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R.I.P. Maj. Dick Winters, American hero

Posted in Books, History, Movies, TV, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2011 by macmystery

I first learned of Dick Winters’ death from a Facebook post by my friend Chris Otto of the York Daily-Record. He linked to a story Monday night from a Pennsylvania TV station reporting the World War II veteran’s death a week before. Here’s the Washington Post obit.

Winters became widely known, thanks to the Stephen Ambrose book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” which followed the E company, second battalion (Easy Company), of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry from their formation through the Normandy invasion and on through Germany’s surrender.

As a history major, I found the book interesting, but honestly, the miniseries, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, is where I, and I’m guessing millions of other Americans, truly came to know about Winters. It’s hands down the best television I’ve ever seen.

The book, culled from interviews with surviving members of Easy Company, is historically accurate, and the miniseries follows the trend of the past 15 years where filmmakers, instead of glorifying war, have tried to accurately portray the horror and savagery of conflict and illustrate the sacrifices of those who risked or lost their lives.

Winters wasn’t originally in command of Easy Company. But just like in so many other situations in the group’s story, Winters took the reins and led by example when he was called to. He was concerned about each and every one of his men. And his men respected him for it and loved him in return.

According to the Washington Post, late in the war, one of Mr. Winters’s soldiers, Floyd Talbert, wrote a letter to the officer from a hospital in Indiana expressing gratitude for his loyalty and leadership.

“You are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you,” Talbert wrote to Winters in 1945. “I would follow you into hell.”

We’ve reached a point in our history where the people who risked their lives and served their country are dying off and leaving us at an ever-increasing rate. Soon, what little first-hand knowledge we have of the great sacrifice the men like those of Easy Company made to, not only preserve our freedom, but to defeat the powers of evil, will have gone away.

I’m saddened by Winters’ passing, but I’m thankful he served. He lived to the age of 92 before losing his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. News of his death, more than a week ago, was kept quiet at his request. He didn’t seek glory. He exhibited class, even in death.

Thank you, Dick Winters. Though you may not have chosen the label, there’s no denying you are a hero.

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Bigfoot lives on in our hearts and minds

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2010 by macmystery

Bigfoot ... real, or very real?

As an avid believer of Bigfoot, (this is where my wife chuckles … but then again, she claims she can smell ants being smashed), I am always enthused to read new reports of Bigfoot sightings, theories, hoaxes, etc.

There are two recent stories I thought I would bring to light  for those who may not have the time to track down all the Bigfoot happenings and goings on.

First, some real news. According to Fox News, a Chinese team is in the process of raising funds for an expedition to find eveidence of the Chinese version of Bigfoot, the Yeren, or as he’s commonly referred to, the “Wild Man.”

Here’s the story: China to search for elusive “Bigfoot”

Meanwhile, back in the states, the Alliance of Independent Bigfoot Researchers and the Bigfoot Discovery Project presented the annual Bigfoot Discovery Day on Saturday, staged at the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton, Calif. The exhibit/discussion centered specifically on sightings in Santa Cruz County, Calif.

Read the San Jose Mercury-News account right here.

Like it or not, I’m back

Posted in Family, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 2, 2010 by macmystery

After successfully failing to post for the entire months of May and June (Heck, I posted just one day in April), I have returned. See how I made that sound positive.

Some health issues (well, one actually), a lack of computer access and a heavy load at work have conspired to keep me down, but I have prevailed.

I’ve missed a lot the last three months … a lot I’d have liked to comment on.

I saw a Neil Young concert, my third, that was downright nasty it was so good.

I went to camp for three days with my son, Dylan, and thought I was going to die.

I had some sort of episode at work and thought I was going to die.

And among other things, I really would have liked to comment on some people I admired who did die.

Down the road, I may get to some of those things, albeit a little late. But for whatever small number of people who read this and myself, it’s simply progress that I’ve typed these words. Any catching up I do will be icing on the cake.

Later this morning I leave for Washington D.C. and then New York City for my annual baseball trip. Hopefully, I’ll have some things to comment on from there.

Bye, for now.

Church group reunited with orphanage in Haiti

Posted in Family, Journalism, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2010 by macmystery

In a photo from the MSNBC.com story, kids at the Rescue Children orphanage watch a generator-powered television on Friday in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The group from a Pennsylvania church and an MSNBC.com news crew reached the Rescue Children orphanage in Haiti on Friday.

The orphanage is supported by Spratanburg, S.C.-based Rice Bowls, a world hunger ministry, for which my wife Brooke works.

Here’s the MSNBC.com story with information about the 11 kids, who are all safe and well, and where the orphanage expects to go from here. There’s a cool slideshow, as well.

Once again, for those who want to give to relief efforts, here’s a list of organizations already working in Haiti.

Again, for those interesting in helping immediately, simply text “HAITI” to “90999” and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.

Rice Bowls and some good news from the earthquake in Haiti

Posted in Family, Journalism, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2010 by macmystery

Rice Bowls, the Spartanburg, S.C.-based world hunger ministry for which my wife Brooke works, supports an orphanage in Haiti.

In a bit of good news out of a country where the news only figures to get worse in the coming days, the 11 children Rice Bowls feeds are all alive and safe. (Read Thursday’s Herald-Journal story) Thank you God.

A group from the Pennsylvania church which runs the orphanage has traveled to Haiti with supplies with an MSNBC news crew in tow to chronicle their efforts. Here’s the initial story, when the safety of the children was still in question, and Thursday’s story telling of the group’s arrival in Hispaniola.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, had enough problems before this earthquake. More than 80 percent of the country lives in poverty and less than half have access to clean water. And that’s when things are going well.

My thoughts and prayers go out, not only to the Haitian victims of this earthquake, to those who have made their way to Haiti to help, those who are on the way, those who are giving to the relief efforts … but also to those who didn’t need an earthquake to try and make a difference in Haiti.

My wife, of whom I’m very proud, works for an organization that was already trying to make a better life for a handful of children in Haiti, among other places in the world. As a result of this catastrophe, their job has gotten a lot tougher. And a lot more important.

For those who want to help the orphans at the Rescue Children orphanage or help facilitate repairs to their home, donations can be made at www.ricebowls.org.

For those who want to give to other relief efforts, once again, here’s a list of organizations already working in the country.

Again, for those interesting in helping immediately, simply text “HAITI” to “90999” and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.

How to help Haiti

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 13, 2010 by macmystery

With Tuesday’s 7.0 earthquake devastating Haiti, the count of the injured and the dead are going to grow to staggering numbers in the next few days. And the need for immediate assistance is only going to be magnified.

Because of the likelihood that there will be difficulties flying in and out of the country, experts are suggesting that for those wanting to help, it would be best to support an organization that already has it’s feet on the ground in the country.

MSNBC.com has provided a list of organizations already working in the country.

Possibly the simplest way to give:

For those interesting in helping immediately, simply text “HAITI” to “90999” and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Even before the quake, only 46 percent of the population there had access to clean drinking water. After this disaster, that number will surely drop.

Please keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers.

Jimmy V

Posted in Sports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2009 by macmystery

If you watch ESPN at all, you would have had to have been under a rock the past week and a half to miss the replay of this speech. Every year at this time, it becomes a nightly ritual on the network during the Jimmy V Classic.

On March 3, 1993, former N.C. State basketball coach and ESPN basketball analyst Jim Valvano gave this speech at the ESPYs after receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. His body was riddled with cancer and he knew his time was short.

And his speech was magnificent. It’s one of those television moments I never grow tired of seeing. I’m sure the people I work with don’t feel the same way.  I’m sure they get tired of me turning the TV up every night to hear the speech when ESPN plays it. I don’t care.

In the speech, Valvano said he hoped to survive long enough to present the Ashe award the next year, but it didn’t happen. He fell victim to his cancer April 28, 1993.

Though he didn’t live much longer, there are two themes in his speech that have endured.

First, he very poignantly suggested how one could ensure they live each day to the fullest:

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

Then he closed the speech with this:

“Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.”

(Many mistakenly believe that his famous quote, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” came in this speech. It did not. It came two weeks earlier, February 21, 1993, at N.C. State’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of Valvano’s 1983 NCAA Championship squad.)

Valvano’s entire speech can be found in a text version here.

I hope that should I ever be unfortunate enough to face an unforgiving disease like cancer, that I might have the grace and class that Valvano did.

Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award