Category Archives: community

Securing The Legacy Of The Greatest Generation

WHAT THEY ACHIEVED

June 6, 2014, marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the operation that began the Allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe,ultimately leading to an Allied victory in WWII. Revisiting the details of this phenomenal event, again, served to remind me of the incredible accomplishments of the Greatest Generation, especially their gaining that victory in the face of overwhelmingly impossible odds. This led me to consider how we are doing with the priceless legacy we have been entrusted with through that generation’s victory and beyond that, to consider what lessons remain for us in their accomplishments that could lead to our gaining victory over today’s issues that may seem just as overwhelmingly impossible.

During the 70th anniversary celebration of D-Day, I read an awe-inspiring story entitled 93-year-old WWII Vet to Parachute into Normandy – Again. This was the story of Jim Martin who, as a private in the 101st Airborne, was one of the paratroopers dropped behind German lines in the hours before the D-Day landings. Jim determined that, to honor the 70th anniversary of D-Day, he would go back to Normandy, to parachute onto the same soil he touched seven decades before and he did just that. Reading Jim’s story provided reminders for me about the unique qualities of his generation and that brought illumination to my considering the application of those qualities in resolving the most significant challenges facing us today. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under America’s founding ideals, Baby Boomers, community, greatness

Doing What’s Right

teddy-roosevelt

“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Recently, I noticed this quote from our 26th President displayed at the entrance to an elementary school Fifth Grade classroom. As I read it, my immediate thought was, “I wish that was a common attitude with today’s politicians.”

Although “Teddy” Roosevelt is honored as one of America’s best presidents, I recognize that even he, most likely, didn’t always live up to the ideal indicated by his “do what’s right” quote. But, at least, “do what’s right” was one of Roosevelt’s stated ideals. And, surely, that ideal was shared by many of his political contemporaries. Likewise, I’m confident that this was an ideal commonly held by American politicians prior to the T.R. era, going back to the founding of the U.S. Even as recently as the turn of the current century, at least some politicians held to this ideal, as indicated by the well-known signature line of Former Congressman J.C. Watts Jr., who said,jc watts

“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”

Today it seems that with one political issue after another it is sadly evidenced that, most often, the “do what’s right” ideal isn’t in play at all. Rather than belabor this by reviewing every applicable issue I can think of (Associated Press phone records scandal, ATF “Fast and Furious” scandal, Forsaking the liberty our sacrifice gained for the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo prisoner exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, IRS political targeting scandal, James Rosen phone and email records scandal, Syria foreign policy fiasco, Ukraine foreign policy fiasco, Veterans Affairs scandal, etc.), let me illustrate my point by using details related to just one of today’s hottest political issues … The investigation of the terrorist raid on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. Continue reading

Comments Off on Doing What’s Right

Filed under America’s founding ideals, character, community, Current Events, ideals, Judeo-Christian values, politics

Dwight Howard And The Blessing of Life

The latest in our ongoing series on American Heroes and Idols

By: Michael Beckman

Cross-Posted From: Tales from a tribble

Dwight HowardAs a big Rockets basketball fan, I was very excited along with the rest of Houston fans when the Rockets signed center Dwight Howard as a free agent in July of 2013.  The Rockets had just signed the best center in the NBA to go along with another super star of the Rockets, James Harden.  This dynamic duo would surely be fun to watch, and it has been.  The Rockets are now one of the best teams in the NBA with a legitimate chance to fight for an NBA Championship.  But more than just acquiring a great basketball player, our city of Houston has been blessed to have a great man join us.

That may be surprising to some because when Dwight decided to sign with the Rockets [especially over his previous team, the Lakers] there was a lot of negative talk that came out about Dwight.  You could read comments on twitter that Dwight was a loser, he was selfish,  he would be a negative on the team, and he didn’t care enough about winning.   Those descriptions about Dwight could not be further from the truth.  None of them apply to this gentleman.  Dwight Howard is a winner, a team player and a big positive to the team, on and off the court.

There is one main reason that the last description of Dwight Howard, that he didn’t care enough about winning, came about.  That is because before the game, during the game and after the game, you will always see Dwight with a smile on his face.  Many basketball fans have taken that to mean he just doesn’t care.  If only they knew the real reason Dwight always has a smile and a positive attitude, even in defeat.  It has nothing to do with Dwight not caring about the game, as he hurts as much as anyone else on the team when they lose a game.  It has to do with life itself.

READ MORE

1 Comment

Filed under character, Christians, community, Sports, values

All Are Precious In His Sight

Barbara Boyle's 3B Class - Warren Elementary - 1955-56

LIVE IN HARMONY

This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.

My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.

ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading

Comments Off on All Are Precious In His Sight

Filed under Christians, Church Issues, community, Culture, diversity, Education, faith, Family, God, Jesus, Love, race, religion, society

21st Century Miracle Worker

Maryjane and Brandon Mellmer

Maryjane and Brandon Mellmer

I will probably always remember the look on Maryjane Mellmer’s face when we met. We were in the elementary school Structured Communication Class (SCC) where she serves as the Teacher. FYI – SCC is a Special Ed program for kids with autism. She was supporting the efforts of a Para-educator to physically control a fifth-grader who, obviously, didn’t have much self-control. I was there to start a three-week assignment as a substitute Para-educator. When my introduction included me saying, “I want you to know that I’ve never done this before … I don’t just mean that I’ve never subbed in this sort of classroom … I mean I’ve never worked as a sub in any classroom”, though she had a numb look on her face, through a forced but brave smile and with intentional enthusiasm, she said, “Well, OK!”

To my surprise and probably to Maryjane’s surprise too, we’re now in our fourth school year working together in that same classroom, Room 20. When I tell others about my experience in Room 20, I consistently tell them that I’m blessed every school day to get to work with 21st Century Miracle Workers. Of course, I recognize the exaggeration in saying that. The Miracle Worker is the story of Anne Sullivan, whose tutoring of the blind-and-deaf-from-infancy Helen Keller not only connected Keller with the world in order for her to have a decent life, it made it possible for her to have an exceptional life. Anne Sullivan was one of a kind. Miracle Workers like her don’t come along every day. With that said, I can’t think of a more fitting description for Maryjane. This past month, the school district where she works honored her with its Employee Excellence Award  and in doing so; they acknowledged her as the leader of a team of 21st Century Miracle Workers. In other words, they agreed with me. Considering these things, I want to tell you a little bit about how Maryjane came to her role as a Special Ed Teacher, along with some details of what she is achieving in that role.

Maryjane Mellmer (Third from left) - Excellence Award Presentation

Maryjane Mellmer (Third from left) – Excellence Award Presentation

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Autism, commitment, community, Education, Making a Difference

Fifty Years Without JFK

Kennedy AssassinatedNovember 22, 1963 is commonly known as “The Day America Lost Its Innocence.” It’s, also, widely accepted that nearly all Americans living at that time have detailed memories of where they were and what they were doing on that day. Since I was leading a very active life in the American Midwest fifty years ago, I witnessed the reality of these things. So, I can share some of what I recall about my related experiences, as well as offer my perspective on that loss of innocence.

BACK THEN

On that Friday in 1963, I awoke in our four-room (that’s four-room, not four-bedroom) home. It was in a blue-collar area of my hometown. I’d lived there with my single-mom and two siblings since I was born. Considering those circumstances, it may have been difficult to see from the outside looking in but life seemed pretty great to me. I was sixteen years old, I had just gotten my driver’s license and I had just finished playing a season as a starting defensive guard on my high school’s football team … we were undefeated that year. I still went to church where I received my salvation. I had loving relationships with my mother, my sister, my brother and extended family members on my mother’s side. I, also, had loving relationships with my father and extended family members on his side. In addition to family, I had a good social life. I was part of the “in crowd” at school. We had a formidable circle of friends and acquaintances throughout our community and I had my first “real” girlfriend … we were “going steady”. When it came to finishing my education and then finding success in work, things were looking pretty bright. My performance with high school studies was at a National Honor Society level, I had a couple of Junior Colleges interested in me as a football player, there was a state university in my hometown and even if nothing developed with scholarships, there were plenty of factory jobs available in town where I could earn what I needed for college tuition, books, etc. I don’t recall consciously having the Shakespearean thought “the world is my oyster” but things in my life seemed to be lining up pretty nicely.

THAT DAY

I don’t really recall what I did for lunch on November 22, 1963, but I had gone somewhere away from school. When I returned, I went into the gym where most other students who shared my lunch period were hanging out; waiting to go to whatever class they had for the period after lunch. Just before the bell rang, to end my lunch period, my “steady girlfriend” appeared and she immediately asked if I had heard that President Kennedy had been shot. She was a year younger than me and she was also known to be “creative” with the truth”. So, my instant reaction was something like, “Oh come on, Louise! That’s not even funny!” Some around us reacted similarly but there were others chiming in that they had heard it was true. Then, the bell rang and there was an increasing buzz of related conversation, as we left the gym and headed towards our respective classrooms. My post-lunch class was English. I don’t recall a thing from that day’s class except that, along with the other students and the teacher, I was most distracted by what I’d heard about the President’s shooting. That distraction peaked with an announcement, about 15 or 20 minutes into the class period, coming over the public address speaker, housed in a small wooden cabinet, centered above the blackboard at the front of the classroom. For some reason, I think the announcement was made by a female school staff member but I don’t really remember whose voice I heard. And, I don’t remember exactly what was said in the announcement, except that President Kennedy had been assassinated and that school was being immediately dismissed.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under community, leadership, politics

Play Mean but Play Clean

dick-butkus-coverWhat comes to mind for you when you hear the name Dick Butkus? Immediately, I think along the lines of the caption on this Sports Illustrated cover … “Dick Butkus of the Bears – The most feared man in the game (NFL Football)”. No doubt, many others (especially those of my generation) share that same first thought. And, there’s ample justification for that line of thinking. The 6 ft 3 in, 245 lb Butkus, was known as one of the most feared and intimidating linebackers during his nine years as a player for the Chicago Bears.

Next, you may think of Dick Butkus as a celebrity endorser and actor. That’s my next thought too. And, here too, there’s plenty of good reason for thinking that way. The “most feared man in the game” persona of this Pro Football Hall of Fame member has been very effective in promoting brand names, from his Miller Lite commercials with Bubba Smith  to his “I’m sorry, Dick Butkus” spots for FedEx. And, Butkus has had numerous roles on TV and in the movies. He was even the namesake for Rocky’s English Mastiff, in both the Rocky and Rocky II movies.

So, if you met him today, wouldn’t you expect to meet a somewhat older version of the Dick Butkus you’ve come to know about over the years? That is, an imposing figure who still lives in his hometown, Chicago, whose time is mostly spent enjoying the leisure activities of retirement, along with some dabbling in the worlds of sports and entertainment. That’s what I thought when my Wife, Ruth and I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a MarriageTeam Tailgate Party & Auction. I will say that the qualities I expected to find in his makeup all seemed to be present and undiminished. However, I also got to start becoming acquainted with some dimensions of the man that were a pleasant surprise. One of these is a campaign he started, called Play Clean™. It’s a program that encourages teens to “train hard, eat well, and play with attitude”, instead of resorting to illegal steroids. His willingness to take this stand against steroids caused USA Today to comment that Butkus may have a greater impact on the game in his 60s (now 70s) than he did playing in his 20s. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under character, commitment, community, Culture, entertainment, faith, Family, ideals, Love, Making a Difference, Marriage, society, Sports, Substance Abuse, values