lincoln family for nearly forty years.

At 1:00pm Bob & Sarah Koogler arrived, and after a few minutes of conversation in the house, we set out for the Patterson Family Homestead near the University of Dayton.

I was excited to spend time with Bob & Sarah, and was equally surprised to see Bill & Kay Hetzer, and Geary & Jennifer Biggs.

The crowd was very kind, enthusiastic, and surprisingly eager to learn about Robert Todd Lincoln! The presentation went smoothly, even when I said “Robert Lincoln became a captain in the army under General Lee” – instead of General Grant! The audience roared even more when I tossed the comment off with “I guess I am rewriting history.”

The question/answer segment was filled with some great questions and comments.

After the presentation, the Kooglers, Hetzers, Biggs and I drove over to Ben & Jerry’s for some ice cream, and had the best time laughing.

The Kooglers dropped me off, and I hurried over to pick up Sophie Lockhart for her lesson. I spent a good hour talking to Valerie and Sophie before heading back home for Soph’s lesson.

Jose and I grabbed Subway for dinner (I deserved to have someone else prepare food today), and ate dinner. I settled down in my bedroom to type, and watch The Tony Awards. Slightly uneventful… and disappointing with some of the performances.

The evening is slowing down nicely, and with some relaxation after the whirlwind weekend.

In 1986, while a student at Ball State University, I began writing a choral project on President Lincoln. Having been a fan of the 16th president since first grade this was a project I thoroughly enjoyed. For some reason, I had not read much on his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The precious little information I had obtained led me to follow the belief that she was a hysterical shrew, and hell-cat as described by some of her less flattering contemporaries.

One movement in this proposed choral piece was entitled, “Love Is Eternal,” based on the inscription on Mrs. Lincoln’s Etruscan gold wedding band given to her on the day she married Mr. Lincoln, November 4, 1842. This movement was more a sarcastic treatment rather than one about true love. I began this portion thinking, “Oh, poor Mr. Lincoln, married to Mary Todd… how sad.”

My MTL Research Journey journey began with Ruth Painter Randall’s 1953 biography, Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage. I was soon scratching my head, and wondering why so many from her generation thought of her with such acidity. I began believing, “Oh, poor Mary Todd, married to Mr. Lincoln!”

A friend introduced me to Irving Stone’s, Love Is Eternal: Mary Todd Lincoln. Although I had some minor issues with Mr. Stone’s research, I enjoyed a year of correspondence between the famed historical fiction author, and his lovely wife, Jean. Mr. Stone’s sympathetic portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln was, to me, quite enchanting, and terribly romantic.

Weighed with the enormous works of Ms. Randall and Mr. Stone, I soon began scouring Springfield, Illinois, and Lexington, Kentucky where Mrs. Lincoln was born, and lived the first score of her life.

In Springfield, I became friends with a darling lady, Charlotte Oglesby, the grand-daughter of former Governor Richard Oglesby, a friend of President Lincoln, and one of the two gentlemen to see him into the carriage as he and Mrs. Lincoln drove away to Ford’s Theatre, April 14, 1865.

I was also fortunate to meet Lou Holden, the director of The Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington, Kentucky – the first home preserved to honor a first lady. I was delighted to get to know Ms. Holden, and the other staff members of the MTLH, and to further my research.

I also became acquainted with Carol Massey of Lexington – but this story shall wait for another time! It is quite interesting, and very…. well, we shall leave it at “interesting.”

I also became a frequent telephone pal with Samuel A. Schreiner, Jr., author of the 1987 non-fictional, The Trials Of Mrs. Lincoln, a thorough account of the insanity trial, and the former first lady’s clever plot to legally restore her sanity.

Throughout those four years, I became obsessed with MTL’s story, and even worked with a BSU professor who was experienced in Victorian prose, and a local OBGyn who assisted me with the Nineteenth Century’s knowledge of gynecology, uncovering some of the claims made against Mrs. Lincoln.

Around 1988, I met, and fell in love with the phenomenal actress/vocalist, Kathleen “Katie” Pfister-Musick (photo at right). I knew immediately Katie was the right one to portray Mrs. Lincoln on stage, and after 24 years, I still believe she is perfect for the role.

When I moved to Dayton, Ohio the summer of 1990, I put aside my script and score on Love Is Eternal, and absorbed myself in teaching, directing, conducting, traveling back and forth between Dayton and New York with various projects, and by 2000, adopting sons.

Now that life has slowed down a tad (no pun intended, of course), I began looking over the Lincoln musical, again.

Ironically, via Google Alerts, and Facebook, I became E-cquainted with a Mary Lincoln scholar, and actress, Donna D. McCreary, from Indiana. I was quick to learn she is also friends with a dear college friend, and exceptionally talented actor, J.R. Stuart.

The past few days, my new Mary Todd Lincoln E-friend and I have shared several interesting, amusing letters, and my laid-aside interest in Mrs. Lincoln is resurfacing.

1986-1990 took me on a fascinating journey with Mrs. Lincoln, and this coming Sunday I shall re-enter the ring as I present to the Dayton Lincoln Historical Society, a presentation on Robert Todd Lincoln, and his relationship with his mother.

Robert Todd Lincoln – from youth to old age. Last photo shows RTL at the dedication of The Lincoln Memorial with former president, William Howard Taft (then serving as Chief Justice) and President Warren G. Harding.

I was asked by The Lincoln Society of Dayton to offer a presentation on Robert Todd Lincoln, eldest son, and only child of President Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln to survive into adulthood.

I will be giving this presentation Sunday, June 13th @ 3:00pm at the John Patterson Homestead off of Brown Street.

I am focusing my presentation on the relationship between RTL and his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln. In 1875, Mary Lincoln was judged insane and committed to a private sanitarium following allegations from Robert that his mother was unbalanced.

I want to involve the audience – perhaps, in a mock re-trial weighing some of the evidence from each side.

I have even considered having any actresses (using notes) portray Mrs. Lincoln to help defend herself; but it is kind of late for this.

If anyone has any suggestions, please send them to me:

dljh@sbcglobal.net

Thank you!

A Mother’s Day message from First Lady Michelle Obama… (from WhiteHouse.Gov)

Dear Friend,

There’s no way I could ever measure all that my own mother has done for me. She is my rock. She pushes me to be the best professional, mother, wife and friend I can be.

As a mother myself, I’ve come to realize that being a mom isn’t always easy and that no one can do it alone.

My husband understands the many challenges facing today’s mothers and their families. His Administration has taken steps to level the playing field and ease the burden.

The first bill the President signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure that no women face the same discrimination and injustices that Lilly did after 20 years on the job. When women make less money than men for the same work, families have to work harder just to get by.

The President signed an Executive Order creating the first-ever White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Federal agencies take women and girls into account in their daily work and to ensure that our daughters have the same opportunities as our sons.

Through the Let’s Move! Initiative and the President’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity, we’re helping to provide parents with the knowledge and tools they need to make healthy choices for their children and teach their children to make healthy choices for themselves.

This week, we are celebrating Women’s Health Week to promote steps women and girls can take to lead longer, healthier and happier lives.

Mother’s Day is about showing our gratitude for the mothers and mother figures who have influenced our lives. The President and I would like to extend our warmest Mother’s Day wishes to all of the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends who have inspired a child.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Michelle Obama

I discovered this photo of Mary Todd Lincoln. I had never seen this photograph, supposedly taken in Springfield, 1860.

#mce_temp_url#

Vote for the Wright Brothers to represent the State of Ohio at the United States Capitol! From March 20 through June 12, 2010, Ohioans can cast their vote on who should be honored in Statuary Hall in the Capitol building in Washington, DC.

Eleven notable Ohioans are in the running to become the subject of a new statue in Statuary Hall; the Wright Brothers count as one and would be honored together.

Beginning on March 20, you can download an official ballot at http://www.legacyforohio.org, or beginning March 22, you can pick up a ballot at any Dayton History location.

There is no age limit for voting, so the whole family can participate!

However, only one vote is allowed per person, and each person must complete an official ballot.

Ballots may be turned in at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House now through June 12.

Below is some information, taken from the State’s site, on the individuals….

• Grant lived in Ohio from birth until he was 17
• Ashley lived in Ohio all his adult life
• Edison born in Ohio but moved at age 7
• McCulloch lived in Ohio his entire life
• Owens was born in Alabama, lived here through college, and moved on
• Reznik was born in Ohio, moved on at 18
• Sabin moved here at age 38; traveled a good bit and retired in DC
• Stowe lived here for 18 yrs
• Upton lived here her entire life
• Wilbur & Orville Wright: Wilbur born in Indiana and moved to Ohio as a child; Orville born in Dayton; and with the exception of living in Indiana for two years, the brothers remained Ohio residents

Ulysses S. Grant

• Ulysses Simpson Grant was the commanding general of the Union Army at the conclusion of the American Civil War, and the 18th President of the United States.
• Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio.
• In 1823, his family moved to Georgetown, Ohio where his father operated a tannery.
• On March 3, 1839, Grant received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
• Grant graduated from West Point in 1843. He ranked twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine students.
• first military assignment outside of St. Louis, Missouri.
• sent to Corpus Christy, Texas when tensions increased between the United States and Mexico over land claimed by both nations.
• participated in the Battle of Palo Alto in 1846 and the assault on Molino del Ray in 1847
• Grant was promoted to first lieutenant
• moved to Detroit; moved to Sackett’s Harbor, New York
• grew disenchanted with army life; resigned his commission and returned to Missouri
• unsuccessfully tried his hand at several occupations, including farming and real estate
• working as a clerk in his father’s leather goods store in Galena, Illinois in 1860
• visited the headquarters of George B. McClellan in Cincinnati seeking a staff position, but McClellan would not receive him
• appointed Grant to a colonelcy of the Seventh District Regiment
• U.S. Senate approved an appointment of Grant as a brigadier general of volunteers due to his previous military experience
• received permission to begin a campaign on the Tennessee River – captured Forts Henry and Donelson; first major victories of the war for the Union military
• General Henry Halleck, assumed personal command of Grant’s army, reducing Grant’s leadership position; Grant considered resigning from the army, but his friend, William T. Sherman, persuaded him not to
• promoted to the rank of major general in the regular army and given command of all Union forces in the West
• promoted Grant to the position of lieutenant general and named him commander of all Union forces
• Lee surrendered his army to Grant on April 9, 1865
• Congress appointed him General of the Army
• first term as president was troubled with corruption – numerous political leaders, including the vice president, were accused of trading political favors for monetary compensation.
• Grant remained above the corruption, but many Americans faulted him for poor leadership and his inability to control his cabinet.
• Grant won reelection in 1872
• Sought a third term in 1876 and 1880 but rejected
• Congress reappointed Grant as General of the Army

James M. Ashley

• James Mitchell Ashley was an ardent abolitionist and a prominent political and business leader in Northwest Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century.
• Ashley was born on November 24, 1822, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
• When he was four years old, his family moved to Portsmouth, Ohio.
• became the editor of the Portsmouth Dispatch, and later the Portsmouth Democrat.
• admitted to the Ohio bar, but never practiced law.
• moved to Toledo – became active in local politics and helped organize the Republican Party in the Toledo area
• elected Ashley to the United States House of Representatives
• reelected four times until he lost in 1868
• championed abolitionist causes before and during the Civil War
• hard-line Reconstructionist
• first representative to call for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would outlaw slavery
• championed the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution
• served as the chairman of the House Committee on Territories
• strongly opposed Mormonism
• successfully campaigned to reduce the size of Utah to limit Mormon influence
• played a leading role in President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment; believed that Johnson was a co-conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, but he was never able to produce any hard evidence
• appointed Governor of the Montana Territory; unpopular with Montana residents; removed from office after fifteen months
• became involved with railroad construction and helped to establish the Toledo
• ran for the US House of Representatives in 1890 and 1892, but lost both elections

Thomas A. Edison

• Thomas Alva Edison was a world famous inventor and highly successful businessman who designed and manufactured many devices that greatly influenced history.
• Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio.
• At age seven, Edison moved with his family to Port Huron, Michigan.

William M. McCulloch

• William Moore McCulloch was a civil rights activist and member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio in the mid-twentieth century.
• William McCulloch was born near Holmesville, Ohio, in 1901
• elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1932
• House Minority Leader from 1936 – 1939
• Speaker of the House from 1939-1944
• first House member to serve three consecutive terms as Speaker
• special election elected McCulloch to represent them in the United States House of Representatives, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Robert F. Jones
• McCulloch went on to represent western Ohio in the House in twelve succeeding Congresses through 1973
• champion of civil rights
• bipartisan support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was instrumental in the adoption of that legislation
• President Lyndon Johnson publicly recognized McCulloch as “…the most important and powerful force” in the enactment of the bill.

Jesse C. Owens

• Jesse Owens was one of America’s greatest track and field athletes. He won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games.
• James Cleveland Owens was born on September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama.
• When Owens was eight years old, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
• Life in Cleveland did not prove to be as successful as the Owens family had hoped. Owens had to take jobs after school to help his family financially.
• senior year in 1933 set a world broad jump record of 24 feet 11 ¾ inches
• proved to be one of the greatest athletes in the history of The Ohio State University
• tied one world record and set three new ones
• 1936 – competed in the Olympics in Berlin, Germany; won four gold medals and set or helped to set four Olympic records
• left Ohio State amid pressure to cash in on his newfound fame
• was successful as a spokesperson for a variety of companies, charitable groups, and non-profit organizations, including the United States Olympic Committee
• served as a goodwill ambassador for the United States around the globe
• presented Owens with the Medal of Freedom
• posthumously inducted into the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame

Judith A. Resnik

• Judith Resnik was an American astronaut who tragically died in the explosion of the Orbiter Challenger on January 28, 1986.
• Judith Arlene Resnik was born on April 5, 1949, in Akron, Ohio
• received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University
• doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland
• accepted a position with RCA, designing circuits for phased-array radar control systems
• worked for the National Institutes of Health as a biomedical engineer in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology
• briefly worked for the Xerox Corporation
• selected to join the National Aeronautics and Space Association as an astronaut
• helped develop software for NASA’s space shuttle program
• flew into space as a mission specialist on the Discovery’s maiden flight, making her only the second American women in outer space
• killed on January 28, 1986 aboard the Challenger
• posthumously awarded Congressional Space Medal of Honor

Albert B. Sabin

• Albert Bruce Sabin was an American medical researcher who developed an oral vaccine to prevent poliomyelitis.
• Sabin was born on August 26, 1906, in Bialystok, Poland, then a part of Imperial Russia.
• 1921 – immigrated to Patterson, New Jersey
• became a naturalized U.S. citizen
• enrolled at New York University
• conducted research at the Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine in England
• 1939 – accepted a research position studying the cause of polio, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
• served as a consultant to the U.S. Army Epidemiological Board’s Virus Committee during WWII
• returned to Cincinnati to continue his research on the polio virus
• determined that the virus lived primarily in the intestines of its victims
• developed a live vaccine; Jonas Salk had produced a “killed” vaccine for polio a few years before Sabin’s discovery
• World Health Organization permitted Sabin to test his vaccine in Chile, Holland, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Sweden
• 1960 – U.S. Public Health Service allowed Sabin to distribute his vaccine to Americans
• last case of polio in the U.S. occurred in 1979
• remained at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital until 1969
• president of the Weizmann Institute of Science
• consultant for the U.S. National Cancer Institute
• Distinguished Research Professor of Biomedicine at the Medical University of South Carolina
• consultant at the Fogarty International Center for Advanced Studies in the Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health
• died of congestive heart failure (1993) at Georgetown University Medical Center

Harriet B. Stowe

• Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American author and ardent abolitionist. She is most notable for authoring Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a fictional work that demonized the evils of slavery, and galvanized anti-slavery sentiment in the North prior to the American Civil War.
• born on June 14, 1811, in Litchfield, Connecticut
• 1832 – the Beecher family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio
• began her writing career
• first story published in Western Monthly Magazine in 8134
• became friends with John Rankin, whose home in Ripley, Ohio served as a stop on the Underground Railroad; formed the basis of her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• 1850 – moved to Brunswick, Maine; wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• objected to the federal government actively assisting slave owners in their efforts to reclaim their runaway slaves in Northern states; hoped that her readers would rise up against slavery
• book sold more than 500,000 copies during its first five years in print
• 1862 – met President Abraham Lincoln while she was visiting Washington, DC; Lincoln reportedly said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!”
• moved to Andover, Massachusetts
• established a winter residence in Mandarin, Florida; lived in Oakholm until 1870;

Harriet T. Upton

• Harriet Taylor Upton was a prominent suffragist and the first woman to serve as vice-chairperson of the Republican National Committee.
• Harriet Taylor was born on December 17, 1853, in Ravenna, Ohio
• moved to Warren, Ohio
• father elected as to Congress
• accompanied her widowed father to Washington, D.C.
• immersed herself in the women’s suffrage movement, working closely with her mentor, Susan B. Anthony
• dedicated herself to securing the right for women to vote
• began Ohio Women in Convention
• emerged as a leading women’s rights advocate during the 1890s
• served as president of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association from 1899 to 1908 and from 1911 to 1920
• first woman elected to the Warren Board of Education
• first woman to serve on the Republican National Executive Committee in 1920
• ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 1926
• instrumental in the passage of the first child labor law, founding the Warren chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and founding and serving as the first president of the Warren American Red Cross Chapter
• authored several children books
• also authored several histories, including A History of the Western Reserve; The Early Presidents, Their Wives and Children; and History of Trumbull County

Wilbur & Orville Wright

• Wilbur born in Indiana, moved to Ohio as a child
• Orville born in Dayton, Ohio, and was a LIFE-LONG RESIDENT OF DAYTON, OHIO! (Did live temporarily in Richmond, Indiana)
• Wilbur attended public schools but never graduated from high school or attended college
• Orville attended public schools and graduated from high school, but never attended college
• Wright brothers had an interest in flight that had been sparked by a toy shaped like a helicopter that their father had given them as children
• the two men began experimenting with wing designs for an airplane
• continued to experiment with their airplane designs, first with gliders and eventually with powered flight
• first successful flight of a powered airplane occurred at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903
• attempted to sell their design to the United States military, but the government was still too skeptical about the possibilities of flight
• 1908 & 1909 – Wilbur Wright was gaining international attention for the brothers’ designs by setting aeronautical records in France; also sought newspaper coverage by flying around the Statue of Liberty and then flying along the Hudson River;
• continued to develop new advances in aeronautical design.
• Wilbur died on May 30, 1912
• Orville continued to work on new developments in aircraft design
• 1916 – chose to sell the company that he and his brother had founded so that he could concentrate on aeronautical research and design rather than on manufacturing
• Orville was one of the original members of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
• served on NACA for a total of twenty-eight years
• NACA is known as the predecessor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
• received the first Daniel Guggenheim Medal for “great achievements in aeronautics”
• elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences

Last night, I sat propped up in bed like I was the King of England, typing away at my laptop resting on the hospital table (a great purchase so that I can work from bed in the mornings and late evenings), watching the special “celebration” for Senator Ted Kennedy. What a wonderful tribute to the Liberal Lion, as he has been dubbed. Brian Stokes Mitchell sang a beautifully arranged version of “The Impossible Dream” from MAN OF LAMANCHA.

The most touching moment, for me, was the tribute paid to “Uncle Ted” by his niece, Caroline Kennedy. Her voice cracked a few times, heightening the emotion following the tremendous tributes from Senator Kennedy’s political friends and foes. Caroline recounted the “history trips” on which Uncle Ted took the massive numbers of nieces and nephews to various historical sites around the country. This grabbed me immediately, wishing I had been a nephew on those excursions, and reminding myself that I am an uncle who enjoys sharing history with his nephews. Caroline stated the trip from Hyannis Port to the Kennedy Library in Boston, passing familiar historical sites, was “my last history trip with Uncle Ted.”

And then, to close the celebration, a rousing Irish number, one of my favorites, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” It was joyful, yet wistful. It seemed to me, the most touching tribute to Senator Kennedy, and the entire Kennedy family.

This morning, I am writing, and watching the preparations for Senator Kennedy’s funeral in Boston. The family is just leaving the Kennedy Library, and the mourners are assembling at the church. It is strange to think that for this service, Senator Kennedy’s voice will not be heard. Since 1968, his voice has become familiar leading family and friends through services for various family members… Bobby, Rose, Jackie, John, and various family members.

The television coverage is showing the casket leaving the library, a fitting exit in a gentle rain. There are also the former presidents and vice-presidents, and their wives gathering in the cathedral, minus George & Barbara Bush. I am sure this will be a fitting, grand farewell to the last of the three Kennedy brothers who served our country.

Irish Eyes

There’s a tear in your eye, And I’m wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such pow’r in your smile, Sure a stone you’d beguile,
So there’s never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter’s Like some fairy song,
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be;
You should laugh all the while And all other times smile,
And now, smile a smile for me.

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

For your smile is a part Of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet’s sweet song, Crooning all the day long,
Comes your laughter and light.
For the springtime of life Is the sweetest of all
There is ne’er a real care or regret;
And while springtime is ours Throughout all of youth’s hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

This morning I woke at 6:15am and pressed the On/Off button on the television’s remote control. There was a video showing the White House silhouetted against the rising sun… but the flag was lowered to half-mast.

Within seconds my racing mind was informed….

Senator Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009.

ted-kennedy_398x299

When I traveled to Washington, DC with my brother’s 8th graders in 2000, we sat in the senate gallery and amidst the sea of dark suits, the white, silvery hair of Senator Kennedy stood out. My brother, Destin, also a presidential history enthusiast, leaned forward over the gallery rail, staring down at the iconic figure. It was a moment where we got to see a great performer on the stage of American history.

kennedyline

It is strange to think of our country without a Kennedy, from the Camelot generation, not at the helm of our government. While the media personalities are expressing their opinion that the next generation of Kennedys are not as powerful as their parents, I believe it is too soon to call the play on this generation. After all, they were overshadowed by their father, and uncle.

This morning, I am not as taken with Senator Kennedy’s politics, nor his successes, or mistakes as I am with Ted Kennedy the family man – especially, Uncle Ted. This morning I think of the nieces, and nephews who have lost a cherished uncle.

I was born the day the Warren Commission released its report on President Kennedy’s assassination. In June 1968, two months following Senator Robert Kennedy’s visit to my hometown of Elwood, Indiana, I sat with my parents watching his funeral at Arlington Cemetery.

weddingcaroline

Uncle Ted was the Kennedy of that generation with whom I was the most familiar. My Uncle Ron was my version of an “Uncle Ted,” and had he lived, I have no doubt he would be the revered uncle. However, my brother and I are now the uncles, and we each believe in our obligation to uphold this grand title. I love being a father, but there is something enchanting about being an uncle. There is a mutual adoration, and affection, that is strikingly different with nieces and nephews.

My grandfather loathed the Kennedy’s – a loathing he adopted from his father that sprang back to an episode during The Great Depression. However, I think my grandfather would join me in agreeing that Ted Kennedy appeared to be a much loved uncle. My grandfather seemed to be the favored uncle for his nieces and nephews, and throughout their lives I witnessed his pride, and joy in their accomplishments, and the agony springing from their tragedies. I always marveled at his adoration of his grandchildren, but there was always that “uncle element” in his being that I cherish still to this day. My grandfather, and Uncle Ron were great role models for this uncle, and I can only hope, and trust, that I shall follow in their footsteps as a great uncle.

Jacqueline-Bouvier-Kennedy-Onassis

 

Well, last night the production team officially met for the first time to prep SOUTH PACIFIC for Beavercreek High School’s new summer stock production company, Summer On Stage. This production team is on fire, and over the past three weeks, has done an enormous job of planning, and most of all -visioneering.

This Sunday, May 17, we hold auditions, and the response from students has been great. My goal is to have tons of men for the Seabee numbers. “Nothin’ Like A Dame” will rock!

Unfortunately, we have little fires to constantly put out due to stagnating issues from the past, and this has infiltrated down to a handfull of students. One particular student, who will be attending a podunk school that has a very mediocre musical theatre (but she clams it is the best in the Midwest even when she could not get into the schools of her choice… [insert laugh here]), has been saying SOUTH PACIFIC will fail because I am a bad vocalist. However, she is all smoke… no substance. A few others have been on the attack, but again, no substance.

It’s sad that some of the students have basically been “bought” with empty promises. In some ways, I do not blame them for their attacks on the previous production, THE PAJAMA GAME, nor now with SOUTH PACIFIC. The students have had these insidious thoughts planted in their minds, and in the minds of some of their parents. How sad they have been used for unethical reasons.

But their small-mindedness shall not chip away at what we will produce this summer. The tidal wave is rolling.

An announcement for orchestra members went out this morning, and a ton of other items were accomplished by the team!

Next week we will interview potential technical directors.

There are so many neat plans for this production, and I cannot wait until we start rehearsals.

This morning, while working at my desk on LOVE IS ETERNAL, a musical about Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln, I watched and listened to my all time favorite television program, THE WEST WING. This morning offered two episodes: the first ending with the tragic death of President Bartlett’s secretary, Mrs. Landingham; the second, perhaps my most favorite episode, Mrs. Landingham’s funeral.

Wow!

Great writing, and Martin Sheen, a native of Kettering, Ohio, offered one of the greatest acting moments I have ever seen.

Watch \”Two Cathedrals\” Episode from THE WEST WING

If you have a moment, enjoy the artistry of some clips from this episode.

Thursday, April 2, 2009, I volunteered for the Winter Guard International (WGI) competition at Fairmont’s Trent Arena next to our home.

south-shore-logo

I was working with Carol Dittoe at the volunteer check-in booth, and we heard there was an all-male guard from Chicago. Carol, whose daughter, Erin, is in the Fairmont guard, and I were both interested in seeing them so we slipped inside the arena to watch.

24 young Black boys came on to the floor, and the next five minutees were some of the most incredible in my life!

Their music was Red Skelton’s “Pledge of Allegiance.”

As if the audio was not enough, with its powerful, emotional message, their guard’s presentation was unbelievable. Half way through their show, Carol leaned over and said, “All these years I have known you I have never seen you cry.”

I was that moved!

There assistant director came up to our table and shared with us some of the background of the organization.

The South Shore Drill Team & Performing Arts Ensemble was established in 1980 by former Chicago Public School teacher, Arthur Robertson with only 4 members (Curtis Davis, Randall Robertson, Kevin Ray, and Darrell Jones). Today the organization has a membership count of 300+, ranging from ages 9-21. The team sees 99.5% of its high school students graduate, and nearly all go to college or technical school, breaking a cycle of poverty. The group was designed as an alternative to gang activity, high school drop outs, and teen pregnancy. The group offers young people an opportunity to develop self-esteem, self-discipline, goals for their future, and a chance to travel.

The team’s unique marching style and precession allowed them to perform all over the United States and abroad. The South Shore Drill Teams repertoire includes contemporary music, jazz, hip-hop, modern dance numbers and more.

Today the South Shore Drill Team has achieved far more than what Mr. Robertson could ever imagine. To date the team has won countless awards for their unique style of drills and continues to win top honors at parades and special events.

Later in the afternoon, the mixed-group of males and females competed. Again, the tears were flowing as they performed to experts of President Obama’s acceptance and inaugural speeches accompanied by gorgeous underscoring.

Their acrobatic, and pristine performance brought the house down multiple times throughout their drill.

In 30 years of being involved with marching band and winter guard, I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this in my entire life. I still have goose pimples as I write about the blessed experience.

I applaud the efforts of the leaders and directors for making such a positive impact on the lives of these inner-city students.

south-shore

 

I feel as though I am finally catching my breath for the first time in a month.

Where do I begin?

Well, I am vocal director for Beavercreek High School’s production, The Pajama Game. The director and I are up against a few “waves” to pull this production off. Due to some items beyond our control, the students’ morale was been sinking. Finally, two weeks ago, I began vocal rehearsals, and I managed to bring the cast up in spirits, as well as song.

I have also been working WGI (Winter Guard Internationals) and MEPA (Mid-Eastern Performance Association) competitions. For the hours we work, money is applied to our child’s band fees. By the time I have finished with this season, I believe I shall be slightly over what I owe.

Last summer, Jose was not planning on doing marching band, and therefore, I did not attend the processing day. A bill was never sent to me, and it was not until Rita was doing my taxes that she inquired about last year’s marching band fees. There was a balance of $397, and then I knew I would have $415 for this coming season’s fees.

I have actually had a blast working with the different band parents. For three different MEPA competitions I worked at Centerville High School selling T-shirts and raffles for a Yamaha marching snare. I took my lap top, and plenty to work on, and actually accomplished a good bit of writing and editing. These were fun events.

On top of this, I have been working on the Wright Brothers’ musical, and after sending it off to a local director who expressed interest in reading it for a possible production, I pulled out the musical I began writing in 1986, Love Is Eternal – Mary Todd & Abraham Lincoln.

I have truly enjoyed working on these two musicals. I have always loved the musical on Mrs. Lincoln, and am enjoying bringing it back to life.

This past Sunday, after leaving Centerville High School, I hurried to Yellow Springs to meet the Lockharts and their family at Young’s Dairy to celebrate Mike and Valerie’s 25th anniversary. It was such a wonderful time with my adoptive Ohio family.

So, today was actually the first day of spring break. I fell asleep last night by 11:30pm, and was wide awake at 4:00am. I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie, and then fell back asleep until 7:00am. I fed the pets, took my sugar, ate breakfast, swept the first floor, did a load of laundry, cleaned the kitchen and my desk tops – and was settled at my desk by 9:00am to write on the Lincoln musical.

By 1:30pm I was drained. I thought I’d take a quick power nap so I could watch Bewitchedat 2:00pm. However, I slept until 4:00pm. Jose went to work, and I worked. Flyer and I walked over to One Lincoln Park and walked home with Jose where the neighbor boy was waiting on Jose. Since they were playing XBox, I worked some more.

Tomorrow, I shall teach for four hours, and plan on taking Jose and his friend, Michael, to see a movie at Danburry.

Wednesday I have the entire day off but Jose works – so that shot any chance of us going out of town.

Thursday and Friday I will work at Trent Arena from 6:45am – 11:00pm for the WGI contest. Ugh! But it is a ton of money towards Jose’s band fees.

Saturday morning we will drive to Indiana to meet up with other family for Mother’s birthday dinner. We will spend the night at Mother’s and return home so Jose can work.

Then, Monday, April 6th (Mother’s birthday), I will hit everything full speed – The Pajama Game vocals, writing and editing on Love Is Eternal, perhaps some work on The Bird Let Loose, teaching, and trying to find extra time to spend with Jose during this very busy period. I suppose my weekends will be taken up with rehearsals for Beavercreek’s musical, with the exception of mid-April when I will work one last WGI competition. The production goes up the first weekend of May, and then it is on to all the concerts and events that pile into the last four weeks of the school year.

Ahh… time to rest and enjoy some television…

Another busy week behind us…

Beginning last Monday I was not feeling well, and my temperature hovered around 100-101 degrees. My sister-in-law, Stacia, had been taken ill with strep last weekend, and then my brother, Destin, got it this week. Their boys, Parker and Fred, have been up and down with this winter’s crud.

Some of my activities:

  1. finishing touches on ACTION Adoption’s display board for adoption fair
  2. taught lessons
  3. helped Jose with homework (he particularly asks me to help him study for history because, “Dad gives me a ton more information and makes it fun.”)
  4. helped Beavercreek show choir on Tuesday
  5. got cable installed Thursday (ugh… I hate addictions)

bewitched

Friday morning, I woke to discover the television still on The History Channel. So, at 6:00am, I watched MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, followed by a great History Channel documentary on The Declaration of Independence. I ran a few errands and got my hair cut, returning to my desk by 10:00am where I worked on the Wright Brothers’ musical for five hours while watching THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, BEWITCHED, and THE WEST WING.

westwing-cast-2001-2002

Ahhh….  

Friday night, after I taught lessons, we drove to ACTION where Jose gave a remarkable presentation about his birth family’s experiences, foster care life, and being adopted. I am so proud of my son, and especially, his public speaking skills. Although it was somewhat informal, he was stellar! One family had been in a private meeting and entered about five minutes late; Jose paused while they got situated, smiling at the family the entire time. Then, he briefly introduced himself, and explained his topic. Brilliant, and so very considerate.

Upon our return, Jose hit his XBox, and I hit The History Channel for “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” and “Stealing Lincoln’s Body.” By 3:00am, I was asleep.

At 6:30am Saturday I was wide awake watching CNN… yes!

8:30am I was at the adoption fair setting up the display.

percussion

At 10:30am I left the adoption fair and hurried to Fairmont’s Trent Arena where I worked the admission’s table for the WGI percussion competition. I got to work with Steve & Lorie Lamb, again, and a new couple that I also a new couple whose daughter will be a freshman next year. That certainly made my scheduled time of 11:00am- 7:00pm o fast.

While the contest was starting, bad weather had begun moving in from the north. Many parents from Toledo and Michigan had rough drives down to Kettering. When I left at 7:00pm, the driveway was iced, as were my car’s windows.

Jose and I went to supper at a Chinese buffet. I was still feeling uncomfortable, still. I returned to my bedroom with NOW, VOYAGER (1942) with Bette Davis. My grandmother always loved Bette Davis, and I remembered her telling me this was one of her favorite movies. It was very good, and of course, it was scored by one of my two favorite film composers, Max Steiner, who scored GONE WITH THE WIND (my other favorite is John Williams).

This morning I woke with CNN, and waited for a telephone call to see if I would be needed for the finals round of the percussion competition. While fixing an egg white omelet, Jose came downstairs, feeling miserable. I took his temperature and he had a 102 fever. He retreated to the basement with a half gallon of orange juice, after taking some meds. I had him call his manager at One Lincoln Park, and instructed him to drink the OJ and tons of water.

My head is congested, but the Mucinex is keeping it flowing… yuk!

I am propped up in bed, listening to Robert Schuller, ready to work on the Wright Brothers’ musical. Flyer is snuggled next to me (she pulls down the sham and pillows on the passenger side, and props her head up to watch television), and Logan is on my lap, curled up under the hospital table on which my laptop is situated… this hospital table was one of my best purchases – allowing me to work from my bed late at night or early in the morning – or on lazy Sunday mornings.

 I have three students this afternoon beginning at 4:00pm. And I hope to spend the evening resting with… well, cable.

 

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Socks, the cat who won international fame during his years in the Clinton White House, was euthanized Friday after months of treatment for cancer.

Socks was adopted by Chelsea Clinton when her father was governor of Arkansas. S

ocks, who was born in 1989, was put to sleep about 10 a.m. at Three Notch Veterinary Clinic in Hollywood, Maryland, said veterinary assistant Rae Dera. Veterinarians say he was probably either 19 or 20 years old. The cat had been losing weight since November and had been treated at the clinic, Dera said. He had been suffering from a cancer in his mouth and jaw.

Since the Clintons left the White House in 2001, Socks had lived with Betty Currie, former President Bill Clinton’s secretary. The Clintons were known to have visited Socks, and Currie, when in Washington.

He had been a stray and was adopted by Chelsea Clinton, the Clintons’ daughter, when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas.

“Socks brought much happiness to Chelsea and us over the years, and enjoyment to kids and cat lovers everywhere,” Bill and Hillary Clinton said in a joint statement released by the William J. Clinton Foundation.

“We’re grateful for those memories, and we especially want to thank our good friend, Betty Currie, for taking such loving care of Socks for so many years.”

The black-and-white feline was a fixture at the White House during the Clintons’ eight-year run. He was often photographed on the president’s shoulder and was given free rein of the presidential residence — showing up in photos in the Oval Office and White House press briefing room.

He had his own online fan club, appeared at animal charity events and was one of the subjects of now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s book, “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets.”

The long week is over, and the weekend is upon us.

Most of the week was spent in writing on the Wright Brothers’ musical, teaching, helping Jose with homework, prepping students for college auditions, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, building a display unit for ACTION Adoption, and assisting Sharon Busch with the Beavercreek High School show choir.

It was a good week, and one that was very productive and energized.

Thursday, the 200th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, I received many “birthday wishes” on behalf of the president. One student’s family even called to see if there would be birthday cake… of course!

Thursday night Jose and I watched SCHINDLER’S LIST since he is studying WWII in history. Beautifully written, directed, acted and filmed… but man, so depressing. But, it made me appreciate so many things I have in my life, and raised my awareness of the atrocities endured by millions just 65 years ago.

At 1:00am Jose went to the basement with his XBox360, and I crawled into bed, tired from the week. I began watching the DVD, THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, and fell asleep. Right now, I am watching the rest of it this morning, sitting up in bed at my laptop with Flyer snuggled beside me.

It is an interesting, and deep movie. The description of the book reads:

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a novel by Mitch Albom. It recounts the life and death of a simple yet dignified old man, Eddie. After dying in a freak accident, Eddie finds himself in heaven where he encounters five people who have significantly affected his life, whether he realized it at the time or not. Each imparts a divine piece of wisdom unto him, instilling a deeper comprehension regarding the most intimate facets of life. In the beginning he dedicates the book to his uncleEdward Beitchman. He says that he wants people like his uncle who felt unimportant here on earth to realize, finally, how much they mattered and how they were loved.

Albom’s first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven was published in 2003 by Hyperion, and remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for 95 weeks. It was the bestselling first time novel ever written.

For lunch, Jose and I will head to our favorite Chinese buffet downtown, and run some errands. I will write until it is time to head to ACTION Adoption.

The weekend? Well, I will finish the display frame for ACTION, write, grab some movies with Jose, and maybe doing something fun. I am sure Jose will want to spend as much time with his XBox. Since he has displayed so much effort, and hard work towards his grades, he deserves a relaxing weekend.

 

abho-ford

President Obama speaks in front of the box where Lincoln was assassinated.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama stood beneath the flag-draped box where Abraham Lincoln was shot inside Ford’s Theatre, honoring the “hallowed space” on the eve of the 16th president’s 200th birthday.

Hollywood stars and Washington power brokers celebrated the theater’s reopening Wednesday night, hearing Obama praise one of his favorite presidents for Lincoln’s conviction that a divided nation could be made whole.

“For despite all that divided us _ North and South, black and white _ he had an unyielding belief that we were, at heart, one nation, and one people,” Obama said. “And because of Abraham Lincoln, and all who’ve carried on his work in the generations since, that is what we remain today.”

Surrounded by actors and artists, Obama said Lincoln’s passion for education and the arts will thrive at the famous theater after its recent $25 million renovation. The theater is reopening after 18 months of installing more comfortable seats, a modern lobby and new dressing rooms.

Those in the audience stood and turned to applaud Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as they made their way down the aisle to the tune of “Hail to the Chief.”

Violinist Joshua Bell opened the show with a traditional spiritual on a violin that hadn’t been played since the night Lincoln was shot in 1865. Later, a video was played of former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush reading the Gettysburg Address. The film will be added to the theater’s museum.

Before the event, guests ranging from Cabinet members and congressional leaders to movie producers strode down a red carpet in sharply cut tuxedos and colorful gowns. Talk included prime-time television plotlines and the economic stimulus package being hammered out in Congress.

Yes! This is an exciting day for me. As a child in elementary school I can remember calculating how many years before it would be Lincoln’s birthday, and how old I would be. Well, the day has arrived… 2009, and I am 44 years old.

abraham-lincoln-625

kentucky219

abrahamlincoln5-500

abrahamlincolnportrait

lincoln12

Ohioans’ views of the man changed greatly from his 1st Capitol visit to last Wednesday,  February 11, 2009 3:31 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
On his first visit to the Ohio Statehouse, Abraham Lincoln was definitely not a big hit.
The little-known Republican presidential candidate from Illinois, then cleanshaven and without his trademark stovepipe hat, spoke for two hours to a crowd of about 50 people. The spot where Lincoln stood on Sept. 16, 1859, has been memorialized with a bronze plaque affixed to a stone column in the Statehouse Atrium, the building that encloses what once was the east entrance to the Statehouse.
His topics that day: slavery and preservation of the union.
On Thursday, 200 years after his birth, Lincoln’s eventful life and his three visits to the Statehouse — one of them posthumous — will be observed at a 10 a.m. Statehouse ceremony at which Gov. Ted Strickland and other officials will rededicate the Lincoln and Vicksburg Monument in the Rotunda.
The monument, by Cincinnati sculptor Thomas Dow Jones, began in 1860 as a bust of the then newly elected president. After Lincoln’s assassination, Jones incorporated the bust into a monument to soldiers on both sides who died in the Battle of Vicksburg. It was dedicated in 1870.
The event will include the unveiling of a Lincoln photo exhibit, a Statehouse Museum Shop sale and birthday cake for the 16th president. In addition, Lincoln historian Gary Kersey will offer 45-minute presentations at noon and 3 p.m. in the Atrium.
The celebration will be shared by fourth-graders from Saint Mary Elementary School, 700 S. 3rd St., in German Village, who will dress in period costumes and recite the Gettysburg Address. The students will travel to and from the Statehouse in a horse-drawn carriage.
Historical records show that on his first appearance in Ohio in 1859, Lincoln’s position on slavery had not evolved as it would later when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. He said slavery was unconstitutional, but argued that he was misquoted in an Ohio newspaper about the comments against slavery he made during his debates with Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois.
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races — that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, or intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position, the negro should be denied everything.”
As president, Lincoln returned to the Statehouse on Feb. 14, 1861, to address a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly and meet with Gov. William Dennison. Lincoln’s reception was larger and more enthusiastic this time, with crowds around the Statehouse “packed together like pickles in a jar,” according to one newspaper account.
Lincoln’s body lay in state in the Statehouse Rotunda on April 29, 1865. The 50,000 people who paid their final respects to the slain leader set a single-event record.
Read the full text of Lincoln’s 1859 speech at the Statehouse at www.mrlincolnandfreedom.org/inside.asp?ID=81&subjectID=2.
I cannot believe Friday is upon us, yet, I am so thrilled it is here.
 
Last Friday I had breakfast/lunch with Bill Hetzer, and taught the remainder of the afternoon. After teaching, I went in to watch TWO AND A HALF MEN, and the next thing I know Jose was waking me for a telephone call.
 
Saturday and Sunday were relaxing days with DVD’s, some errands, a movie (GRAND TORINO – which I strongly recommend!), dinner at Roosters, and more DVD’s.
 
This week has been swamped with slipping students in to every available slot – auditions for high school musicals, and college music/musical theatre programs. I have taught early, and very late.
 
There were several students, not in audition mode, who graciously traded with seniors, or gave up fifteen minutes of their own lesson time so another auditioning student could spend 15 minutes with me. It was so neat to see the studio working together. I have several saxophone students who received scholarships from Bowling Green State University, as well as two voice students at the same school. One of my top dogs received a full ride academic scholarship at Miami University, as well as a fantastic music scholarship.
 
Jose was accepted into the digital design program – a three hour class – for next year. It is a pretty competitive class, and I have had a number of students go through that program. It is really a great opportunity.
 
Friday evening I will meet with some good friends from Beavercreek at Mama DiSalvos. It has become a favorite haunt for the four of us. .
 
Saturday and Sunday I will be living at the high school’s Trent Arena for the percussion ensemble contest. I will be working the admissions table, and the hours I work will go towards Jose’s marching band fees. I will be there Saturday from 9:00am-9:00pm, and Sunday from 7:00am-6:00pm. The lady in charge of assembling the work crew is a parent of one of my students, and she is so much fun… she asked if I would work the entire weekend. If Jose also comes over to work, we might have close to $200 of his band fees paid off. I believe I am scheduled to work another weekend, as well. It will be a LONG weekend, but the end result of band fees being paid off is wonderful.
 
The coming week holds more college auditions. So, more late nights, and more days running to one or two schools to grab extra time with students during their choir or band classes.
 
Thursday, February 12th, is President Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday celebration. I would give anything to be in Springfield, Illinois, or even in Hodgenville, Kentucky where he was born. I will hopefully have time to make cupcakes for students on that day. Some already have it figured out that Mr. Haas will probably have good stuff that day and have asked to reschedule!
 
Jose is preparing for a speaking engagement. Several months ago, I brought him in for a few minutes to speak to one of my adoption training classes at ACTION, and he brought the house down. The parents loved him. He was asked to speak to the on-going training in the larger room. I know it pays between $75 and $150 to the guest speakers we bring in, and ACTION will pay him for this. He will have approximately 2 hours to speak and answer questions. Jose does a remarkable job when speaking on adoption issues – birth family, foster family, and the transition into adoptive life. I think they will probably tape it, and I may take my video recorder to take him. One of the neatest things was last summer, after he had spent a month with Destin & Stacia, and their sons, in Fowler, Indiana… one of the parents in my training class asked him, “What can we do to make sure we are good parents?” Jose, without missing a beat, said, “Well, if you could be like my Aunt Stacia, you would be perfect.” And he proceeded to describe some of her parenting techniques. I am excited that he has this opportunity to keep sharing his story.
 
Right now, I am going to watch a movie with Jose. I had an hour break this evening, so we grabbed our bowls of spaghetti and watched some movies on German concentration camps. Jose is studying WWII, and we have been doing extra movies and Internet research – he really digs this era. Tonight, we are watching SCHINDLER’S LIST – a movie I have not seen.

I heard the recording of the Bush twins reading their letter on The Today Show… it was beautiful. What great young women these lovely gals have turned out to be.

CNN) — Jenna and Barbara Bush know a lot about growing up in the White House.

The Bush twins told Sasha and Malia Obama to “remember who your dad really is.”

The Bush twins told Sasha and Malia Obama to "remember who your dad really is."

The twin daughters of former President Bush were 7 when their grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, was inaugurated, and 20 when their father became president.

Like their dad, who left a note for President Barack Obama, Jenna and Barbara Bush wrote Tuesday to Obama’s daughters about what to expect in the weeks and months ahead.

“We also first saw the White House through the innocent, optimistic eyes of children,” the twins wrote in an open letter published in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.

The twins reminisce in the letter about important events and historic moments they were able to be part of in a presidential family.

But the Bushes also tried to prepare Sasha and Malia for some sobering truths.

“Although it’s an honor and full of so many extraordinary opportunities, it isn’t always easy being a member of the club you are about to join,” they said. “Our dad, like yours, is a man of great integrity and love; a man who always put us first. We still see him now as we did when we were 7: as our loving daddy.”

But as their father was increasingly criticized in the media and mocked by late night comedians, the twins said they learned a lesson.

“He is our father, not the sketch in a paper or part of a skit on TV,” they wrote. “Many people will think they know him, but they have no idea how he felt the day you were born, the pride he felt on your first day of school, or how much you both love being his daughters. So here is our most important piece of advice: Remember who your dad really is.”

It helps, wrote the Bushes, to surround yourself with loyal friends.

The rest of the letter was more lighthearted, with the twins sharing some of their favorite memories of living in the White House, including playing house and hide-and-seek in what many children would consider to be the ultimate playground.

“When we played house, we sat behind the East Sitting Room’s massive curtains as the light poured in illuminating her yellow walls,” the girls said. “Our 7-year-old imaginations soared as we played in the enormous, beautiful rooms; our dreams, our games, as romantic as her surroundings. At night, the house sang us quiet songs through the chimneys as we fell asleep.”

They also told the Obama girls to embrace any opportunity they had: “When your dad throws out the first pitch for the Yankees, go to the game.”

“In fact, go to anything and everything you possibly can: the Kennedy Center for theater, state dinners, Christmas parties (the White House staff party is our favorite!), museum openings, arrival ceremonies, and walks around the monuments.”

“Just go,” they wrote.

The twins also reminded Sasha and Malia to be themselves — kids — saying even if they travel over holidays like Halloween, the girls should dress up and trick-or-treat down a plane aisle.

“Slide down the banister of the solarium, go to T-ball games, have swimming parties, and play Sardines on the White House lawn,” the Bush girls said. “Have fun and enjoy your childhood in such a magical place to live and play.”

Jenna and Barbara Bush told the girls to cherish the pet that their father so publicly promised them.

“Sometimes you’ll need the quiet comfort that only animals can provide,” they said.

“Four years goes by so fast,” they wrote. “So absorb it all, enjoy it all!”

bush-twins_thumb

It is 9:11am, Tuesday, January 20th, 2009.

I have been awake since 7:00am watching the beginning of the inaugural festivities. It is my tenth inaugural ceremonies to observe, but my eleventh swearing in of a president. I was in Myrtle Beach, vacationing with my family, when President Ford was sworn in on August 9th, 1974.

My first inauguration was January 20th, 1973, when President Richard Nixon raised his hand for the second time before the American people. Thirty-six years later, I am prepared to watch Barak Obama become the 44th president.

Last night I hung the red, white and blue banners on the front fence, and my neighbor lady placed her American flag at her front door. Despite the 9 degree weather, blanketing the outside with a heavy fog, there is a good deal of warmth, and energy in the air.

Jose is hoping his final exam will get out early so he can be home to watch the ceremonies with me on television.

Right now, the Bush family is bidding farewell to their White House staff, and soon, the Obama family will leave St. John’s Episcopal Church, and motorcade across the avenue to the front portico of the White House. The Bushes will greet them at the steps, and escort them inside for coffee before leaving for the Capital Building.

President Bush has written the traditional “last letter” to his successor, and placed it in the top drawer of the Oval Office desk.

The great American transition has begun….

Wednesday morning I drove to Columbus to attend the funeral mass of a friend’s father. I met Katie Pfister-Musick in the late 1980’s and absolutely fell in love with this incredible actress. Despite the various moves between the two of us, and me losing my address book, I managed to reconnect with Katie, and her husband, Mike, via Internet research. I found them living in the Kansas City, Kansas area, and have enjoyed communicating with them the past several years – and that includes a hiatus where my email addresses were wiped out.

friends-musick-katie

Last summer, I received a note that Katie’s mother had suddenly passed away. Katie had been sharing with me that her father was seriously ill with cancer and was not expected to live much longer. Her mother’s death was quite a surprise.

I attended her mother’s funeral and was overjoyed to see Katie and Mike, again. She is still just as beautiful as she was when she was a girl (and you know what, Lincoln said that about his wife when they were living in the White House! “My wife is just as lovely as she was when she was young. I fell in love with her then, and what is more, I have never fallen out.”)

Christmas night, I received message from Mike that Katie’s father had left in time to spend Christmas with his wife. 

Wednesday morning, December 31st., the last day of 2008, I drove to Columbus to share in the fond farewell with Katie and her family. I arrived at St. Christopher’s and was struck by the beauty and warmth of the church, decorated for the Christmas season. The candles, the nativity, the poinsettias and greenery was absolutely beautiful. As I was washing my hands in the rest room, I stopped… my chest began swelling with excitement.

I could hear Katie singing!

I walked back into the sanctuary, and immediately teared up… Katie was singing a responsive psalmody.  Her voice is still as beautiful as I remember it from when I heard her in the role of Anna Leonowens in THE KING & I.

I found a seat, and just absorbed the beauty, and the passion of each note she offered up – a musician offering up glorious beauty, a daughter bidding farewell to her father in song.

The service was beautiful. The violinist provided a beautiful prelude with “Amazing Grace,” and it set the mood – touching, but with great rejoicing for a life lived fully by this particular Irishman. The description of Don’s life, by both the priest and family, made me proud of my Clary & Daugherty clans! What truly touched me was that his children each offered something, and I can think of no greater tribute than to hear words and music from one’s own children at their funeral.

The closing hymn that accompanied the pall covered casket down the aisle was “Silent Night.” When I read prepped my hymnal before the service (that’s my German-Irish grandfather in me!), I first thought the final hymn to be too mild to send off this larger than life Irishman that I had never actually met. However, by the time the gentle strains of the introduction began, I knew just how fitting this tune was. It seemed to pull together not only the love for Don from his  family and friends, but it reminded me how much I missed, and still loved so many of my own family members who are no longer with us – especially my grandparents.

As the casket was wheeled past me, an elderly gentleman across the aisle saluted, the tears streaming down his face. I don’t know the relationship this gentleman had to Don, but for me, it was one of the most touching moments from the service. A tribute. A farewell. A salute. Only a soldier and a former drum-major can know the sanctity of a salute.

As the second verse of “Silent Night” began, the church bells began pealing. And throughout the song, they continued.

Bells have always held a special place for me. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE has one of the most tender scenes when the bell on the tree rings at the end – an angel received its wings. Also, my grandmother collected bells, and I now possess all the bells I gave her, some from Greece, Cyprus, Crete, Germany, Austria, and of course, New York City. And the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day,” also one of my favorite carols, has always been a favorite.

And here, on the last day of 2008, while singing “Silent Night,” the world resonated with the ringing of bells.

I bid farewell to Katie and Mike, and walked outside into the brisk December morning. The bells were much louder outside. One elderly lady covered her ears and looked up towards the sound of the bells. I stood for a moment, watching my breath swirl away from me, and hearing the bells.

Don had probably just received his wings…

My grandmother told me that she was still with me…

And the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reminded me that “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep…”

I got into my car. I could still hear the muffled bells. I rolled down the window and listened, thinking they would not ring much longer. As I drove away, I could still hear the bells. I turned on to Grandview Avenue, moving away from the church. Finally, around 3rd Street, the bells began to fade – but only in sound.

Those bells were not pealing “farewell.”

The ringing of the bells were an announcement, and reminder of God’s love.

The ringing of the bells were a fanfare of the blessings to come for 2009.

The ringing of the bells were a reminder that it is, indeed, a most wonderful life!

 (CNN) — Caroline Kennedy, the 51-year-old daughter of President John F. Kennedy, has indicated her interest in filling the New York Senate seat being vacated by secretary of state designee Hillary Clinton.

Caroline Kennedy has her eyes on the New York Senate seat.

Caroline Kennedy has her eyes on the New York Senate seat.

“I’ve talked to Caroline Kennedy and she’s clearly interested,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

He indicated that 12 people were interested in the position.

“She’s interested in the position,” New York Gov. David Paterson confirmed. But at the same time “she realizes it’s not a campaign.” Paterson, who will name Clinton’s successor, noted that Kennedy had indicated a desire to “sit down and tell me what her qualifications are.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton also released a statement Monday indicating that he had received a call from Kennedy “who expressed to me her interest in [Clinton’s] Senate seat.”

Kennedy’s interest in the seat could mean the continuation of a family legacy in the Senate that began 56 years ago with the election of her father as the then-junior senator from Massachusetts.

Her uncle Ted Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the Senate since 1963, and her uncle Robert Kennedy served as New York’s junior senator from 1965 until he was assassinated in 1968.

“Remember, [Clinton’s] seat in the Senate was once held by Robert Kennedy,” said Bill Schneider, CNN’s senior political analyst. “[Caroline Kennedy’s] other uncle, Ted Kennedy, is ill right now. If Paterson appoints Caroline Kennedy to the Senate, it means there could be a Kennedy staying in the Senate for quite a long time.”

CNN reported earlier this month that Caroline Kennedy had called Paterson to discuss the possibility of taking the seat.

Paterson has the power to appoint a replacement, who will then face a special election in 2010 to fill out Clinton’s term. Paterson confirmed to CNN last week that Kennedy had called and “asked a few questions” about the expected vacancy.

One Democratic source close to the Kennedy family told CNN earlier this month Kennedy was “interested to say the least” in the Senate seat and had asked a tight circle of other family friends and political advisers for advice.

Before this year, Kennedy generally limited her forays into the public sphere to nonpartisan activity, penning books on civil liberties and serving as the de facto guardian of her father’s legacy.

But in January, she backed a political candidate for the first time, announcing her endorsement of Obama during the Democratic primary season with an op-ed in The New York Times that drew days of the kind of media attention she has spent her life avoiding.

“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them,” she wrote. “But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”

“Apparently, she has acquired a taste for politics,” Schneider noted. “She wants to be part of this new regime in America, clearly playing a key role in the Senate if she gets that appointment.”

There are a slew of high-profile candidates for Clinton’s Senate seat, including New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose last name carries some star power of its own New York, where his father was once governor.

Kennedy’s roots in New York also run deep. Her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, relocated to New York after her husband’s assassination in 1963, with children Caroline and John F. Kennedy Jr.

Caroline Kennedy has also spent most of her life in the city, working there after graduating from Harvard, meeting her husband, Edwin Schlossberg, on the job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and attending Columbia Law School there.

Her most prominent public roles involved overseeing her father’s presidential library and presenting the annual Profiles in Courage Award.

She’s also edited several books, from a volume of children’s poetry and an updated edition of her father’s book “Profiles in Courage” to a collection of patriotic verse (“A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories, and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love”).

Most of her leadership positions have been based in the arts: serving as host of the annual nationally televised Kennedy Center Honors in Washington and serving as the honorary chairwoman of the American Ballet Theatre, as her mother did.

In late spring and early summer she was mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate and more recently as a contender for secretary of education in an Obama Cabinet. But elected office would mark a major shift for Kennedy.

In a 2002 Time magazine interview promoting the updated “Profiles in Courage,” Kennedy would not rule out the possibility of a run for public office.

“I don’t have any plans to do that right now,” she said. “I don’t plan ahead. My kids are young, and I’m really happy to be able to be around. But I do care about issues, and I’m interested in them. So I don’t see that now, but you know, I have a long life ahead of me.”

By Jessica Wehrman

Staff Writer

Sunday, December 14, 2008

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader John Boehner, ever the wiseacre, was quick with a funny when the Ohio congressional delegation started working to get the Ohio State University Marching Band into Barack Obama’s inaugural parade.

He suggested that the delegation offer up U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Columbus to dot the “i” in Script Ohio as the band marched down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Call it a congressional incentive.

That said, at least Tiberi would know his stuff.

From 1981 through 1984, he marched with the Ohio State Marching Band. His last game was the Rose Bowl in 1985 during the Earl Bruce era.

“We should’ve won,” he recalls. “But we lost.”

Tiberi said he applied for colleges in the early 1980s knowing that he wanted to march for Ohio State’s band. He spent much of his college career practicing with, marching with or performing in the band.

“It was very time-consuming, very competitive but it was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “It’s a lot more than the experience of the music and marching. It’s a life-changing experience. It built lifelong friendships. I learned a lot about teamwork and discipline.”

Being in band has also given him rewards he never expected.

A few years back, he listened in a Republican conference meeting as a colleague urged cutting music and arts funding. “You don’t learn anything in music,” the colleague told a roomful of House Republicans. “You don’t learn anything in art.”

Tiberi stood up and disagreed.

He told them that the lessons he learned in the best damn band in the land were invaluable.

Afterwards, then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert pulled him aside and told Tiberi he had an opening for a Republican on the council that advises the National Endowment of the Arts, and said he wanted Tiberi to fill that opening. Tiberi’s served on the board ever since.

Tiberi has also advocated to get the band in four inaugural parades since the 1980s.

The first time he helped them was in 1988. Tiberi was an aide to then-U.S. Rep. John Kasich, and worked with Kasich to advocate for the band, and they marched when George Herbert Walker Bush was inaugurated.

In 2000, Tiberi got to help them again. It was his first year in Congress. When the band was picked, he arranged tours and spoke to the floor. He did it in 2004 as well.

This year, he wrote a letter. “I cannot overstate my firm confidence in the band’s ability to enhance the ceremonies surrounding the inauguration of our next President of the United States.”

The band was selected. They’ll march Jan. 20.

But Tiberi, alas, won’t be dotting the “i.” Along with other members of the House, he’ll have lunch with the new president instead.

Today is the 190th birthday of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln.

mtl-book

As a girlhood companion remembered her, Mary Todd was vivacious and impulsive, with an interesting personality–but “she now and then could not restrain a witty, sarcastic speech that cut deeper than she intended….” A young lawyer summed her up in 1840: “the very creature of excitement.” All of these attributes marked her life, bringing her both happiness and tragedy.

mtl-1st

Daughter of Eliza Parker and Robert Smith Todd, pioneer settlers of Kentucky, Mary lost her mother before the age of seven. Her father remarried; and Mary remembered her childhood as “desolate” although she belonged to the aristocracy of Lexington, with high-spirited social life and a sound private education.

Just 5 feet 2 inches at maturity, Mary had clear blue eyes, long lashes, light-brown hair with glints of bronze, and a lovely complexion. She danced gracefully, she loved finery, and her crisp intelligence polished the wiles of a Southern coquette.

al-mtl

Nearly 21, she went to Springfield, Illinois, to live with her sister Mrs. Ninian Edwards. Here she met Abraham Lincoln–in his own words, “a poor nobody then.” Three years later, after a stormy courtship and broken engagement, they were married. Though opposites in background and temperament, they were united by an enduring love–by Mary’s confidence in her husband’s ability and his gentle consideration of her excitable ways.

Their years in Springfield brought hard work, a family of boys, and reduced circumstances to the pleasure-loving girl who had never felt responsibility before. Lincoln’s single term in Congress, for 1847-1849, gave Mary and the boys a winter in Washington, but scant opportunity for social life. Finally her unwavering faith in her husband won ample justification with his election as President in 1860.

mtl-1st-lady

Though her position fulfilled her high social ambitions, Mrs. Lincoln’s years in the White House mingled misery with triumph. An orgy of spending stirred resentful comment. While the Civil War dragged on, Southerners scorned her as a traitor to her birth, and citizens loyal to the Union suspected her of treason. When she entertained, critics accused her of unpatriotic extravagance. When, utterly distraught, she curtailed her entertaining after her son Willie’s death in 1862, they accused her of shirking her social duties.

mtl-1863

Yet Lincoln, watching her put her guests at ease during a White House reception, could say happily: “My wife is as handsome as when she was a girl, and I…fell in love with her; and what is more, I have never fallen out.”

Her husband’s assassination in 1865 shattered Mary Todd Lincoln. The next 17 years held nothing but sorrow. With her son “Tad” she traveled abroad in search of health, tortured by distorted ideas of her financial situation. After Tad died in 1871, she slipped into a world of illusion where poverty and murder pursued her.

A misunderstood and tragic figure, she passed away in 1882 at her sister’s home in Springfield–the same house from which she had walked as the bride of Abraham Lincoln, 40 years before.

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.”

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.

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.

n1202595398_175549_7347

 

 

 

 

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.

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!”

A look at the claims made by Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama at the third and final presidential debate Wednesday:

 

 

Tax cuts

The claim: Obama said his tax plan offers three times the tax relief as McCain’s plan does for the middle class.

The facts: The non-partisan Tax Policy Center shows that is the case for the first year of Obama’s plan, but not over the long haul, and only for a narrow slice of the “middle class” — those making between $37,595 and $66,354. The group says Obama’s plan would save those families $1,042 in the first year, compared to McCain’s $319. In later years, the difference is not nearly as great. In 2012, the last year of the next president’s term, the difference is smaller: a $2,197 tax cut under Obama’s plan compared with $1,441 under McCain’s. And for people earning more but who still consider themselves middle class — those earning up to $112,000 — Obama’s plan would cut their tax bill by $1,264 in 2009, McCain’s plan by $994.

Bill Ayers

The claim: McCain criticized Obama’s association with former Chicago radical Bill Ayers, whom McCain called “a guy who in 2001 said he wished he would have bombed more.”

The facts: Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground, a radical group that engaged in domestic bombings to protest the Vietnam War. He was in hiding for years after three Weathermen died in 1970 when bombs they were making exploded. Federal charges against him for crossing state lines to incite riots and conspiracy were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct.

In a New York Times story published by coincidence on Sept. 11, 2001, about his memoirs, Fugitive Days, he said, “I don’t regret setting bombs … I feel we didn’t do enough.”

These days, Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has drawn kind words from the city’s mayor.

Ayers and Obama have moved in some of the same circles. Ayers was a founder of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school-reform group. Obama chaired its board from 1995 to 1999. In 1995, Ayers hosted a brunch for Obama, who was running for the Illinois Senate. In 1997, they were on a juvenile justice panel sponsored by the University of Chicago. Ayers gave $200 to Obama’s 2001 state Senate campaign, and the two were on a 2002 panel on intellectualism that was co-sponsored by the Chicago Public Library.

Spending

The claim: Obama said he has proposed “a net spending cut,” adding “every dollar that I’ve proposed, I’ve proposed an additional cut so that it matches.”

The facts: The non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Obama’s spending and savings policies would emerge in 2013 with $144 billion in net savings. However, that’s dependent on a phased withdrawal from Iraq over 16 months, leaving only 30,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by 2010. It also relies on several less-than-specific spending cuts and changes. And Obama’s overall economic policies still would lose money, because his tax cuts would cost $360 billion and his health care plan would cost $65 billion over that period, the group says.

Voter-registration fraud

The claim: McCain said the Obama campaign has contributed to an organization that is perpetrating “one of the greatest frauds” in American campaign history.

The facts: The organization — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN — says it has registered 1.3 million people this year. Obama’s campaign paid an ACORN affiliate, Citizens Services Inc., $832,000 this year for get-out-the-vote efforts in the Democratic primaries, according to the non-partisan CQ MoneyLine, which tracks campaign spending. Republicans have repeatedly accused the group of submitting fraudulent registrations; Obama said it had hired some people who “just filled out a bunch of names.” What’s not clear is whether any of the fraudulent registrations can lead to fraudulent votes.

Negative advertising

The claim: Obama said McCain’s television advertisements have been “100% negative.” McCain said that wasn’t true.

The facts: Obama’s claim apparently was based on an analysis released Oct. 8 by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin. The report said, “During the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 4, nearly 100% of the McCain campaign’s advertisements were negative. During the same period, 34% of the Obama campaign’s ads were negative.” But the report also said that overall 73% of McCain’s ads and 61% of Obama’s have been negative. The study used information obtained from TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, which analyzes data on the airing of every presidential ad in the top 186 TV markets in the country.

The McCain campaign last night released its own tally of TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group data based on total ad spending, saying that the Obama campaign had spent $42 million on negative ads to McCain’s $27 million, and that Obama had run 81,638 negative ads to McCain’s 59,835.

Iraq

The claim: McCain said Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden had proposed dividing Iraq into three countries. He called it a “cockamamie idea.”

The facts: In 2006, Biden, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, proposed partitioning Iraq into three regions — Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni — with a central government in Baghdad. He said it would “maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group … room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests.” He did not propose that it become three separate countries.

Supreme Court

The claim: McCain said that Obama voted against Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Chief Justice John Roberts.

The facts: Obama voted against Roberts, but he was not in the Senate when Breyer was approved by the Senate in 1994. Obama became a senator in 2005.

McCain’s health care plan

The claim: In discussing his $5,000-per-family tax credit for health care, McCain said the average cost of a health care plan is $5,800.

The facts: The average cost of a family plan purchased by employers this year hit a new high, $12,106, according to an annual survey of nearly 2,000 employers by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, a research group based in Menlo Park, Calif. Individual coverage premiums averaged $4,479.

Obama’s health care plan

The claim: McCain said that under Obama’s health care plan, a small business could be fined for not offering coverage to its employees.

The facts: The key to this charge is what defines a “small” business, and the Obama campaign has not said. Obama has said he would exempt small businesses from having to contribute to their employees’ health coverage or pay into a national fund. He has not, however, said what size company he has in mind for the exemption. In August, Obama adviser Jason Furman said companies with 10 or fewer employees would likely be exempted, but he did not limit it to that size.

Obama did not directly address the charge from McCain that parents would be fined for not insuring their children. Obama has not said how he would enforce his requirement that parents get coverage for their children.

Abortion

The claim: McCain said: “Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois state Senate, voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted against that.” Obama said he opposed the bill as a threat to abortion rights, knowing that state law already required doctors to care for babies born alive.

The facts: FactCheck.org, a non-partisan project of the University of Pennsylvania, found that Obama opposed Illinois legislation in 2001, 2002 and 2003 that would have defined any aborted fetus that showed signs of life as a “born alive infant” entitled to legal protection, even if doctors believed it could not survive. Obama opposed the 2001 and 2002 “born alive” bills as backdoor attacks on a woman’s legal right to abortion, but he said he would have been “fully in support” of a similar federal bill that President Bush had signed in 2002, because it contained protections for Roe v. Wade, FactCheck.org found.

FactCheck also found that Illinois law already required physicians to protect the life of a fetus when there is “a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb, with or without artificial support.”

Alaska budget

The claim: McCain said his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, “cut the size of government.”

The facts: Palin has not cut the size of government. State spending under Palin has grown dramatically, fueled by an explosion of revenues thanks to Palin’s multibillion-dollar tax increase on the oil and gas companies that fund most of the budget.

In 2007, Palin vetoed about $231 million in projects sought by legislators in a proposed $1.8 billion capital budget. Even after her cuts, the total capital budget was about $1.54 billion — “a lot more than the level of state spending she outlined when she took office in December,” the Anchorage Daily News reported. The operating budget she signed in 2007 grew to $6.6 billion from $6.2 billion the year before. This year, Palin signed an operating budget that had grown to $11 billion, according to the Daily News. She vetoed about 10% of the proposed capital budget, but that budget nonetheless grew to $2.7 billion. While Palin was mayor of Wasilla from 1996 to 2002, the budget grew 55%, according to PolitiFact.com, a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly.

Oil drilling

The claim: Obama said a key way to expand domestic oil production would be by “telling the oil companies the 68 million acres that they currently have leased that they’re not drilling, use them or lose them.”

The facts: Offshore drilling leases run for five to 10 years because that’s how long the government expects it to take to find and begin producing oil or natural gas. Leases are extended if oil companies are making progress and not renewed if the area is totally dormant. So not nearly all of the 68 million acres Obama refers to can be drilled immediately. Willard Green, past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, has said Democrats “are suggesting that there’s a great big lake of oil under that acreage, and all the companies have to do is dig a hole down and produce it.”

My thoughts are included in RED

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — At least 900 Christian families have fled Mosul in the past week, terrified by a series of killings and threats by Muslim extremists ordering them to convert to Islam or face possible death, officials said Saturday.

An official says Christians protests in Mosul last month ahead of elections may have led to the attacks.  The attacks may have been prompted by Christian demonstrations ahead of provincial elections, which are to be held by the end of January, the deputy governor of Nineveh province said.

Deputy Gov. Khasro Goran said 13 Christians have been slain in the past two weeks in Mosul, about 260 miles (420 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Fleeing Christians have sought refuge in monasteries and churches and with family members in other towns, an Interior Ministry official said.

The attacks began after hundreds of Christians took to the streets in Mosul and surrounding villages and towns, seeking greater representation on provincial councils, whose members will be chosen in the local elections. But isn’t this a predominately Islamic country in which they are residing?

Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, Nineveh’s governor, told The Associated Press that the exodus was “a major displacement.”

“Of course, al Qaeda elements are behind this campaign against Christians,” Kashmoula told AP. Does he have verification of this, or is he merely speculating?

A week ago, leaflets were distributed in several predominantly Christian neighborhoods, threatening families to “either convert to Islam or pay the jizyah or leave the city or face death,” said the Interior Ministry official.

Historically, jizyah is a tax paid by non-Muslims in exchange for protection. Well, if this is one of the rules, play by the rules. But our own country has not commited itself to making illegal aliens follow our own rules.

Goran said that a few days after the leaflets were passed out, gunmen set up checkpoints in parts of Mosul, stopping vehicles to inspect identification papers, searching for Christian names or other signs of religious affiliation. Many of the Christians killed were targeted in this way, he said. They were warned.

Bashir Azoz, 45, told AP he fled his Mosul home after gunmen warned a neighbor to leave or be killed.

“Where is the government and its security forces as these crimes take place every day?” asked Azoz, a carpenter who is staying with his wife and three children in a town about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Mosul, according to AP.

The Rev. Bolis Jacob, of Mosul’s Mar Afram Church, told AP he couldn’t understand the attacks.

“We respect the Islamic religion and the Muslim clerics,” he said. “We don’t know under what religion’s pretexts these terrorists work.” So far in this article it has not been clearly defined who is targeting the Christians. How do they know they are terrorists?

Goran said police have set up security checkpoints in Christian neighborhoods.

In response to the violence, Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader al-Obaidi visited Mosul on Saturday morning, conducting meetings with local authorities and military commanders.

His spokesman, Mohammed al-Askari, said that in addition to ordering more checkpoints in Christian neighborhoods, al-Obaidi ordered more troops deployed, additional security patrols and an increase in aerial surveillance of Christian areas.

Al-Obaidi also ordered more guards for Christian clerics, al-Askari said.

The other day, my son, Jose, and I were chatting and he asked, “How can we be over in Iraq killing people when the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not kill?'”

Good question.

But Christianity seems to take exception to this commandment, and has done so all throughout its history. There has always been great chatter about Christian persecution, but a strong wall of defense quickly rises when Christians are accused of persecution – which they seem to do so with regularity. The mantra seems to be strong, “If you don’t think like us, believe as we do, we shall make your life miserable.”

On one of the hometown websites to which I subscribe, the Christian Republicans think nothing of persecuting the Democrats running for office, or even those who vote Democrat on the site. I am amazed at their two-faced postings, and their superior attitude.

Today, one of the spewings revolved around abortion. One poster quoted Psalm 139: 16 with: “Your eyes saw even the embryo of me and in your book all parts of it were down in writing, as regards the days when they were formed.”

I checked in the KING JAMES BIBLE and found: (starting with verse 15) “My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in they book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

The NEW AMERICAN BIBLE offers this translation: My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.

I have looked through a number

When Jose and I stopped attending one church – not because of anything with the church, its pastor, or the people – it was because we were both struck with a strong sense of questioning, basically from condemnation of the church on any one who does not believe as they do. We did not experience such things at this church; our concerns questioned which was most important: 1) Do we develop a strong spiritual life, following the credo of love thy God, and love one another, or 2) do we subscribe to a church body that does not practice basic concepts of its own teachings?

The ironic item was that I remained in email contact with a number of folks from the church, but one member, who had adored Jose and myself, asked me to stop sending her email because we were no longer one of them.

One of them…

What does that mean?

Is Christianity a club or fraternity to which one must follow the individual church’s dictates or a truly spiritual body that follows God’s ideals?

Christ reportedly said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

In modern translations it reads, “Go forth and make disciples of all nations…”

Teach vs. Make.

To teach is to offer ideas. To make is to force.

There are several things to be noticed: (1) Go, implies an aggressive warfare. The Gospel army must move upon the nations. The Lord seeks universal empire, and sends forth his armies to conquer the world. Every church and every disciple must understand that they have marching orders. (2) Not only is every saint commanded to go, or to take steps to make the gospel go, but the object is stated. They are to make disciples, or pupils, and scholars of Christ; not great philosophers, but babes in Christ Jesus. (3) Who are to be made disciples is next indicated. Not the Jews only, but all nations. Christ came to be the Savior of the world. His is a universal religion. In the Great Commission he looks beyond Judea, and commands that the Gospel shall be offered to all nations. To teach implies Christ was instructing his own Disciples to share information.

On several of my hometown websites, the Christian Republicans spew all sorts of hatred towards Obama – not just political rhetoric, but absolutely mean things, and call him names – a terrorist, Hitler, etc.. However, when anyone dares to criticize President Bush, or bring up anything against Senator John McCain they burst with even more cruel things.

There was one lady who grew up in the hometown, and whenever she would post anything she was vehemently attacked. Eventually she left the group, but just the other day one lady named, Fran, who spouts her Christian values for all to read, went on this incredible attack against the lady who has been gone from the group for a month.

I truly struggle with these particular Christians who believe they are exempt. To me, these people are the true Hitlers of the world today. They proclaim God’s word and demand the world bow to their beliefs – and yet, there is a knife of cruelty hidden behind their cloak expressing love to all.

It is sad to see people from my hometown – people I use to respect, behaving in such a disgusting manner. The poor community has become an economic disaster through the years, and thus, the class and mentality has diminished greatly… and sadly, it shows in the posts of these individuals who were educators, politicians, and other highly respected career folk.

So, the killing…

The abortion issue is hot. Personally, I have no direct stand on the issue, but I guess I am pro-Choice as I do believe it is a woman’s right to choose – not a church’s decision, nor a politician’s decision.

Capital punishment is another hot topic button – especially when one on death row is up for execution. I never really had an opinion on this topic until I met a wonderful family at church who experienced a traumatic double murder in their family, conducted by their younger brother. In the end, they rose to the occasion as their parents had obviously raised them, forgiving and loving the younger brother who was executed.

But how is it the Christian Church can support the Fifth Commandment – thou shalt not kill – and support invading other nations?

Amazing that once the Ten Commandments were shared with the people of Israel, they continued going to war, killing. In Sunday School we celebrated young David slewing the giant, Goliath!

Why?

This violated the Fifth Commandment. That commandment specifically said, “Thou shalt not kill.” It did not offer an addendum of, “unless it is someone who you feel justified in killing.”

In Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq (1991), and the current invasion of Iraq – we were not attacked. Our imperialistic leaders decided we should go in an kill not only “enemy soldiers” but blameless citizens, as well.

In the book ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, there is the mantra offered by Deep Throat, “Follow the money.”

So, how do we teach our children that it is wrong to kill when we, a nation supposedly created upon Christian principles, continue to invade other countries, killing their people?

And the article in this post expresses concerns over Christians living in an Islamic nation we have invaded…

I cannot wrap my mind around this.

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

Birthdate: October 11th, 1884

Eleanor Roosevelt
White House portrait

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (IPA: /ˈɛlɪnɔr ˈroʊzəvɛlt/; October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and assumed a role as an advocate for civil rights. After her husband’s death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an internationally prominent author and speaker for the New Deal coalition. She worked to enhance the status of working women, although she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment because she believed it would adversely affect women.

In the 1940s, Roosevelt was one of the co-founders of Freedom House and supported the formation of the United Nations. Roosevelt founded the UN Association of the United States in 1943 to advance support for the formation of the UN. She was a delegate to the UN General Assembly from 1945 and 1952, a job for which she was appointed by President Harry S. Truman and confirmed by the United States Senate. During her time at the United Nations she chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. President Truman called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements.

Active in politics for the rest of her life, Roosevelt chaired the John F. Kennedy administration’s ground-breaking committee which helped start second-wave feminism, the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. She was one of the most admired persons of the 20th century, according to Gallup’s List of Widely Admired People.

Early life

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884, at 56 West 37th Street in New York City, New York[citation needed]. Her parents were Elliott Roosevelt and Anna Hall Roosevelt. She was named Anna for her mother and for her aunt, Anna Cowles and Eleanor for her father, who was nicknamed “Ellie”. From the beginning, Roosevelt preferred to be called by her middle name, Eleanor. Two brothers, Elliott, Jr. (1889–1893) and Hall Roosevelt (1891–1941) were born later. She also had a half brother, Elliott Roosevelt Mann, the result of an extramarital relation between Elliot and Katy Mann, a young servant girl employed by Anna. Roosevelt was born into a world of immense wealth and privilege, as her family was part of New York high society called the “swells”.

When Roosevelt was eight, her mother died of diphtheria and she and her brothers were sent to live with her maternal grandmother, Mary Ludlow Hall (1843–1919) at Tivoli, New York and at a brownstone in New York City. Just before Roosevelt turned ten, she was orphaned when her father died of complications of alcoholism. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, author Joseph Lash describes her during this period of childhood as insecure and starved for affection, considering herself “ugly”. In the fall of 1899, with the encouragement of her paternal aunt Bamie Cowles, the family decided to send Roosevelt to Allenswood Academy, an English finishing school. The headmistress, Marie Souvestre, was a noted feminist educator who sought to cultivate independent thinking in the young women in her charge. Roosevelt learned to speak French fluently and gained self-confidence. Her first-cousin Corinne Robinson, whose first term at Allenswood overlapped with Roosevelt’s last, said that when she arrived at the school, Roosevelt was “everything”.

Marriage and family life

In 1902 at age 17, Eleanor Roosevelt returned to the United States, ending her formal education, and was later given a debutante party. Soon afterward, she met her father’s (Elliott Roosevelt‘s) fifth cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, then a 20-year-old junior at Harvard University. Following a White House reception and dinner with her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, on New Year’s Day, 1903, Franklin’s courtship of Eleanor began. In November, 1903, they became engaged, although the engagement was not announced for more than a year, until December 1, 1904, at the insistence of Franklin’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Anna Eleanor Roosevelt were married on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17, 1905) at Eleanor’s great-aunt’s home in New York City. The marriage produced six children, five of whom survived infancy: Anna Eleanor, Jr., James, Franklin Delano, Jr. (who was born and died in 1909), Elliott, Franklin Delano, and John Aspinwall. Following a honeymoon in Europe, the newlyweds settled in New York City, in a house provided by Sara, as well as at the family’s estate overlooking the Hudson River in Hyde Park, New York.

The family began spending summers at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, on the MaineCanada border, where Franklin was stricken with high fever in August, 1921, which resulted in permanent paralysis of his legs. Although the disease was widely believed during his lifetime to be poliomyelitis, some retrospective analysts now favor the diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome (see Franklin D. Roosevelt’s paralytic illness). Franklin’s attending physician, Dr. William Keen, believed it was polio and commended Eleanor’s devotion to the stricken Franklin during that time of travail, “You have been a rare wife and have borne your heavy burden most bravely”, proclaiming her “one of my heroines”. A play and movie depicting that time, Sunrise at Campobello, were produced almost 40 years later.

Relationship with mother-in-law

Roosevelt had a contentious relationship with her domineering mother-in-law, Sara Delano Roosevelt. Long before Eleanor fell in love with her future husband and distant cousin, Franklin, she already had a relationship with Sara as a distant but highly engaging cousin, with whom she corresponded. Although they had a difficult relationship, Sara sincerely wanted to be a mother to Eleanor and did her best before and during the marriage to fill this role. Sara had her own reasons for attempting to prevent their marriage and historians continue to discuss them. Historians also have had widely diverging opinions on the pluses and minuses of this relationship.

Eleanor and her future mother-in-law Sara Delano Roosevelt in 1904

Eleanor and her future mother-in-law Sara Delano Roosevelt in 1904

From Sara’s perspective, Eleanor was relatively young, inexperienced and lacked the support from her late mother, Anna Hall Roosevelt. Despite her forceful and domineering personality, Sara had much to teach her new daughter-in-law on what a young wife should know. Eleanor, while sometimes resenting Sara’s domineering nature, nevertheless highly valued her opinion in the early years of her marriage until she developed the experience and confidence a wife gains from the school of marital “hard knocks”. Historians continue to study the reasons Eleanor allowed Sara to dominate their lives, especially in the first years of the marriage. Eleanor’s income was more than half of that of her husband’s when they married in 1905 and could have lived still relatively luxuriously without Sara’s financial support.

From Sara’s perspective, she was bound and determined to ensure her son’s success in all areas of life including his marriage. Sara had doted on her son to the point of spoiling him, and now intended to help him make a success of his marriage with a woman that she evidently viewed as being totally unprepared for her new role as chatelaine of a great family. Sara would continue to give huge presents to her new grandchildren, but sometimes Eleanor had problems with the influence that came with “mother’s largesse.”

Tensions with some “Oyster Bay Roosevelts”

Although Roosevelt was always in the good graces of her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, the paterfamilias of the Oyster Bay Roosevelts, as the Republican branch of the family was known, she often found herself at odds with his eldest daughter, Alice Roosevelt. Theodore felt Eleanor’s conduct to be far more responsible, socially acceptable and cooperative: in short, more “Rooseveltian” than that of the beautiful, highly photogenic but rebellious and self-absorbed Alice, to whom he would ask, “Why can’t you be more like ‘cousin Eleanor’?” These early experiences laid the foundation for life-long strain between the two high-profile cousins. Though the youthful Alice’s comraderly relationship with Franklin during the World War I years in Washington is still the object of curiosity among Rooseveltian scholars, both Eleanor’s and his relationship with Alice and other Oyster Bay Roosevelts would be aggravated by the widening political gulf between the Hyde Park and Oyster Bay families as Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s political career began to take off. Embittered as she was by the eclipse of her father’s career, characteristically caustic comments by “Cousin Alice”, such as her later description of Franklin as “two-thirds mush and one-third Eleanor” certainly did not help. When Franklin was inaugurated president in 1933, Alice was invited to attend along with her brothers, Kermit and Archie.

Franklin’s affair and Eleanor’s relationships

Despite its happy start and Eleanor’s intense desire to be a loving and loved wife, the Roosevelts’ marriage almost disintegrated over Franklin’s affair with Eleanor’s social secretary Lucy Mercer (later Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd). When Eleanor learned of the affair from Mercer’s letters to Franklin (found in his suitcases), which she discovered in September 1918, she was brought to despair and self-reproach. She told Franklin she would insist on a divorce if he did not immediately end the affair.

Eleanor and Fala, the Roosevelts' dog during the White House years

Eleanor and Fala, the Roosevelts’ dog during the White House years

So implacable was Sara’s opposition to divorce that she warned her son she would disinherit him. Corinne Robinson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Louis Howe, Franklin’s political advisor, were also influential in persuading Eleanor and Franklin to save the marriage for the sake of the five children and Franklin’s political career. The idea has been put forth that because Mercer was a Catholic she would never have married a divorced Protestant. Her relatives maintain that she was perfectly willing to marry Franklin. Her father’s family was Episcopal and her mother, Minnie, had been divorced. While Franklin agreed never to see Mercer again, she began visiting him in the 1930s and was with Franklin at Warm Springs, Georgia when he died in 1945.

Although the marriage survived, Roosevelt emerged a different woman, coming to the realization that she could achieve fulfillment only through her own influence and life, not someone else’s. Ironically, her husband’s paralysis was soon to place his political future at least partially in her hands, requiring her to play an active role in NY State Democratic politics in order to keep his name alive in party circles. In fact it was a move she had been gradually making, having long held considerable if repressed interest in politics and social issues. During the 1920s as FDR dealt with his illness, with the coaching of his trusted political advisor, Louis McHenry Howe, she quickly became a prominent face among Democratic women and a force in NY State politics (see Public Life in the years before the White House). Although she and her husband were often separated by their activities during these year, their relationship, though at times strained, was close, despite Eleanor’s insistence on severing their physical relationship after discovery of Franklin’s affair. He was to often pay tribute to her care for him during the worst days of his illness, her help to him in his work, encouraging his staff and others to view them as a team, and to her ability to connect with various groups of people. He respected her intelligence and honest and sincere desire to improve the world even if he sometimes found her too insistent and lacking in political suppleness. “Your back has no bend.” he once told her. In 1926 he took great pleasure in presenting her with a cottage on the Hyde Park estate (the Stone Cottage) where she and her closest female friends at the time [Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman] could escape from the main house when her difficulties with Sara became too challenging. In 1928, she was urged by Al Smith, party politican, bold social reformer, NY State Governor, and the Democratic (and first Catholic) candiate for President to press her husband, then in Warm Springs, GA, undergoing what he hoped would be the treatment that would restore his legs, to run for New York Governor in Smith’s place in order to hold the state in the Democratic fold. After repeated urgings she finally placed a call to Warm Springs and was greeted by a cheery Franklin who gleefully told her he’d been successfully dodging all of Smith’s frantic calls. She handed the phone to Smith and the rest, as they say, is history. Though pleased for Franklin she was increasing despondent as he resumed his career, fearing she would be forced to take on an increasingly ceremonial role as governor’s and later, President’s, wife. During the 1932 campaign, Louis Howe was horrified to read a despairing note about her feelings of uselessness she had sent to a friend and tore it up, warning the friend to say nothing. A cautious approach by her to Franklin after the election, to take on some of his mail was gently rebuffed by him to her distress, he suggesting it would offend [Missy Le Hand]. However he and Howe had larger plans for her. The skills she had developed as a political trooper for the women’s branch of the NY State Democratic party as well as during her time as NY State’s First Lady were to stand her in good stead. Howe made immediate use of her in dealing with the problem of the Bonus Army, unemployed veterans of World War I who had marched and encamped in Washington, DC, demanding payment of the bonuses promised to them for their wartime service. President Herbert Hoover had viewed them as a dangerous, Communist-inspired group and sent the Army under Commander-in-Chief Douglas MacArthur to drive the group out with tear gas. Now Roosevelt and Howe took a radically different approach sending food, friendly greetings, and Eleanor… “Hoover sent the Army, Roosevelt sent his wife.” becoming one of the classic lines of the New Deal era.

In 1933 Mrs. Roosevelt had a very close relationship with Lorena Hickok a reporter who had covered her during the campaign and early days of the Roosevelt administration and sensed her discontent, which spanned her early years in the White House. On the day of her husband’s inauguration, she was wearing a sapphire ring that Hickok had given her. Later, when their correspondence was made public, it became clear that Roosevelt would write such endearments as, ‘I want to put my arms around you & kiss you at the corner of your mouth.’ It is however unknown if her husband was aware of that relationship, which scholar Lillian Faderman has deemed to be lesbian. Hickok’s relationship with Roosevelt has been the subject of much speculation but it has not been determined by historians whether or not the two were romantically connected.

Roosevelt also had a close relationship with New York State Police sergeant Earl Miller. Franklin had assigned Miller as her bodyguard. Prior to that Miller had been Al Smith‘s personal bodyguard and was acquainted with Franklin from World War I. Miller was an athlete and had been the Navy’s middleweight boxing champion as well as a member of the U.S. Olympic squad at the Antwerp games in 1920.

Eleanor Roosevelt was 44 when they met, in 1929, and Miller was 32. According to several of Franklin’s biographers Jean Edward Smith, Joseph Lash, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Miller became her friend as well as official escort. He taught her different sport activities, like diving and riding, and coached her tennis game. Whether they were more than good friends is open to conjecture and Miller has denied a romantic relationship. For example, according to Blanche Wiesen Cook, Earl Miller was Eleanor’s “first romantic involvement” in her middle years but she does not speculate further. James Roosevelt wrote that “From my observations, I personally believe they were more than friends.” Eleanor’s friendship with Miller coincided with Franklin’s relationship with his secretary Missy LeHand, and Smith writes that “Remarkably, both ER and Franklin recognized, accepted, and encouraged the arrangement… Eleanor and Franklin were strong-willed people who cared greatly for each other’s happiness but realized their own inability to provide for it.” Their relationship went on until Eleanor’s death in 1962, but there is not much evidence of it. There are some photographs and a few home movies. They are thought to have corresponded daily, but all letters are lost. According to rumors the letters were anonymously purchased and destroyed or locked away when Eleanor died. In later years, Eleanor was said to have developed a romantic attachment to her physician, David Gurewitsch, though it is likely to have not gone beyond a deep friendship.

Public life in the years before the White House

Following Franklin’s paralytic illness attack in 1921, Eleanor began serving as a stand-in for her incapacitated husband, making public appearances on his behalf, often carefully coached by Louis Howe, with increasingly successful results. She also started working with the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), raising funds in support of the union’s goals: a 48-hour work week, minimum wage, and the abolition of child labor. Throughout the 1920s, she became increasingly influential as a leader in the New York State Democratic Party while FDR used her contacts among Democratic women to strengthen his standing with them, winning their committed support for the future. In 1924, she actively campaigned for Alfred E. Smith in his successful re-election bid as governor of New York State. By 1928, she was actively promoting Smith’s candidacy for president and Franklin Roosevelt’s nomination as the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor of New York, succeeding Smith. Although Smith lost, Franklin Roosevelt won handily and the Roosevelts moved into the governor’s mansion in Albany, New York.

Roosevelt also taught literature and American history at the Todhunter School for Girls in New York City in the 1920s.

First Lady of the United States (1933–1945)

Eleanor Roosevelt and Madame Chiang Kai-shek

Eleanor Roosevelt and Madame Chiang Kai-shek

Eleanor Roosevelt met President Ramon Magsaysay, the 7th  President of the Philippines, and his wife at the Malacañang Palace.

Eleanor Roosevelt met President Ramon Magsaysay, the 7th President of the Philippines, and his wife at the Malacañang Palace.

Having seen her aunt Edith Roosevelt‘s strictly circumscribed role and traditional protocol during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909), Roosevelt set out on a different course. With FDR’s strong support, despite criticism, she continued with the active business and speaking agenda she had begun before becoming First Lady, in an era when few women had careers outside the home. She was the first First Lady to hold weekly press conferences and started writing a syndicated newspaper column, “My Day”. Roosevelt maintained a heavy travel schedule over her twelve years in the White House, frequently making personal appearances at labor meetings to assure Depression-era workers that the White House was mindful of their plight. In one widely-circulated cartoon of the time from The New Yorker magazine (June 3, 1933) lampooning the peripatetic First Lady, an astonished coal miner, peering down a dark tunnel, says to a co-worker “For gosh sakes, here comes Mrs. Roosevelt!” Roosevelt saw the job of the First Lady as a buffer between victims of the Great Depression and the government bureaucracy, a guardian of human values within the administration, not just as a social, ceremonial position and her husband encouraged the nation’s view of the couple as a team in politics and their approach to social issues, often reaping political benefits without the risks of committing himself to such positions.

Eleanor also became an important connection for Franklin’s administration to the African-American population during the segregation era. During Franklin’s terms as President, despite Franklin’s need to placate southern sentiment, Eleanor was vocal in her support of the African-American civil rights movement. She was outspoken in her support of Marian Anderson in 1939 when the black singer was denied the use of Washington’s Constitution Hall and was instrumental in the subsequent concert held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The first lady also played a role in racial affairs when she appointed Mary McLeod Bethune as head of the Division of Negro Affairs.

World War II

In 1941, Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and other Americans concerned about threats to democracy established Freedom House. Once the United States entered World War II, she was active on the homefront, co-chairing a national committee on civil defense with New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and frequently visiting civilian and military centers to boost war morale.

Roosevelt flying with Tuskegee Airman Charles "Chief" Anderson

Roosevelt flying with Tuskegee Airman Charles “Chief” Anderson

In 1943, she was sent on a trip to the South Pacific, scene of major battles against the Japanese. The trip became a legend, her fortitude in patiently visiting thousands of wounded servicemen through miles of hospitals causing even the hard-bitten [Admiral Halsey] who had opposed her visit initially to sing her praises. A Republican serviceman insisted to a colleague that he and the other soldiers who’d encountered her warmth would gladly repay any grumbling civilians for whatever gasoline and rubber her visit had cost.

Desirous of improving relations with other countries in the Western Hemisphere, Roosevelt embarked on a whirlwind tour of Latin American countries in March 1944. For the trip, which would cover a number of nations and involve thousands of air miles, she was given a U.S. government-owned C-87A aircraft, the Guess Where II, a VIP transport plane which had originally been built to carry her husband abroad. After reviewing the poor safety record of that aircraft type (many had either caught fire or crashed during the war), the Secret Service forbade the use of the plane for carrying the president, even on trips of short duration, but approved its use for the First Lady.

Roosevelt especially supported more opportunities for women and African-Americans, notably the Tuskegee Airmen in their successful effort to become the first black combat pilots. At a time when there was still racial segregation in the armed forces and considerable opposition to allowing blacks to train as pilots, the First Lady was openly supportive of the Tuskegee Airmen. She visited the Tuskegee Air Corps Advanced Flying School in Alabama and, at her request, flew with a black student pilot for more than an hour, which had great symbolic value and brought visibility to Tuskegee’s pilot training program. She also arranged a White House meeting in July 1941 for representatives of the Tuskegee flight school to plead their cause for more support from the military establishment in Washington. Afterwards, the president of the Tuskegee Institute, F.D. Patterson, wrote to her at the White House that he was “greatly heartened to know of your sympathetic interest”. As the war raged in Europe and the Tuskegee Airmen distinguished themselves in combat over the skies of Europe in 1943, Tuskegee President Patterson sent a telegram to her expressing his gratitude: “[I] feel your presence and endorsement … was a major factor in favorable action. [I] am happy men in air now at front are justifying in full measure the great confidence you and others expressed in them”.

Roosevelt was a strong proponent of the Morgenthau Plan to de-industrialize Germany in the postwar period, and was in 1946 one of the few prominent individuals to remain a member of the campaign group lobbying for a harsh peace for Germany.

The years after the White House

United Nations

Roosevelt speaking at the United Nations in July 1947

Roosevelt speaking at the United Nations in July 1947

In 1946, U.S. President Harry S. Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She played an instrumental role, along with René Cassin, John Peters Humphrey and others, in drafting the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Roosevelt served as the first chairperson of the UN Human Rights Commission. On the night of September 28, 1948, Roosevelt spoke on behalf of the Declaration calling it “the international Magna Carta of all mankind” (James 1948). The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The vote of the General Assembly was unanimous except for eight abstentions.

Roosevelt resigned from her UN post in 1953 when Dwight D. Eisenhower became president.

Relations with the Catholic Church

In July 1949, Roosevelt had a public disagreement with Francis Cardinal Spellman, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, which was characterized as “a battle still remembered for its vehemence and hostility”. In her columns, Roosevelt had attacked proposals for federal funding of certain nonreligious activities at parochial schools, such as bus transportation for students. Spellman cited the Supreme Court’s decision which upheld such provisions, accusing her of anti-Catholicism. Most Democrats rallied behind Roosevelt, and Cardinal Spellman eventually met with her at her Hyde Park home to quell the dispute. However, Roosevelt maintained her belief that Catholic schools should not receive federal aid, evidently heeding the writings of secularists such as Paul Blanshard.

During the Spanish Civil War, Roosevelt favored the republican Loyalists against General Francisco Franco‘s Nationalists; after 1945, she opposed normalizing relations with Spain. She told Spellman bluntly that “I cannot however say that in European countries the control by the Roman Catholic Church of great areas of land has always led to happiness for the people of those countries.” Her son Elliott Roosevelt suggested that her “reservations about Catholicism” were rooted in her husband’s sexual affairs with Lucy Mercer and Missy LeHand, who were both Catholics.

Roosevelt’s defenders, such as biographer Joseph P. Lash, deny that she was anti-Catholic, citing her public support of Al Smith, a Catholic, in the 1928 presidential campaign and her statement to a New York Times reporter that year quoting her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, in expressing “the hope to see the day when a Catholic or a Jew would become president” (The New York Times, January 25, 1928).

Postwar politics

In the late 1940s, Roosevelt was courted for political office by Democrats in New York and throughout the country.

At first I was surprised that anyone should think that I would want to run for office, or that I was fitted to hold office. Then I realized that some people felt that I must have learned something from my husband in all the years that he was in public life! They also knew that I had stressed the fact that women should accept responsibility as citizens. I heard that I was being offered the nomination for governor or for the United States Senate in my own state, and even for Vice President. And some particularly humorous souls wrote in and suggested that I run as the first woman President of the United States! The simple truth is that I have had my fill of public life of the more or less stereotyped kind.

With Frank Sinatra in 1960

With Frank Sinatra in 1960

In the 1948 campaign, she was touted by some as the ideal running mate for President Truman. The North Dakota State Democratic Central Committee passed a resolution in 1947 calling for a Truman-Roosevelt ticket, and when Truman was asked if he would consider, he replied, “Why, of course, of course… What do you expect me to say to that?” Nevertheless, Roosevelt rejected the appeals and insisted she had no interest in elective politics. Her son James Roosevelt would later say she refused to be considered for the vice presidency “because she was afraid of it.”

In 1954, Tammany Hall boss Carmine DeSapio campaigned against Roosevelt’s son, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., during the New York Attorney General elections, which Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. lost. Roosevelt held DeSapio responsible for her son’s defeat and grew increasingly disgusted with his political conduct through the rest of the 1950s. Eventually, she would join with her old friends Herbert Lehman and Thomas Finletter to form the New York Committee for Democratic Voters, a group dedicated to enhancing the democratic process by opposing DeSapio’s reincarnated Tammany. Their efforts were eventually successful, and DeSapio was removed from power in 1961.

Roosevelt was a close friend of Adlai Stevenson and supported his candidacies in the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections. When President Truman backed New York Governor W. Averell Harriman, who was a close associate of Carmine DeSapio, for the Democratic presidential nomination, Roosevelt was disappointed but continued to support Stevenson who ultimately won the nomination. She backed Stevenson once again in 1960 primarily to block John F. Kennedy, who eventually received the presidential nomination. Nevertheless she worked hard to promote the Kennedy-Johnson ticket in 1960 and was appointed to policy-making positions by the young president, including the National Advisory Committee of the Peace Corps.

 
Newly-elected U.S. President John F. Kennedy calls on Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (1961)

Newly-elected U.S. President John F. Kennedy calls on Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (1961)

By the 1950s Roosevelt’s international role as spokesperson for women led her to stop publicly attacking the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). But she never supported it. In 1961, President Kennedy’s undersecretary of labor, Esther Peterson proposed a new “President’s Commission on the Status of Women”. Kennedy appointed Roosevelt to chair the commission, with Peterson as director. Roosevelt died just before the commission issued its final report. It concluded that female equality was best achieved by recognition of gender differences and needs, and not by an Equal Rights Amendment.

Roosevelt was responsible for the eventual establishment, in 1964, of the 2,800 acre (11 km²) Roosevelt Campobello International Park on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. This followed a gift of the Roosevelt summer estate to the Canadian and American governments.

Honors and awards

Roosevelt at Hyde Park with Ralph Bellamy and Greer Garson, filming Sunrise at Campobello (1960)

Roosevelt at Hyde Park with Ralph Bellamy and Greer Garson, filming Sunrise at Campobello (1960)

Roosevelt received 35 honorary degrees during her life, compared to 31 awarded to her husband. Her first, a Doctor of Humane Letters or D.H.L. on June 13, 1929, was also the first honorary degree awarded by Russell Sage College in Troy, New York. Her last was a Doctor of Laws, LL.D. degree granted by what is now Clark Atlanta University in June 1962.

In 1968, she was awarded one of the United Nations Human Rights Prizes. There was an unsuccessful campaign to award her a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize; however, a posthumous nomination has never been considered for the award.

In 1960, Greer Garson played Roosevelt in the movie Sunrise at Campobello, which portrayed Eleanor’s instrumental role during Franklin’s paralytic illness and his protracted struggle to reenter politics in its aftermath.

Westmoreland Homesteads, located in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, was created on April 13, 1934, as one of a series of “subsistence homesteads” under the National Industrial Recovery Act. In 1937, the community changed it’s name to Norvelt (EleaNOR RooseVELT), following a visit by the first lady.

The Norvelt fireman’s hall located is called Roosevelt Hall.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the only First Lady to receive honorary membership into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, the world’s first and eldest sorority for African American women.

Later life

Following Franklin’s death in 1945, Eleanor moved from the White House to Val-Kill Cottage in Hyde Park, NY, where she lived the rest of her life.

Statue of Eleanor Roosevelt at Washington D.C. memorial

Statue of Eleanor Roosevelt at Washington D.C. memorial

Roosevelt was a member of the Brandeis University Board of Trustees, delivering the University’s first commencement speech, and joined the Brandeis faculty as a visiting lecturer in international relations in 1959 at the age of 75. On November 15, 1960, she met for the last time with former US President, Harry S. Truman and his wife, Bess Truman, at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. Roosevelt had raised considerable funds for the erection and dedication of the building. The Trumans would later attend Roosevelt’s memorial service in Hyde Park, NY in November, 1962.

In 1961, all volumes of Roosevelt’s autobiography, which she had begun writing in 1937, were compiled into The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt, which is still in print (Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-80476-X).

Roosevelt was injured in April 1960 when she was struck by a car in New York City. Afterwards, her health began a rapid decline. Subsequently diagnosed with aplastic anemia, she developed bone marrow tuberculosis. Roosevelt died at her Manhattan apartment on November 7, 1962 at 6:15 p.m., at the age of 78.

Her funeral at Hyde Park was attended by President John F. Kennedy and former Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. At her memorial service, Adlai Stevenson asked, “What other single human being has touched and transformed the existence of so many?” Stevenson also said that Roosevelt was someone “who would rather light a candle than curse the darkness.” She was laid to rest next to Franklin at the family compound in Hyde Park, New York on November 10, 1962. A laconic cartoon published at the time showed two angels looking down towards an opening in the clouds with the caption “She’s here”.

Roosevelt, who considered herself plain and craved affection as a child, had in the end transcended whatever shortcomings she felt were hers to bring comfort and hope to many, becoming one of the most admired figures of the 20th century.

Jeff Carter, my friend who is now the director of music at Webster University in St. Louis, always finds the neatest things. This was an incredible discovery!

http://jeffreycarter.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/candidate-record-on-the-arts.pdf

At 12:05am the five buses carrying the marching band passed in front of the house. I was standing on the front steps smoking my pipe and letting Flyer explore the symphony of smells in the front yard when they passed. Bringing up the rear was Mike Berning, the band director, and his family, honking as they passed.

This week was just incredibly busy. I worked my butt off, but always seemed to be behind in accomplishing all I wished. My email is backed up a mile long, but the study and rest of the house is organized and efficient.

Today I woke after a semi-restful sleep, and plowed right into writing and researching on the Wright Brothers’ musical. I took some time out during lunch to read up on the economy and some of the boiling political issues. At 2:00pm my first student arrived, and at 5:15pm my last student was leaving – an early night with one student ill, and another on a college visit.

I ate some rice, broccoli and cheese casserole, and green beans, and relaxed with two episodes of TWO AND A HALF MEN – one of my favorite shows.

At 8:00pm I dove into the musical writing, and edited a good deal. 11:15pm, I was trying to tackle one particular scene with no success. An email from my lyricist, Gail, who now lives in California, arrived, offering some suggestions to the very scene that had been giving me fits for over an hour. With a few more emails, I knew which direction we should take and by midnight I was sending off the latest draft through the miracle of the internet.

Gail Whipple – another Oscar Hammerstein II

Around 12:20am I walked Flyer over to the performing arts wing and met up with Jose. It is a beautiful evening, just a little chilly – but still nice.

Tomorrow we will run some errands and try to find something fun to do together until it is time to head over to the stadium for the marching band invitational hosted by Fairmont. We will probably be tripping in after midnight.

In two weeks the marching band season will conclude, and Jose and I shall hopefully have more time together. I so enjoy my time with him, and his humor and cheery disposition is a great comfort. In a few years, it will just be me, Flyer and Logan, unless I adopt more sons.

Today is Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday… what a great lady! Even Jose has one of her quotes posted above his bed.

(CNN) — March 30, 1981. Arguably the most powerful man in the world is shot.

Ronald Reagan

President Reagan waves to crowds just before he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

As measures were taken to save President Reagan’s life, the press was trying to bring the story to the American people. But information was scarce; the media both at the scene and at the hospital had no idea just how serious it was.

“We did not know, the general public or the press, how near death he was when he collapsed in the ER,” recalled Sam Donaldson, a former ABC White House correspondent. “The first briefing did not give us any of those details; the first briefing was a fairly upbeat briefing.”

Former White House reporter Helen Thomas has covered every president from John Kennedy to George W. Bush for United Press International. She says the atmosphere was tense and the answers few.

“We were asking many questions, which the White House refused to answer. There was a great sense of frustration in terms of what was really going on,” Thomas said.

Today, HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, protects the privacy rights of ordinary Americans, but what about when the patient is the president?

Is the next president fit to lead? CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta uncovers the health secrets of presidents past and future.

Over the years, covering a health crisis has been a delicate dance for the White House Press Corps. History shows that administrations have for years covered up presidential illness.

Woodrow Wilson had a series of small strokes before he was sworn in to office in 1913. It wasn’t known whether he would survive his first term, and his doctors never talked about it.

Presidential historian Robert Dallek said Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke in 1919. He and his doctor discussed the possibility that Wilson would resign, but his wife talked him out of it. According to Dallek, she largely ran the presidency in 1920.

Elected to the first of four terms in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down with polio. In private, he used a wheelchair, but in public, it was a different story. He was able to downplay his disability — it’s said with the media’s help — and was almost always photographed without his chair. Gravely ill, Roosevelt died less than six months into his fourth term, even though his personal physician claimed that he was in excellent health.

In 1955, Dwight Eisenhower suffered a massive heart attack while vacationing in Denver, Colorado. Facing a run for re-election, he and his staff tried to minimize the political impact.

“We usually received evasive answers,” Thomas said. “James Haggerty, the press secretary and a former reporter, insisted on relaying the un-garbled truth about Ike’s illness. Even then, reporters were given confusing details: some calling it a heart attack, others a stroke.”

Eisenhower announced that he would seek another term when he was cleared by his doctors five months later.

Even presidents who were in good physical health have had medical emergencies while in office. On September 15, 1979, President Carter collapsed while running a 10k race near Camp David, Maryland. After a few tense minutes, he was diagnosed with heatstroke.

“By the time we’d heard about the incident … they’d ruled out heart attack; they’d ruled out something terrible,” Donaldson remembered. “He’d simply collapsed from a combination of exhaustion; he’d lost weight; he’d run himself ragged, if you will, in those months of his presidency.”

Dallek says the public is entitled to a full accounting of the medical condition of the commander in chief but often doesn’t get it. Kennedy had a number of illnesses kept from the public, as was Richard Nixon’s drinking, according to Dallek.

“The people around them want to shield them from the public knowledge that this is an individual who is not going to be able to function all that effectively,” Dallek said. “They think they’re doing it to serve the national well-being, because the public doesn’t want to be so alarmed that a president is immobilized and cannot face a possible foreign or domestic crisis that might emerge.”

The balance between personal privacy and the public’s right to know has shifted some over the years. More recent administrations have been a little more accommodating, a little more open about the health of U.S. presidents. In the search for answers, verbal sparring between the press and White House spokesmen is common. Donaldson said reporters often have to dig deep.

“White House doctors were forthcoming to the extent, I think, that they didn’t lie about the information,” Donaldson said. “But there’s a difference between lying about something and telling it all, expanding on it and giving us the detail … and I think in that sense, they weren’t that forthcoming.”

Former CNN White House correspondent Charles Bierbauer remembers covering George H.W. Bush when the president fell ill at a state dinner in Japan on January 8, 1992. He says he watched in frustration as it all unfolded on a video monitor in the Banquet Hall.

“We couldn’t hear what was going on; we could only see pictures. Which only adds to the consternation of what’s happening and how do we find out,” Bierbauer said. “We tried to get in touch with the White House press office. … I or the producer would get on the phone and say, ‘We need to talk to Marlon [Fitzwater],’ and they would say, ‘Marlon can’t talk right now.’ “

But some in the working press feel that we’re seeing a new era and the lines of communication are getting better.

In 2002, when President George W. Bush choked on a pretzel and passed out while watching a Miami Dolphins football game in the White House residence, then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer alerted the press immediately.

“If the president has a little skin tag removed, does the country need to know? Now, I can make a case for privacy there,” Fleischer said.

“President passes out, country needs to know. So there is still a zone of medical privacy that presidents and candidates should be entitled, to but I think it’s a small and it’s a narrow zone. Anything that could affect a performance in office, I think the public has a right to know.”

Of course, when the president is sporting a bruise on his face that’s nearly the size of a quarter, there’s really no way to keep that under wraps or hidden from the White House Press Corps.

Editor’s note: Campbell Brown anchors CNN’s “Campbell Brown: Election Center” at 8 p.m. ET Mondays through Fridays. She delivered this commentary during the “Cutting through the Bull” segment of Monday night’s broadcast.

Campbell Brown says whoever wins should enter the White House with his dignity intact.

NEW YORK (CNN) — By now you’ve probably heard about how ugly things have gotten out there on the campaign trail in the last 48 hours.

Campbell Brown says whoever wins should enter the White House with his dignity intact.

But we thought for just a moment we would take you back to kinder, gentler times.

Remember this:

Sen. John McCain: I pledge again a respectful campaign. A respectful campaign based on the issues and based on the stark differences we have on the vision for the future of America.

Sen. Barack Obama: I said I was looking forward to a civil substantive debate on the issues and he agreed.

McCain: I’ve pledged to conduct a respectful campaign and I urge, time after time, various entities within the Republican party to also do that.

Obama: We don’t need John McCain and I to be demonizing each other. You won’t get that from my campaign.

Oh how far we have come in such a short period of time.

To say, as Gov. Sarah Palin is now doing, that Barack Obama pals around with terrorists is just outrageous.

But Obama’s hands aren’t clean either. Here is what he said in May of this year about McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five, a savings and loan scandal that happened in the late 80s.

Obama said, “I don’t think there is any doubt that John McCain’s public record about issues that he’s apologized for and written about is not germane to the presidency.”

And yet this morning the Obama campaign released a mini-documentary, walking voters through all the details of the Keating Five — making it very much germane.

There is just one month left. Please, please don’t let this devolve into a campaign you are sickened by and embarrassed to be part of.

Here’s a purely practical reason: The negativity you are spewing now will only make your job harder after Election Day.

Bipartisanship is really tough to achieve when everyone on both sides is left with a bad bad taste in their mouths.

Here is the new CNN Opinion Research Corp. When asked “How are things going in the country today?” 80 percent said badly. Eighty percent. Pollsters have been asking that question since 1974. Eighty percent is an all-time low. People want to hear solutions from you. They want to hear how you are going to get us out of this mess.

One of you will have to. Don’t you want to be able to walk into the White House with your dignity intact and your head held high?

This is a message I posted on one of my hometown’s websites, WILLKIE’S PRIDE.

This morning, my sixteen year old son came into my study before leaving for school and said he was really frustrated with something in marching band. The percussion section leader yells all the time at the end of rehearsal when the other members are not moving instruments and equipment along, especially when there’s a lull in the activity. I asked if she provided the section with a schedule/list, outlining the order of items to be moved on to the trailer, as well as an assignment list to move the equipment.

No. There was not.

“What can you do to help this situation?” I asked.

“There’s nothing I can do.”

With that, he knew he had said the wrong thing as I smiled, peering over my reading glasses.

My son nodded his head. “I can suggest to her that we come up with a schedule or list of what needs to be done and who needs to do it.”

I then asked, “Are you and other percussion members standing around, complaining?”

He nodded.

My son got the message. One of the rules in our home is: “Don’t complain, get in there and help fix it.”

As I read various websites of both published and guest entries the election, I read a ton of complaining, side-line-recliner coaching, but what I am not reading, or hearing is, “How can I help fix this?”

We all know that we will be fixing something, one way or another, just by voting this November.

But is that enough?

What more, as a citizen of the United States of American, can I do to help improve what needs to be improved?

The last election of 2004, I took my sons to see both vice- presidential candidates when they appeared in the Dayton area. We also attended several rallies, and information sessions for each candidate (and we do this for local elections, as well). As a parent, I lead my family in discussion of these issues, reminding
them that the votes cast this November can, and will affect their children and grandchildren.

“How is that possible?” one son asked.

I explained: in 1860 the country elected Lincoln, and today, we still thrive as one union. In 1904, when Theodore Roosevelt was elected in his own right (he succeeded the assassinated William McKinley in
1901) he promoted conservation of various natural landmarks that eventually led to the National Parks’ system. A number of FDR’s programs are still with us, as are programs from the administrations
of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. When social security began, my great-grandparents, and maybe my grandparents had voted in an election that brought FDR to the White House. And my fourth great-grandfather fought in the Union cavalry to hold the country together.

The actions, and even inactions of my parents, grandparents (and so on) during election seasons have resulted – both directly, and indirectly to the country in which I live.
 
As a young boy of ten, I campaigned heavily for Congressman Hillis, and even Senator Lugar. There was even a photograph in the Elwood Call-Leader of Congressman Hillis standing with my family.

At that rally, I believe in the building which now houses the chamber of commerce, something Congressman Hillis said in 1974, has remained with me for thirty-four years.

Paraphrased: “You are all here because you believe in making a difference. You are out here working to better your community, your county, your district, your state and your country.”

During the question & answer portion of his campaign, Congressman Hillis was asked about the recent horrors of Watergate, and what he thought of President Ford’s pardon for President Nixon (who was a
Republican).

Congressman Hillis then stressed how important it was for us as Americans (United States’ citizens) to move ahead, and beyond the past, and if we all worked together with a positive attitude we could accomplish do much more.

One gentlemen referred to Nixon as “a thief.” Congressman Hillis smiled, and politely suggested that we not resort to name calling. He then encouraged us to be more positive in our thoughts, comments, and
actions and to continue to work together no matter to what political party we belong.

That advice has been one of my mantras when leading bands, choirs, productions, classrooms, and volunteers organizations. One of the rules for the classroom or rehearsals – “Leave the drama and negative
attitudes outside.”

Last week, a fellow classmate of mine posted something from a national newspaper that pounced on President Bush. Immediately, there were follow-up comments of “Bush Bashing” and ridicule for the author
and newspaper as though a hideous felony was committed.

As the DNC Convention began, the negative mudslinging came out in full force, especially comments about Senator Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick incident. And naturally, from recent years, recalls of Monica Lewinsky.

When the GOP Convention airs, will we also be reminded that President Harding (R) had numerous affairs, fathered a child or two, and died as his administration was ready to erupt in scandal?

Will we remember the alleged affair General Eisenhower (R) had with his military driver?

Will we recall the horrors of witnessing one of our nation’s most severe testing throughout the Watergate scandal which brought down a Republican President?

Will we be reminded that President Reagan (R), one of the most beloved presidents in recent years, did, or did not know about the Iran-Contra trades?

Will people target First Lady Laura Bush with reminders that she too killed someone in an automobile accident by running a stop sign? (And, yes, I know this is miles apart from the controversy surrounding Ted Kennedy’s scandal at the Edgartown Bridge.)

As I was skimming through some of this morning’s posts on Willkies Pride, I caught sight of one member reminding us there are bigger fish to fry than picking apart the opposition, or any candidate for that matter.

And how I applaud that poster!

Echoing Congressman Hillis… what can each of us do to work towards a better community, a better county, a better state, a better country?

I occasionally read the one website dedicated purely to Elwood, and if all the complaints are true (which some are clearly skeptical) there appears to be plenty to do in the community of Elwood. Instead, on that particular site, a majority of the posters are there to complain. I brought forth numerous suggestions of taking the lead and making things happen by working together, because that’s what I remember most about Elwood when I was growing up. I remember neighbors helping one another; I remember the streets packed with people during parades (and I marched in enough of them to know); I remember citizens flocking to events…

But what is more, I remember fine people of a fine community who practiced a strong sense of community, a strong sense of commitment, a strong sense of pride, and a strong sense of working together to make a difference.

At church, one day, a lady who is a little older than my parents, commented on an upcoming “church cleaning day.”

“That’s for the young folks. I am going to sit back and enjoy life. I did my share.” And then she began berating all that was not right with the church, and some of the people.

I did not say anything, but my down cast eyes alerted her to the fact I disagreed. Finally, she said, “OK, Darin. I know you are thinking something.”

With that invitation, I cheerfully thanked her for her many contributions to the church. I then reminded her how her former positive attitude had been one of the elements in getting others involved in years now past. Then I asked if her work was truly completed? She thought for a minute. Finally, she looked up, smiled,
and said, “Heavens no! I am still alive.”

Sure enough, she was one who joined us for the spring cleaning day. And better yet, she convinced at least a dozen others to participate because they were a part of the church as well, and that it was up to each of them to participate, to help… to be.

This also applies to each of us with our schools, our communities, our state and our country. We each know someone of advanced years who died at their post – whether it was at work, or volunteering for a cause. This is what I desire – I don’t want to retire, sit at my computer desk (which I currently do as a playwright), and run down the beliefs or comments of others. Rather than complain about the items needing improvements, I hope and pray that I am healthy enough to be offering assistance, or volunteering… somehow, still making a
difference.

I hate to echo a Democrat, but there was once this brilliant phrase that resounded throughout the country in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

We have, somehow, evolved into a society of “wanters” with less emphasis on being “doers” or “givers.” We have become complacent.

Think of our parents and grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and WWII… I was so blessed to know many from this generation, and there are still many from this era that are in their 70’s and 80’s and are still vital contributors to their schools, communities, churches and state. We are fortunate to have a
presidential candidate, and now a vice-presidential candidate from this generation!

In our home, we have an expectation of ten (10) volunteer hours each month. My contribution is to teach pre-adoption courses at the agency through which I adopted my sons, or to lead the parent support group,
or represent the agency at local adoption affairs. I am also a band booster, a choir booster, and active with other community/school related activities. My youngest son volunteers by raking leaves, shoveling snow (all without pay), or assisting with the children’s program at the adoption agency.

I have one friend who is 83, and she volunteers at an elementary school as an aide in various areas. She has also encouraged many of her “widow friends” to do the same, or volunteer in other areas.

Once our children leave home, do we cease being their parent? No. Obviously, the roles change, but we never cease being their parent. And, although I am 43 years old, I am still the son of Diana Haas, and David Haas (and a genetic link to my birth father).

As citizens of a wonderful community, as citizens of a wonderful state, as citizens of a wonderful country, how can each of us make a difference?

How can each of us continue to work towards bettering our city, state and country, not just for our own lives, but for our children and grandchildren, as well?

Do we better ourselves, or improve our conditions with name calling, or dirt digging, or chastising another for their beliefs?

Did Michael Phelps win eight gold medals with a negative attitude? How many times did he say, “Neh, I’m not hitting the pool today; I just don’t feel like it.”?

Did our own recent grand champion of the swimming pool stop working towards her own goal to be in the Olympics?

If you cannot think of a reason to involve your self in some way to make a difference, think of someone like Mary Beth Dunnichay. How can we make each of our own children, or children in Elwood reach out
actively for their goals and dreams? How can we work with the schools or community and church organizations to instill in youth the self- esteem and confidence to be gold medal winners in their own lives,
and future careers?

Shouldn’t this be our initial inheritance to our children and grandchildren?

What better inheritance, or legacy can we leave future generations?

How can we teach them not to simply reach for the stars, but to be one?

We do not need to reach the national and international stages as Wendell L. Willkie, or Mary Beth Dunnichay in order to make a difference. There is so much each of us can do alone, or TOGETHER, to make a difference.

Flying your flag each day can make a difference.

For those of us who can do so, parking further away in a parking lot can make the difference for those who truly need to park closer to stores (handicap, senior citizens and mommies with children).

Leaving your quarter in the cart contraption at Aldis for someone else who truly needs it can make a difference. (And I have seen too many seniors who count down to the last penny!) And you can also buy
extra Aldis bags for five cents and tell the cashier to give them to someone who needs them.

Even complimenting a young child who demonstrates courtesy or good manners can make a difference (and don’t forget to thank their  parents for teaching them the difference!).

When I die, I do not wish to have a grave stone, a monument to a life lived. I hope, and pray that the work I do, and that the lives I touch will be my monument, and my legacy to my children, nephews, and their children. Each of us can provide living monuments – let’s do it.

After 9/11 we began flying our flags daily, and then it dwindled.

Why not fly our flags every day, rather than when our nation is in crises?

Can we celebrate our pride, our unity, our faith in our nation by flying our flags each day?

We united immediately after 9/11, and still continue to do so for memorial services each year.

Can we do this each day?

Make a difference in whatever way you can, but in a positive manner. That can also be a legacy to leave your children, and grandchildren.

And I close with words from one of Elwood’s own…

“In no direction that we turn do we find ease or comfort. If we are honest and if we have the will to win we find only danger, hard work and iron resolution.”

“It is from weakness that people reach for dictators and concentrated government power. Only the strong can be free. And only the productive can be strong.”

May God bless the United States of America.

“For united we stand, divided we fall
And if our backs should ever be against the wall
We’ll be together; together, you and I.”

I remember the words to this song when I was quite young. It seemed to resonate hope, and encouragement at a time when our country was mired down, and torn apart by the Viet Nam war/conflict. There was great unrest in the country, and today it seems there is even more.

We have a tough, demanding election approaching this November. Right now, we as United States’ citizens are faced with many incredible issues that are ripping the country in several possible directions. There appears to be an air of uncertainty, fear, mistrust, and this can easily cause even the most level headed individuals to think, speak or act irrationally. We have been blessed with many fine politicians who have stepped to the front lines in our country’s government to take on these massive issues. These individuals are working hard to serve our country, just as the brave individuals in Iraq, and abroad, serve us on another front.

United we stand…

Here in Dayton, we have a true gem!

The National Museum of The United States Air Force. In the Presidential Hangar rests one of the most recognizable airplanes – the original Air Force One. Yes, there is FDR’s “Sacred Cow,” Truman’s “Independence,” and Eisenhower’s “Columbine” standing right along side it – but the silver plane with a blue and white background proudly proclaims “The United States of America.”

However, I just love seeing those words float across the plane: THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA…

I prefer not to be called an “American.”

America is the continent on which I live. I am, however, a citizen of The United States of America. We seldom refer to the French simply as “Europeans”, or call Egyptians “Africans.”  I also fly, in front of my house, the flag of The United States of America – not just the American flag. To my knowledge, I have never seen a flag that represents North America, or one for South America.

A number of years ago, I was conducting a joint concert with the Centerville Community Band, and a guest band from Waterloo, Canada. I planned a very regal ceremony for the presentation of the flags, using Dragoon’s beautiful arrangement, “America, The Beautiful,” followed by “The Star Spangled Banner” and “O, Canada.”

At first, my band members were a little perturbed that the Canadian flag would enter to “America, The Beautiful” which my band members claimed was “our patriotic song.”

I began chuckling on the podium, and then asked the members where in the lyrics did it ever refer to just the United States of America.

Suddenly, they all burst out laughing, realizing we were all going to be Americans on that stage! There were those who could not grasp that concept, but eventually, they saw my point.

I am a sucker for the stirring melodies of “God Bless America” and “America, The Beautiful” but as others have tried, I would not wish for either of these to hold the rank of national anthem. I think we selected “The Star Spangled Banner” appropriately. Though a dreadful song to sing (the notes are too high or too low forcing a singer with an average range to struggle, crack and jump back and forth in octaves), the lyrics resonate the very spirit, and heart of our nation.

Divided we fall…

Abraham Lincoln once wrote that if we were to be destroyed as a nation it would not be from some trans-Atlantic giant, but by our own hand.

When I look at numerous programs or groups that fold, I see a good deal of inner turmoil was the result of the discontinuation. Churches seem to have their fair share of turmoil. Booster or support groups run a close second.

Most of the issues seem to fester from an individual, or group wanting to assume control. I have watched this happen with several area arts programs. The programs are running strong for several years, and suddenly, someone wants to change the course or flow, disrupting what was already running smoothly.

However, there are also splitting fractions due to words. Sometimes, people are just down right incapable of saying things which offend or hurt others. I always try to choose my words carefully in the classroom, or private lessons, or whenever I am chatting with friends. Do I screw up and sometimes say something in a way that can be misinterpreted? Yes – we all do. However, I try my best not to do so. And when I do, if I recognize my error, I apologize.

And sometimes, people say things to me that I might misinterpret. It happens.

There are times when I agree with another person’s opinions, and there are times I do not. However, I try to always remain respectful, open-minded, and capable of not taking the comment as a direct, personal hit.

I belong to several on-line groups, two of which are from my hometown. There are times when the posts are invigorating, educational, and enlightening. We even have a state representative who often weighs in, and I love having first hand working knowledge of our government. Plus, when I was young, this state representative was one of my favorites along with Congressman Elwood Hillis and Senator Richard Lugar.

However, more often than not, there tends to be numerous posts which are incredibly petty, and sophomoric. I am appalled at the nature of some of the debates offered on those sites, and then the drama-filled bickering that ensues.

Currently, on one site there is great debate over the number of flags Obama has on the side of his plane. I truly do not understand why this is an issue.

How does the number of flags make a difference about the candidate’s ability to govern a country?

Why does ethnic origin matter?

So what if there is a flag with an “O” on Obama’s plane?

So what if there is no United States’ flag on McCain’s RV?

Why does the fact that McCain is older than Reagan and General Harrison matter?

Our country has men and women fighting a war in Iraq; we are plagued by an unstable economy; we are battling high gas prices; we have factories closing and leaving thousands without jobs (especially here in the Miami Valley); people are losing their homes; unemployment has increased…

AND WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE NUMBER OF FLAGS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HAVE ON THEIR PLANES OR VEHICLES!

Had there been an Internet in 1860, I am sure there would have been postings bellowing over the fact that Lincoln and Hamlin’s names were sewn across a United States’ flag.

Is this really important? Is the constant knit-picking valuable, or even appropriate. The candidates themselves do this effectively. We should not be hopping on to their band wagons of childish behavior.

If we lower ourselves to the level of campaign smears and oft-appearing childish tactics of name calling, who amongst us will be adult enough to vote?

I somehow feel we as citizens of this country are worrying about, even creating many mundane issues that seem to aggravate, and divert us away from the serious issues at the heart of this vital election in November.

The thing that saddens me most is reading posts from various contributors that are juvenile in their attacks on one another, and even more so in their reception of criticism from others. If you are going to toss an attack out for the masses to read on the site, then for crying out loud, be prepared for a rebuttal attack!

Some posters simply cannot handle this.

In 1968, while still holding office, President Johnson (Dem) seemed to retreat in some ways. The 1969 election had been scarred with assassination, the Viet Nam War, and the hideous unrest in our nation. It seemed as though there was no one to provide focus. We did place our trust in Senator Richard Nixon (Rep), calling him to lead our nation. Despite the Watergate controversy, I personally believe President Nixon was a brilliant politician, and outstanding leader. I have read a number of his books, and am grateful he moved beyond the tragic choices that ended his term in office to become one of the strongest elder statesmen in our country’s history.

Regardless contemporary studies, and theories, I still believe President Nixon provided our country focus at a time when we greatly needed direction.

When my students begin complaining about the hardships, I always direct their attention to a plaque on the wall of my study: “It matters not how many storms you weathered on this journey… what does matter does matter – ‘Did you bring in the ship?’”

Nixon brought in that ship (eventually).

Who will bring in this particular ship?

Will we continue to float aimlessly, bitterly fighting amongst our selves?

Will we finally agree to stand united as citizens of The United States of America?

And does it really matter whether or not there are two flags or a flag with an “O” on that ship? If it does, then we have missed this boat!

For some reason, Mary Todd Lincoln has been resurfacing this past month in a variety of connections. I had begun writing a musical on Miss Todd in 1986, and put it away in the mid-1990’s. And here she is again, beckoning me to finish her story.

This is an op-ed piece from the NY TIMES, written by one of my favorite authors, Samuel A. Schreiner of Darien, Connecticut. Mr. Schreiner wrote a fantastic book, THE TRIALS OF MRS. LINCOLN. I adore this author for being such a great champion of this oft over-looked, vilanized first lady.

Truly, Madly, Deeply

 

PRESIDENTS’ DAY is generally reserved for honoring our presidents. But how about the wives of our presidents? And how about presidential wives who have been unfairly maligned over the years? In this regard, there is no better candidate for rehabilitation this holiday than Mary Todd Lincoln.

For years, authors and scholars have claimed that Mary Lincoln was insane. This is simply not true, and a file of documents found in 1975 in a closet in the Manchester, Vt., home of Mary Lincoln’s son Robert proves it. In 1875, Mary Todd Lincoln was declared insane by a jury, and remanded to an asylum. The charge was brought by Robert, and he must have nursed a guilty conscience about it to keep a file, which reveals that the trial was a sham.

The proceeding was nevertheless an international sensation. Although another, little-noted trial a year later set that verdict aside and declared Mary Lincoln sane, the damage had already been done. A mad Mary Lincoln conveniently validated the tales circulated by her enemies and critics, mostly men, from the time she arrived on the national stage as the vivacious consort of a sorely tried president and on through her years as the neglected widow of a martyr.

Of course, the first lady was an emotional volcano, prone to fiery eruption at sometimes inappropriate moments. An attractive woman with expensive tastes, she could be easy on the eye but hard on the budget. With a well-stocked mind and the nerve to speak it, she persuaded her husband to follow her advice in matters like coveted appointments, and this infuriated the men around the president.

Out of fear of or respect for Abraham Lincoln’s power, comment on his wife was muted until the assassin’s bullet removed him from office and Mary Lincoln became fair game for the gossip mongers, who claimed that Lincoln’s bouts of depression were caused by a lost love and a miserable life with a crazy woman.

Creator of the miserable marriage myth was Lincoln’s longtime law partner in Springfield, Ill., William Herndon. In a lecture he gave shortly after the president’s death, Herndon said that Lincoln had never loved his wife because his heart belonged to Ann Rutledge, a neighbor who died at the age of 22 and whom some historians believe was courted by Lincoln. To claim, however, that her death would have rendered a man of Lincoln’s will and intelligence unable to have a loving relationship with another person is absurd. The untimely loss of loved ones was such a common fact of life in the 1800’s that people simply had to learn how to cope with it to carry on.

In any event, Herndon is not a believable witness to what went on between the Lincolns. Because he was too fond of the bottle and, in Mary Lincoln’s view, too uncouth, he wasn’t welcome in the Lincoln household. As a result, he developed an abiding hatred and jealousy of Lincoln’s wife.

Herndon was also probably put off by what he undoubtedly regarded as the unmanly ways by which Lincoln helped his wife. Lincoln was known to have greeted callers still wearing an apron, and he was often seen shepherding a trio of rambunctious young sons through the streets to his office to give his wife respite. Herndon found Lincoln’s office visits with children in tow especially annoying. Lincoln let them get into everything, as he evidently did at home, and even Herndon would agree that the Lincoln marriage was compatible in one respect: neither husband nor wife believed in disciplining their children.

People who were intimate with the Lincolns did not buy the Rutledge story or the rest of Herndon’s charges. Emily Todd Helm, Mary Lincoln’s half-sister, who lived for months in the couple’s Springfield home while she was a teenager, considered them love birds. She reported that Mary Lincoln would run out to the street to greet her husband as he returned home, and they would enter the house hand-in-hand. Their differences in temperament — she, for instance, was punctual and he careless of time — could lead to clashes, but Helm was impressed by the way they were resolved. Once when Mary Lincoln let loose her anger at her husband’s arriving late for supper, he simply scooped her up in his arms and kissed her.

A frequent guest in the Lincolns’ Springfield house was the Rev. James Smith, Mary Lincoln’s Presbyterian pastor. Although Lincoln was not a churchgoer, he and the minister would spend hours by the fireside discussing religion and everything else under the sun.

When Lincoln went to Washington, Smith was appointed to a consulate in Scotland where he read in a newspaper an account of Herndon’s Rutledge lecture. Incensed, he wrote an open letter to Herndon that was published in The Dundee Advertiser. Reprinted in this newspaper and The Chicago Tribune, the letter made the point that a law office was not a good vantage point from which to judge a man’s home life. Declaring himself fortunate enough to have known the Lincolns well, Smith wrote that the president was a “faithful, loving and affectionate husband” who “was utterly incapable of withholding” love from his wife.

Mary Lincoln’s enemies may have discounted Smith’s testimony on the grounds that he was paying off a debt or piously upholding the sanctity of marriage. They would have a harder time shrugging off an address by Charles Sumner, the worldly and sophisticated senator from Massachusetts, during a debate in Congress about Mary’s pension. After establishing himself as well acquainted with the couple’s home life in the White House, Sumner said, “Surely, the honorable members of the Senate must be weary of casting mud on the garments of the wife of Lincoln.” The president “had all her love,” he continued, and Lincoln loved her “as only his mighty heart could.”

Unquestionably high-strung, Mary Lincoln was under a great deal of stress while she was living in the White House, especially when her son Willie died in 1862. After so many other stresses — the death of another son, Eddie, 12 years earlier; attacks on her extravagance; doubts of her loyalty because she had relatives fighting for the Confederacy — Willie’s death was almost more than she could take. According to people who question her sanity, she wailed so hard and so long that Lincoln led her over to a window, pointed out an insane asylum in the distance and threatened to take her there if she didn’t stop.

The story is probably true and totally in character for Lincoln, who often tried to tease or startle his wife out of her funks. That it did no damage to the marriage was attested by a couple who took a carriage ride with the Lincolns on April 14, 1865, just hours before their fatal visit to Ford’s Theater. The war over, the president and the first lady were talking as happily as newlyweds of plans like trips together to Paris for her and to California for him.

Lincoln’s patience with his wife was apparently reciprocated by her patience with him when he slipped away from her into one of his periods of melancholy or preoccupation with affairs of state. Lincoln suffered recurring episodes of what would now be called depression from early childhood onward. In light of what we know today, an effort to link them to emotional disappointments rather than to a chemical imbalance seems quaint rather than scientific.

Mary Lincoln may have been difficult to live with, but she was not insane and there’s no question that the president loved her dearly. “My wife was as handsome as when she was a girl,” Lincoln once told a reporter. “And I, poor nobody then, fell in love with her, and what is more, have never fallen out.”

This Presidents’ Day, let’s finally acknowledge that truth.

I have been watching the first two seasons of THE WEST WING, my absolute most favorite television show.

There is one particular episode that was very moving to me. Toby Ziegler, the communications director, is called to a Washington metro park by the DC police. A homeless man has been found, dead on a park bench, with a business card of Toby’s. Toby had donated his winter coat and apparently a business card remained in the pocket. Toby recognized a tatoo on the dead man’s arm alerting him to the fact that the man had served in the Marines.

Toby, disturbed by the fact this homeless veteran was not going to receive a proper burial, began pulling strings in the president’s name.

In the meantime, the president’s aide, Charlie, speaks with the presidential secretary, Mrs. Landingham. Charlie asks why she seems down. Mrs. Landingham explains, “I miss my boys around Christmas.” Her twin sons had gone to college, gotten medical degrees, and were drafted to Viet Nam. They went where they were needed. Both sons were killed while serving, and Mrs. Landingham never got to bury her sons.

The president confronts Toby upon learning that his office had been used to secure a soldier’s burial in Arlington Cemetery. The president understands, and returns to the room where a choir is singing, “The Little Drummer Boy.”

As Toby prepares to leave, Mrs. Landingham asks to join him….

This is beautifully filmed, and quite moving…

 

Some clips from THE WEST WING….

This afternoon, I watched a DVD about The Duke of Windsor, followed by one of my favorite books/movies, All The President’s Men.  What an incredible movie, and book. Woodward and Bernstein are two of my favorite writers. The movie is packed with great stars – aside from Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford – there’s Polly Holliday, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, Jane Alexander (while she was also filming her role as Eleanor Roosevelt), Merideth Baxter, Ned Beatty, Stephen Collins, F. Murray Abraham, and others… wow! What a fantastic movie.

May 31st, 2005, I can remember the breaking news coming across my computer and television… “Deep Throat is revealed…”  Mark Felt, former assistant director of the FBI, admitted to being the mystery man known as “Deep Throat.” There had been speculation, but Felt always denied it.

The story below is amazing….

By DEAN E. MURPHY

Published: June 5, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, June 4 – Nicholas T. Jones (left) and Jarett A. Nixon (right), law school classmates have met at an intersection of history.

They have practiced speaking Spanish together, and at one point last year, Mr. Nixon, 28, tried to recruit Mr. Jones, 23, to work on a law journal at the school, the Hastings College of the Law.”

He’s a good guy,” Mr. Nixon said of Mr. Jones. “We’ve had a friendly relationship.”

What neither man knew until the identity of Deep Throat was revealed this week, however, was that they come from opposite sides of one of the most profound divides in modern American political history.

Mr. Nixon’s great-uncle, whom he recalls fondly as Uncle Dick, was President Richard M. Nixon, a relationship he had never shared with Mr. Jones. His grandfather, Donald Nixon, was the president’s brother.

Mr. Jones’s grandfather is W. Mark Felt, the F.B.I. source for The Washington Post who helped bring a premature end to the Nixon presidency. It was Mr. Jones who read a statement on Tuesday on behalf of Mr. Felt outside the family’s home in Santa Rosa, Calif., the first time Mr. Felt publicly acknowledged he was Deep Throat.

“When I found out who it was, it kind of put a smile on my face,” Mr. Nixon said in an interview. “It was like, ‘Hey, wait a minute, I know this guy,’ ” he said of Mr. Jones, “and he’s a good guy.'”

Since the intersection of their family histories came to light, the two men have not had the chance to speak to each other. Classes at Hastings have ended, and Mr. Nixon, who graduated two weeks ago, has been studying around the clock for the bar examination. Mr. Jones has been equally consumed by his grandfather’s newfound fame, politely keeping the news media and curiosity seekers at a distance in Santa Rosa, about 50 miles north of San Francisco.

Separately, though, the two men have also been trying the same difficult balancing act, staunchly defending their opposing family legacies while insisting in interviews that the past would not poison their own relationship.

“What he did was the right thing to do, heroic,” Mr. Jones said of his grandfather, in one of several brief exchanges with reporters. “He’s an honorable guy. He has always been guided by a real strong conscience. We stand behind him and what he did.”

Mr. Nixon, who grew up in Orange County and now lives in San Francisco, said he had been taunted and teased since elementary school about his great-uncle, the only president to resign from office.

But his parents, he said, had taught him and his brother to “look for the good in Uncle Dick,” and the family visited the former president during summer vacations when Jarett Nixon was young. He said he last saw his great-uncle in 1993 at the funeral of Patricia Nixon, the former first lady. President Nixon died in 1994 when Jarett Nixon was in high school.

“I definitely stand by my uncle, and I’m proud of him for all the good things he did with this life,” Mr. Nixon said. “He was able to accomplish a lot more than most people out there.”

Until this week, Mr. Jones said he never made the connection between his law school classmate and the former president, describing it in an interview in his driveway as “kind of fun” and a “cool and interesting factoid.”

“I still see him the same,” he said of Mr. Nixon. “I think he’s a cool guy. He seems like the kind of guy who’s going to be pretty successful in whatever he chooses to do.”

Even with the pivotal role his grandfather played in the Watergate story, Mr. Jones said he was unwilling to criticize President Nixon. He said that this is a time when “almost everyone is jumping to conclusions,” and that he did not want to do the same. “I think it’s folly, quite frankly,” he said.

Similarly, Mr. Nixon refused to pass judgment on Mr. Felt’s role as Deep Throat. He said he would have preferred if Mr. Felt had pursued his concerns about Watergate “through a more legal route,” but he had no interest in joining the debate raging on talk radio and elsewhere as to whether Mr. Felt was a hero or a traitor. He said that he had never heard of Mr. Felt until Tuesday; his family, he said, had always speculated that Deep Throat was one of his great-uncle’s secretaries.

“He made a decision and he went with it,” Mr. Nixon said of Mr. Felt. “I’m not the person to say that was something that was essentially wrong. And God knows, Uncle Dick made his mistakes too.”

Both Mr. Nixon and Mr. Jones said it was perhaps easier for them to step back from their families’ Watergate-era passions because they were generations removed from those events. As a bearer of the former president’s name, Mr. Nixon also said he had long ago learned that it was unfair to make judgments about people based on their family history.

“Everybody is here in the world to make their own way, and be their own person,” Mr. Nixon said. In that regard, he said, “I expect the same from Nick as I do from myself.”

Mr. Jones said he hoped the renewed attention on the Nixon presidency and the role his grandfather played in Watergate would make that period in history more real to Americans of his generation.

“A lot of people my age, a lot of people younger than me, don’t really know what it is all about,” he said. “It is good for us to kind of hear all about this, and learn about it, and get the lessons out of it, get the values.”

One such value, he said, had nothing to do with politics. He said he was immensely proud that as cameras around the world captured his grandfather this week, the scene depicted was the home Mr. Felt, who is 91, shared with his family.

“Our grandfather lives with us, he is happy here, he is close to his family and we get to interact every day,” Mr. Jones said. “We think that is a cool lesson.”

When asked about the connection between Mr. Jones and Mr. Nixon, Amy DerBedrosian, a spokeswoman for Hastings College, said there was a further link. Among the graduates last year was Matthew McGovern-Rowen, the grandson of former Senator George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee.

As I work on the Wright Brothers’ musical, I have a DVD running, FDR: A Presidency Revealed. Super documentary with tons of personalities sharing Roosevelt history.

Of particular interest to me are two of Franklin & Eleanor’s grandchildren.

Curtis Roosevelt, born 1930, was the son of Anna Roosevelt, daughter of Franklin and Eleanor. Curtis, known as “Buzzie,” and his sister, Eleanor “Sitsie” were practically raised in the White House.

Curts Roosevelt, center.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, born 1948, is the daughter of James Roosevelt, second child and eldest son of Franklin and Eleanor.

 

These two grandchildren are tremendous historians on their grandparents, and bare a stricking resemblance to Franklin and Eleanor. Curtiss looks identical to his grandfather, and Anna looks identical to her grandmother for whom she was named (Eleanor’s first name was Anna, named for her mother, Anna Hall Roosevelt). Eleanor’s uncle was President Theodore Roosevelt.

 

 

Getting ready to shower and head to training for the update of my adoption license.
 
I finally hit a point last night where I could just write no more on the Wright Brother musical.  Normally I can go strong until 1:00-2:00am. But my brain just gave out. I had completely changed the entire format, and spent all of Thursday and Friday ripping it apart and putting it all back together. I eliminated one character and had to go through the entire script deleting his name, and reassigning his lines that were important to the story. So, around 9:00pm I brought my laptop and everything inside, and came to the bedroom with a DVD on Ronald Reagan – the PBS series. Great movie.
I woke at 7:00am, but have had trouble stirring… dark and gray outside, but the sun is struggling to peak through.
 
Logan, my cat of 14 years, seems to be slowing down in so many ways. Getting up onto things seems to be tougher for her. In the morning, each pet gets a little dish of moist food, and I set Logan’s up on the kitchen table because Flyer always goes after it. Normally Logan would hop right up, but now I lift her to the table. I’ve noticed, for some time, how she calculates getting up to tables, rail on deck, etc. She has even been forgoing  napping or sleeping on my bed, and remaining on the floor. When my alarm goes off each morning she is always up in my face meowing and bugging me to get my butt into the kitchen for her moist food. This morning, I had to call her into the kitchen. She came running and yapping, but she is definitely slowing down. Amazing how youthful and sprite she appears when there is a baby bunny to chase and kill.
 
Tons of stuff in the news: 
  • Obama & Clinton now a team on the trail
  • Nelson Mandela celebrates his 90th birthday
  • and Wal-Mart will now be spelled Walmart and have a burnt orange background.
 
Time to shower and head to training…. ugh. Not one of my favorite things. Material is stuff I have been teaching the past five years.
 

This author of this post is Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler from South Florida. Wexler has been ubiquitous these last months as a top surrogate for Senator Obama — even representing him at the nationally televised DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. Wexler recently called for testimony of Scott McClellan before the Judiciary Committee and delivered it. He has been front and center demanding impeachment hearings for Cheney and now Bush. Now Wexler has published a frank book about his political experiences and his thoughts on why Democrats should be more aggressive. The book is entitled Fire-Breathing Liberal – How I learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress

___________

The testimony of Scott McClellan this past Friday in the House Judiciary Committee marked an important step forward for Congress in the battle to fully expose the crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration and finally hold this White House accountable for its appalling actions that have weakened our constitution and our government. I am only sorry that we are taking this step so late in President Bush’s term in office. However, I am pleased that history will at the very least document the shocking revelations that Mr. McClellan testified to on Friday. Scott McClellan under oath last week agreed with me that it is a likely possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney was the individual who authorized the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert status. Mr. McClellan also said that he believes more White House officials should come before Congress and reveal the truth about this Administration’s actions. McClellan’s testimony underscores a simple reality: We must dig deeper.

The fact that much of what McClellan testified to on Friday is already known and reported on in the press should not diminish its import. We have a formerly loyal top official in the Bush White House stating under oath that the Bush Administration carried out a campaign of lying and misstatements to trick Congress and the American people into war in Iraq. This former White House Press Secretary states that Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove likely engaged in behavior that amounts to obstruction of justice regarding the leaking of the identity of covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

McClellan’s testimony only touched the tip of the iceberg regarding the corrupt actions of the Bush Administration. As I have written about in my new book Fire-Breathing Liberal – How I learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress, this Administration has done more to weaken the balance of powers established by the Founding Fathers than any previous White House. In both domestic and foreign policy this cabal of right-wing true believers have violated our laws and our Constitution. Just this year it was revealed that the highest levels of the Administration including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Colon Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld approved and ordered the torture of prisoners and thereby violated US law, our commitments to international treaties, and vanquished whatever remaining moral authority our nation held in the eyes of the global community. The list goes on and on and includes hiding and censoring scientific findings on global warming and the blatantly political firing of US attorneys.

Earlier this year I began a nationwide campaign to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney (and I have recently expanded my efforts to push for hearings for Bush as well.) Although the national media completely ignored these efforts, over a quarter of a million Americans did not and signed a petition of support on my site Wexlerwantshearings.com in order to advocate for accountability for this rouge Administration.

Just imagine, ten short years ago our media was obsessed with details of Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp and Republicans in Congress actually impeached a popular President of the United States because he had an affair and lied about it. Today we have a President and a Vice President that went to war on false pretenses, illegally ordered the torture of prisoners, obstructed justice by lying about the outing of a covert CIA agent, fired US Attorneys for political reasons, and authorized warrantless spying on American citizens. This president and vice-president took countless despicable actions that surely amount to high crimes and yet the media yawns and even the vast majority of Democrats in Congress are simply uninterested. This arrogant Administration simply does not respect the constitutional powers of Congress and by their actions — and by our reluctance to respond — we threaten to forever weaken the power of Congress. As you know, current and former Bush Administration officials have simply refused to testify before Congress even when subpoenaed.

This has never happened before in the history of our nation. Never before have high level executive officials refused to even appear before Congress when properly summoned by the Legislative Branch. The House of Representatives has held former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten in contempt of Congress for their failure to appear and a lawsuit is ongoing in order to force their appearance. I think we must do more. I have called for Karl Rove — who has also refused to testify — to be held in inherent contempt and for the other renegade officials such as Miers and Bolten to appear as required by their subpoenas or be forced to do so by the House Sergeant of Arms. The power of inherent contempt is lawful whereas the refusal of Miers and Bolten is not. Congress must stand up for itself against this executive abuse of power.

It is now the time for Democrats to be breathing more fire. We need to show the American people that they chose correctly when they returned our party to majority status in Congress. As I argue in my book, when we give Americans a stark choice — progressive values and policies will carry the day against the defeated ideas and old politics of the Bush Administration and the vanquished GOP Congressional majority.

I hope that the McClellan hearing will only be the beginning of an effort for genuine accountability rather than a culmination of the effort. We owe it to the American people and history to pursue the wrongdoing of this Administration whether or not it helps us politically or in the next election. Our actions will properly define the Bush Administration in the eyes of history and that is the true test.

 

My favorite author, and presidential personality passed away today.

I am sad….

 CHICAGO (Reuters) – Margaret Truman Daniel, the only child of former president and famously proud father Harry Truman who became a author of popular murder mysteries, died on Tuesday at age 83, the Truman Library said.

Daniel, a long-time New York resident, died in a care facility in Chicago from complications from an infection contracted recently, said library director Michael Devine.

After living for decades in the same New York apartment, she moved to Chicago to be closer to the eldest of her four sons, Clifton, Devine said in a telephone interview from the Independence, Missouri, library.

Margaret Truman did not let being the president’s daughter keep her from pursuing first a singing career and then one as a mystery writer that took off after her father’s death in 1972.

It was her singing and his fatherly protection that ignited President Truman‘s well-known temper, leading him to write one of the most famous presidential letters in history.

After Washington Post music critic Paul Hume panned one of her vocal recitals — “Miss Truman cannot sing very well” — Truman responded from the White House that the review was “poppycock” and the critic was a “frustrated old man” who was “off the beam.”

“Some day I hope to meet you,” the president wrote Hume, ignoring the fact the critic had called his daughter “extremely attractive.” “When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!”

Margaret Truman continued her musical career for several more years, and became a radio and television host.

Later she turned to writing books. First they were books about her family and life in the White House but beginning in 1980 she established her own genre, Washington-based mystery novels.

The titles of these 19 novels, many still in print, all included a famous landmark in the U.S. capital such as “Murder in the White House,” “Murder in the Supreme Court” and later, when a political scandal had made it one of the most well-known buildings in the country, “Murder at the Watergate.” “Murder on K Street” was published last year.

“The reviewers praised her descriptions of the Washington social scene, and the places she described were dead-on,” Devine said. “She bumped somebody off in just about every public building in Washington.”

MOVE TO WASHINGTON

Margaret Truman was born February 17, 1924, in Independence, Missouri, and moved to Washington a decade later when her father was elected to the Senate.

By the time she graduated from George Washington University in 1946, her father had become president and he delivered the commencement address and handed her diploma.

She took her first voice lesson when she was 16 and made her concert debut singing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on a nationwide radio hookup in 1947.

Her singing career continued for the next decade with numerous concerts, including one at Carnegie Hall in New York, and appearances on television shows like Ed Sullivan‘s “Toast of the Town” program.

In 1955, she substituted for Edward R. Murrow on his popular “Person to Person” show and interviewed her parents after they had moved out of the White House. She became a radio program host, interviewing prominent writers on a feature called “Authors in the News.”

In 1956, she married Clifton Daniel, who in the 1960s would become managing editor of The New York Times. He died in 2000, the same year their son William was killed in a New York traffic accident — dealing her a double blow, Devine said.

She was an avid supporter of presidential libraries, including her father’s, in partnership with other children of former presidents.

She is survived by three sons and five grandchildren.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,174 other followers

April 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
%d bloggers like this: