Monthly Archives: December 2012

Recordando a Roberto

Roberto_ClementeI  first posted this three years ago. For some reason, Clemente has been on my mind today and so I repost.

Forty years ago this day, Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente climbed aboard a plane in Puerto Rico bound for Nicaragua.

A massive earthquake had struck Managua on December 23, 1972. The quake devastated the city, leaving thousands dead or homeless. Clemente organized relief efforts in Puerto Rico. When he learned that some of the aid had ended up in the pockets of the leaders and had not reached the people of Nicaragua, Clemente decided to deliver the next shipment personally. He assumed his stature would make sure that those in need received the supplies.

On December 31, 1972, Clemente stepped into a DC-7 plane along with the supplies. Not long after takeoff the plane suddenly lost altitude and crashed into the waters off Puerto Rico. Clemente’s body was never found.

The people of Puerto Rico, Latinos/as and Hispanics, the people of Western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, and others admired Clemente for his athletic prowess. He played with fire and passion and grace and an amazing ability.

More than that, the people admired Clemente for the way he lived his life. He challenged the prejudice and racism that affected Latino players. He demanded respect for himself and the people of Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries. He worked for people who lived in poverty and responded to the needs of his sisters and brothers. He reached out to children and provided them with opportunities to develop their own athletic talents.

I remember hearing the news the news of Roberto Clemente’s death on January 1, 1973 in Grove City, Pennsylvania. It devastated me. Clemente had been the hero of my childhood. At the time of his death, he was the hero of my youth.

And today – on the fortieth anniversary of his death – I remember and give thanks for Roberto Clemente – my hero still.

See you along the Trail.


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Filed under Baseball, Current Events

Purple flowers, Central Park 1

Purple Flowers Central Park 23 October 2011

In and out of focus
bees enjoy the nectar
of purple flowers
in Central Park

23 October 2011
Central Park, New York

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Filed under New York, Photo

A resolution worth making

Several hours ago, New York television stations reported that people have already begun to gather in Times Square to welcome the New Year.

As the New Year approached 150 years ago, people across the United States prepared to welcome a moment of immense significance.

President Lincoln had issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. It provided that if the states in rebellion against the United States did not cease fighting and rejoin the Union by January 1, 1863, all slaves in those states or parts of those states would be declared free from that date forward.

The fighting did not cease. On December 31, 1862, the nation waited. African-Americans gathered for Watch Night Services awaiting the word. And the word came.

The Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery outright. It did not immediately free anyone as the Union could not enforce the proclamation in the rebellious states. It did not address the issue of slavery in the so-called border states. It did not recognize that many people held in slavery had taken matters into their own hand and had freed themselves.

But the Emancipation Proclamation sent a message of hope to African-Americans. It sent a message of support to all who worked for freedom. It sent a message of intention to the nation and the nations. The war to preserve the Union became a war for human liberation as well.

The Emancipation Proclamation provided a measure of protection to the African-Americans who had freed themselves or who had been freed either by the efforts of the Union army or abolitionists. It paved the way for further steps such as the acceptance of African-Americans into the U.S. military and the eventual abolition of slavery.

This 150th anniversary affords an opportunity to remember the events of the past and to remember the people, our ancestors, who gave of themselves that all people might know freedom, justice, and equality.

This 150th anniversary affords an opportunity to repent, acknowledging that, while great strides have been made, the journey to racial justice remains long and challenging. We have work to do.

And so this 150th anniversary affords ourselves an opportunity, in the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “to rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the [children] of God, and our [sisters and brothers] wait eagerly for our response.”

May it be so.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights


Big NewsOn October 1, I set a goal of walking 10,000 steps each day. After several days, I realized that by increasing the number of steps, it would be possible to walk 1,000,000 total steps between October 1 and today – December 31.

Moments ago, I logged that 1,000,000th step. Goal met. And it feels good.

Now to set some goals for 2013 – goals for healthier living. I have some ideas and my friend Irene has put one out there for me as well. I look forward to what is to come.

See you along the Trail.

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Stones River, 150th

It seems a week for anniversaries. I suppose every week brings them and what really happens is that I notice some of them some of the time. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Stones River this week caught my attention.

As 2012 draws to a close, I find myself reading a biography of George Thomas. Born in Virginia, educated at West Point, Thomas chose to stay with the Union as Civil War convulsed the United States. He served in the Western Theater of the war where he earned the nickname, “The Rock of Chickamauga” for a defensive stand his troops made during that battle.

Earlier, the men under his command fought at Stones River, Tennessee. From December 31, 1862 through January 2, 1863, forces under the command of Gen. Bragg (CSA) and Gen. Rosecrans (USA) clashed along Stones River. Men in blue and men in gray fought and died in cotton fields and among cedar timbers and in places now remembered as The Slaughter Pen and Hell’s Half Acre. 3,000 men died; the number of men killed, wounded, and missing totaled over 23,000.

In January of 2010, I visited Stones River National Battlefield and Stones River National Cemetery. I experienced mixed emotions: horror, sorrow, pain, pride and more intermingled. The place seems hallowed in ways I can never describe. Walking alone on the boundary trail, every rustling leaf and every squirrel moving on the ground made me feel surrounded by ghosts.

In the end, the cemetery made the greatest impression on me. I thought of those who died in that battle – and in all battles – in all wars. And I ask myself – Why? And I ask myself – How long? And I ask myself – Can the human race not do better?


Row upon row they stand,
across Stones River,
resting under the trees’ shade
in perfect formation:
silent, eternal reminders
of who was lost
and who paid the cost;
of what once was
of what might have been.
Shire on the Hudson
29 July 2011
See you along the Trail.

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Filed under National Park, Photo, Poem

An easy return journey

Having chronicled the challenges that I faced traveling  from New York to Cleveland, it only seems fair to report on the return journey.

Twenty-four hours before the scheduled departure, I received an email telling me I could obtain my boarding pass. I smiled.

My older son and I were on the same flight. Tricia took us to the airport, allowing lots of time in case things did not go well. Due to his platinum status, my son checked our bags. I obtained a boarding pass with ease. We went to the gate. After a couple of calls for volunteers to stay behind, the boarding process began. Maintenance applied de-icer to the plan. We took off and after a very smooth flight we arrived at LGA.

An easy return. Too easy I would say if I were in a spy novel. But I am not.

As I made my way to baggage claim, I winced when I observed that red cancellation notices had begun to appear on the flight boards. I hope all who traveled today did so with ease and safety.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Family, New York, Travel

Events to remember

December 29, 1890 – the massacre at Wounded Knee. The band of Chief Big Foot was attacked by the 7th Cavalry. Reports indicate that between 150 and 300 Lakota were killed – many of them women and children. The shooting began either as or after the Lakota were disarmed.

December 26, 1862 – in the largest mass execution in U.S. history, 38 Dakota were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota. The U.S.-Dakota war, as it is named, began in August 1862 fueled by hunger and broken promises. When the fighting ended, the Dakota people were driven from Minnesota.  392 Dakota were tried, 303 were sentenced to death, and 16 were given prison terms. President Lincoln reviewed the transcripts and reduced the number of death sentences to 39. One man received a reprieve at the last minute.


See you along the Trail.

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A time to choose

Challenges and opportunities mingle
as I ponder an invitation for
new behavior
new patterns
new living
into the new year.

Daunted, intimidated on the one hand,
intrigued, inspired on the other,
I weigh options,
and consider possibilities,
knowing that each direction chosen
precludes other directions.

I wonder.
I wonder.
I wonder.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends

It is a wonderful life

IAWL pictureA Christmas tradition took place today – a viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life. I don’t remember when I first watched it, but I try to see it at least once each year.

At some point, we taped a television broadcast of it. When we wore out the tape a couple years back, we purchased a DVD.

Recognizing the unabashed sentimentality of the film, I still find something each time I view it. I do not pretend my insights are profound or unique or creative or new. They simply are what I take away from that particular viewing.

Today’s message: friends and family make life wonderful. Whatever else life may bring, the people in our lives – the people in my life – matter immensely.

This post is thus a way to say thank you to my family and friends! It is a blessing to share this wonderful life with you. I hope you realize how grateful I am.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Movie

Silent night, 24-25 December 2012

The familiar words of “Silent Night” filled the sanctuary of Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian as the 11:00 PM service drew to a close.

Outside at least six Cleveland Heights police cars, lights flashing, roared past.

It occurred to me that the world is rarely silent.

Life is messy, chaotic, confusing, and noisy. And much of that noise stems from our violation of one another and God’s creation.
Gun shots.
Drone attacks.
Land mines.
Shouts of anger.
Hate-filled rhetoric.
Screams of fear.
Clanging chains.
Machinery ripping at the earth and its resources.
A cacophony of pain and abuse and exploitation fills life’s sound track.

But it is precisely this messy, chaotic, confusing, noisy life to which God comes. In Jesus, God enters this life freely. Experiences this life fully. Embraces this life wholeheartedly. 

This un-silent life, filled with deafening days and noisy nights, matters to God. Matters so deeply that God gives us Jesus to offer another way, inviting us anew to:
accept new beginnings,
offer forgiveness,
pursue peace,
seek justice,
love kindness,
live into hope,
and walk with God.

May we do so
on silent nights
on noisy nights
on this night
on all nights.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Cleveland Heights, Current Events, Music, Worship