The First Father’s Day came from a Daughter

CBS correspondent Nikki Batiste of Sunday Morning discovered that the first Father’s Day was in response to a question. Sonora Smart Dood and her five brothers were raised by her widowed father, William Jackson Smart, who was a civil war veteran. While attending a Mother’s Day celebration in 1909 which was a new thing, Sonora asked the minister, when do fathers get their day in the sun?

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https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worlds-best-dads-fathers-day/

The following year, the first Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane Washington on June 19, 1910. Sonora handed out red roses for living dads and white roses for those who were deceased. But it wasn’t until 1972 that Father’s Day became a National Holiday by decree of President Richard Nixon. Sonora Dood lived to see it happen.

Now there is a Father’s Day and Mother’s Day Council that strives to heighten the meaning and importance of Fathers and Mothers.

The following is a poem that was sent to me.

A Father’s Day Poem

God took the strength of a mountain,

The majesty of a tree,

The warmth of a summer sun,

The calm of a quiet sea,

The generous soul of nature,

The comforting arm of night,

The wisdom of the ages,

The power of the eagle’s flight,

The joy of a morning in spring,

The faith of a mustard seed,

The patience of eternity,

The depth of a family need,

Then God combined these qualities,

When there was nothing more to add,

He knew His masterpiece was complete,

And so, he called it “DAD”

I grew up in a different time. I didn’t get to know my dad until I was nine.  I always think of my mom as the gal from Mississippi who had so many kids, she barely knew what to do. Her mother died when she was only eight and she barely knew her dad. I’m the ninth of 14 but my dad’s only son. She got married at a young age (not to my dad) to escape her Aunt and Uncle that worked on a farm, who wouldn’t treat her right.

Her husband (not my dad) was so abusive that when he said that he would kill her, she believed him, so she fled in the middle of the night, leaving her first five kids with their dad.  She caught a train to Chicago then fled to Detroit. She never remarried but kept having kids.

When I was about nine years old she sent me to stay with my dad. I thought it was only temporary until she came out of the hospital but they decided it was best for me to stay with him.  It turned out that it was just, what I needed. He gave me the discipline and structure that changed my life.  I went from a poor student to a good enough student that I got a full-time job during my last year of high school and still graduated on time.

To escape the auto assembly line I enlisted in the United States Air Force. Being accepted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War was proof that my dad had done a good job. Most of my classmates were drafted in the Army and the Marine Corp and sent to the war zone. I went to Libya and served under a Tuskegee Airman, Col. “Chappie” James during the base closure by Col. Gadhafi .

While in Germany when I got got word that my dad was very ill, I took emergency leave then returned to take a hardship discharge to care for him.  After a year back home a friend of his took over and I was off to college.

H.G.M.

Memorial Day 2019

Memorial Day is a Federal Holiday in the United States. It is a time of honoring  service members who have died, while serving in the country’s Armed Forces. Family members and those who served fully understand. To many others, it’s just the start of the summer vacation season; going to the shore, cooking in the back yard for visiting family members or going to the park.

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Veterans Day on the other hand is the time to honor those who served in the military; they survived but they still feel the pain, some internal and some external. I still talk with Vietnam veterans who are suffering from P.T.S.D. 

Scott Pelley from CBS News talked about the American flag in today’s political terms. There are fifty stars on the flag, but how many are liberal and how many are conservative? How or what will bring us together in all that blue.

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‘What we have here is a failure to communicate‘, or are we so  set in our ways by pooling together in our separate camps watching news and social media that just confirms our way thinking? If you watch a lot of TV you would thing we were about to have a cold civil war.

As a results, nothing seems to get done in Washington D.C. Politicians are so busy fighting each other that the public good is suffering; raising cost of health care, failing infrastructure, and raising cost of higher education.  Scott ask the question, whose fault is it? We the people don’t study the issues , so politicians lie because we don’t know the facts. Then the news media and social media gets involved and dangles scandals before us, because it gets more viewers and increases more advertising dollars.

We vote in Federal election once every two years and many don’t take the time to do that. Politicians get in office and stay for life. If the President of the United States can only serve two terms why do politicians inherit a lifetime position. General Officers hold their rank but not their positions.

 

We the people pay the price to support our families and yes, some go beyond; first- responders  and  and service members. We live in the ‘Home of the Brave’ because the sacrifice of many. However many still remember the sacrifices of many  (CNN photos of Memorial Day 2019).

As a Vietnam area veteran I was proud to stand next to Mr. Russell A. Harvey World War II Veteran who stood tall at  104 years.

H.G.M.

How do we fix this mess?

We should take ownership, of the things we are responsible for.  John “Jocko”  Willink as a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL officer was explaining that things go wrong in the fog of war. Being in military service will put you in harms way, but being on the battlefield, is where people get killed. In the ‘heat of battle’ or the ‘fog of war’ anything can happen. 

The following is the narrative of the Extreme ownership TEDx Talk: “War is hell, but war is also a brutal teacher. War teaches you about brotherhood, honor, humility, and leadership”. In this riveting talk, Jocko explains from personal experience how war teaches you the most when things go wrong. But when a team takes ownership of its problems, the problems get solved.

JOCKO WILLINK is a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, host of the top-rated Jocko Podcast, and co-founder of Echelon Front, where he is a leadership instructor, speaker, and executive coach.

Jocko spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, starting as an enlisted SEAL and rising through the ranks to become a SEAL officer. As commander of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser during the battle of Ramadi, he orchestrated SEAL operations that helped the “Ready First” Brigade of the US Army’s First Armored Division bring stability to the violent, war-torn city. Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated Special Operations Unit of the Iraq War.

Jocko returned from Iraq to serve as Officer-in-Charge of training for all West Coast SEAL Teams. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.”

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As a two time military veteran (US Air Force enlisted then US Army commissioned) I have felt the burden of responsibility. US Army Logistics, provides resources from beginning to end.

As a former US Army Quartermaster,  the end effects of war are the remains of the brave men and women killed in action. This service is performed by the Quartermaster  Mortuary Affairs Service. These dedicated military personnel  are tasked with the retrieval, identification, transportation and burial of deceased American and American – Allied military personal.

Retrieval can be further subdivided into the following:

  • Combat recovery
  • Post – combat recovery
  • Area/ Theater recovery
  • Historical recovery
  • The Mortuary Affairs creed is “Dignity, Reverence, Respect”

Studies have shown that Mortuary Affairs personnel have some of the highest rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) . The Mortuary Affairs creed is “Dignity, Reverence, and Respect”.  

H.G.M.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day, is usually what they say, on this day. But when moms are gone they say something a little different. Roses are beautiful flowers but they still have thorns. Moms do the best they can. They give birth to the world and they nurture the little ones until it time for them to fly.

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I came in from Philadelphia PA., one sister drove from Louisiana with her family and my oldest sister flew in from California along with my older brother and his wife. We had all come to make sure mom got situated in the nursing home in Detroit MI. We sat in the dinning area while they got her ready to meet us. I’m glad it was a nice sunny day in the summertime.

To me she will always be the country girl from Mississippi who had so many kids she barely knew what to do. I’m the ninth of 14. We were never all raised together at one time, but we all came from the same womb. However, I was my father’s only son.

Mom had it rough growing up, but she always tried to keep it light. She called the bus the ‘Iron Pimp’. It didn’t arrive on schedule, but it always came just in time. At the age of 90 she passed on to glory, and because I blogged, I get to tell her story.

Her mother died when she was only eight, and she only knew of her father. She was raised by her Aunt and Uncle who didn’t treat her right so she got married at a young age and started having babies to get away from them.

Her husband started to beat her and when he said he would kill her, she believed him, and left in the middle of the night, to travel North. Any young mother would be sad if she had to leave her five kids in the middle of the night, but it was basic survival that made her do what she did.

She went to Chicago IL but then settled in Detroit MI  because she felt safer. She never got married but kept having babies. I grew up basically with a younger brother and one sister. I learned about the others, over time. When I was nine she got sick and we were sent to live with our separate fathers. I didn’t know it at the time but she must have been pregnant.

Her and my dad decided to let me stay with him. It was a wake up call for me. She would buy me stuff to shut me up, and he wouldn’t, to toughen me up. He was a WW II veteran and knew about discipline. It was a good turning point for me.

When pop got me a good bike, I would ride to wherever my mom had moved to, in the city. I knew I could always get a good hot meal and a warm hug. And even to this day, my best friend could tell you what she would always say, “Be safe and don’t get in no trouble.”

I spent nine years with mom and the next nine years with pop but I always stayed in touch with mom, once I got my wheels. She always wished she had done better, but pop made sure I did better, because I was forced to study and stay out of trouble.

As a result three things happened; I stayed out of trouble, I worked in the factory during my last year of high school and I still graduated on time.

At her funeral I learned the rest of her story. The father she never really knew, was a Native American who kept track of all his off spring during his life-time and when my mom was born in 1919 she was the last of HIS 33 kids. Now I know how she could take the bus to work in the Detroit cold until her mid-eighties.

I dedicated my book to her : “Standing in the Shadows, Listening to the Greats!!!” which is only available through Blurb Publishing. I know she must be smiling in heaven because I’m passing down her story. I didn’t earn Air Force ‘wings’ but I earned my Sergeant Stripes and wore Army Bars.

H.G.M.

Bill Taylor was Between Two Worlds

The movie ‘Forrest Gump’ followed the fictional Southern boy from Alabama from childhood into adulthood as he traveled through the annuals of American history. Bill Taylor had his own story to tell, so he put it down on paper. He never learned how to write, so he began to draw and paint.

Bill Taylor was born into slavery around 1853 in rural Alabama. Even after the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Great Migration, he remained on the plantation as a share cropper for five decades. When he moved in his 80’s he found himself without work and homeless.

At the age of 86 he began to draw and paint. Self-taught he used whatever he could get his hand on; paper, paperboard, pieces of packing and even candy paper boxes. He lived during the peak lynching period in the South but never really showed it directly in his art work.

He died in 1949 around the age of 96, leaving behind hundreds of art works. It was his way of saying, “I am important, I have a point of view, I matter”.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. held a retrospective of Taylor’s Art work and titled it ‘Bill Taylor: Between Two Worlds (the 19th & the  20th Century)  which featured 155 paintings and drawings which he recorded his time and place in history. The Smithsonian went on to say that, “His legacy will be known as the only artist who was enslaved at birth, to make a significant body of drawn and painted work”.

My mother was born in Mississippi in 1919 and she migrated North to escape an abusive relationship. She labored in the field, but I labored on the factory floor in Detroit Michigan. Her mother died when she was only eight years old, and she only knew of her father. She never learned how to drive but took public transportation to work into her mid-eighties. She made it to 90 years after giving birth to fourteen children.

I escaped the assembly line by joining the military. It was through divine intervention, that I missed the Vietnam War, but I was part of the Cold War in Europe. My mothers legacy passes through me. She never traveled that far but I travel half way around the world; seven countries on three separate continents in two branches of the military (US Air Force & US Army). She barley made it out of school, but I graduated from college. Now that I have written my book, I get to tell her story. Who is going to pass on your family history?

H.G.M.

Profiles in Courage – Then and Now

CBS Sunday Morning featured a story about the ‘Profile in Courage Award’.  In 1989 the Kennedy family wanted to honor a citizen in public life for taking the high road even when it cost them dearly.

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It’s a sterling silver lantern made by Tiffany’s which was designed by Edwin Schlossberg. It’s patterned after the lantern on the one of the oldest ships in the US Navy, a sail-powered, three-masted, heavy wooden hulled frigate also known as “Old Iron Sides”.  President George Washington named it after the United States Constitution.

John Kennedy had scarlet fever when he was young and had serious back problems when he got older. So in a way he had to fight just to stay alive. But he stood up against powerful interest in Massachusetts to fight for the St. Lawrence Seaway. He fought for a Labor Reform Act in 1959. He shouldered the blame for the failure for the Bay of Pigs incident. He forced the Soviet Union to withdraw their missile sites off the island of Cuba.

He wrote Profiles in Courage when he was recovering from a spinal injury. He chose to write about eight US Senators who stood up for what they thought was right even when it cost them dearly to include their jobs.

I walked past a book store and saw the book (Profiles in Courage) and bought it. As a baby boomer I remember the man who became the 35th President of the United States. At 43, he was the youngest President elected to the Oval Office and the youngest to die in office. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas Texas. I remember that day because I was still in junior high school in Detroit Michigan.

The list of recipients is long but I remember a few:

US Senators John McCain & Russell Feingold  in 1999 for Public Service in trying to get big business out of politics.

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John Lewis in 2001 for Lifetime Achievement

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Kofi Annan  in 2001 A Ghanaian Diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1997 to 2006. Annan and the UN were also co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

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Edward M. Kennedy in 2009 for a lifetime of public service.

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Gabrielle Gifford in 2013 for demonstrating a fearless public advocacy for gun control after surviving an assassination attempt that left her with severe brain injury.

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George H.W. Bush in 2013  (41st US President) for a lifetime of public service.

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Barrack Obama in 2017 (44th US President) for his enduring commitment to Democratic ideals during trying times.

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Mitch Landrieu in 2018 (Mayor of New Orleans) for rebuilding the city of New Orleans and removing Confederate Monuments in the city.

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Nancy Pelosi in 2019 as the First Female Speaker of the House.

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What kind of profile of courage will you perform?  You don’t have to be a public servant but you can be the leader of your family or your community. In a world where everybody wants to blend in, it take courage to stand out.

H.G.M.

Up and coming artist was almost gone

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-man-was-wrongfully-jailed-for-46-years-now-hes-supporting-himself-with-his-art/

CBS Sunday Morning did a story about an up and coming artist that was almost gone. Richard Phillips was an artist that was doing long time. As a result, he spent forty-five years in jail which made him the person who spent more time behind bars than any other “wrongfully imprisoned person in America”.

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Phillips was a Detroit auto worker who was arrested and convicted of being involved with the murder of Gregory Harris in 1972. Fred Mitchell the victim’s brother-in-law accused Phillips and Richard Polombo of being the two people responsible for, the murder.

In 2010 after serving 38 years in jail, Polombo admitted he lied. Phillips didn’t have anything to do with the murder. However, Phillips didn’t hear about his confession until four years later. If not for the Michigan Innocence Clinic, Phillips would still be in jail.

The Michigan Innocence Clinic is an organization of law students that investigate and litigate cases on behalf of prisoners who have “new evidence” that they are innocence of the crime for which they have be imprisoned.

In 1990 Richard Phillips started painting to break up the monotony of doing long time. It was his salvation because he knew he was innocence. He told his attorney that he would rather die in prison than admit to a murder he did not commit. He started off painted water colored greeting cards for fellow inmates which allowed him to buy art supplies. Over a course of thirty years he developed a body of work.

The Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act in 2016 grants $50,000 for each year of wrongful imprisonment which means Phillips would be eligible to receive $2,250,000. When Phillips was convicted, he left behind a wife and two kids; age 4 and 2, they would now be 49 and 47 years old.

The system is broke and needs a fix. It could have happened to me. I’m from Detroit and I worked in the factory before I went off into the service after the 1967 Riots.

H.G.M.