Sunday, October 31, 2010

the day the Quakers died

On October 27, 1659, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson became the first victims of religious oppression in what is now the United States of America. Both of them were Quakers, and they had moved here from England in 1656 to escape religious persecution in that country. Unfortunately for them, The Massachusetts General Court had passed a law banning Quakers from the colony under penalty of death in 1658, and they were executed.

In view of the fact that one of the core beliefs of the Quakers is the “Friends Peace Testimony” , which utterly denys all outward wars, they really weren’t much of a threat to the colonists, but ignorance of the beliefs of other religions was as prevalent then as it is now.

Although five of our 44 Presidents had no religious affiliation at all (including Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln) , our country has had two Presidents who were Quakers, Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon. As a result, Nixon was likely more conflicted about the Vietnam War than most of us realized.

The dominant religion in the American Colonies was the Anglican religion (the Church of England) and people could be (and were) put to death for “crimes” like disagreeing with their pastor.

Between February of 1692 and May of 1693, the Salem witch trials were held in Massachusetts. More than 150 people were arrested, and ultimately 19 people were put to death for their “crimes”. The Salem witch trial episode is one the most famous cases of mass hysteria in America, and has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, lapses in due process, and governmental intrusion on individual liberties.



When our Founding Fathers crafted our Constitution, they wisely inserted religious freedom into the very first amendment, and many of the ideas in the Bill of Rights are drawn from the lessons learned during the time of the Salem trials.

As logical as religious freedom seems to us, there are LOTS of places in the world where it’s not allowed, even in places where it is codified into law. The most prominent example of this inequity is in present day Iran. Even though Chapter III of the Constitution that was signed into law in October of 1979 grants religious freedom, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly, those rights aren’t always accorded.

The most prominent victim of the violation of the freedom of assembly protection was Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death on June 20, 2009, has been described as “the most widely viewed death in human history”.

A much greater violation of the Constitution is the one related to freedom of religion. 89% of the population are members of the Shi’a branch of the Islam religion, 9% belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, and the remaining 2% is divided among Baha’is, Mandeans, Hindus, Yezidis, Yarzanis, Zoroaststrians, Jews, and Christians. The latter three are officially recognized and protected, and have seats in Parliament.

The largest group in the 2% minority are the Baha’is, whose religion is not recognized. Although followers of the Baha’i religion have been discriminated against ever since the religion was founded in 1863 in Iran, persecution of Baha’is has increased since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, with more executions , denial of civil rights and liberties, and denial of access of higher education and employment.



Correction of the injustice against the Baha’is in Iran will not be an easy task, but it CAN be achieved, ultimately, through a “green revolution". Since neither Israel or the United States has diplomatic relations with Iran, a concerted effort on the part of the United Nations will be needed.

The economy of Iran is the 16th largest in the world, and the service sector was the largest contributor to the GDP, just like it is in America. However, 45 % of the government’s income comes from oil and natural gas reserves. Iran ranks second in the world in natural gas reserves, and third in the world in oil reserves. If the governments in the United Nations could somehow act in concert for the next decade or so about how to deal with Iran, the plight of the Baha’is in Iran could be remedied with a very simple solution:

For every year that Baha’s continue to be persecuted in Iran, the world powers would consume a minimum of 10% less of Iranian natural gas and oil than they did in the previous year.

When the leaders of Iran finally start to feel some REAL PAIN in their pocketbook,you might actually get to see REAL religious freedom in the land that is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, and the 7,000,000 adherents of the faith around the world will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Le statut de la Liberté

Les Français ont longtemps été considérée comme une société affectif et sentimental, ce qui explique pourquoi l'image ci-dessous, prise peu après la chute de Paris, semblait capter l'ambiance de la nation à un moment très sombre de son histoire.



En raison du fait que le French revolution s'est produite à seulement 13 ans après la fondation de l'Amérique, les pays ont depuis longtemps une attention particulière pour l'autre, en particulier dans les 18e et 19e siècles

L'origine du projet Statue de la Liberté a été créditée à un professeur de droit et homme politique français nommé Edoward René de Laboulaye, qui était un ardent soutien de l'Union dans la guerre de Sécession. Lors d'un dîner dans sa maison près de Versailles, à la mi-1865, il a déclaré que toute monument érigé aux États-Unis pour commémorer son indépendance doit être un effort commun d'Amérique et la France.

Son commentaire a inspiré un jeune sculpteur nommé Frédéric Bartholdi, qui était aussi au dîner. Bien que Bartholdi n'a pris aucune mesure immédiate de ce qui allait devenir la Statue de la Liberté, il s'approcha peu de temps après Ismail Paska, le Khédive d'Egypte, avec un projet de construction d'un phare gigantesque, sous la forme d'une femme égyptienne, à l'entrée nord de le canal de Suez. Bien que la statue n'a jamais été construit, Bartholdi, l'inspiration du participant pour le projet a été l' Colossus of Rhodes, une statue antique qui se trouvait autrefois à l' entrée d'un port, mais a été détruit par un tremblement de terre en 226 avant JC

En 1870, Bartholdi avait terminé le premier modèle de la statue conçue pour le sol américain. En 1871, il s'embarque à New York pour discuter de l'idée d'une statue avec les Américains influents. ‚ÄôComme il passait devant Bedloe, AOS l'île, à l'entrée de port de New York, il a été frappé par le fait que tous les navires en direction de New York a dû naviguer directement passé il.
Il a plus tard découvert que l'île était la propriété du gouvernement des États-Unis, et ne faisait pas partie d'un État particulier. Quand il a rencontré le président Ulysses S. Grant, il a assuré qu'il ne serait pas difficile d'obtenir le site dans le but d'ériger une statue.

En 1875, il était évident qu'il y avait un soutien pour le projet des deux côtés de l'Atlantique, et en Septembre de 1875, M. Laboulaye a annoncé le projet, et la création de l'Union franco-américaine que son bras de collecte de fonds. Le français a accepté de payer pour la stature, et les Américains ont accepté de payer pour le piédestal.

Collecte de fonds pour le projet s'est avéré être difficile pour le côté américain, mais d'ici l'été 1885, 102 000 $ (l'équivalent de 2,3 millions de dollars d'aujourd'hui) avait été soulevée pour le piédestal. 80% des dons avaient été pour un dollar ou moins.

Du côté français, Bartholdi a commencé la construction de la statue en 1876, mais il était pas, AOT qu'en 1885 que la statue a été achevée. À cet égard, il a été démonté et mis dans des caisses en bois pour qu'il puisse être expédiés en Amérique.

En avril 1886, le travail sur le piédestal a finalement été achevé, et l'érection de la statue, qui avait été expédié de France, a été commencé, et, au début Octobre, le travail était terminé. Le 28 Octobre 1886, la cérémonie a de dévouement a eu lieu, habité par le président américain Grover Cleveland. Après la statue avait été rénové et a rouvert 100 ans plus tard, port de New York a célébré en grande pompe:



En l'an 2035, l', Äúminorities, l'UA en Amérique seront plus nombreux que les gens qui se considèrent comme des être, la majorité Authe, de l'UA. Cela peut provoquer la consternation dans certains milieux, mais elle, AOS tout simplement un autre rappel que l'Amérique a toujours été une terre d'immigration (à partir de 1620), et la plaque sur la statue de la Liberté renforce ce fait.

Pas comme l'airain de la renommée géant grec,
Avec la conquête de membres à cheval de la terre à la terre;
Ici, dans notre mer à la chaux, portes coucher de soleil est maintenue
Une femme avec une torche puissante, dont la flamme
Est-ce que la foudre en prison, et son nom
Mère des Exilés. De son phare d'occasion
Brille dans le monde entier la bienvenue; son commandement doux yeux
Le port de l'air comblé ce cadre des villes jumelées.
«Gardez, anciennes terres, votre pompe étages! cris qu'elle
Avec lèvres muettes. "Donnez-moi vos fatigués, vos pauvres,
Votre masses entassées qui aspirent à respirer librement,
Le rebut de vos rivages surpeuplés.
Envoyer ces, les sans-abri, tempête-tost pour moi,
Je lève ma lampe à côté de la porte d'or! "

Emma Lazarus, 1883

Comme nous le temps de réfléchir à l'occasion du 124e de la dédicace de l' Statue of Liberty, il, AOS convient également que nous prenons quelques instants pour remercier à nouveau les Français pour leur générosité, et le meilleur manière que je peux penser à faire est de coller le lien ci-dessous dans votre navigateur, et de regarder une courte vidéo de Casablanca, une photo 1942 qui a remporté trois Oscars, dont meilleur film:

we’ll show those Germans

If your French is a little rusty, the clip provides an English translation for you:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The thin red line

I’ve lived in Evanston for more than 5 years. During that time, I’ve met a lot of interesting and colorful characters.

When the White Hen Pantry used to be located on Main Street, just east of Chicago Avenue, I frequently ran into a gregarious African-American gentlemen who was selling copies of “StreetWise“ from his chair right outside the front door.

A few years ago, the building that housed the White Hen Pantry was torn down to make room for a new commercial/residential development that never materialized due to the current state of the housing market, but the StreetWise vendor still mans his post, day in and day out.

He works from noon until 4 on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and noon until 7 on Thursday. He spends most of his day on Sunday in church, and he takes computer classes on Monday and Tuesday at the Jane Addams School.

From time to time, I would buy a paper from him, and his greeting was invariably the same, “how are you today, young man?”, even though I’m a few years older than he is.

His name if John, and he’s been selling StreetWise in Evanston for 8 years. Although he once lived in Evanston, for about five years, he currently resides in Rogers Park.

His amiable face is trimmed with a carefully groomed white beard. Due to his stocky build, and his friendly disposition, it’s not hard to imagine him serving as a Santa at a suburban shopping mall somewhere.

Although he has lived in the Chicago area for more than 40 years, his melodic voice still contains a bit of his native Alabama. He was born in Huntsville, which meant that he grew up in a place that was the epicenter of the space race in the 1960’s.

He first came to the Chicago area in 1967 as a result of the Job Corps, and for a time, he attended culinary school. Like many young folks, he never achieved his dream of becoming a famous chef, and he worked a variety of jobs over the years.

The last time that he held a “traditional” job was 10 years ago, when he worked for a moving company. In his spare time, he also worked evenings at The Good News church, feeding the hungry and the homeless.

Throughout his life, John has been plagued with poor health.

During the height of the Vietnam War, he was declared unfit for the draft, which may have been a blessing for his parents. He had a heart attack in 2004, and a stroke on January 2 of 2010.

Even though more than 60% of Evanston residents have a college degree or advanced degree, and 92% ot its resident would be considered “white collar” workers, the unemployment and foreclosures that have decimated other parts of our country have also taken their toll in Evanston.

The truth is that there’s a very thin line between the life that John lives, and our own, and it’s ironic that his station is directly across the street from a Starbucks Coffee House.

Michael Gates Gill was a high flying six figure income advertising executive - until he was abruptly fired. He ultimately wound up working as a barrista at a local Starbucks for $10 an hour, an experience that he claims saved his life. If you’d like to read more about him, take a look at his book, which is titled “How Starbucks saved my life”.

The next time you stop in at the Starbucks on Main Street for your $4 cup of grande latte, save a couple of bucks for John across the street.

Your contribution will do more good than you can possibly imagine.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet

In September of 2010, the top selling car or truck models sold in America were as follows:

1 - Ford F series
2 - Chevy Silverado
3 - Toyota Camry
4 - Honda Accord
5- Toyota Corolla
6 - Hyundai Sonata
7 - Nissan Altima
8 - Honda Civic
9 - Honda CR-V
10 - Ram series

As you skim through the list, you’ll notice that only 3 of the top 10 have “American” names. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover that the location of manufacture for the list is definitely domestic. Only one vehicle, the Toyota Corolla, is not made in America.

1 - Ford F series - made in Dearborn, Michigan and Kansas City, Missouri - but also made in Valencia, Venezuela and Cuautitlan, Mexico
2 - Chevy Silverado - made in Flint and Pontiac, Michigan and Fort Wayne,Indiana, but it is also built in Ontario, Venezuela, and Mexico
3- Toyota Camry - made in Georgetown, Kentucky, as well as Japan
4- Honda Accord - produced in Marysville, Ohio, as well as Japan, New Zealand, England, China, and Thailand
5- Toyota Corolla - produced in Fremont, California until March of 2010, but no more U.S production. The vehicle is now produced in Brazil, Canada, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Venezuela
6- Hyundai Sonata- made in Montgomery, Alabama, but also in Korea, India, China, Turkey and Egypt
7 - Nissan Altima - made in Smyrna, Tennessee , as well as Japan
8 - Honda Civic - made in Greensburg, Indiana, as well as Ontario
9 - Honda CR-V - made in East Liberty, Ohio, as well as Japan, U.K., China, and Mexico
10 - Dodge Ram series - made in Warren, Michigan, as well as Mexico

Due to some great advertisements over the years, the car that many people would consider to be the “most American” is Chevrolet, but the make only has one vehicle in the top 10, and it’s a truck.



The Chevrolet name has been with us since November of 1911. From 1949 to 1978, the full size Chevrolet Bel Air/Impala/Caprice was the number one selling car in America in all but three years, but the last time that a Chevrolet was the number one seller was 1986, when the mid-size Celebrity took home the honors.

In 1963, one out of ever ten cars sold in America was a Chevrolet, but that is no longer the case.In 2009, the Chevrolet brand was a solid 200,000 units behind number one Toyota, but the gap would be even larger if you considered passenger cars only, and not trucks. That's likely one of the main reasons that Chevrolet replaced its ad agency of 91 years in May of 2010.

Chevrolet has 20 different models that are either in production, or have recently stopped production. The list of models, as well as where they are produced, is as follows:

Aveo - made in Korea
Camaro - made in Canada
Caprice - made in Australia
Corvette - made in Kentucky
Cruze - Ohio
Impala - Canada
Malibu - Kansas City and Michigan
Volt - Detroit, Michigan
Cobalt (recently dropped) - was made in Ohio

Avalanche - Mexico
Colorado - Louisiana and Thailand
Silverado - Canada and the United States

Express - Wentzville, Missouri
Uplander - Georgetown, Kentucky

Equinox - Ontario, Canada
HHR- Mexico
Suburban - Janesville, Wisconsin and Mexico
Tahoe - dropped - was produced in Janesville, Wisconsin
Traverse - Spring Hill, Tennessee and Lansing, Michigan
Trailblazer - made in Ohio, Oklahoma, Russia, and Venezuela

If you “count ‘em up”, you’ll find that only 10 of the vehicles sold by Chevrolet are made in the United States, and there’s not a lot of “Detroit iron” on the list. The only vehicle that Chevrolet makes in Detroit is the Volt.

If you on occasion get nostalgic about “the good old days”, buy or rent a Chevrolet and take a long trip across the country.

After all, America is asking you to call.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A century of progress

Since this story is the 100th post to the blog I started in March of 2009, it’s appropriate that we all travel backward in time by 100 years in order to draw a few conclusions.

The “story behind the story” this time around is the mass e-mail that mostof us received recently decrying the “de-industrialization of America”. Although the source of the article wasn’t listed in the note that I got, a little research turned up the fact that it was generated by a publication called The Business Insider, which was launched in July of 2007.

Since it’s always important to consider the source of anything that you read or hear, especially if it’s negative information, you should be aware of the fact that Business Insider was started by a man named Henry Blodget. Although he was once considered one of the chief internet/e-commerce analysts on Wall Street, he was ultimately charged with civil securities fraud by the United States SEC in 2003. He was forced to pay a total of $4,000,000 in penalties, and was immediately barred from the securities industry.

Before I dig into the accuracy of the “19 facts about the de-industrialization of America”, let’s take a look at where America was in 1910, exactly 100 years ago.

In 1910, farming was still a very big part of the U.S. economy. The number of farms in this country had increased from 2,000,000 in 1860 to 6.4 million in 1910. During this same 50 year period, the rate of industrialization increased dramatically, but it’s interesting to note that the number 1 industry in America in 1910 was slaughtering and meatpacking, and it was 50% larger than the number 2 industry, iron and steel production. If you’ve ever read “The Jungle”, by Sinclair Lewis, you know that work conditions, and food quality, were abysmally poor at that time in history. The outrage generated by Lewis’ book resulted in the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

Over time, manufacturing increasingly displaced agriculture as an important component of American GDP. In 1910, 41% of the American work force was employed in agriculture. As a percentage of GDP, agriculture’s contribution was 7.7% Today, 1.9% of the American work force is engaged in agriculture, and its contribution to the GDP is less than 1%.

1910 was also a time that the giants of the industrial age were in their infancy.

The Ford Motor Company was started a mere 7 years earlier, in 1903. General Motors Corporation, which became the world’s largest employer by the mid-1950’s, was started in 1908. U.S. Steel, which was the first $1 billion corporation in the world, was started in 1901. Early in the company’s history, it was not only the world’s largest steel producer - it was the largest corporation in the entire world.

Like agricultural, manufacturing’s share of the GDP has also declined, and it reached a low of 12% of the GDP in 2005, down significantly from its peak of 28.3% in 1953. As of today, the service industry accounts for over 80% of the U.S. economy.Included in the "service industry" category is a thing called broadband.Listed below is a direct quote from a page on the website for an organization called NextGenWeb:

who's wired now?

"Broadband is the essential foundation of our nation’s modern information economy. Assuming a constructive policy environment, broadband will be a primary driver of U.S. economic recovery, job creation and competitiveness over the next decade and beyond. The broadband/IT sectors created nearly half of all new American jobs in 2008. And, the converging broadband sectors of telecom, media and IT lead U.S. GDP growth, adding nearly $900 billion annually and expanding at a rate that is two to five times faster than the overall U.S. economy. IT-related sectors will remain the fastest-growing areas of our economy over the next 10 years".

If you’re concerned about the loss of America’s manufacturing might, you SHOULD consider a few examples of why de-industrialization may actually be a very good thing:

1 - In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio caught fire, in large part due to the industrial sludge that been dumped into it over the years. The 1969 fire was the 13th time that the river had caught fire since the first fire in 1868. Although the fire didn’t cause as much damage as the 1952 fire, which caused 1.5 million dollars of damage, it was the most significant fire, because it made the cover of Time Magazine, and was the main catalyst of the Clean Water Act of 1972.

2- Between 1942 and 1953, Hooker Chemical ( now known as Occidental Chemical) dumped 22,000 tons of chemical waste into the Love Canal in New York State. After shutting down operations in 1953, Hooker Chemical sold the land to the Niagara Falls School District for $1. In 1955, the 99th Street Elementary School was opened to students, and subsequent development would see hundreds of families taking up residence in the area. Unusually heavy rains in 1975 and 1976 brought to light the fact that ground in the area was highly contaminated. By 1978, the school had been closed down, and most of the residents in the area had been evacuated.

3 - In 1972, Outboard Marine Corporation started manufacturing operations in Waukegan, Illinois. By 1975, PCB’s were discovered in Waukegan Harbor, and not long after that, Waukegan Harbor became known as a Superfund site. Although OMC has contributed $25,000,000 to the remediation effort, it’s still not safe to eat the fish in the harbor more than 30 years later.

4 - Although you can still get your kicks on Route 66, you need to be aware of the fact that Route 66 State Park in Missouri is the former site of a town called Times Beach. The town was founded in 1925 as a summer resort. In the 1970’s, the town contracted with a waste hauler to spray waste oil on the dirt roads in town to keep down the dust. When it was later discovered that the waste oil contained dioxins, things got to be a little sticky. The EPA first visited the town in 1982. Within a year, the EPA announced the town’s buyout for $32,000,000. By 1985, all but two of the town’s 2000 residents had been evacuated to safer ground.

5- In 1908, Standard Oil opened a refinery in Wood River, Illinois, a town that is located about 15 miles north east of St. Louis. In the 1920’s, Wood River was one of the fastest growing communities in the country, and 90% of the workers in town were employed by Standard Oil. After Standard Oil closed down its operations in 1981, strange things started to happen in town.

The residue from the refineries had gone into the groundwater, which caused oil and gas to seep into the basements of houses that had been built in the town. On occasion, the “junk” from the refining process caught fire when pilot lights on water heaters clicked to the “on” setting - and things got to be interesting.

6- In 1935, Dupont adopted the advertising phrase “Better Things for Better Living .. Through Chemistry”. Some 20 years later, a young woman named Rachel Carson started to notice that chemicals weren’t always a good thing. Her book, Silent Spring, was arguably the catalyst for the environmental movement.

7- In 2003, our country invaded Iraq because our intelligence forces told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Although we weren’t able to find any once we got there, some of our stateside researchers dug a little deeper, and found the EXACT LOCATION of all of the sites that had weapons of mass destruction. The map below shows you where they are. As you might suspect, they’ve all left a nasty environmental legacy:



Manufacturing will always be a part of the American economy, but it will be dramatically different from “what used to be”. Buick Motor Company sold 450,000 cars in China in 2009, far more than the 102,000 cars that the company sold in the United States. Although 100,000 cars may still sound like a lot, it‘s far fewer than the 737,879 cars that Buick sold in America in 1955. Since it’s always smart to give your target audience what they want, the new Buick Lacrosse was actually designed in Shanghai, not in Detroit.

If you’re a big believer in “buying American”, you’ll be happy to know that the second generation Lacrosse will be made in Kansas, unlike the first generation LaCrosse, which was made in Ontario. Both generations were also made in China, and the second generation is also going to be produced in Russia

Buick also recently introduced the latest version of the Buick Regal. It’s an amazing vehicle, but it will be produced in Germany, until production shifts to North America - specifically Ontario.

The best defense against any crisis is always positive action.

The solution to today’s problems is still the same as it was at the time of the Century of Progress Exposition that was held in Chicago in 1933 and 1934.

The Century of Progress Exposition was conceived in an atmosphere of economic, political, and social crisis, shaped by the economic recession that followed America's victory in World War I, the ensuing Red Scare, Chicago's 1919 Race Riots, and Chicago's notorious gangster violence. These threats to social order led Chicago's political and cultural authorities to organize the 1921 Pageant of Progress along the Municipal Pier (Navy Pier). The festival's success in attracting over a million visitors during its two-week run inspired a diverse group of Chicago's business and civic authorities to propose another world's fair that would build confidence in the fundamental soundness of the American economy and political system. A decade later, the fair they initiated assumed national importance during the Great Depression, the nation's worst crisis since the Civil War.

In the last two years, we’ve all witnessed massive government programs that were created to once again build confidence in the American economic system, and nothing establishes the link to the past more strongly than the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge that was recently completed downstream from the Hoover Dam, the most massive of the government projects of the Depression era.

I’ve never been a believer in the doomsday message that our country is going to hell in a hand basket, so I really don’t care that the Ford Plant in St. Paul will stop producing stopped producing pickup trucks in 2011. Virtually all of the proposals for the redevelopment for the site involve cutting edge environmentally-sound products ranging from massive windmills to electric cars and trains, and all of them will lessen our dependence on foreign oil, something that the continued production of Ford pickups does not do.

Although the conversion of the old Ford plant is a step in the right direction, it pales in comparison to what General Motors is doing with some of its old plans. GM recently agreed to contribute $773 million to clean up 89 locations in 14 states so that they can be used for new purposes.

what is a brownfield?

I’m also not concerned that a lot of manufacturing jobs have moved to China. I lived in southern China for a year, and can personally attest to the fact that the air quality there today is a lot like it was in Pittsburgh in the early 1950’s. To my knowledge, none of the rivers in China have caught fire lately, but you wouldn’t want to swim in them either. China has 1.3 billion people, but only 10% of the sewage that goes into the river is treated.

De-industrialization?

That’s something that we can all cheer for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

50 cents and a bag of oranges

On November 7, the church that I belong to will be hosting an ofrenda event. If you’re not familiar with that term, an ofrenda is a tradition of Mexico where the souls of those who have departed from this earth can be honored. On that day, people of the congregation will bring mementos of a person they wish to honor, and place them on the display table. After the service, there will be an opportunity for some of the members of the congregation to offer a brief oral remembrance of those being honored.

This year, in addition to the usual pictures, medals, and scrapbooks, there will be a rather unusual addition to the traditional offerings: a bag of oranges and two quarters.



The oranges and the quarters will be there in honor of my late father-in-law, Dick Lennartson, in remembrance of a Christmas that he endured many years ago.

When Dick was 12 years old, he contracted rheumatic fever. By that point in his life, his mother had divorced his father, and had remarried. Since she now had a new baby daughter to care for, she did not feel that she was able to provide for her son Dick, so she sent him off to a foster family on the other side of town.

During one of the Christmases that he was at the foster family, probably in 1938 or 1939, Dick took a street car across town to spend time with his mother and brothers, Gordy and Ray. Times were tough for Dick’s mother, and she really couldn’t afford to spend money on anything that wasn’t essential for survival. At a time when a lot of kids were getting Lincoln Logs or new puppies for Christmas, Dick got a bag of oranges, and 50 cents.

He also had to take the street car back “home” to the foster family.

As he would freely admit, he had an unhappy childhood, but he still turned out to be a good, decent man.

When he was 16, he lied about his age, and joined the Navy in order to fight in WWII. For many years after he got out, he vowed that he would cross to the other side of the street if he saw his mother coming towards him. However, as they got older, they both mellowed, and they had a cordial relationship when she passed away at the age of 90.

Like a lot of members of the group of people that Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation”, Dick was pretty quiet about the things that he suffered through, and he never really developed the ability to have long, heartfelt discussions with his three daughters.

All that he knew how to do was to work hard, and to try to teach by example, and he did the best that he could to do just that.

Fortunately for Dick, he met the right woman when he got out of the service, and their marriage on October 2, 1948 ultimately produced three daughters, one of whom I married nearly 40 years ago.

From time to time, all of us struggle with our everyday problems. However, if you ever feel overwhelmed by your problems, think for amount about Dick Lennartson, and the things that he endured, and you’ll feel very fortunate.