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Wisdom & Hope

Dear Readers:  I have a long list of poems, wisdoms, thoughts and ideas that I have jotted down over the years.  

Recently I was perusing several years of notes and I thought it would be fun and interesting to share a few highlights of what I found wise or profound or the best that logic can be. Regular readers will recognize the first few. Much is legend that we all hold dear. They are in no particular order. Just written as I find them. To begin, one of my favorites as regular readers know is Flanders Fields, by Lt. Col. John McRae. To me this poem exemplifies why the American dream of a home and happiness in a fair and just land “For All” must prevail. I refer to this poem from time to time as it embraces several decades of disappointment in American Leadership succumbing to greed. Unbelievable timing saved me from battle. I served in two outfits that fought with great valor. Life expectancy in one was half of the tour duty. It is for those that serve among the poppies that I do my best in this little column in an effort to show when we veer from a path worthy of their sacrifice. “If ye break faith …”

Flanders Fields American Cemetery and Memorial is a World War I cemetery on the southeast edge of the town of Waregem, Belgium. The memorial was designed by architect Paul Cret. This is the only American World War I cemetery in Belgium and 411 American servicemen are buried or commemorated there. “For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds. … And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way.”  Through this smoke and fog of war Lt. Col. John McRae penned Flanders Fields.

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.

Another old favorite is The Station, by Robert J. Hastings. We have not printed this one in many years.  It is a poem that places life in perspective and helps us enjoy our days as best as can be:

The Station

Re:  Al Franken:  There is such a thing as taking an issue so strongly and personally that good judgment goes out the window. I have never met a man or a woman that wasn’t an ass at some time in their life. Al Franken is not a bad man. He was making a difference for America. To destroy him was wrong. It is one thing to destroy one’s life for right, it is quite another when you yourself cross the line of human fairness and decency to do it. In the sexual harassment arena variables are significant. There is no comparison between Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken. In such an emotionally charged issue, it is that difference we must remember before we tarnish lives and ruin careers. Leaders that develop stature are all too rare and should not so easily be taken down without just consideration. Who should cast the first stone? Degree matters. 

Imagine coming into maturity and recognizing that not long ago the white race thought what the few following quotes symbolize was just fine. If you give such matters heartfelt thought and realize such thinking is widespread today, only then will you have an idea what it is like to try to forgive intolerable injustice.     

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States
during the early-to-mid 18th century, and used by African-American slaves to escape into free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the
abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. Syracuse was a significant force along the underground railroad and many escapees owed their freedom to the brave citizens of Syracuse and Central New York.

Too many of us are not aware: “Jim Crowe” is a fictional character that became a pejorative expression
meaning “Negro.” When southern legislatures passed laws of racial segregation directed against blacks at the end of the 19th century, these statutes became known as Jim Crow laws. Long after the civil war. This is when the monuments in the news today were erected. All to resurrect some kind of post civil war glory embracing white supremacy.

The East St. Lois riots or massacres of May and July 1917 were caused by greedy corporations fueling existing racism by using black labor instead of white. White mobs entered black neighborhoods and
massacred black men women and children. 40 deaths were proven but research shows black deaths were in the hundreds and this figure of 40 was damage control. Murder after murder after murder, rape after rape, just for living in your home. Research race riots and their cause. Blacks don’t just hit the streets. Whites give them reason.

This next one is an excerpt of a speech delivered by Teddy Roosevelt on 23 April 1910 in Paris France. A great wisdom in times when doers of deeds err …

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is
actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and
shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

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“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” –J

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Count your joys instead of your woes. Count your friends instead of your foes.

Count your smiles instead of your tears. Count your courage instead of your fears.

Count your full times instead of your lean.  Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Count your health instead of your wealth. Love your neighbor as much as yourself. –Author Unknown

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How the stock market is an optical sham for the working and middle class: 53% of Americans have no money in the stock market, including retirement accounts. 80% of Americans own 8% of the market. The richest 10% own 80 percent of the market. Wall street is not Main Street. We have evolved into a land where wealth doles out the minimum required to appease.

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Jorge Garcia is too old to qualify for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows children of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before age 16 and were born after June 15, 1981, to legally work and study here. He came to America with his parents when he was 10, 30 years ago. He has no criminal record. He worked. He is married with two children. He was deported to a land as foreign to him as to you. His family was left without a husband, a father and a provider. They say the system failed. That is bull or it would be quickly fixed. The system did not fail, the soul of America has been sold allowing money to buy horrific leadership. As I think of the tears of Jorge’s children as their Dad wanders in a strange land I cannot help but wonder if this was what the good people in Germany felt as the Nazi’s gained power. Trust that if stone could tear the Lady in Harbor would be weeping and trust for sure that her spirit is.

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The Nuclear clock has recently been moved from 3 minutes to midnight to 2 ½ minutes to midnight.

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The good news is that there still may come a time when a man that mocks the handicapped arm of John McCain and the deformed arm of a handicapped reporter may not be acceptable as the standard bearer for America. …

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I leave you pretty much as America feels.  The birthplace of hope.

Bill McClellan