Values

Challenger CrewInspiration comes from many different places, but most often from an event that so strongly affects our emotions or our lives, that we feel the need to act. That is what happened to a number of students who all had something in common…Christa McAuliffe. On this day, January 28, 1986…30 years ago, after months of training and a huge national following, Christa McAuliffe entered the Space Shuttle Challenger, and went down in history as not only the first teacher chosen to go into space, but the first civilian to die on such a mission. She never made it into space, because just 73 seconds after the launch, the Challenger exploded.

The world looked on in horror, because this launch had been so widely televised and so greatly anticipated. ChristaMcAuliffeAfter the explosion, the news was broadcast over and over. We saw the horrified faces of the families of the crew, the tears of family, friends, and students of the first teacher in space, and we saw the explosion…over and over again. The heart of a nation was broken, not just because of Christa McAuliffe, but also for the families of payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist. It had been many years since the NASA space program had lost a crew, and it was the first one in flight.

I’m sure that an accident in space did not inspire people to go into the space program, because the safety of the program immediately came into question. Nevertheless, from this tragedy…from out of the ashes of the Space Shuttle Challenger, inspiration did come. It came in the form of teachers. The students of Christa Challenger ExplosionMcAuliffe…not all, but a number of them, were inspired to become teachers themselves. Each of those former students of Christa McAuliffe…kids who maybe didn’t like social studies, but because Christa McAuliffe made it interesting somehow, they did well in her class, and were inspired by her. After her passing, these inspired students decided that they wanted to pick up where she left off. They wanted to carry on with her dream. They follow her motto, “I touch the future. I teach.” One of those teachers commented that she heard people say that and wondered if they had any idea where that motto came from. Her former students knew…it was Christa McAuliffe, and her legacy lives on, 30 years after her death.

Dakar sets out fro HaifaImagine a people so dedicated to bringing their people home to be given a proper burial, that they would search for 31 years for a submarine that went missing with its 69 crew members, all considered lost sons of a nation. I know that many people wait years and never give up hope for the return of the remains of soldiers lost in battle, but this was a little bit different. The meant extensive searches and great expense…nevertheless, it was considered worth the cost. Imagine such a nation. Who would you think of? The United States maybe, or England? No, it is Israel.

The submarine, INS Dakar was originally known as HMS Totem. It was built at the height of World War II by H.M. Dockyard in Great Britain. It was commissioned as the HMS Totem by the British navy in 1943. After the war ended, the submarine was modified, adding 12 feet to its length and removing some of its gun decks. The submarine was then sold to Israel along with two others in 1965. On November 10, 1967, the Israeli Navy officially launched Dakar. The submarine was tested in Scotland, and scheduled to go to Haifa, Israel for an official ceremony in early February, 1968. The crew had been ordered to check in daily, and they followed the orders implicitly. On January 24, 1968, Dakar passed the island of Crete and radioed its position for the last time. One additional signal came from Dakar just after midnight on January 25, 1968 and then…nothing. That was 48 years ago today.
Dakar last sighting
Israel launched 25 search missions over the 31 years following the loss of Dakar, but to no avail. The only sign of the submarine was one of her locator buoys that washed ashore off the coast of Khan Yunis a year after Dakar’s disappearance. Using that clue and the technology available at the time, those search missions resulted in the search of most of the Mediterranean Sea. The odd thing was that the searches never included the actual route that Dakar would have taken to Haifa. When the buoy was discovered, it was estimated that Dakar was 50 to 70 miles off course…hence the searches in the wrong places. Then, on 9 May 1999 two charted sea vessels arrived to finally search area along the original route. The designated search frames box area was approximately 60 nautical miles long, nearly 8 nautical miles wide and contained 16 search lanes. With a speed of 2 knots per hour it takes between 30 to 40 hours to monitor the sea bed of each search lane. Searching was conducted using the AMS-60, a wide-swath sonar and the REMORA 6000, a remotely operated vehicle equipped with both video and still cameras. On May 24th, in the evening, sonar detected a large body on the sea floor, along with several smaller bodies nearby. They launched the ROV at 7:00 on May 28th, after 3 days of weather delays, and finally found the Dakar four hours later.

There has been much speculation as to what caused the sinking and inevitable implosion of Dakar. Some say it Dakar after sinkingwas a small leak that made control become impossible, but one Egyptian admiral has a different story to tell. Mohammed Abed el-Majid Azeb told various Egyptian sources that his crew identified the Israeli submarine during a training exercise. He decided to attack the vessel, which was in Egyptian territorial waters and and declared war on it. According to the report, Egyptian military commentators have suggested that the submarine was damaged by an Egyptian depth-charge and had to submerge, which could have been the leak they experienced. It’s hard to say after all these years, and we may never know, but I find it very interesting that the Israeli government would not give up until it could bring those lost sons home for a proper burial.

Dalton1Jesse JamesAs the railroad spread across this land, and payrolls began coming in by way of the railroad, a new breed of criminal showed up on the scene…the train robbers. At first, the train robbers got away with it, because no one had really given much thought to the possibility of such a thing happening. Gangs like Jesse James…who was best known as a bank robber, but was also one of the early train robbers, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, the Dalton Gang, and the Reno Gang terrorized the railways, stealing the payrolls of crews working on building the railroads and towns in the west.

With the advent of train robberies came a need for a solution. Enter the train police. At first the railroads would arrange for a posse to go after the robbers, but eventually they realized that the posse was too little too late. They had to take affirmative action. So they put the police on the train with the money. I’m sure that more violence came from that action, but the robbers probably didn’t get away with it as often as they had been.

I think that in many ways, we have almost romanticized the train robbers, but in reality, they were like any other criminal. They would kill for the money they were after. The police were under as much pressure as the police these days. You can’t face a gun as a regular part of your job and not have some degree of fear for your life. These men were the law, and they were pretty much on their own. They couldn’t call in the state police, or the police from the next town over. Those were too far away…especially with the distances the trains traveled. The railroad police were the only thing standing between the robbers and the money.

wildbunch_posse1900_Uniform_RR_Police2Theirs was an important job too. Every time the train was robbed, peoples lives were affected. Without the payroll money, the workers couldn’t support their families, and that caused more problems. The workers were angry and then desperate. I don’t think police work would be for me, but I have to wonder if police work was harder back in the old west, or now, with the terrorism and gang issues…or if police work is police work, no matter what era it is.

Dad and MomI think most people have heard the Bible verse, John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” People may not realize that this is a Bible verse, but they know what they thought was an old saying. Either way, the verse was talking about Jesus dying on the cross to save the world from it’s sin, but I don’t think that was all it was about. It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but when my pastor was preaching a couple of weeks ago, this verse was part of his sermon. Of course, he talked about Jesus sacrifice, but suddenly something jumped out in my mind. This verse was about far more than Jesus sacrifice, or it wouldn’t have talked about the greater love a person can have if they choose to lay down their life for their friend. It was about how we are all supposed to be.

It was at that moment that a thought came to me. There is more than one way to “lay down your life.” Of Joann and Waltcourse, the verse meant to die for your friend, and many is the hero who has done that, but it occurred to me that dying is not the only way to lay down your life for someone. In fact, caregivers lay down their life all the time. They set aside their normal life activities, and take the time to take care of another person. I’m not trying to blow my own horn, but rather I want to talk about all of the many caregivers I know of and those I don’t, because their sacrifice is amazing. The patient they care for, would be in a nursing home, were it not for the loving kindness shown to them by a friend or family member who laid down their own life to give that time to another. It is one of the greatest showings of love there is, and it is also very rewarding for the caregiver, although sometimes it is sad too. For just a little bit of time, almost always a relatively short lived little bit of time, at least in the grand scheme of time, you have the chance to be the wind beneath their wings…the one who holds them up and cares for their needs…the one who had the privilege to lay down their own life to care for a loved one.
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Yes, greater love hath no man, than that a man lay down his life for his friend…to actually die for his friend, but there is another way that is just as wonderful, and just as loving…to lay down your own needs, desires, activities, time…to care for another human being who desperately needs your help. So here’s to all the Caregivers I know, and to all those that I don’t know. You truly are among the greatest of people on Earth, because you have make a sacrifice that shows the ultimate amount of love you had for your loved one. It makes me proud to be a part of such an elite, amazing group of people. Today is National Family Caregiver Day, and I hope it is an amazing day for all of you.

Duty, Sacrifice, and Honor1There once was a time when things like duty, sacrifice, and honor meant something. People were thankful for the service of our armed forces, who were willing to give all to ensure the freedoms we have in this nation. Sadly, these days, so many people think that our freedoms are somehow an infringement on the rights of others. They feel like freedom should be controlled by a select few…namely our government. I can’t figure out why they can’t understand that when the government controls your freedoms, you are no longer free. That’s living in a dictatorship, and not in freedom.

For as long as the United States has been able to form it’s own military force, we have been a people who fought for the rights of all people to think, speak, and believe as they choose…whether anyone else agrees with them or not. It was our soldiers who fought to give us those rights, and oddly enough, when people did not have the right to decide how others should think, there was far less hate and racism in this country. I realize that when people are allowed to worship, think, speak, and write as they choose, there will be disagreement with their opinions, and that’s ok. Disagree with me all you like, just don’t try to tell me that I have to think the way you think, and I will show you the same courtesy.

Our military personnel go to war whenever asked, whether it is a holiday or not. They can’t stop defending us and other nations just because it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. They get up and they fight on. They don’t have the luxury of a 9 to 5 job, but rather must be prepared to battle well into the night and even into the next day, because the enemy doesn’t take a break. There has never really been a time in our history when things were in more turmoil. There are those, even within our own borders who hate this nation and all it stands for. Those people have no honor, no sense of duty or pride in our nation, and they certainly don’t understand the sacrifices our military personnel made to give them the freedom to be so hateful toward those who are just stating their opinion.

Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day set aside to honor those who have fought for this nation and others. It is a day to remember those who gave their lives that others might live in freedom. In reality, we owe them so much more than we could ever repay, but most of all, we owe them respect. Veteran’s Day is a day to tell our veterans just how much they mean to us. Be sure to thank a veteran today, and to all Veterans, Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

IMG_3718Children are a curious bunch. There is so much in this world that is totally new to them. Things we take for granted as being average, or even boring, they find interesting, and children aren’t alone in this either. Animals can be just as curious about the things that people don’t even think about. Things like taking pictures of seagulls can have them looking at you like you are from outer space. I suppose they have seen enough humans to know what they look like. Then to see one with a camera up to their face, makes them think that this is some new creature. As I scrambled to take this shot of a seagull as it flew over me head, I had no idea that I had snapped a shot of him looking right at me, as if to ask, “What are you doing?”

Dogs are especially curious about things, and since they aren’t afraid to come near humans, they come and Dog and Camerastick their curious little noses right in the camera lens…and they are very likely to lick the camera lens…whether you like it or not. In a way they are like babies. The best way to figure out what something is, is to put it in your mouth…right?? Well, that’s just like a dog. If it’s cool enough for their human to have up to their face, it must taste good. Or maybe it’s a new kind of toy that their human bought for them. Maybe if they lick it and let their human know they want to play, their human with throw it for them. As funny as that sounds, the photographer probably isn’t so thrilled with that dog slobber all over their lens, but their dog is having a great time.

When it comes to kids though, they have a little bit more ability to get their hands on things. A wise parent knows that there is a time to kid proof your house. It doesn’t matter what it is, if their parents think it’s cool, so do the kids. And they don’t understand the concept of something being broken. They just want to see what it is.

My grand nephew, Jake Harman was very much that Curiositycurious little boy, when his mom or grandma was trying to take his picture. I can’t say that the picture turned out the way they had planned, but you must admit that it turned out pretty cute anyway. If I didn’t know what he looked like as a little boy, I suppose this picture could have been a picture of any baby, but it isn’t, it’s Jake. Jake was always a curious little boy, and I suppose that like most kids, that got him into a certain degree of mischief, but he was, in all reality just a normal boy, curiosity and all. And while the picture didn’t turn out as planned, it takes me back to when my first grand nephew was born. It was a new experience, and we were all curious about who he would become. Hmmm…curiosity isn’t just a quirk of children and animals. Even adults have that tendency.

Memorial Day Honor RollOur country has been involved in so many wars in its relatively short history, protecting both our freedom and many other countries from the oppression imposed by so many evil dictators and nations. Some people don’t think the United States should be the guardian of the nations, but when push comes to shove, the United States is always the one they call to come in and save them. In all reality, the only countries who wish we would just stay out of things, are the ones who have overstepped their boundaries, and are trying to do evil in the helpless nations they have occupied.

Of course, no military machine can function without the sacrifice in time and lives of people. Military men and women who are willing to make that sacrifice are a rare breed indeed. True, in years past there was a draft, but even then, there were those who volunteered, like my dad and many others. They saw a need, and knew that they had to answer the call to duty.

Over the course of the major wars the United States has been involved in beginning at World War I, we have lost a total of 619,300 men and women. That is an astounding number of people. Fighting evil is a costly business, both in money, and more importantly in the lives we have lost. Nevertheless, if we allow evil to prevail, we are in a far worse position. That is something every soldier knows all too well. It is what brings them to the point of making the decision to serve…to fight, and give their lives if necessary. It isn’t that they don’t know what they are getting into, because they do. They know that as a soldier, they will be taking the Page1ultimate chance with their life, and they know that they may lose their life. And yet they serve. That is the picture of a true hero.

There are those who condemn our soldiers for their sacrifice, those who protest, and scream hate at them, but what they don’t really understand is that their very right to protest, scream, and even hate, comes from the fight our soldiers have waged to protect that very freedom. It is a tough job, and often thankless, but they fight because they can see what is right and what is wrong. It is wrong for anyone to steal the freedoms of another human being, and it is wrong for them to try to force their will on others. Soldiers have the vision to see this, and even when hate is aimed at them, they will fight for the rights of those who hate. Yes, soldiers are a rare breed, and they are heroes. They deserve our respect, and they deserve the honor and respect that this day is all about. Happy Memorial Day!! Be sure to thank a Veteran today.

The Love Of My LifeWhen you’re young, you look for certain traits in a man, but I think that most of us probably look for many of the wrong traits. It’s not that we don’t choose good men, but simply that we choose men for the wrong reasons. As a teenager, I looked for a guy that was cute and one that had a nice personality. That is how most dating starts, but if cute and a good personality is all he has, you are going to get bored pretty fast, and it will be a good thing that you did. We look for men who have the same interests as we do, because they have a nice car, or because they take us nice places. These are not bad traits either. Trying to date on a bicycle is pretty tough, and if he doesn’t take you out anywhere or you have nothing in common…again, you are going to get bored pretty quick. It’s important to look for someone who believes the same as you do…someone who is going somewhere in life…someone with the same values and goals as you have. Those are important traits…right?

Well, they are, but you really need to look a little further down the road than that short term, madly in love, your are so handsome, I can’t breathe without you, passion, because while those things are truly important, Those things are going to fade later in life. That man who was so perfect, so handsome, who took your breath away…is going to get older. He might lose all that hair that you loved, or suddenly have lots of wrinkles. After living with him for 30 plus years, you have seen it all…his good habits, bad habits, and horrible habits. He is maybe a little more flabby, and you have discovered that you can indeed breathe when he is not with you. I heard it said once, that “what you lack in spontaneity, you make up for in consistency” and you find yourself thinking just how true that is. Do you still love him? Well, the answer for me is an overwhelming, “Yes!!”Our Wedding

So what traits should we be looking for, or hoping we stumble into, since most of us at the time of our marriage are too love struck to think clearly enough to look for the right traits in a man? I’ll tell you what I have found out. When you take those vows, and the minister says, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part”, it may or may not mean your sickness or health, or for better or worse in your own lives, or even your finances. I’m sure most people only think of it in those terms, but as we age…while we may get weaker or look a little worse for wear, it is likely, first to be our parents who will be weak or sick, and that is when those vows really come into play. That is when the traits that you thought were so important will begin to seem like silly school girl ideas of Prince Charming.

It is the man who sticks with you when you have to give time to others in need, and doesn’t complain because he is home alone while you take care of those things…the man who gets up at 3 in the morning because a parent has fallen and you have to go pick them up…and then he has to get up, as do you and go to work in the morning…the man who doesn’t complain about helping in the care of an elderly parent, even if it means eating late, and falling asleep in your chairs, watching television…the man who helps out around the house, and doesn’t mind if it isn’t spick and span, because you have been too busy cleaning your parents homes…yes, it’s that man that I want in my life. He is the one who may not have known about all this stuff when he married you, but as time went on and things changed in your lives, he stuck with you…worked with you…walked with you, through it all That is the kind of husband a woman really wants if she thinks about it. And, that is the husband I got when I married Bob, 39 years ago today. I was young and couldn’t have seen those traits in him if I had tried. I was too busy looking at things like how cute he was, how much we had in common, what a great Growing Old Togethercar he had, and the fact that he took me places. I was too busy trying to catch my breath when he was around, and missing him horribly when he wasn’t. So, like most women who are still married after all these years, all I can do is thank God for bringing this wonderful man into my life. That is the only way it could possibly be that we are here, today, celebrating 39 years and counting, even after all that life has handed us. I love you Bob…more and more every year, every month, every day, every minute and every second. You are my one and only, my soul mate, the love of my life. I thank God for you every day.  I am so blessed to be married to you. Happy 39th Anniversary, Honey!! I will always love you!!

Military 20131Many men and women have served in the military over the centuries, since the United States became a nation, and in the years that we fought for our independence. The weapons they used are as varied as they are, but no less deadly to the enemy. Their uniforms are different, and some may seem very strange to us, but each is easily recognizable as a military uniform, and you knew that they had served their country. Each has made the sacrifice…leaving loved ones behind at home, to go off and fight in a battle that in many cases didn’t seem like it was their own, yet they had to go, because they couldn’t leave those oppressed people to battle on their own, because they knew it was a battle they could not win alone. They went, because it was a matter of duty. It was a duty they could not ignore…their hearts would not let them ignore.

Today’s military is not a required job, there is no draft, although there could be if it became necessary, and our young men are required to register for the draft when they turn eighteen, just in case a draft became necessary. Nevertheless, today’s military men and women choose to take on the causes of a war ridden world, because they can’t bear to leave a people or nations unprotected. That takes a special kind of person…that one who puts themselves in harm’s way…by choice. They are a person to be admired and respected. I don’t say that those who do not join have done anything wrong, because they have not, but like the police officer, EMT, and fire fighter, this unique group of men and women have taken up a cause, and made it their own.

My dad, and many of my aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and cousins fall into that category of military personnel, and I am proud of each and every one of them for all they have done to make this world a little bit safer place. Their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed, nor will it ever be forgotten. Today, I want to thank all veterans everywhere, living and dead, for the sacrifice you have made to give me and all other Americans the freedoms that we enjoy, and to make this world a little bit safer for all the people who live in it. I know I can’t picture all of you, as you so richly deserve, but know that you are remembered, whether you are pictured here or not. Thank you all for your service!!  God bless each and every one of you!!

Grandma and Grandpa ByerI was talking to my Aunt Sandy yesterday, and she was telling me some things she found out about my grandparents, her mom and dad, that she had never heard before. It made me realize just what amazing people they were. And yet, you would never have heard my grandparents tell of any of the deeds they did, because they weren’t in it for the glory…they were in it because there was a need, and they couldn’t bear to let someone be in need and not help out. Even their own kids didn’t know, and they were right there!!

This was during the Great Depression, and many people found themselves out of work, and in a lot of trouble, because if you had no money, you and your family just might starve to death. During those years, many an extra mouth was fed at my grandmother’s table. It was well known to those who were homeless and broke. They would show up at the door, and as some have told it later, my grandma would simply add some more water to the soup, and a little more of what she had, usually potatoes, and pull up another chair for that stranger in need. It was an act of kindness that most of us wouldn’t dare do today, because you never know what kind of person they might be, but as I said, times were different. People…even the homeless and desperate had values and morals, they would never bite the hand that fed them, nor the hands of their family.

The kids knew about the help given to a stranger in need, but they didn’t know about the family of children, whose parents drank away the paycheck, and had nothing left for food on the table. Giving money to the parents would do no good, so my grandparents bought bags of groceries and took it over for the kids. These kids were friends of my aunt, and yet neither they nor my grandparents ever told of the secret supplies they had received, or where they came from…until just recently, when one of those kids told someone else, and my cousin overheard, how their lives had been saved by those acts of kindness. There was no public knowledge of those supplies. Those kids didn’t have to feel embarrassment or shame about what their parents did, or how they all stayed alive…because only those kids and my grandparents knew anything about it.

My grandparents didn’t have much money back then…nobody did, but they still gave to those in need!! And the real miracle here is that my grandparents and their own 9 children always had enough to eat. They never went hungry!! How can that be? The food on their table had started out as enough for the family, and then food was added as needed, but from what? They didn’t have a lot of money to buy extra to keep feeding the many people who came and went from their kitchen in those tough years, and yet somehow there was always enough. Well, I don’t know what you think, but I think God had found two people who were willing to be givers in this earth, and He partnered with them. He said, “If you are willing to give to the needy…I will provide whatever you need to meet their needs!” Yes, my grandparents were known for their acts of kindness…all the way up to Heaven!!

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