United States

LET US NEVER FORGET: The Civil War Was NOT Civil

U.S. Declaration of Independence ratified by t...

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This is an anniversary we should remember but not celebrate. As you are now aware, it is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. I have always thought that was an odd name to give a war because there was nothing “civil” about it.

It was a horrible time. It was a time of father against son and brother against brother. It not only divided a nation but destroyed families and created deep wounds in our national fabric that haven’t healed yet. And it was all over slavery.

Slavery—1. System based on enslaved labor. The practice of, or a system based on, using the enforced labor of other people. 2. Condition of being enslaved laborer. The state or condition of being held in involuntary servitude as the property of somebody else. 3. Hard work. Very hard work, especially for low pay and under bad conditions. 4. State of being dominated. A state of being completely dominated by another.

The institution of slavery is nothing new. Everyone who reads the Bible (or has seen the movie The Ten Commandments) knows that it is an institution thousands of years old. Everyone remembers the story of when the Jews were slaves to the Egyptians. It was not a pleasant time for them. They sacrificed everything to gain their freedom. Fast forward a couple thousand years and we have Africans kidnapped and brought to this country to serve as slaves on plantations working in the fields and running their masters’ homes.

Today, many spin masters want you to believe the war was not over slavery but “state’s rights” or constitutional principles. They make it look like such a romantic time with southern Belles in hoop skirts sipping lemonade and mint juleps on large verandas shaded by stately old oak trees draped with Spanish moss. The idea of a southern gentleman continues with images of men neatly dressed and assisting women through doors or into chairs. We see in our mind’s eye richly dressed couples waltzing across a ball room to lilting music. What we don’t see in this picture are the many slaves preparing the meals; planting, tending, and harvesting the crops; and attending to the children and every need or whim of the masters. We also don’t see those southern gentlemen beating and selling their slaves—or worse.

As quoted in the Declaration of the Causes of Secession—“(Northerners) have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery….We, therefore, the people of South Carolina…have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and other States of North America dissolved.”

Also, just in case there is any doubt, Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, said, “Our new government is founded upon…the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”

No one could have foreseen the horrors and the hundreds of thousands of deaths this war would bring. The war was even a form of entertainment to many as they gathered on hilltops and picnicked while watching the battles.

It worries me today that many seem to want to return to those days. But there is nothing glamorous or romantic about holding a group of people in contempt and viewing them as less than human. The slavery chapter brought pain, suffering, and disgrace to this nation. I fear if we look closely at our society’s fabric today we will see similar rips and tears.

A dirty little secret that many think or whisper but don’t dare speak out loud is that same feeling of contempt is still brewing underneath the surface of society today. There are some who still feel those of another race or religion are not welcome. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that all men (and women) are created equal. Furthermore, the Constitution says:

 “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It says We the People of the United States…meaning all people not everyone except the Catholics, or Jews, or Methodists, or Mexicans, or Chinese, or Africans, etc.

When are we going to learn to live together and respect each other? We have so much to learn from people with different backgrounds. I am happy to say I have friends from many different countries and have proudly encouraged them to attain their American citizenship and have rejoiced with them after successfully completing their long journey to citizenship. The one fact that constantly amazes me is how much we are alike in spite of our differences. We feel pain, sorrow, joy, and laughter over the same things. And, we all bleed red when cut.

Hold that image of red blood in your mind. The fields and rivers ran red with blood during the Civil War on our own native land. Over the next four years there will be many reminders of significant battles of the War between the States. Communities will be planning various celebrations, festivals, and other observances of events from that time. The only event we should celebrate will be April 9, 2015 marking the end of the Civil War when Gen. Lee surrendered his troops at the Court House of Appomattox.

Don’t fall for the romantic notion of the times. Let us never forget how awful that war was and vow to resolve our differences now before the current conflicts escalate to a point of no return.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, JIM TRESSEL?

One of the last untarnished icons of truth, justice, and the American way just received a black eye. The man who preaches morality, character building, and “do the right thing” is guilty of one of the worst sins—lying.

Today, we learn that the squeaky clean, all American boy who grew up to become a revered football coach of one of America’s premier football programs, The Ohio State University, is just human. He is no longer the god on a pedestal but has fallen off that pedestal with a loud thud. People everywhere are condemning him for what he did and the talk shows are crucifying him. It has brought shame on the university and its outstanding (and prosperous) football program. The penalties will be harsh, as they should be.

What did he do? He lied to the NCAA and covered up a problem involving six of his players. He explained his concerns, fears, doubts, and confusion at Tuesday night’s press conference; however some aren’t buying his explanations. The simple plain truth is Coach Tressel lied. That is it in black and white. But, we all know that life isn’t just black and white, it is shades of gray and a myriad of colors in between.

Before I go any farther let me say I am not defending Tressel and I did not go to Ohio State. I have lived in this town for many years and joined others in cheering the team on to victory over those years but that is as far as it goes. However, I think I have a unique perspective of this situation—one not shared by other “experts” discussing this event.

I married a former football player and coach late in life. Something I have observed when we meet a player or coach is the instant bond they all share. It is an exclusive private world in which they share combat and the joy of victories and pains of defeat. It is a universal family of athletes, more exclusive and prestigious than any fraternity. They recognize the drive and need for excellence in each other and close ranks if an outsider threatens one of their own. This seems to be true of all players and the instincts are intensified if that threat is to one of the members of their own team. I have heard former OSU players talk about Buckeye Nation and how they are proud to be part of this family and they would do anything for one of their players. This belonging is what drew Chris Spielman to visit Art Schlichter in prison. He discussed this on his show recently, and said he hadn’t planned to go but a Buckeye was in trouble, and he felt the need to go see him to give him support.

And it is a family in every sense of the word. The coach, as head of that family, looks after his players. Former head OSU coach, Earl Bruce, said that Tressel was only trying to protect his players the way any former Ohio State coach would have done. I might add—the way any parent would look after and protect his own kids. Coach Bruce added, “I wouldn’t turn in players. I would try to help them, and Coach Hayes did the same thing.”

Another overlooked factor in this situation is the culture of sports today. Everyone likes to win and the adoring public is in love with the athlete who can create the wins. This goes as far back as the Greeks and their Olympians. They were special and idolized people. Today, instead of crowning our athletes with a simple crown of laurel leaves, we push cars, bling, money and other forbidden objects their way. Troy Smith (former Ohio State quarterback) got in trouble when a booster shook his hand and left $500 in his palm. This is too much temptation for a young college student. And, let us not forget that these are young people—not accomplished adult pro athletes. Many of them are still teenagers trying to find their way in a big, crazy, and tempting world and they don’t always make the best choices. College athletes of any school are constantly being given special perks whether it is free pizzas or fast cars. Some outstanding athletes grow up being pampered their whole lives and begin to expect it. This is not right but it is a fact of today’s life.

 Finally, let us look at why the school is in so much hot water in the first place. It is because a few football players sold team memorabilia they thought was theirs and did not know they could not sell. What is confusing is once they are out of school then they can do what they want with the items but, as long as they are in school, then it is not really theirs to do as they please. So it is theirs but it isn’t.

Compounding the problem, some players sold the items for extra cash thinking they could help their families. The ones who traded the items for tattoos were just stupid but the ones who were in real need illustrate another problem with student athletes. The scholarships are great but they don’t cover everything. According to the NCAA rules, others can not help the struggling athlete. However, the ones from more affluent families don’t need to worry if they need extra cash to fill the gas tank, buy a pair of jeans, or go on a date. Just ask Mom and Dad. Because all their extra time is spent in the weight room or on the practice field, even in the summer, they can’t hold jobs so how will they get extra spending money? My husband did not come from a money background and if it had not been for a generous aunt who sent him money and bus tickets, he would have been stuck on campus his whole time.

The outrageous aspect of this is the vast amounts of money the athletes are bringing to the university, the athletic department, and to the town. College athletics, especially the money sports such as football and basketball, are no longer just sport but big business. Everyone is making money on the backs of the poor student athletes. It is a shame that an athlete can’t sell his jersey for even a few dollars when he can look into the stands and see a population of 100,000 people with half of them wearing a jersey with his number on it. Where is the justice in this?

Yes, what Jim Tressel did was awful. He got caught up in the culture of big sports with big problems and big pressures. I’m sure it started out with the need to protect one of his own from outside wolves, but it snowballed until it became a cover up, a lie, and one huge fiasco.

I see some positives in this whole ugly affair. One look at the coach’s eyes and it is clear he was remorseful and feeling great pain. It is rumored he even tried to resign. This is in contrast to so many today who never admit wrong and make a mockery of the system they perceive has done them wrong. Coach Tressel said he learned he should have gone to compliance and legal departments to discuss this further, taking the burden off his shoulders. Another positive is it brings to light the poverty of some student athletes and the vast temptations available to them. Also, it shows that the athletic department is not just for sports but it is big business. Many people view college football and basketball as farm teams for the pros, maybe it is time we acknowledge this for what it is and redesign the system to benefit both the business side and team sports. It is time the NCAA addresses the needs of athletics in the 21st century and develops rules to protect the needs of the athlete and the integrity of the sports.

Instead of banging the drums and demanding the heads of all involved, let us use that energy to make positive changes so similar situations won’t happen in the future. It is time for change.

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/sports/stories/2011/03/10/ncaa-may-not-tread-lightly-on-ohio-state-coach.html?sid=101

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/sports/stories/2011/03/10/0310-daily-hunter-blog.html?sid=101

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/national_world/stories/2011/03/10/national-media-have-no-sympathy-for-osu.html?sid=101

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/sports/stories/2011/03/10/source-of-e-mails-to-coach-revealed.html?sid=101

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. PRESIDENT(S)

The Apotheosis, Abraham Lincoln and George Was...

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Today is Presidents Day, or so I thought and I bet you thought so too. However, it is not now, nor has it ever been, officially “Presidents Day.” The legal holiday we are celebrating today is Washington’s Birthday.

George Washington, first president and father of our country, was born February 22 and that other great president born in February, Abraham Lincoln, was born February 12. Washington’s Birthday was first designated a holiday in 1880 by the District of Columbia and then adopted by the federal government in 1885. Lincoln’s birthday has never been recognized as a legal federal holiday however many individual states have observed it as such.

In 1951 the “President’s Day National Committee made the first attempt to create a Presidents Day to honor all presidents.  The committee promoted March 4, the date of early inaugurations, as Presidents Day, however, it died in committee because of its proximity to Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays. They felt three holidays so close together would create an undue burden. Creating more confusion was the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill of 1968 which moved federal holidays to Mondays to promote business with three-day weekends. By the mid 1980’s advertisers were running special sales during this weekend and calling it Presidents Day.

So, even though you thought this was an officially sanctioned holiday, if you celebrate “Presidents Day” you are actually playing into the hands of advertisers. Regardless of what this day actually is, let us take a moment to reflect on the lives and dedication of two, true American heroes—George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

In recognition of Lincoln, I will close with a poem I wrote 53 years ago when I was in the sixth grade. I recently found a copy of the school newspaper with my poem on the front page dated Friday, Feb. 28, 1958 in my box of memories. It is interesting to note that all along the margins of the paper I had written my name, guess I was practicing my autograph for bigger things to come. For what it’s worth, here is my first published piece.

Abe Lincoln

 Abraham Lincoln was born on a snowy, frosty morn,

In a little log cabin that was weathered and worn.

His parents were poor but honest and kind.

Abe was always able to bind his jokes and witty ways

To make them pleasant through out his days.

When Abraham Lincoln started to school

He always followed the golden rule.

He worked by day and read by night,

Near the hearth by the log firelight.

When he grew older he studied law,

And practiced it at the state bar.

President of the United States he became

His kindness, his wit, and knowledge brought fame.

His title was known both far and near

As “Honest Abe of the Illinois Frontier.”

——–Sheila Moore 6d

I MISS THE FRONT PORCH SOCIETY

Lasanga. Tasty.

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My niece called last night very upset. She had taken a break in her hectic holiday preparations to spend the day devoted to her neighbors. Her thanks for all her efforts was a simple “thank you” and the door slammed in her face.

Neighbors on both sides of her had had babies within the last several weeks. Wanting to be a good neighbor, she went shopping for appropriate baby gifts and a package of diapers and then made a pan of her special home-made lasagna for each neighbor. She even included baking directions and the recipe in case anyone had food allergies.  Arms full of goodies, she and her three-year old son went next door to make her first delivery. The husband/new father met her at the first home, took the offerings, said “thank you” and closed the door. Ditto for the second delivery however he included a “God bless you”. There was no offer to come in and see the baby or even a friendly “how ya doin’”. Even her young son observed the cold reception.

In trying to analyze what happened we looked at several possibilities. In both cases it was the husband/father who answered the door so was it just a guy thing? Also, in both cases they were of different races so was it a racial or cultural thing? Were they so shocked that someone was actually reaching out and trying to be a good neighbor they didn’t know how to react?

During our discussion she made a comment that really made me think. She said she was used to sitting on the front porch and waving and saying “hi” to everyone who passed by that she thought everyone did the same. Yes, we were raised in a front porch community. We knew all of our neighbors and spoke to people walking down the street. Even if we did not know the people we would smile and nod.

Front porch communities are now a thing of the past. Most new homes haven’t had front porches for many years. We retreat into our environmentally controlled homes and many times don’t even know our next door neighbors. Gone is the Norman Rockwell world where children can play freely. Today we are afraid of molesters and drug addicts roaming the neighborhoods. We are caught up in our own busy lives and fail to think about those around us. But what kind of community do we have when neighbors don’t know neighbors? What kind of world are we creating? This isolationism only opens us up to more crime. If no one is looking after us we are vulnerable to those of bad intentions.

My disappointed niece said, “I don’t get it, I was just trying to be a good neighbor.” In this holiday season let us all try to take time to be a good neighbor. Smile and say, “hi”. Offer to look after their place while they are gone for the holidays, offer to take in their mail and newspapers. Take them a batch of homemade cookies. We will be much safer if we take time to look after each other.

It seems we are light years away from Norman Rockwell’s ideallic world but bring back the front porches and perhaps we can recapture a portion of that world. A simple smile and, “Hi neighbor” can do wonders. The next time someone brings a batch of cookies or pan of lasagna to your door at least invite her in. It could be the beginning of a great friendship.  As the Good Book says, “Love thy neighbor.”