A Name on the Wall – P7W/L18

Thirteen letters on a wall, engraved in granite forever on panel 7W Line 18. A man’s name to serve as an honor and remembrance. It is Memorial day is the United States. It is the day when we stop and remember those Military Men and Women who died while in service to our country.

I have found over the years that I lose touch with the specific meaning and impact of Memorial day on my life at times. As a former Airman, I hold a special place in my heart and life for military men and women. Yet, I have at times lost sight of the individuals. Akin to seeing the sand on the beach as a sum of all the grains combined, we don’t always see the individual grain of sand.

I want my daughters to understand that it is more than a day to open the summer, or cook hot dogs. I want them to understand the meaning of the day.  I asked them to select a name and do a rubbing from the Wall. I chose one as well, Steven L. Coffey.

Nineteen years old from Yuma Arizona, SP4 Steven Lynn Coffey served in the United States Army in Quang Duc Vietnam. Originally from Mount Pleasant, Mi, he enlisted on May 1st, 1969. His tour in Vietnam began on January 22, 1970. He died in August 28th, 1970.  He was in country seven months and five days.  He died in the barracks from an accidental discharge of another man’s rifle.  He served as a heavy equipment driver. He lies at rest in Los Angeles National Cemetery. He was someone’s son, and friend, and classmate.

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From Los Angeles National Cemetery Website

I found information on a website named Virtual Vietnam Veterans Wall of Faces. The following pictures of Steven are from Rodney Skinner.

 

It would be easy to walk down the long memorial wall and let your glaze drift over from all the names. 58,272 names in all, are engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  The same number of names are engraved on The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. It might be easy to have the names all blend together.

Behind each of the names is a story. There is a life lost to protect our freedoms. These names add to those of World War I and II, Korea, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and so many other wars and conflicts. Total deaths in all wars amount to 658,008.

Researching someone makes them real and a human being. Steven is no longer a name on a wall, but a young man who stood up and signed that blank check to protect our country. The cost was his life. The least we can do is remember him. This is what Memorial Day is all about. Remembering the fallen.

Feeling safe in our world after Manchester.

Our world can be a dangerous place. We want our kids to feel safe. The suicide bombing in Manchester England at the Ariana Grande Concert has shaken our world. The events have the potential to cause worry and fear in us and particularly in our children.  How can we help them to cope with these events?

girl-609647_960_720 1. Listen more. Children and teens will have questions, sometimes many of them. It is very hard to help, if you do not know what they need to know. Spend some time listening to their worries and fears. Listen for  what information they need to know,  to understand what has happened. Explain just enough to answer their question and at their level. It is okay to say you don’t know something, and then work together to find out.

2. Keep your regular schedule. Bedtimes, mealtimes and family times all stay the same. kids thrive on routine to help them feel that the world makes sense.

3. Make sure you have gotten yourself stable and grounded. Children look to you to find reassurance. You are the rock in their world, and if they can ground themselves in your love and stability, they can weather the storm better.

4. Limit news and social media, and share as a quieter joint time afterwards for talking and sharing how these events impact us.

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5. Remember that bad things happen a lot. Just because something happened at one place and time, doesn’t means it will happen at the next event. Find ways to remember that the world is full of good as well.

6. Get active in doing something positive in the world today. Plant a flower, help someone who needs a bit of extra assistance, send cards to those who are sick. Be the positive you want to see in the world.

7. Remember that just because a child does not show signs of worry or anxiety doesn’t mean that they are not concerned. Pay attention to how your child is acting and note any changes. Ask them if you are concerned.

Just a Bit More About That-David

Pictures used with permission, Creative Commons Usage

 

Kindred Soul

This story is more personal than many I write. At age seven, I walked past a playground. On our family walks, I would always run into the playground and play, this day I did not. Maybe it was a different street or different playground, but I walked right past. My parent knew something was wrong, and got my vision tested. I was legally blind. Most people have 20/20 vision which means what you see at 20 feet is what I see at 20 feet. Mine was about 2100/20. I had to be within 20 feet of what you could see at about a half a mile.

I learned to navigate by memorizing the cracks in the sidewalks. I could see the dark SDP_3220.jpglines. In talking to Landon Bryson this past weekend, he said those words. “I see some light areas.” I knew than that I would be able to relate to him.  Landon is a seven year old Buford Elementary student who is blind. He was one of the featured singer at Singing in the Park in Kershaw on Sunday.

Landon did not have an accident or any injury that cost him his sight. He was born with a genetic mutation that lead to his blindness. His is different from mine , but both of us were born with a problem.

If you think that blindness stops him, you are wrong. He is adaptable. When I wanted to take the picture above, he said quickly “Just let me know when you are taking the picture”

Adapting means you make the best of what is given to you. Landon started music lessons two years ago. He is perfecting his skills.  I am pretty sure he plays the piano better than I ever could.  I was fitted with glasses and then contacts at age ten. Landon is proceeding without correction.

Below is a link to a Live Facebook Video of him singing in the park

Video of Landon

I think of Landon as a kindred soul, not because of our blindness. but because of his spirit. He could sit back and let the blindness rule his life. Instead, he has chosen to adapt, and flourish. At 7 years old that is not a simple choice. Whatever your impairments, you have two choices. Be overtaken or overtake. Go Landon!

Just a Bit More About That-David

More than meets the eye!

When I was small, like the young man to the left, i remembered going to the street fairs SDP_0465in the fall. Relocating to South Carolina, I was introduced to the spring festivals. This last weekend was the annual Red Rose Festival in Lancaster, SC. It started Friday evening and continued on Saturday. If you have not been to the Red Rose Festival, you have missed out.

There were the usual items and attractions you would find at any of the area festivals. There was something more to this festival. That something is not just a particular ride or food available. It is not even the giving away of books for free to any child attending.

The music was appealing to a wide range of attendees. Genres ranged from shag to a Prince tribute band, and a mix of other styles. The food vendors were the common vendors that show up at many festivals in the area. The kids zone was a basic layout of four major rides with a magic show. A dunking booth looked very desirable to passersby who were sweating in the heat.

SDP_0884Yes it was HOT, Southern Hot!

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The dog show on Saturday morning was a hit, with many cute fur babies on display.

The people who came to Red Rose smiled and smiled. There was lots of fun to be had. It felt like a family reunion. Lots of hugs were given, and reunions of people who knew each other occured. Conversations set the streets of Lancaster abuzz.

The atmosphere created focused on enjoyment, that was it,  just enjoyment. The City of Lancaster let the event be the draw. There was not a pressure to increase business sales or getting people into local stores.  The give away of books was done with little attention to the sponsors of the books. Yes, the banners related to who was sponsoring the event and specific venues were visible.

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The evening ended with fireworks. Crowds were satisfied, and smiling at the end of the day. The Red Rose  Festival was an unqualified success.  Joe Timmons and the See Lancaster staff, Lancaster Preforming Arts, The City of Lancaster and the attendees together made this event a reality and something to attend again.

When I was a boy, I loved the festivals that were fun, that kept my interest, and let me have a day away from the daily troubles and trials of life. This festival was all of that.

Hand me that hot dog and scoot over young man, I want to relax a bit .

Just a Bit More about That- David

 

Passing of the Guidon

The Guidon of the Volunteer JROTC has been passed to the new Battalion Commander. In an orderly and precise transition of command, the current leaders of the Volunteer Battalion pass the Guidon on to the new leaders.  The AJ JROTC held it’s award event at Andrew Jackson on Monday Night. Proud parents and friends sat anxiously awaiting the parade of officers and enlisted into the AJHS auditorium.

On stage, stood JROTC field Commanders in full dress uniforms.  The remaining students sat in rows facing the stage.The flashes from cellphones greeted the students as their AJJROTC 006name was called. The proud family captured those special moments when their loved one crossed the stage. Capturing that moment in time, when the student earned another ribbon for their uniform.

Ranging from the precision of maintaining the uniform, to academic standard, to physical endurance, students were called to the stage. Each name to receive recognition for the demonstrated skill and ability. Polite applause was given to each student, and the families maintained the decorum of the proceedings. There were no sudden shouts, outcries, or whistles that interrupt graduations. This night had that military importance to it. Students side stepped down the line of officers shaking hands, and then walked back to their seats in quiet and crisp movements.

A common theme expressed was that the JROTC is student lead, and run. The leadership is from within the students. The instructors guide and operate as sounding boards for the leaders, but do not tell them what to do. That was evident in the actions of the students this evening as they managed the event.

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What comes across as you watch this ceremony, is that JROTC is more than just a group of high school students carrying the flag at football games, but the developer of character in future leaders of our world. Thirty years from now, will these young people be our senators and congressmen? Let’s hope so.

 

HUA! Just a Bit More about That- David

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Yes, Sergeant Lambert, HUA! (respectfully from a former Airman)

Tears at the end of the season.

Walking into the Buford softball field, the cool of the afternoon was matched to the cool gray sky. The LadyVols of Andrew Jackson came face to face with their rivals, the Buford Yellow Jackets. Coming to the game, the Lady Vols had only lost one game in the SCHSL Class AA Upstate Championship Playoffs, and that was to Buford in the initial games of the series. Buford was undefeated during the playoffs. The bar was set very high for the LadyVols. They would have to beat the YellowJackets twice to be named Upstate Champs. The LadyVols lost the game 3-0.

Andrew Jackson starting pitcher Morgan Hendrix allowed Buford only two hits. She walked seven of the Yellow Jackets. A series of walks in the fifth inning sealed fate of the Lady Vols game. The mood of the players noticeably changed after Buford added two runs in the fifth.

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The Buford pitcher Sydney Sullivan allowed twice as many the LadyVols to get on base. Kaitlyn Holden, Savannah Small, and Morgan Hendrix each hit a single. Cassidy McKittrick hit a double. While able to get on base, the LadyVols were unable to capitalize on the those advances. Both of the pitchers, Hendrix and Sullivan struck out six players.

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In the 7th inning, the final batter was Savannah Small. She hit to the Buford shortstop and a tag at first ended the game and season. This loss was much deeper than most. The chance to win a championship was within reach. The LadyVols came back from the earlier loss to Buford to win their last two games. That gave a chance to take it all. That faded away when they lined up for the shaking of hands. By the time they gathered as a team in left field, several players were showing the emotions of loss.

As the players joined their family and friends, the tears flowed. Tears that were hard to witness as the loss became real. The tears that signaled just how important the game and season was to the LadyVols

The season ends with the Lady Vols a record of 21-11. The team say goodbye to six seniors players.  Best of luck in your future endeavors to Kinsley, Morgan, Hannah, Kaitlyn, Bailey, and Cassidy.

Monday, the efforts to regroup and develop the team of next year begins again. Hope  will rekindle for that coveted title of Champion.

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Homeruns Galore

Update: I did not do as through a fact check as I should have. AJ beat Buford on March 24th 4-2. So my statement that they had not beaten Buford was incorrect. I have Struck thru the incorrect line. 

The Andrew Jackson Lady Vols traveled to play Landrum. The Lady Vols hit 4 homeruns in the 6-3 victory and advance to the SCHSL Class AA Upstate Championship.  They will play their rivals, the Buford Yellowjackets for the title.  AJ will have to beat Buford, not once, but twice on Friday.  The playoffs are double eliminations, a team is not eliminated unless beaten twice. Aj has lost the one time. Buford has won all their games.

At Landrum High, AJ pitcher Morgan Hendrix lead the LadyVols to victory by allowing only seven hits and three runs. She struck out nine Landrum players. The Landrum pitcher, Cox, allowed 11 hits, six runs and 2 walks. Cox only struck out four AJ players.

The highlight of the game was three homeruns. Abby Brewer and Morgan Hendrix got one each in the second inning, and Cassidy McKittrick blasted one out in the third inning.

In the second inning, Morgan Eason walked, and Haley Vincent landed a single allowing Eason to advance. Kinley Killough hit a sacrifice that advanced Eason and Vincent. Kaitlyn Holden hit a single and brought Eason home for the RBI.

Hendrix hit a single in the third. Savannah Small found a double in the 5th. Vincent hit a single in the 6th inning. AJ started to score again in the 7th inning. Small hit a single. Kinsley Adams landed a double that advanced Small to third. Cassidy McKittrick hit a fly and Small scored. Brewer hit a single to bring Adams in for the score and earned an RBI.

This team is battling for every run and each victory. The road to this playoff has not been easy. Friday they will face a huge challenge. They have not won against Buford all season. So, to have to beat them Friday, not once but twice might seem impossible. The key word is seem. I would not count them out. I believe in the team. They have the heart and skills and determination.

The weather is forecast to be thunderstorms on Friday. The games will be at Buford High School. Come early as this is bound to be a well attended series of games.

Just a Bit More about That -David

How to Color your T-shirt

In  crisp new t-shirts, about 20 runners headed out to find some color. It was much more than that desire to change the color of their garments. It was a commitment to run five kilometers to help raise funds for the North Central High School Yearbook.

The sky was a brilliant blue and the winds was strong as the runners left the yellow line in the grass. A throng converged on the single path entrance of the cross country course.  It was there that purple cornstarch flew at and around them

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Through the winding path in the pines, they disappeared running down and around the athletic fields. Along the way, they would encounter more colors flying at them.

The concept of “Color Run” was developed in 2011 to be “The Happiest 5k in the World”. It is not the first event to use colored powders as part of the process. Notably the Indian festival of Holi has an older claim for the use of colored powders. Since 2011, the number of color runs has been increasing. According to the “Color Run” website, events are now in 35 + countries and experienced by over 6 million people.

At the North Central High School Color FunRun, each runner completed two laps. The real soaking in color came after the laps are completed. Extra powder was available, and it flew freely.

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The clouds of green, purple, pink, and orange cornstarch drifted over the crowds gathered Color Run NCHS 009at the end of the run. Laughter pealed as another is coated with powder. These moments of joy are punctuated by the squeals of teenagers chasing each other with a handful of powder.

It seemed that every inch of the shirts had some color on them, as well as faces, and hair, and everywhere else.

As I worked to avoid the clouds of cornstarch, I found myself smiling and laughing also. For an hour, the grounds of NCHS were not mired in geopolitical issues or drama, but in the joy of having a good time.

At the end of the run, a group picture showed just how much had changed. I would argue that the smiles were brighter and the relaxation deeper. It would seem that running a 5k can be more than running.
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Just a Bit More about That -David

 

 

Making of a Sports Reporter

It had never entered my wheelhouse to be a sports reporter. When I was in the 9th grade, i was given the opportunity to write up the tennis team results for the Midland Daily News. I would go sit at the side of the court and record who played whom, and what the score was. I would then sit at home and try to come up with a new way to describe how they won or loss. There are only so many times one can say beat, won, smashed, triumphed, obliterates, and defeats their opponent. I really did not understand the concepts of sports writing.  At the end of the season, I think it was a mutual agreement that I pursue other endeavors.

Fast forward to the fall of 2016. Robert Howey reaching into his resources of potential reporters, landed on my name. I was probably the last name in the barrel, but he asked anyway.  I knew nothing about how to write up a sports story or what was required.  I bought 3 books on sports writing, and Googled it several times. The more I read, the more confused I became.

The fall brought Andrew Jackson Football in to my arena. Like the rookie, I took the field with a score book and my camera. I failed miserably in my opinion.  It went by so quickly, by brain just would not keep up. I caught about half the plays. I  never want to see my write-up for that AJ vs Aynor game. Lets keep it buried.

I got better, and the game slowed down. I could score and keep a picture or two going with the camera. Robert sent me a template for a football story. I  just plugged in my data, and pumped out the story. I made it through football season.

Then on to basketball. I found basketball writing to be easier because of Ms. Sowell. She kept the score books. I would focus on the action of the game. I again wrote to a template. My writing was passing muster, I suppose. It was featured in both the Lancaster News and Kershaw News Era. Somewhere along the journey I became a sports writer. I will not say I was very good, but good enough.

Spring came and presented a challenge. The Lancaster News does not have individual writers cover the spring sports like the fall sports. Stats and score books are sent to the Lancaster News by the teams.

The Kershaw News Era asked for me to cover baseball and softball for the AJ teams. They typically played at the same times. I would race from one field to the other and try and capture the sense of the game. The scorekeepers were gracious enough to allow me to photograph the books at the end of the game. A fellow photographer would capture the books when I was not there.

I again had to learn how to read the score book, and interpret what was written on them. It is a different language that you have to learn. I did not get it right all the time, as was pointed out to me at least once. A couple of weeks ago during a media tour of the Haile Gold Mine, my editor and I talked about this and he offered me some advice on how to improve my stories. I noticed an improvement immediately.

It has taken me a full year of high school sports to bring me to the point where I will claim the title of sports reporter. Weird as it may be, unlike me early tennis reporting career, I am looking forward to the coming season for AJ.  Like the players, this summer I will be honing my fingers on the keyboards, and reading, and reporting so that I am ready for the opening day of Football.

Thanks for reading Just a Bit More about That-David