Archive for November, 2009

An Admiral’s Gratitude

If you missed former San Antonio Spur David Robinson’s acceptance speech into the Basketball Hall of Fame this past September, you missed a model of gratitude. For seven solid minutes, he gave thanks, acknowledging those who helped make the Admiral admirable.

For the sports fan fed up with the showmanship of the age, Mr. Robinson’s humble gratefulness was refreshing. The moment was all about him and yet his deflection of the fame made him all the more famous.

His three sons listened with their mother on the front row. What any boy would give to have a father say to him what Mr. Robinson said to them.

Neither long nor sappy, his from-the-heart remarks came neither from a card nor a teleprompter. Just a few poignant sentences that infused strength and honor because they flowed from a man of noble character.

“So intelligent, so wonderful.” “Man after God’s own heart.” “Natural-born leader.” The boys looked as if they believed him.

And what any woman would give to be doted on like David doted on his “rock and strength.”

“You make me want to be a better man…I love you. I respect you. I admire you.” Of course, the words in the moment made an impact only because of the years of fidelity he has given her.

The Admiral went on to thank his parents, his pastor, his teammates, coaches, and front office organization. He concisely and articulately captured the nut of what each contributed to his success.

“A dream in my heart.” “The seed of faith.” “The masterminds who had more vision and foresight than I did.” “A foundation to live up to and build on.” “[Those who] saw this moment a long time ago.”

The Admiral’s speech had its lighthearted breaks.

“Go Navy.” “Have any of you ever gotten on your knees and prayed for something real hard? Tim Duncan was the answer to my prayer.” “When Coach Lucas made me break George Gervin’s 63-point record, it felt good.”

But it was in all seriousness that Robinson thanked the one who made him seven feet tall and particularly capable of putting a pumpkin in a bushel.

“God has blessed me. He has strengthened me. He has encouraged me.”

The Admiral then prayed for all those who heard his words, from NBA greats Michael Jordan and John Stockton (also inducted into the hall that night) to twelve-year-olds tuning in on ESPN.

“My prayer is that God will walk with you as he has walked with me all through my life.”

Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson. Heaven holds a place for those who pray.

A Day in the Sun

“…with liberty and justice for all except foreign terrorists who admit to dreaming up the deaths of 3,000 innocent U.S. citizens.”

It appears our nation’s pledge of allegiance needs some clarifying language after last week’s decision by the Obama administration to prosecute 9/11’s architect and other admitted terrorists in a civilian New York City court.

Oh for a splash of Iraqi justice that strung up Saddam Hussein just over a year from the start of his military trial and amidst pleas by the U.S. government and his “attorneys” in Washington, D.C., to stay his execution.

Instead, we can look forward to years of “justice” and millions of taxpayer dollars spent trying people who arguably shouldn’t get the due process of military tribunals, much less U.S. civilian courts. They wore no uniform. They carried no arms openly. They refrained not from targeting civilians.

They perpetuated barbarism and we give them civility. They killed thousands and we spend millions on court proceedings (last estimate put the cost of the NYC trials at $75 million).

The terrorists are not U.S. citizens and they have not committed common crimes, so why are we giving them standing in federal court as if they were and did? Why are we not communicating that if you attack us, you will pay a stiff, swift price? We won’t treat you like one of our own.

Of course, we know why. The decision reflects the White House’s fundamental view of the conflict in which we live. There’s no war on terror, only an amplified crime fight. There’s no widespread, deep-seated hatred of America, only a need to clear up some misunderstandings. There are no acts of terrorism, just human-caused disasters.

To win favor with progressives abroad and liberal elites at home, the administration must find new ways to reverse America’s so-called torturer stigma.

Thanks in large part to its own Democratic Congress, the administration has not succeeded on its campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay. So, if it can’t bring the detainees to U.S. soil as prisoners, it will bring them here as defendants.

We attempted this civil trial approach following the 1993 World Trade Center, the 1998 U.S. Embassy and the 2000 USS Cole bombings. It didn’t deter radically violent Islamists like Osama bin Laden. The required disclosing of court documents only helped show our hand to him and other conspirators at large.

Attorney General Eric Holder stated before Congress Wednesday that some detainees will be tried by a military tribunal. If some can be tried by tribunal, all should be tried by tribunal. Why give confessed terrorists another day in the sun on the world’s grandest stage? Was one sunny day in New York not enough?

Can Patriotism Be Taught?

Though it seems politically incorrect in a pluralistic age of mandatory sensitivity trainings, patriotism is required instruction in Texas public schools.

Texas Education Code Section 28.002 states that “a primary purpose” of the public school curriculum is to prepare “thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism.”

This fact is not lost on educators at Boerne ISD’s Curington Elementary (and other BISD schools, no doubt). I spontaneously attended the school’s Veterans Day program Wednesday after checking in my tardy kindergartener.

The office staff asked me if I was a veteran like various other parents and grandparents signing in. While I couldn’t lay claim to their noble class, I could at least join the Curington community in its recognition of the service and sacrifice of heroes living and dead.

Down to the gym I marched with my kindergartener and his three-year-old brother. We passed class after class making its orderly way to the assembly. Student line leaders and rear guardsmen upraised American flags and guided their classmates to their places on the gym’s white tile floor.

Once seated, many Stars and Stripes continued to waive throughout the seven hundred-student gathering. “If You’re Reading This,” country music artist Tim McGraw’s poignant ballad of a fallen soldier’s last letter home, played over the loudspeaker.

Parents, faculty, staff and district administration officials including Superintendent John Kelly surrounded the students. A high school ROTC squadron stood poised to present the colors (“with guns,” my 6-year-old pointed out). The special veteran guests sat up front.

A dozen articulate sixth graders led the 30-minute program. They presented a history of the day, the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day and President Obama’s entire Veterans Day proclamation.

The assembly pledged allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags, recognized the vets in attendance and had a moment of silence five times longer than most adult moments of silence. The school choir presented a magnificent montage of patriotic music. Guest middle school trumpeters played taps.

The program was not without classic kid chaos. The administrator emcee offered plenty of ssshhhhs to the crowd. Some students needed seats closer to their teacher. A janitor had to clean up after a young lady who needed some fresh air.

But overall, it was an impressive display of a multi-cultural student body participating in a uni-minded presentation of patriotism.

Skeptics will naysay that something as intangible as patriotism can be taught. Leaders at Curington and BISD aren’t engaging in that debate. They are simply following the law with passion. More power to them.

A Dose of Reali-tea

Just how far out is U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reality? Her political party lost two governorships in states that solidly supported her party’s presidential candidate a mere 12 months ago. It lost six of seven statewide races in politically potent Pennsylvania.

And it narrowly won, with less than a majority, a special Congressional election in upstate New York where Republican and Conservative Party candidates combined for more votes than the Democrat. (In other words, a third party candidate split the conservative vote.)

Ms. Pelosi’s party “accomplished” all this on Tuesday and she still stated Wednesday, “From my

perspective, we won last night.” Really?

Ms. Pelosi acknowledged that her “perspective” applied only to two special Congressional races won

by Democrats, the aforementioned one in New York and one in northern California just across the bay

from Pelosi’s own San Francisco district (hardly mainstream America).

At least Democratic National Committee Chairman (and lame-duck Virginia Governor) Tim Kaine

admitted to being “disappointed” with Tuesday night’s results. Even the usually verbose White House

was smart enough to refrain from commenting on Election Night.

Elections have consequences. Tuesday’s vote reminded us that tea parties do, too.

The people who made banners and marched in parks in April and July showed up at the polls this

November. Those who gave their Congresswoman an earful in August did, too. In contrast, the

people who made banners and marched in parks last November did not. Their Obama bandwagon

thrill ride has passed. They’ve largely returned to their pre-political patterns.

But those who pay taxes and understand economics have stayed engaged. They’ve noticed that

President Obama doesn’t much look like candidate Obama sounded last year.

He spoke then of changing the tone in Washington, of bringing the sides together and the best out of

everyone. Instead, he’s allowed the most liberal members of Congress to bring the most liberal

initiatives out of him, not entirely surprising since he once was one of them.

Nevertheless, the tea partygoers and the town hall attendees have communicated the kind of

message that gets the attention of most politicians – the ballot box variety that often sends a party in

power packing.

With confirmation in the books that people aren’t thrilled with the government-centric solutions being

offered in Washington, we’ll now see how blinding the ideology of this president really is.

Which reality is his: Speaker Pelosi’s or the reality revealed by Tuesday’s returns? Will he press

forward with his expansive government programs, or will he govern from the center like you might

expect from a bright mind like his?

One thing’s for certain: the people who turn out to vote in next November’s Congressional elections

will look more like those who voted this November than last. If President Obama doesn’t understand

that, then his thoughts on Tuesday’s outcomes, had he been allowed to share them, would have

made Ms. Pelosi’s sound cogent.

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