Category Archives: History

Never Forget

Twelve years later and I still remember that horrific day of terror, confusion, and pain as if it happened yesterday.  Quickly our nation came together in a way I had never seen before.   We held each other, we wept together, we consoled one another…then we went on with life.  We took down our American flags.   The benefit concerts ceased.   We picked up from where we left off…attacking one another.  In the midst of such tragedy and chaos a dozen years ago:  what happened to that spirit of loving unity that we all shared in?  It took the deaths of 2,977 people to draw us close together as a nation; a family…have we forgotten their memory already?

I will never forget.   September 11, 2001 woke me up and opened my eyes to see life in a totally new way.   It reminded me how love always prevails over hate.  It restored my faith in God and the brilliance of humanity.   Even amidst what seems like never-ending divisions in our world today, the lives and memory of those who perished live on in my heart.   They inspire me to continue to be an instrument for peace, when and wherever peace is needed.   Always remember.  Never forget.

May 11, 1933 - September 11, 2001

May 11, 1933 – September 11, 2001

 

Lord, take me where
you want me to go;
Let me meet whom you
want me to meet;
Tell me what You want
me to say, and
Keep me out of your
way.

 

This prayer was found in the pocket of Franciscan Friar Mychal Judge, the FDNY chaplain and first confirmed victim who died September 11, 2001 at ground zero.

Advertisements

We Still Have a Dream

IMG_7666

Fifty years ago today over 250,000 Americans set foot in The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, DC.   On this day, history was forever changed in the largest political rally for human rights and equality.   On this day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  That speech would eventually be ranked as the top American speech of the 20th century.  It was this very historic day which has been credited in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the ongoing pursuit for equality.  Tragically, it was a little more than four years later that Dr. King would be martyred by a racist sniper on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – August 28, 1963

Today, the life, wisdom, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resonates throughout the world.  There are few places in the world where this non-violent, peaceful visionary is not known.   Young children can recite various parts of his speeches as well as memorable quotes with pride and ease.   What is most amazing is how Dr. King has become embraced over all these years by many Americans, especially those who are minorities, ostracized, and discriminated against.  And though great strides have been made in the last 50-years, a lot remains to be done.  We have a long way to go before the visions of Dr. King for unity, equality, and peace are a true reality for all Americans.  In a recent poll; few think all of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s goals have been met.

Today I joined my fiancé, friends, and over 150,000 Americans on the National Mall to remember and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.   I spent the entire day surrounded by a sea of diversity – a beautiful rainbow of ethnicities, ages, faiths, backgrounds…documented and undocumented Americans, male and female, gay, straight, and transgender.  There are no words to describe the spirit of universal love and solidarity which was very much present this afternoon.  We listened to a vast array of speakers, some of whom included: Rev. Al Sharpton, Benjamin Todd Jealous, Dr. Eliza Byard, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, Rev. Dr. Bernice King, Martin L. King III, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and so many others.

We were reminded of the progress which has been made, but the realities of what remains…a growing gap between the rich and poor, voter suppression, race driven murder victims such as Trayvon Martin, anti-equality legislation and homophobic hate crimes, and more.   As the Voting Rights Act continues to be attacked, former President Bill Clinton remarked, “A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.”

We were continually reminded by so many leaders this afternoon, “we’ve come too far to turn back now.”   We are Americans and we still have a dream and we have an obligation to keep that dream alive, one day passing the threshold from dream to reality.  President Obama hit the nail on the head when he said,

“Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts. That is the transformation that they wrought, with each step of their well-worn shoes. That’s the debt that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries; folks who could have run a company maybe if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm’s way, even though they didn’t have to; those Japanese Americans who recalled their own internment; those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust; people who could have given up and given in, but kept on keeping on, knowing that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

On the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all in ways that our children now take for granted, as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another, and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth.

To dismiss the magnitude of this progress — to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed — that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr. — they did not die in vain. Their victory was great.”

Think about where we’ve all come from and how far we’ve come.   The dream continues with the wisdom of our past heroines of freedom and elders.   The dream continues with you and I.  We are all called to be pavers in the road to equality, justice, and freedom.  We truly have a moral obligation and duty to stay steadfast, not only for the children of today, but for all future generations.   The dream continues with our commitment to love, service, and stewardship.

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral.  And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long.  Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say…I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.  I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.  I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question.  I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.  I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.  I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison.  I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”  

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Drum Major Instinct (1968)

A Day of Celebration

Walking together on the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Valley, WV.

Walking together on the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Valley, WV.

Five years ago today I fell in love with my soulmate.   I certainly wasn’t looking for love, but love found me.   Starting a new relationship was actually neither of our intentions, and especially with a 3,000 mile distance between us.   Yet as we look back on it, we know we were destined to find one another, and the distance was tool to prepare us for a long life together.   If we could get through being separated by distance, we pretty much could get through everything else if he put our heart & soul into it…and we did!

Paul surprised me last night with matching glass evil eye bracelets which he made for us.    I was overjoyed!   We both love evil eyes not only for their ancient symbolism and our favorite cobalt blue color.  They always remind us of our trip to Turkey with friends back in 2011, which besides a trip to The Bahamas, was our first trip abroad together.

We’re simple bears.   We like a lot of the same things.  I think that’s what’s so awesome about us.   So instead of going out to buy a new suit to wear at an overpriced Washington, DC restaurant, we threw on our typical wardrobe, and hit the road for a fun-filled day trip.

Destination:  Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  Why Harpers Ferry, you might ask?   We picked Harpers Ferry because  we love history and nature, and it’s only an hour north-west of us!   The history of Harpers Ferry is multi-layered – involving a diverse number of people and events that influenced the course of our nation’s history. Harpers Ferry saw the first successful application of interchangeable manufacture, the arrival of the first successful American railroad, John Brown’s attack on slavery, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States.

Paul & I posing in front of the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry.

Paul & I posing in front of the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry.

English colonist Robert Harper was given a 125-acre piece of property ca. 1750 and established a ferry across the Potomac River in 1761, thus making a new town in the Shenandoah Valley for settlers.   Then comes industry, railroad, and the Civil War.   The geography of Harpers Ferry is situated where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia come together, as well as where the Potomac and Shenandoah River split.   Walking through the “lower end” of town was absolutely fascinating, as we couldn’t help but to carry our imaginations into the past.    What were the smells and sounds?

Like children running free in an amusement park, Paul and I took to the historic buildings, churches, cemeteries, trails, etc.   We stumbled across a cute outdoor patio at the Cannonball Deli for a vegan lunch…a falafel wrap with curly fries.   After gaining some more energy from eating, we hiked back up to the “upper town” and decided to simply drive where it looks even more awesome.

One of many breathtaking views from the bank of the Shenandoah River.

One of many breathtaking views from the bank of the Shenandoah River.

As we’re driving, we’re passing endless areas where we would love to pull over and take a photo of, but realize we would never get anywhere…so we keep driving.   In attempt to find a higher vantage point overlooking Harpers Ferry, we get a little lost and accidentally stumble across another amazing town, Shepherdstown.   This 18th century town is still a very active community offering an abundance of shops, eateries, and points of interest.   We came across a historic building with a big wood sign which read, “O’Hurley’s General Store.”   Curious, (and hoping they’d have a bathroom) we stopped into check it out.   Little did we know this shop and the kindest shopkeeper would become one of the top three highlights of our trip!

Shepherdstown Opera House.

Shepherdstown Opera House.

After getting some more history lessons from the shopkeeper (who had no clue what falafel was), we headed out to explore more of the town.   This meager little town was so full of life and filled with history, personality, and character at every angle.   In 1787, James Rumsey was said to have engineered the first functioning steam engine propelled boat.   So of course he has a quite fabulous monument built in his honor.   Shepherdstown is also home to Shepherd University and it even an opera house which is still used to this day as a picture house.

After some more shop browsing, we headed down to the trails lining the Shenandoah River and simply enjoyed our special day – reminiscing, talking about the things we are passionate about, and enjoying the beauty which was surrounding us.    Can it get any better than that?

So here we are at the five-year mark.   Still in love.   Very much in love.   Engaged, but without a date set.   Where will we be next year or in five years from now?   Only, God knows that.   However I believe in the depths of my heart that our love will still be burning strong.   Perhaps we will think back this day in future anniversaries and reminisce on this newest memory to our adventure in life together.

%d bloggers like this: