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Archive for the ‘love’ Category

MEMORIAL DAY 2015
May 25, 2015

Hello all and thank you for being here on a day that is not only a holiday but a holy day to those of us that are touched by the deep, searing meaning of this ceremony.

There are few occasions that I feel more honored to speak about as Mayor. I am called upon once a year to voice the anguish and gratitude our city feels, for so many of our families have experienced loss that is inexplicably sad.

Walls of granite across the land are etched with the names of young men and women that have given their lives – their promise and their futures – to our community and nation. The inscriptions are distantly cold, and can never speak to the marvelous lives that once coursed with flushed faces, laughter and intention.

The thought of this enormous loss is so daunting.

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The concrete finality of such loss breaks my heart and silences my muse. Waves of conflicts have washed over our nation, each surge pulling away those we love like glittering specks of sand tossed into the mirth of motion and then gone to a vast emptiness.

This reality overwhelms me every year. I think of mothers and fathers fearfully sending these children off to the military with pride and a sense of powerlessness that must be so difficult, but is nothing compared to the few that receive a knock on the door revealing a crisp, uniformed officer delivering news that ends all hope.

I die a little bit knowing each name on a memorial comes with a similar pronouncement and aftermath.

So, every year, I struggle for words. I stew for days with thoughts of patriotism, service, community and the terror that is bound up in the essence of this day. I think of our blessed way of life in the United States of America – of our abundance, joy and freedom and feel quite lost. I worry that I cannot adequately express our communal feelings…
So, I will start with our proud soldiers. It is because of our military that we are afforded peace. We are afforded personal freedoms and ease that allows us to actually ignore the privileges that others are fighting and dying for around the globe. We have access to food, healthcare and education. We can vote, or not. We can eat well, or not. We can thrive, or not. We can worship God or the devil or a light bulb, or not. We can even work or not, though I truly believe most people would prefer to earn a living than accept a handout. Americans are inherently noble people.

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I mulled this all over while at a bonfire the night before last. My friends and family gathered in a circle as warm as the pyre that drew us to its heat. A cooler of cold beer opened and closed while young children ran outside the ring of chairs. Young adults, so recently boys and girls, laughed lightly and courted in the flickering shadows of the periphery. We seated parents looked on with amusement and nostalgia, and then would gaze into the mysterious living thing that fire is.

We watched as logs were tossed into the coals and a burst of embers would explode into the night to drift upward and disappear into the black. Our heads tilted back on our chairs as we fixed our eyes on the speckled canopy of darkness.

I thought each hot, orange ember must certainly take its place amongst its far sisters, the stars, transported from this temporal reality to the sparkling realm of timeless light. I like to think that these tiny fragments that grace the sky are the ever-present evidence of the beauty of souls that are lost to us. Souls dance their way to the stars like embers and in the 300 years that we have been a sovereign nation, 1.1 million soldiers have filled the night sky.

For me, a woman of a certain age and temperament that does NOT believe in the devil or the omnipotent power of a light bulb, God has given us these stars as a sign that there is order, permanence and meaning in our lives that surpasses the inexplicable tragedies of this existence.

And I think it must be this faith that sustains us through violence, poverty and war. It must be this faith that gives young men courage to break away from the comforts of home. It must be faith that allows a mother a final kiss before deployment and it MUST be faith that gives a husband, wife or child the strength to bear a triangular flag beside a casket, the white stars on a field of blue held as closely as breath and tears.

These were my fireside thoughts the other night. I expressed them tearfully to my friend, John. We both stared in silence at the flames and then he turned to me and said, “Ann, it’s all true. This is so horribly sad. But there is this too: each soldier had given meaning to his or her life. They have served our country with dignity. They tried to carry democracy to a world that thirsts for our way of life. They went with selfless obedience to keep our county safe and free. The meaning of their lives is as vast and great as the sky above us.”

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We both went silent again. I think we both were crying. John is so right.

Please remember the gift of each one of those stars when you pledge allegiance to our flag and when staring quietly up at a haunted, star-filled sky. That magnificent sky is filled with love.

Thank you to the fine veterans that have served and to those that are still active today.

Thank you again to the Veteran’s Commission for organizing this event again, as you do every year. Amsterdam is grateful for your continuous advocacy on behalf of those that have served our country so well. And lastly, thank you to God, for planting us all in the soil of this great nation where such freedom and sacrifice may be reverently celebrated.

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In memory of my friend: Robert B. Quick
February 27, 2015

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Betty called.

Betty called with terrible news.

The man she loved, the man she forged a formidable partnership with, the man she shared quiet moments with and the man that she had burned for

was suddenly and inexplicably

gone.

Betty called, and through her sobs and confusion, I slowly began to understand her anguish and this sudden rush of loss that is not meant to be understood because in one fleeting moment, the world, our world of neatly packaged relationships and routines, comprised of glances and smiles and words and touch

was forever altered without warning.

I looked out at the snow and thought even its whiteness carried a new emptiness.

Bob Quick, Betty’s husband, Kelly and Kevin’s dad, let’s face it, Bill’s dad too, and our friend, had vanished. And sudden, searing loss is not easily gotten through. I know because my father vanished just as quickly. It’s just terrible.

But there are blessings in every passing and most importantly, we shared in the life of this wonderful man and all have been touched by his exquisite and lasting love. Indeed, we are gathered here in that common bond. We have come together to celebrate the life of a loving and generous friend that has given so much to each of us, and his community.

We should be clear on this point, Bob would not have wanted us to gather in grief, though undoubtedly we cannot avoid it. Bob would have wanted us to commemorate his time with us with smiles and sharing and love for one another.

Really, he’d like us all to have a good, strong drink with good food in a nice place with an abundance of laughter. And so we shall after this service, most certainly if Betty has anything to do with this!

It’s daunting to talk about Bob, especially when I look out at a sea of faces that knew him better and loved him so long and so well but this is Bob’s gift to me: that I may paint this day with my impressions of him and hopefully touch upon qualities that spark recognition in each of you.

Bob entered my life while I was the Director at the museum. He was drawn to the museum because the kinetic star he was attached to named Betty had developed a passion for the heritage of this community and had discovered this quirky little repository of history hidden in Guy Park Avenue School. I’m fairly certain the both of us bemused Bob, but I’m just glad that they both turned up and never turned back. Bob watched our commitment, hard work, and lunacy and he liked it. He’d often shake his head with a smile and ask me why I’d ever put myself through so much torment for the not-for-profit life.

Flash forward ten years and he was asking me why I’d put myself through another election. The truth is, he knew why and he believed in me. More importantly, he believed in this city. His faith in this little city never wavered, though I saw him shake his fist as well as his head at times.

Amsterdam’s finest qualities mesh family, heritage, and complicated webs of connectedness that, really, those of us that did not grow up here cannot fathom. Perpetual visitors like me sometimes shake my head and smile. Bob was born and raised here and he loved this city as much as he distained everything that holds it back. He always understood its untouched potential and supported every effort to change its course.

I could go on and on about Bob’s contributions to this community, to the museum, hospital, Chamber, Liberty, Waterfront Foundation, United Way, sports teams, and countless others. This community has suffered a great loss. Because of Bob’s new absence, we are now called to fill that void for the city he loved.

Bob got his start in Amsterdam schools and made his lifelong friendships there with many of the men in this room. He loved these men when they were boys with skinned knees. He loved them through their first dates, through first jobs and first wives, through crushing loss and glittering nights on Florida’s coast. Bob cherished his friends and willingly shared his fortunes and fancy with gentle grace and sometimes great aplomb.

What a perfect counterpart to Betty, both being passionate, industrious, smart and generous to a fault. Both so elegant! Their parties were always perfectly orchestrated but comfortable and welcoming. And it was this gathering together that had always been their goal: to unite, to fest, to laugh and to share.

Indeed, I think Bob’s goal in building an empire was to provide for these times of camaraderie, which brings us to his professional life. This self-made man was extraordinarily accomplished.

Bob used his pragmatism, his strength and his intuition wisely. He took educated risks and surrounded himself with talented people. Because of his foresight, his business thrives today in Schenectady, Charlotte, NC and Austin, TX. His success is a wonderful tribute to his business acumen, but again, the success of his company was not his ultimate aim. It was the byproduct. His goal was to live life fully and fearlessly, and to live life WELL. Bob loved entertaining, sports, the arts, and traveling. He loved driving an expensive car while cranking the Supremes on the radio. He loved the sun. He followed it to Charlotte or Charleston or the Keys when it got too cold here.

Of course Bob decided not to come back on the coldest February in history! Look at all of this damned snow. He’s somewhere near the sun where it’s bright and beautiful and he’ll wait for us until we have the sense of timing to join him.

Bob sought the finer things out in life. It’s a lesson we must learn from this lovely man! Embrace your talents, your opportunities, and the glories this life affords you! Love your life!

Follow the lead of one that passed through this life so well: Coach. Volunteer. Travel. Invest. Play. Rest. Reflect.

Because that’s one of the things Betty pointed out that Bob was so aware of, be it when they’d retire quietly to their sitting room off of the bedroom at night or out by the pool on a warm summer evening. He’d turn to her and say, “I love my life.”

Period.

So love your family like Bob loved this complicated, boundlessly energetic wife.

Like Bob loved his daughter, Kelly and her daughters, Jillian and Lauren, find the space that is only yours, such as that between a daughter and her father, a relationship that weaves through giggles and tears to a time when you will trust another man enough to hand her over at the alter. Love your family steadfastly through all time and across miles. Maddie, just the mention of your name made him sparkle.

Love the family God gives you, your stepsons and in-laws. God blessed Bob with a son, Kevin, that he lost too early and a boy that he loved as a son. I know how deeply he cared for Bill as he spoke proudly of the confident, young man taking the wheel while he was out chartering new waters. We now see how prudent this transition had been and the company remains in good hands.

Quick-Robert

Bob acted as a mentor and guide to so many of us in this room that we could probably get together after this service and launch a very successful business if we just take the advise he has given us over the years!

And we should all follow his lead by following his actions: by being kind and generous, by being loyal and courageous. Be fun loving. Be silly. Most of all cherish your gifts and be grateful that this great man touched your life.

We will miss you, Bob. Thank you so much for all that you have given us. We love you.

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My commentary at the Wilmington Senior Center Lifetime Achievement Awards Celebration, Peg Tigue: 2014 Recipient of the David G. Menser Award.

Peg Tigue

Peg Tigue


Good evening.

Thank you to the Wilmington Senior Center for allowing me a few moments to speak on behalf of a woman I love very much and, more importantly, to participate in a celebration of her lifetime of service to our community, state and nation. Please note the specifics of this service in the biography in your program because I am going to tackle this on a more personal level.

I am so proud of my mother.

Of course I am. We are all proud of our mothers!

Please, everyone raise a glass to the woman that brought you into this world, for the job of mother is not an easy one from the birth of a child until the job is done.

To mothers!

That said, I will tell you that my mother is of a special cut. She is smart, funny, infinitely energetic (which a few of you may have noticed) and she is as determined as she is elegant.

For all of you fans of astrology, my mother is a classic Taurus and unwaveringly displays the characteristics of her sign. If she puts her head down and starts pawing the ground, you’d better hope you’re not wearing red.

She has a sharp business sense and an undeniable capacity for organization. She thinks fast and acts accordingly. She is a natural-born leader.

She commands respect with her intellect, immense grace and smile. I think people would be surprised to know that she is somewhat shy but adheres to a philosophy we both share when having to enter a crowded room or difficult negotiation. We both mutter these words like a prayer before taking on such tasks:

“Put on your big girl panties and just DO it.”

And DO IT she does, whether it’s running a family business, building a tall ship, hunting down funding for a national museum or revitalizing a neighborhood.

My mother ceases on a dream and inspires others to do the same.

This is such an extraordinary quality, and a quality that I know her lifetime friend, Dave Menser, recognized and cherished. I’m sure he’s here today, raising a glass in toast and smiling with the angels. Right, Edie?

Again, I am so proud of my mother for all of these things and so much more, because my mother is a vastly complicated woman and I, like many others, have benefited from her gifts. I have especially received the gift of her strength.

My mother has experienced incomprehensible pain and loss and has risen from her difficulties, becoming one of the truly strongest souls I will ever know.

Her finest gift is this: I, and my brothers and sisters, have been given her love and devotion for all of these years. We are forever blessed.

So, without further ado, it is my distinct honor to be present for this award recognizing the exceptional achievements of my mother, Margaret Ann Tigue.

I can think of no one that is more deserving. I love you, Mom.

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A Prayer among Friends

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn’t ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

– John Daniel, from Of Earth. © Lost Horse Press, 2012.

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In response to a recent violent act that took the lives of two city youths and has affected hundreds of relatives and friends, a Community Task Force was formed between the City of Amsterdam, GASD, St. Mary’s Healthcare, Centro Civico, and passionate volunteers from our community. As is the case whenever we are faced with tragedy, there has been a welling up of support and compassion that is unmatched by any other community I’ve lived in.

The group’s been discussing aspects of grief and recovery and have come up with several tactics to help heal the deep wound many have suffered, especially our students that will be returning to school in a matter of weeks.

Recognizing this, four young men from the group organized a 3-on-3 basketball tournament focused on stopping violence and growing support for youth activities. John Sumpter, Calvin Martin, Casey Martin and T.J. Czeski put together an event that attracted hundreds of people of all ages. This is no small feat – volunteer scheduling, tents, raffles, refreshments, grills, generators, sound system, referees, score keepers, crowd control, promotion, t-shirts and team sign-ups had to be tightly coordinated. This was managed so well that the event ran as perfectly as the beautiful day God provided. I find it particularly inspiring that such young men are willing to take on the mantle of leadership, giving back so significantly to the city they have grown up in and love.

Huge thanks to all that were involved. The photos below are a few shots of the great day’s activities. Click on any individual photo to enlarge.

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No one exptects to lose a child. To help these stricken families raise money for funeral services, please donate at the following links:

Peace for Pauly

Peace for Jonathan

“Entre lo que existe y lo que no existe,
el espacio es el amor.”

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gravity

Gravity

Carrying my daughter to bed
I remember how light she once was,
no more than a husk in my arms.
There was a time
I could not put her down,
so frantic was her crying if I tried
to pry her from me, so I held her
for hours at night, walking up and down the hall,
willing her to fall asleep.
She’d grow quiet,
pressed against me,
her small being alert
to each sound, the tension in my arms, she’d take
my nipple and gaze up at me,
blinking back fatigue she’d fight whatever terror
waited beyond my body in her dark crib. Now
that she’s so heavy I stagger beneath her,
she slips easily from me, down
into her own dreaming. I stand over her bed,
fixed there like a second, dimmer star,
though the stars are not fixed: someone
once carried the weight of my life.

– Kim Addonizio, from The Philosopher’s Club. © BOA Editions, 1994.

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I’d like to thank the Veteran’s Commission for once again allowing me the honor of speaking at this Annual Memorial Day Ceremony. I can honestly say that this is one of the greatest privileges afforded my office. Devoting these moments to the tremendous loss our nation has suffered is an appropriate way to share our feelings of faith and gratitude born of heavy grief.

As is the case in years past, I am mindful of how syncopated the elements are with the occurrences of this day and how they echo with the gravity of our common experience. Clouds have slowly worked their way through the night across a waxing moon – warm and unsettled – laden with moisture that may bring showers today. The air around us is heavy with expectancy – the enormity of the moving gray-blue sky above us stretches as far as our imagination and our memory. The breeze carries our heartbreak lightly amongst us. The flag stirs with our hearts.

Our hearts. We hold our loved ones in our hearts.

Perhaps you have noticed the many red hearts that are strewn today on the hillside beside the monument. There are precisely 3,727 hearts that represent every child enrolled in the Greater Amsterdam School District. It took me three days to cut these hearts out of construction paper, which is plenty of time to recognize the incredible gift that each child is, imbued with naiveté, laughter, mischief, talent and promise. It is cliché, but true, that these children are our future. They are the reason we work difficult jobs and strive to make our community and world a better place.

These hearts represent 3,727 living, breathing, inspiring reasons to be free and to live well.

And as we are considering the very large number of children that populate our elementary schools, middle school and high school, know this: that well over 3,727 children have perished as soldiers around the world since September 11, 2001… in fact, precisely 1,984 soldiers have perished in Afghanistan and 4,486 have given their lives in Iraq. 6,470 bright-eyed, dedicated and hopeful lives have been snuffed out. Add to that other military fatalities around the world in that time and you approach a number that is almost double the number of hearts you see around you. More than twice the number of children we send innocently off to school every day.

6,740 is a startling number, but it is nothing. In our two hundred years of proud US history, military losses to the violence of war have totaled 1,306,000 beating hearts. The Civil War alone claimed an unimaginable 625,000 lives. World War I took 117,000 lives; World War II took 405,000 lives; the Korean War took 37,000 lives; and the Vietnam War extinguished the lives of 58,000 men and women, though ask some of the men here and you will know that most were only boys… their best friends and family members. I imagine that 1,306,000 hearts would cover all of Veterans Field and then some.

Look out at the hearts. Know the value of each life they represent. We lost more than these anonymous hearts, or names on a monument, or numbers that are easily tallied. We’ve lost our young ones and loved ones and unique souls that will never know another kiss of daylight.

And we continue to pay in lives today around the world. Two more lives were added to this number in Afghanistan over night.

Our hearts break from this knowledge and we share this realization in the truest sense of community. Our communal heart, that is the family of Amsterdam, shares this pain for all Americans.

We must never forget that these brave young warriors gave everything so that we would live our lives to the fullest. We must never forget that these individuals, with lives to realize and loves that were timeless, died as soldiers fighting for the principles that make our country great… liberty, honor, valor, commitment, and selfless service to others.

Our city and country have lost more than we can know.

And yet, we must know gratitude. For God has granted us not only those that have given their lives for our peace and prosperity, but a community that honors our dead, and veterans that continue to dutifully care for the memories of our fallen heroes.

Amsterdam’s veterans are the living embodiment of our city’s service to our nation, representatives who served in all the wars of living memory. They stand here, not just in their own right, but also for all those who cannot.

Today, we will again be honoring several individuals that had served so proudly by awarding them the Amsterdam Veteran Service Medal. To these valiant individuals, we owe our continued thanks and support.

And to those that proudly wear our uniform and honor our flag around the world today, we owe our praise and deepest appreciation. We all pray, come back to us safely in God’s hands.

Before you leave today, please take a heart from the ground, in stillness and with respect, and keep it – that you may be reminded of the calling that lead our children away, never to return. Recall all that we have lost and all that we hold dear, and draw closer as a community because of what we so sadly, but so necessarily, know in our hearts.

Amen.

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full circle

Full Circle

When the sweetness seems all gone
When the world’s not on your side
Remember I believe in you
My love is open-eyed.

And when you reach too far and fall
And the laughter stings your ears
You never have to be ashamed
And let me say it clear

That your love brings me round full circle
And I see through the eyes of a child
With every step you take
Another vow I make
To stay right by your side.

When your world is turned around
And you can’t find your way home
Remember me
And try to see
The way I might have shown.

And when you look and find me gone
Don’t think that life has been unfair
Just gather all your children round
And you will see me there

Because their love brings you round full circle
And you see through the eyes of a child
With every step they take
Another vow you make
To stay right by their side.

A thread runs through us all
And without it we would fall
So pull your heartstrings tight
Along the way.

And your love brings me round full circle
And I see through the eyes of a child
With every step you take
Another vow I make
To stay right by your side.

With every step you take
Another vow I make
To stay right by your side.

– Newfound Road, from Same Old Place

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kora

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“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”
~ Eleanor Powell

The following are photos of some of the many gifts donated by Amsterdam’s “Christmas Angels” to families-in-need.

This all started when one individual contacted me on facebook saying that he and his wife had done well in life and wanted to help out a family that was struggling to provide for their children on Christmas. As this is not in my normal line of duty, I told them I’d check with some of the local agencies and see what they may suggest. Not twenty minutes later, another person contacted me to say that she was terribly embarrassed, but that she and her family had fallen on hard times this year (disabled, unemployed and relatively new to our city) and would I know how to get them some help. I was able to hook the two up and everyone was quite pleased.

The next day, much the same scenario happened, all within a twenty-minute span. Over the ensuing two weeks, thirteen families with 28 children were aided by 37 Amsterdamian angels! My office has acted as the conduit (and industrious wrapping elves) for these connections, as most participants wish to remain anonymous. We’ve received toys, clothing, books, music, movies, sporting items, candy, food, gift cards and more. That said, I’m totally blown away by this amazing show of generosity by people who don’t even know the folks they are giving to. This is a great and inspirational show of kindness. Better yet, this is the real spirit of Christmas.

Most everything is wrapped and ready to be picked up on Wednesday by our identified families. Thank you to all the wonderful, caring people that made this Christmas the best I’ve had in years.

small city. big heart.

bet your bippie.


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prayer of the
farm workers’ struggle

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people’s plight.

Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.

Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.

Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.

Amen.

– César E. Chávez

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hungry. foolish.


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…when I’m gone

This is sentimental for me in so many ways. I saw James Taylor sing this today as an aging man fighting his emotions at the 9/11 ceremony.

In this clip, he’s the boy we all fell for in the seventies. His eyes, the hair, and now I remember, the relaxed confidence of youth… all so beautifully poignant.

I sang this to both of my children as lullabies when they were babies.

We’ve all gone through so much… this man, me, my friends, our nation… the words ring truer now than then.

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shred

for Vince, with love.

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Thank you so much to the Veteran’s Commission for organizing this event again, as you do every year. Amsterdam is grateful for the work you do on behalf of the Veterans of our community year round – from the careful tending of our monuments to continuous advocacy on behalf of those that have served our country so well.

The globe has spun one more time around the sun and God has provided us another late-Spring day to gather together, as community and as family. The dogwood and azaleas are blooming, phlox dance amongst the tall grasses in the fields, the trees have greened with the hope of budding leaves, and the American flag drifts lightly with each haunting breeze. Note that the air is laden with a dense closeness in the atmosphere. It is heavy with tears for our loss. It is as if this saturated air bears the weight of our communal heart, because each name etched into a memorial wall or granite stone, each bed left unfilled, each boy or girl that was lost, and each heart that was broken is shared by us all as family. We are touched by each individual passing, because we are have sent our finest into battle and they will not return to taste the promise of our future.

This is a loss that passes down through time.

The Memorial Day tradition was started 145 years ago in Waterloo, NY, when residents gathered to mourn those that had died in the bloody conflict known as the Civil War. Then called Grave Decoration Day, the entire village was draped in evergreen and black streamers. Women wept inconsolably as marching veterans lead a procession of grief to each of the three village cemeteries. The intensity of that grief has lingered with the weathered gravestones, passes through time, and mingles with the terrible price we paid in World War I and World War II, in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We continue to pay in lives today around the world. We must not forget this sacrifice. We must not forget those fallen or the suffering of their families. And we must mourn for our loss, for history has been changed by war, and though we have managed to go on, violence has silenced brave, unique and loving voices. Each individual loss splintered through families, neighborhoods, states and our nation. Generations have been irrevocably altered like the sides of mountains quarried for stone.

This is clearly illustrated by the story of Sgt. First Class Paul Ray Smith, who at age 33 died in a sudden storm of Iraqi fire while protecting his men. Sgt. Smith jumped on a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on an abandoned truck and fired at three Iraqi positions, while single-handedly providing cover so his outnumbered soldiers could escape. 100 men made it to safety. In a moment that was both heroic and horrific, Smith was shot in the neck and killed. Just hours before his death, he penned the following letter to his mother, “As I sit here getting ready to go to war once again, I realize that I have left some things left unsaid. I love you and I don’t want you to worry. …There are two ways to come home: stepping off the plane, and being carried off the plane. It doesn’t matter how I come home, because I am prepared to give all that I am, to insure that all my boys make it home.

The courage shown in that letter is at once unbearable and is all that his family, and we, must cling to. Though Sgt. Smith has been posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, he will never walk his daughter down the aisle, or teach his son to shave, or hold a grandchild on his knee. And his family’s heart has broken.

This nation has lost hundreds of thousands of like souls through the ages and we must never forget that they gave everything so that we would live our lives to the fullest. We must never forget that these individuals, with lives to realize and loves that were timeless, died as soldiers fighting for the principles that make our country great… liberty, honor, valor, commitment, and selfless service to others.

I say to you again that we must remember that what we honor are not faceless names. These were the faithful husbands, sisters, nephews, fathers, sons, neighbors and friends, most barely out of school, barely kissed, that had gone off from so many different circumstances to meet a common end, all in service to us.

The enormity of our loss is too important to blithely pass by. Our city and country have lost more than we can know. What we have lost can never be regained… the glances, the gentle touches, smiles, children, comedy, commerce, creativity, ingenuity, determination and love.

Love, most of all.

We must understand this loss with the constricted heart of someone receiving first word that their boy will never return… the agony of a mother that will never hold her child again, a father that will not pass on the keys to the business or applaud at a graduation, a child that will not remember a parent’s laugh by the time they are ten. We must be breathless in our knowing. We must know the full weight of silence.

And yet, we must know gratitude. For God has granted us not only those that have given their lives for our peace and prosperity, but a community that honors our dead, and veterans that continue to dutifully care for the memories of our fallen heroes.

These veterans are the living embodiment of Amsterdam’s service to the defense of liberty and the nation, representatives who served in all the wars of living memory. They stand here, not just in their own right, but also for all those who cannot.

Among them you can read the depth and breath of Amsterdam’s contributions: in one case not only as father and son, but as a marine who served at the Battle of Saipan in World War II, and his son, the naval officer who served half a century later on the USS Saipan, named in honor of the valor and sacrifice of those who fought at Saipan, including Company G from the Armory. We will honor these men and others that had served so proudly by awarding them the Amsterdam Veteran Service Medal. To these veteran men and women, we owe our continued thanks and support.

Lastly, to those that proudly wear our uniform and honor our flag around the world today, we owe our praise and deepest appreciation. To those many fine soldiers, we all pray, come back to us safely in God’s hands.

And now, in our stillness and our reverie, during the arresting 24 notes of the bugle call of “Taps”, let us recall all that we have lost and all that we hold dear and gather closer as a community in our love, in our pain, and in our gratitude.

Amen.

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The following was produced by our new Media Specialists Toni Tieman, Tina Francisco and Stephen Rodriguez of Amsterdam High School. I’m so proud of their efforts (there will be more to come!)

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faith

“Believe more deeply.
Hold your face up to the light,
even though for the moment you do not see.”

– Bill Wilson

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…anyway.

“People are often unreasonable, irrational,
and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

– Mother Teresa

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