I won’t apologize

It is the weekend of September 11, 2016.  Fifteen years since America’s last major attack on one of its’ major cities.  So many innocent people died that day.  So many innocent people were injured that day.  So many innocent people remain ill and many are dying because of that day.  Our President elect during that time has been accused of mishandling the action taken to combat the evil that exists in the part of the world that attacked us. I am not among those who would know the truth about the reason he chose the action he did and I try not to judge others, instead choosing to believe in the good of all mankind.  Don’t get me wrong, I also see evil in the world and the people who are the epitamy of that evil.

Many people have chosen to see the attack and its aftermath as a devious plot on the American side.  They have chosen to blame America for its own attack. Some of these people are my friends, some are strangers to me. Well I don’t believe that conspiracy.  In my heart I know it was evil that attacked America that day.  I know that they chose the World Trade Center because it was the financial hub of the entire country.  We are a capitalist country and those who are evil, the ones who hate our way of life, chose that target with one idea to ruin our country economically.  They hoped to destroy us from within by destroying our financial pulse.  They knocked us down for a little bit as the following years showed, but they didn’t destroy us nor did they win in any sense of the word.  They didn’t think we had the committment to keep our country strong, but they were wrong.

Now I am surround by people who are hurting America from within.  They have been blinded either by fear and/or frustration. Once more, they blame America for their personal problems.  People are people and given the freedoms they have here to keep their own languages, to keep their own cultures, to keep their own religions they are managing to cause more problems instead of solving the ones we face everyday.  The fear and stubborness of so many Americans and the immigrants that live here are at the core of our current issues.  We are forgetting that we are ONE COUNTRY, ONE NATION.  If one part of us gets hurt we all get hurt, but if we don’t fix those hurts we will destroy the entire body.  There is so much more good than bad in America.  We are losing sight of that fact.  Everyone seems to have gotten the idea that one race is better than the other.  That one class of people is better than the other class of people.  That isn’t why America was founded.  That is so far from what America truly is.  Are we fallible? Yes! But only from our own citizens.  It is time to put away the hate.  It is time to get out of our own selfishness and realize that only UNITED we will face future attacks from evil beings.  That all the people who sacrificed in the past for us to have our freedoms believed it was to keep us UNITED.  “Biting the hand that feeds you” is detrimental to your own survival.   Americans should know this.
Too many since the beginning of our birth have sacrificed to get us through some of the worst times in history.  The point is we did get through.  The point is we should want to be better by now.  I believe with all my being that people who hate America and live in America should leave America.  Many of those whom shout the loudest about how awful we are as a country are the ones who have benefitted most from what this wonderful country has offered them.  They should really find somewhere else better suited to their ideals because if they all left we would probably have lots more room for the refugees who need a new country, who want a new country, who will become citizens who appreciate their new country as our ancestors did before us.

We are currently in the middle of a Presidential election year.  Before us are two people with very different ideas about the direction our country should take.  We have to elect one of them to be the face of us, to show their leadership of the greatest country in the world.  For me neither one has the qualifications to do this.  One is corrupt, the other acts like an idiot.  However, no matter what I personally think, one of them is definetely going to be elected.  All I can do is pray that the right one gets into office and proves their worth.  All I can do is hope they realize what a great country America truly is and how her people, her ideals, her future is worth every effort on their part to protect her.  These issues that are within our own borders  in today’s world are solvable issues.  The issues that face us outside our borders are far less likely to be solved.  Whatever the future holds, whatever fate has in store for us, we need to face it together united in the respect of our country, united in the responsibility we each have to make us worthy of being the beacon of light to all those who are persecuted throughout the world.  This can only be accomplished if we are united as Americans.  The families of the innocent people who died and were injured on September 11, 2001 deserve to know that they didn’t sacrifice for nothing.  We owe it to all those from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War who fought for America that we can keep their legacy alive and keep America beautiful. With this comes the responsibility to keep the evil and the haters out of American borders whether they come from the North, South, East or West.  Makes no difference if they hate America they shouldn’t live here.  We can only survive as a nation if we have pride in our country.  We can only survive as a people if we learn to live together as one people..American people.

So no I won’t apologize for loving this country.  I won’t apologize for loving all people of every race and every class.  I won’t apologize for loving the animals that roam the earth and the lands that provide us with beauty and survival.  I won’t apologize for believing as I do and for stating it for the world to see.  I won’t apologize because I have nothing to apologize for being an American.  If I have one thing to leave to my chldren and grandchildren I hope I leave them the pride I have in America and the belief that we are privileged to live here.

And that is the way I see it, here in Brooklyn.

K

It Takes A “Special” Man To Be A Dad!

MyDad.jpeg

Special is defined in the English dictionary in this way: unusual or better; held in esteem; reserved; made for specific purpose; arranged for specific purpose, etc. In accordance with that definition, my dad was a very “special” person. Today May 4, 2016 is the 47th Anniversary of his death.  I was sixteen years old.

Complex; complicated; misunderstood; unstable; loving; self-educated. My dad had a disease known as alcoholism. As mean as he could be when he drank he could be just as kind and nurturing when he didn’t.  I often thought of him as two people in one. His need for alcohol was always present, although it lessened in his later years. I came into his life when he was forty-three years old. I like to believe that I made a difference in his life at that point. Members of my family have told me that he was crazy about me at the instant of my birth. My memories begin when I was a small child. Naturally, some of those memories are not good. I would rather focus today on the memories of Dad that have stayed with me my entire life.

The most poignant memories begin with Dad and me watching television in our tenement living room. I would sit on the floor, he in his favorite chair. On the screen before me was always a movie starring either John Wayne, James Cagney, Busby Berkley Musicals or Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers. My Dad would tell me all about the stars in those movies and we would often sing along if it was a musical. When we weren’t watching television, he would work with me on my homework assignments and every day he would “assign” me the jumble puzzle printed in the Daily News. I was always praised and rewarded if I got the jumble words correct. In those days, many students went home at lunchtime. I was one of them and for lunch my dad would prepare grilled cheese sandwiches cooked in the waffle iron, or heat up Franco American spaghetti for me. On Fridays he would add a fish cake or fist sticks with the Franco American spaghetti as the side. He always tried to make lunchtime fun for me. After school, I would often sit at his feet as he told me stories about his adventures in the military or advised me about the importance of education and the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. I always thought he was truly a smart man. Even when he wasn’t sober, there were things that he said that remain with me. When I first heard the words he said, my thought was that he was a very selfish person, but as I got older I realized the words he used were quite filled with real wisdom. He would always say whether drunk or sober, “Me, Myself and I , first comes me then comes you, capital R capital O capital N.” Today I realize that he was saying a person needs to care first for themselves before they can take care of others. It wasn’t a selfish statement at all,  instead it was the most sage advice I ever received.

My Dad as complicated as he was, was truly a special man and if he were here today, I would thank him for all those times he was there for me and for all the times that he made me feel like the “special” one. My hope is that after all this time his spirit is at peace now.

That is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn!

 

K

My May Memorial

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

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

Being a product of the Catholic School System the month of May meant many things to me, but most of all I have always associated it with peace, joy, and beauty. My father passed away on May 4th and one of my sisters passed away on May 8th. So along with my wonderful memories of May comes a bit of heartache. Among the most vivid memories I have is one of the Blessed Mother. Not meaning to give anyone the idea that I am still affiliated with any organized religion, because I chose a long time ago not to associate, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in some of the things that I was taught as a child. Naturally, I don’t believe them as blindly as I did back then, however there was always something to the idea of my beliefs, especially when it came to the Blessed Mother. I belief that the man Jesus may very well have had a mom named Mary and that she suffered greatly when he was crucified as any mother would. She has always been a part of my life and I have turned to her many a time to console me and to help me deal with the most painful moments of my life. Perhaps it is just an idea that I turn to, but for me she was a very real person and her spirit lingers within me. She represents all that is peaceful and beautiful to me. She encompasses the makeup of my heart. I strive to be as loving as I believe she had to have been for she sacrificed greatly for the good of all. The other side of my persona is very much rooted in patriotism. This from both my father and John Wayne, two men who convinced me, whether acting or not, that America was a great country and worth defending to the death. Listening to my father and watching John Wayne with him in the old movies was a great adventure for me. I got to spend time with my father, which wasn’t always possible in our lifestyle. My father loved Fred Astaire, John Wayne, James Cagney, and many more movie stars long gone to graves. My father instilled in me that same passion. I am not so naive as to think that this could possibly be conceived as “brainwashing”, but whether it was brainwashing or it wasn’t doesn’t matter anymore. That feeling of  patriotism is still very much a part of who I am and what matters in life to me. Wouldn’t you say I have that right?

I recall those days in May when we would wear our communion dresses for the crowning of Mary. It was an exciting time in my young life and I always loved the songs we would sing as we processed down the aisle of the Church to where Mary’s statue sat and one of the girls would be chosen to “crown” Mary with a bouquet of flowers. I felt such inner joy and peace during those simple ceremonies. I can still recall some of the songs we sang and how their lyrics and tunes would be forever imbedded in my mind. Perhaps they might ring a bell to some of the readers, so I have inserted a couple below.  You still might be asking yourself, “What has this got to do with Memorial Day?”

    

When Memorial Day was approaching, at the end of May (May 30th to be exact), our school would collect donations from the students and once we donated we would receive an artificial poppy flower to wear for Memorial Day. I was always lucky in the fact that I was always able to “purchase” that poppy. I recall walking along the street, proud as a peacock with my poppy pinned to my chest for all the world to see. I knew it had something to do with our military dying for our country, but as a child, I never connected it to the horror of losing someone you love in a war. Nowadays, I would never deny that this is truly horrific, however it is also an honor for those who chose to fight for this country and for the families who sacrifice because of that choice. No one wants to be at war.  No one wants to have men and women dying because they chose to join the military.  The ugly facts are though, that it is a reality and since the Civil War onward, our military have given of themselves to protect what they believe to be freedoms.  They fight in wars so that those freedoms can be protected.  So that their country can continue to be a “land of the free and a home of the Brave”.  Perhaps the reasons aren’t always crystal clear to many.  Perhaps those people are right in saying that America should mind her own and stay out of other country’s troubles, but I personally wonder how long we would be able to be the country that gives all the people those rights, if we don’t defend her ideals?  How long could we maintain our independence if we don’t help defend the independence of those who need it or ask for it?  Not long I assure you.

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This weekend is Memorial Day weekend.  Somehow, along the way, the very reason that Memorial Day was declared a holiday became lost in a new idea that Memorial Day was the beginning of summer. While I personally believe barbecuing and celebrating is a great way to commemorate Memorial Day, it should never be without remembering how it came to be.

http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html

People have  forgotten or have set aside the notion that it is truly a day set aside to remember all those who have fallen in the service of their country since the beginning of our time.  It is a solemn day, yet joyful day when we can get together to celebrate the sacrifice of life that our military has made in order to ensure that we keep that right to celebrate.  We can best honor them by doing what we do best, going to parks, beaches, backyards and enjoying the freedoms that are ours because the military who have died, and the military who still serve, have given us those freedoms for a while longer.  And when we are at our events, we need to stop and remember those military personnel and their families and be grateful to all of them for their sacrifices. That is how I can connect  Mary, Blessed Mother to Memorial Day.  As a mother, she sacrificed when her son gave his life up for the things he believed, just as our military men and women give up their lives for what they believed.  As do their mothers and families.  All who have sacrificed and suffered should be remembered on Memorial Day.  This day should remain so that the memories and the lives of all these people will be forever immortalized in the hearts and the minds of each of us.  We should never forget.

poppyfield

For me May will always be a month of memories, memorials, joys, and beauty.  It will forever hold for me the wish that all who seek peace in this world will work toward it.  Merry is the month of May and hopefully, we will continue to keep it that way.

And that is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn,

K