Saturday, May 26, 2007
The book is prominently displayed in my office, and I frequently pull it down and let the pages open to wherever and read. These are the stories of heroes. Of men who gave it all and then gave some more. They are our fathers and sons and brothers and mates. They came to serve their nation as youngsters from cornfields and mesas and city streets, and in Tibor Rubin's case, from the maws of a Nazi death camp. They became heroes risking their lives for their comrades, and for each of us. Each story stands as reminder of what it means to believe in something beyond yourself.
Mr Collier writes in today's Wall Street Journal of "American Honor" and why it should matter still in a nation obsessed with celebrities and self.
Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: Those who had given all their tomorrows, as was said of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, for our todays. But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration. We support the troops, of course, but we also believe that war, being hell, can easily touch them with an evil no cause for engagement can wash away. And in any case we are more comfortable supporting them as victims than as warriors.
Former football star Pat Tillman and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham were killed on the same day: April 22, 2004. But as details of his death fitfully emerged from Afghanistan, Tillman has become a metaphor for the current conflict -- a victim of fratricide, disillusionment, coverup and possibly conspiracy. By comparison, Dunham, who saved several of his comrades in Iraq by falling on an insurgent's grenade, is the unknown soldier. The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham's Medal of Honor on the third page of section B.
Do not let these good men pass from view unheralded. Read their stories and tell them to your children. Honor them and thank them. Every one of them. And every one who served with them.
They are what our best is. American idols.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Yep, some days don't seem worth the effort it takes to get out of bed. But then once in a while something good happens and suddenly your day just got a whole lot better.
For example, you stumble across the the fact that, not only did Louis Armstrong cover the 1959 smash hit "Marina" by Rocco Granata, the Italian/Belgian "maintenance artist and hit singer" but that there's also a 1989 Acid/Reggae remix!
Presto! Life is good again.*
Which brings me to the point of all this. A few weeks back I bumped into a gentleman at a charity wine auction. This fellow told me about a remarkable restaurant that is designed especially with the disabled in mind. In fact, he told me that the restaurant not only caters to the disabled (along with the abled), it hires and trains both the physically and mental challenged for jobs in the food service industry. Chef's from all over Central Virginia, from small bistros to five star restaurants, come to the 70-seat place to volunteer their time. It's a win-win-win situation with really good food to boot.
Happy face breaking out. And there's more...
The name of the restaurant is " a place that you'll have to hit the link for because I'm supposedly trying to remain anonymous." The proprietor has muscular dystrophy. The man I spoke with is the proprietor's father. He started the restaurant so that his son could both be employed and feel productive in a society that, well...offers fewer opportunities to those less abled. As anyone who's ever worked in a commercial kitchen knows, this is no handout, this is about getting people to work. It's like teaching your brother to fish for himself, but for black marlin.
I checked the place out late one afternoon, well after the lunch crowd had gone, and before the volunteer belly-dancers came in for "Tummy Tuesdays" (another topic fotr another time). There was a white board set up and the trainees were going through exercises about which kinds of foods went with each type of order. And by God, didn't it have the same feeling as those business training sessions we've all had to endure, with all the participants cheering their approval when the contestant got the orders right. Accomplishment means so much more when you're with your peers.
It was good. It felt right. I plunked the sponsorship funds down, thrilled at the prospect and warmed by the vibes. And I had a good day thereafter.
Here's to all of us, and to those who make all of us better.
*(So it's not so good as having a 24 year-old Grace Kelly deliver it to my door, in pajamas, in the rain, alone, I'll still get by.)
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
There are few times where words escape me.
This is one of them.
LAKE LUZERNE, N.Y. (AP) -- A teenager who put bullets in a vise and whacked them with a hammer to empty the brass shell casings was wounded in the abdomen by approximately the 100th bullet he hit, according to Warren County deputies.
Damion M. Mosher, 18, had been discharging .223-caliber rounds, placing them in a steel vise, putting a screwdriver on the primer, and striking the screwdriver with the hammer, deputies said.
Deputies were called to his home in Lake Luzerne shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday when one bullet went about a half-inch into his abdomen. He was treated at Glens Falls Hospital and was released. No charges were filed.
Mosher told authorities he was trying to empty the rounds to collect the brass casings for scrap. (That damned Bush took away his allowance! Ed.)
Sheriff Larry Cleveland said about 100 other rounds that Mosher hit had ''fizzled,'' but one was somehow sent with more force. It was unclear if the bullet ricocheted or hit him directly.
An employee of Capitol Scrap Co. in Albany said Monday the business pays $1.70 a pound for scrap brass shell casings.
Cleveland said Mosher's shells amounted to just a few pounds.
Of course, I blame the teachers.
Friday, May 11, 2007
You'll make a fine attorney one day.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
''More and more, people are realizing that there are serious environmental and serious food security issues involved in biofuels,'' Greenpeace biofuels expert Jan van Aken said. ''There is more to the environment than climate change,'' he said. ''Climate change is the most pressing issue, but you cannot fight climate change by large deforestation in Indonesia.''
Who DID NOT see this coming? Raise your hands. Okay. You two! (points) You are now both "Greenpeace biofuels experts."