And Martin Wept

This is where Heroes comes to play. Every Friday but for this one.

I tried to put a compilation together, I really did. And its not like there aren’t plenty of heroes to be had. Because there are always the good places in this world, and the good people who make them so. It’s what makes heroism such a special thing, the fact that it never asks for attention. And so Heroes is one of the many places in the online world where they are brought to light, so that we may see the best in all of us.

Only this week, I ain’t feeling it. That whole best in all of us business is what I’m talking about. I realize I could have mustered a favorite five from the online hive and culled honey out of the hopelessness that seems stuck to this latest bad news week in a year that’s given us far too many of them already. But it seemed absurd to run an exclamatory banner heralding heroes. And the idea of planting a superhero’s image in my prelude ran counter to the images we’ve all seen. And figuring out a song with which to cap things off? No. None of it felt right, not after a couple weeks worth of reminders that race is still a chasm and discord its relentless weed.

So this post is just me, catching my breath and trying to shake this feeling that things will never change. Even if I have been feeling that way ever since a cop pinned George Floyd to the ground for the last nine minutes of his life. And then everything that has come of it, happened. Again. And now it feels like that speech that Martin Luther King gave on the National Mall almost fifty seven years ago was some ancient psalm. As if the world has forgotten its most erstwhile minister.

And I’m so angry and sad and confused, because Mr King deserved so much more than this. Because we are the progeny he was talking about in that iconic speech of his, where black and white constructed a much more profitable conclusion that involved not some of us, but all of us.

The Us hasn’t happened. And neither could this Heroes post, because there’s a time to celebrate and then there are times such as these. When I call upon a holy spirit and I provide him with the humblest remark I can summon for a world that still hasn’t figured this whole thing out.

I’m sorry.

Heroes of the Week – With Guest Host Dale

What makes a hero? - BBC News

Hello, hello!  So nice to be here!  No, no, don’t be checking your calendars. It’s not Wednesday.  It is Friday and Marc was feeling a tad rushed and short on time and mentioned to me that Heroes was going to post late. “Do you want more help?” I asked, sending him another story.  “Or, you could do it,” he volleyed.  “Do you want me to?” I asked.  Stupid question.  Here I am.

This Heroes thing has become rather important to all of us. A bright moment, sharing the good news, amidst all the hate and anger; never more important than now as people are getting more and more aggravated and impatient with the situation. So, shall I stop dilly-dallying and get on with it?

Here in Canada, Tim Horton’s is the top dog when it comes to coffee and doughnuts (donuts, for you folks south of the border from me).  Call it the sort of equivalent to Dunkin’ Donuts, if you will.  While Timmies is a Canadian thing, they can be found in some of the States, including Mr. Sorryless’ very own Pennsylvania so I felt this was a right appropriate story.

Residents in nursing homes are particularly cut off from society with this current situation.  Of course, they are missing their families but they were also missing their sweet treats.  So the staff from the Dr. John M. Gillis Memorial Lodge in Belfast, P.E.I., brought the experience to them, right down to the drive-thru. Check out this video here.

Ryan Reynolds is buying 385 pizzas for Kits grads from Nat's Pizzeria

Ryan Reynolds is not just a pretty Canadian (sorry folks) face. He is funny and generous.  Not only did he and his gorgeous wife, Blake Lively, donate one million dollars to food banks in Canada and the US to help low-income families and vulnerable individuals, suffering during this pandemic, he was also asked to give a commencement speech for this year’s grads from Kitsilano Secondary School, in British Columbia, where he, himself, graduated from.  You can read about it here. Not only was he funny, but he also gave some good advice, and while he was at it, he threw in a pizza for each and every grad.

 

We all know how Marc feels about the Dolphins… And not only are they gonna be a force on the field, eventually, we know it, right, Marc? but some of their players are doing overtime. It’s not only about football for some. It’s about helping because they can.

Albert Wilson, Adrian Colbert, Allen Hurns and Davon Godchaux have all taken it upon themselves to give in their own way.

Colbert, the “Pelaton Don” a safety who played at the University of Miami, is pedaling his way to raise funds for the Jackson Health System through his love of the Peloton.

Godchaux has teamed up with Papa John’s to deliver pizzas to the hospital healthcare workers at Jackson Health.

Wilson knows what life is like in the foster care system, having grown up in said system. The pandemic put a halt to all extra help these kids and caretakers need so his foundation has stepped in.

Hurns, through his 88 Blessings Foundation, is helping the high school students robbed of normal graduation ceremonies because of the coronavirus. They supply celebratory care packages on top of hope, love, motivation and encouragement. He even plans to mentor them as they move forward.

Read the full story, here.

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Nathan Fillion (shoot, another Canadian?) might be known for the shows “Castle” and “The Rookie” but I loved him in the mismanaged-by-Fox-so-cut-short-needlessly fabulous show “Firefly”… but I digress.

Can you imagine? You get to Costco, your card refuses to work, you get all frustrated and the attendant comes by, inserts his own card and pays for your gas. What?  You offer to come back and pay him back and he says no, please, just pay it forward.  Well I’ll be….

So what happens when you are the mother of a celebrity?  Yep, you guessed it, that was Nathan Fillion’s mom that Les Thompson helped and when Nathan found out, he Instagrammed his thank you and said:  “You restore my faith in humanity, sir. My dad and I are sending three iPads and headphones to a nearby senior care facility so that folks there can visit with their families. Right now, we could all stand to be a little less afraid, and a little more Les.” Read the full story and check out the video (that refuses to embed) here,

And finally, when you think of Pirate Radio, what comes to mind? The movie with Philip Seymour Hoffman about wild and illegal radio station on the high seas bringing that “filthy rock and roll” to millions? Welll…. not in this case. Radio Recliner is a pirate radio station run and hosted exclusively by elderly DJs from assisted living communities across the United States. This was supposed to be for one hour per day for thirty days. They became so popular they are up to 18 DJs and even play music on a loop when there is no programming. This is a generation that was raised on radio, how wonderful that they now have this to keep them connected and less lonely during these crazy days.  Full story is right here.

 

The things people do to help others are not always grandiose and extravagant and that’s okay.  They are doing something, anything, within their own power to alleviate the suffering, bring the joy, light a light.  If everyone did that one little thing and passed it on, asking that it be paid forward, what a wonderful world this would be. Grumbling about our current situation, experienced all over the world, is not productive. Let’s show a little patience, a little love, a little kindness. Let’s be better and do something. Anything.

 

Bless The Echoes Of Those Boys

Eisenhower National Historic Site

The following is a story I penned for some local newspapers back in the fall of 2009. It’s the story of Harry Adams, an Army Veteran who served in World War 2. Harry passed in 2016, but his life, and the difference he made, will never be forgotten by this humble writer.

Thank you, Harry.

It has been more than sixty four years since the ultimate sacrifice of the Allied forces helped to forge a nation’s new mandate while ridding the world of a ruthless tyrant. Harry Adams doesn’t have much use for rhetorical definitions though, being that he lived the most expansive war in the history of the world from the front lines.

The eighty seven year old Adams owns a much more human perspective,
speaking the moments of that time with his eyes and bringing it into clear focus as we sit at his dining room table. The Lititz High School graduate had worked his way into a plum job at Armstrong while at the same time preparing for a possible call to duty. “I started out working in a shoe factory, a summer job . . . I made twenty five cents an hour. And then I doubled that when I went to work at the chocolate factory. So when I got a job with Armstrong making sixty nine cents an hour? I had it made!”

This good life was interrupted when Adams was called into the war by President Roosevelt. There were no draft numbers to pull for a twenty year old, according to Adams. “We just reported for duty when we were told.” So he did. He began his training as an army medic in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He then moved across Texas before finally being stationed at Fort Hood. It has been seven decades worth of calendar since he shipped out across the Atlantic via French ocean liner with ten thousand troops strong and landed in Glasgow.

His recall is lockstep in nature. “We were told not to worry, that the ship would be able to outrun u-boats,” He laughs. “We were under General Hodges’ command when we got to Europe, and it wasn’t until we arrived in England that we found out we were going to be fighting under General Patton. “I remember him coming out to speak to us when we arrived (in England). He told us we were going to keep the German army on the run. He said they couldn’t shoot if they had their backs to us . . . and he was right about that.”

As a medic in Patton’s Third Army, Adams quickly learned the relentless pace of the legendary commander as they devoured targets before their bombers could even arrive to provide cover. They moved at a breakneck pace that would earn Adams a Silver Star for having marched and fought through five campaigns- From Normandy through the Rhineland and up through the mountains of Ardennes into Central Europe. The march into the Bulge was hard and unforgiving. The troops lived on K Rations which Adams refers to as “Cracker Jack Boxes” which consisted of canned meats, cheeses, hard biscuits and cigarettes. They couldn’t build fires since this carried the risk of giving away their position to the Germans so they borrowed invention through necessity by heating their food on the manifolds of their Jeeps. Showers were an infrequent luxury, as was a good night’s sleep.

Winter was a grim odyssey of hard snows and excruciating cold snaps where frostbite and hypothermia accompanied the troops across the rugged, unforgiving terrain. Adams says the survival skills they adopted helped to borrow a modicum of comfort. “You couldn’t get warm, it was impossible. We had our uniforms and a blanket and that was all we had. So we made something out of anything we found. We became good at scavenging. And let me tell you, those silk parachutes . . . they were warm.”

There were close calls, such as the time his Captain tabbed him for a reconnaissance mission of a nearby village. The thought was to bring along a medic in the event the small group of men found any wounded soldiers. He decided against the need for Adams before walking into a nest of gunners. Adams met them later on at a hospital. The driver had been taken out. The Captain was shot in the back and the Colonel had lost his forearm in the firefight. “Another time we were moving through a town that hadn’t been liberated. We had no idea until a Colonel told us we had to get out of there, fast.”

And then there were the sober testaments to the mission they had each undertaken. He will never forget coming upon a camp with no idea as to what awaited him on the other side. He presents me with the pictures he brought back; grainy black and white photos out of hell. They are pictures from the Dachau concentration camp. One picture shows a couple of skeletal survivors standing next to a wooden cart piled high with the dead. There is one picture I can’t figure out. It appears to be a huge mound of sawdust, several feet high. I learn they are cremated remains. “I know there are people who say the Holocaust never happened, I say look at these pictures and then tell me it never happened.”

There is one other picture I have to ask him about. It is of the twenty two year old Adams being flanked by Generals Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He tells me it was taken at the tail end of the war when his company was marching through Luxembourg. “I remember telling one of the fellas I was going to get my picture taken with them and he didn’t think I had the nerve to ask.” Adams says. “As it turned out, Patton was in a good mood. He told Eisenhower to ‘let the kid stand in the middle’. Later on when I was in Germany I sent that picture to General Eisenhower’s headquarters, requesting his signature and I received a letter from his secretary.” It is a typewritten response from Lt. Kay Summersby dated September 20, 1945 and it includes the autographed photos from the future President of the United States. Adams would later procure Patton’s signature for his photograph after meeting his niece, who worked for the Red Cross.

His voice still cracks at the thought of those bombers overhead. He can still smell the death of those prison camps. His eyes still tear when he recalls the long days and endless nights. His selfless dedication across thirty eight months in Europe leaves its impression on each and every American who puts him or herself in harms way. But Harry Adams doesn’t consider himself special. “I’m no hero . . .” He says simply. There is a proper reply to this statement, and it would lean to the contrary. Because he is most certainly just that; a hero. They all are. Not in the past tense, but in the strongest sense of our best hopes. The better understanding of our national identity comes from the link these voices of a greater generation have gifted us with. But I figure that a retort would sound contrived, and there is no time for clichés as we sit in his dining room surrounded by the memories of the men he stood with and the time he stood within. Adams repeats his belief as the sun sets on a late fall afternoon, and as with everything else, he does so firmly and with little hesitation.

I owe him the silence of this moment. I owe him a lot more than that, actually.

We all do.

Heroes: A Frank Reprise

Embed from Getty Images

Yanno. I learned something. I must be careful sending Marc suggestions for Friday Heroes because he just may ask me to write about it. He’s one sneaky fella – but hey – because he doesn’t know what’s in his future, what the hell – so be it – here’s another edition of Friday Heroes.

First of all, you’ve got to sit back and watch this one (about a minute) because you will be smiling. Plus, it is proof that people in the UK also have too much time available.

Believe it or not, I found a story about a politician who doesn’t lie or intentionally misleading anyone. Click here to get the full story.

Imma keeping this post to a few stories because the video versions of the stories are a little longer – but they are worth your time.

This weekend is a 3-day holiday weekend in the USA – Memorial Day – the holiday commemorating soldiers who died while serving. I know other countries do something similar. For those needing a salute to fallen military fallen heroes, click here for a rousing rendition of one of my favorite military salutes.

Stephen Wall is an opera singer in Seattle. For those who solely get their news from Presidential Briefings – BREAKING NEWS – this virus thing affects opera because the people involved in the productions plus the audience is more than 10. For not being a plumber, the man has some serious pipes – and he puts them to good use for humanity during these crazy times. This report is worth 7 minutes of your time. Here’s a written story about Mr. Wall.

My peeps know I have a soft spot for genuine goodness – and this story was my top pick of the week. During the housing bubble recession 10+ years ago, 60 Minutes did a story about a man and his two kids that live in a van. I’m not a regular watcher of that show, but I saw and remembered the original story. Dad died and the 2 kids bounced around foster families – but damn – these two kids are making it. She graduated from college and on the Dean’s List – and she’s giving back! Autumn Hope Johnson – you are my Hero of the week. A special shout out to the President of Stetson University who got the ball rolling.

PS: Viewers: Don’t let the speedway beginning confuse you – but it is a cool extra. For those who want to read the story about Autumn, click here.

BREAKING NEWS: Yes kids. . . it’s me, Sundance (Marco). Interrupting this Frank approach to Heroes Friday in order to tuck in a couple stories that were gifted me by fellow bloggers.

First up is Renaissance Man Mark Paxson‘s soulful get. It involves the band Colt Clark and the Quarantines– comprised of a father and his three kids. Every morning, they go into their domestic “recording studio” and record a different song, which they later post to a social media site. As Mark noted in his email, “They aren’t saving the world, they’re just offering up wonderful, clean fun for people to enjoy during these strange, strange times,”

Thing is, when you teach your kids to face the worst of times with a constructive, positive approach, it changes the world. For the better.

And then there’s the lovely Dale who chimed in with a beauty of her own.

When a priest makes it into a meme, the results are usually regrettable . . . until now. Father Tim Pelc of Detroit Michigan figured out an ingenious way to bring Holy Week service to his flock. Pelc took a page from our drive-thru world when he decided to bless his parishioners as they drove up in their cars by using . . . a water gun. The images have become a global sensation, with hits coming from every corner of the world, including the Vatican. The Good Father says he’s happy to bring some much-needed fun to these trying times, and if he can get the job done in the process? All the better.

The man upstairs would be proud.

And now? Back to Butch Cassidy . . .

Thank you, Sundance. It’s been a pleasure working in your sarcasm-free space.

The pandemic has not only increased awareness of the goodness around us, but it has also increased opportunities for goodness. I end this post by saluting the countless many who have done the little things – like making masks to give away to those wanting one – checking on neighbors to see if they are OK or need something – contacting someone out of the blue to say hi and to check if all is well – going to the grocery for someone who isn’t as mobile – and the list can go on. A tip of the cap to those performing the little things that go a long way. May their light continue to shine and spread to others while delivering a sense of hope.

Keep smiling, have a good week, and thanks for reading. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.