Leadership in Troubled Times

cowpie21 commons.wikimedia org
Photo Credit: cowpie21 via commons.wkimedia.org

The Civil War was a bloody and vicious war. At least 618,000 Americans died and some say the toll reached 700,000. Casualties exceeded all of America’s other wars from the Revolution through Vietnam.

In the winter of 1862, General Robert E. Lee’s forces had claimed several key battlefields in the Eastern Campaign. One of those key battles was as one-sided as a battle could be. It was the Battle of Fredericksburg. On December 13, 1862, Union forces began what was termed a desperate and eventual doomed assault on a heavily fortified position known as “the stone wall at sunken road.”

After crossing a river, the Union confidently took the town of Fredericksburg with little resistance. The Confederate army had voluntarily given up the town so that they might fortify themselves along a stone wall at the base of a sloping hill. As the Union army began to approach the wall, they were attacked and by the morning of December 14th over 8,000 Union soldiers had been shot in front of the stone wall. Many of those remaining on the battlefield were still alive, but suffering from their wounds, the cold, and thirst.

During the night, both sides were forced to listen to the cries and moans of those soldiers for hours. A Confederate soldier stationed near the wall later stated that it was “weird, unearthly, and terrible to hear and bear the cries of the dying soldiers filling the air – lying crippled on a hillside so many miles from home – breaking the hearts of soldiers on both sides of the battlefield.”

Richard Rowland Kirkland, an infantry sergeant for the Confederacy could not rest or sleep due to the suffering of the Union soldiers and that morning he asked his commanding officer if he could scale the wall and, the shooting stopped. provide water for the suffering Union troops. The commanding officer was reluctant at first because of the danger to Richard but later allowed to do so. As Richard climbed the wall, several shots were instantly fired thinking that Kirkland’s motives were to wound more, but after realizing what was happening, the shooting ceased. Richard Rowland Kirkland made his way to each soldier comforting them the best he could by laying his jacket over one and providing water to the thirsty lips for all. For the next hour and a half, he would scale the wall several times with his canteen to get more water for his enemy.

It was a moment that temporarily stopped the Civil War.

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You see, Mr. Kirkland showed an incredible sense of courage and leadership to his men and the enemy in an extremely adverse situation. He most likely was very scared and fearful knowing that his decision to help others might have been his last…but he made a commitment and stuck to it to its conclusion.

How much more should people, as leaders, step up, stay focused on the task at hand and work together with others, to achieve their goals! There is a huge difference between a Boss and a Leader…a Boss has people work for THEM to get a job completed, while a Leader works together with people, to accomplish a task. I doubt very much that anyone will experience a situation as extreme as Mr. Kirkland, but will have the opportunity each day to demonstrate their leadership skills to those around them.

The Amazing Luck of the Irish

JD Hancock
Photo Credit: JD Hancock via CC Flickr

I love to find and read all kinds of stories. I like tales that warm the heart, stir the soul, fire up the imagination, explore history, and discover lessons that I can apply throughout my lifetime. Well, today’s true story is one that is a fascinating account of…what some people refer as…the “Luck of the Irish.”

I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

In the Young Irish disorders, in Ireland in 1848, the following nine men were captured, tried and convicted of treason against their majesty, the Queeen, and were sentenced to death: John Mitchell, Morris Lyene, Pat Donahue, Thomas McGee, Charles Duffy, Thomas Meagher, Richard O’Gorman, Terrance McManus, and Michael Ireland.

Before passing sentence the judge asked if there was anything anyone wished to say. Meager, speaking for everyone in the group said, “My lord, this is the first offense, but not our last. If you will be easy on us this once, we promise, on our word as gentlemen, to try to do better next time. And next time, we sure won’t be fools enough to get caught.”

Thereupon the indignant judge sentenced them all to be hanged by the neck until dead and then drawn and quartered. Passionate protest from all over the world forced Queen Victoria to commute the sentence to transportation for life…to the far…wild Australia.

In 1874, word reached the astounded Queen Victoria that the Sir Charles Duffy who had been elected Prime Minister of Australia was the same Charles Duffy who has been transported 25 years ago. On the Queen’s demand, the records of the rest of the transported men were revealed and this is what was uncovered….

Thomas Francis Meagher – Governor of Montana

Terrance McManus – Brigadier General, United States Army

Patrick Donahue – Brigadier General, United States Army

Richard O’Gorman – Governor General of New Foundland

Morris Lyene – Attorney General of Australia

Michael Ireland – Succeeded Morris Lyene as Attorney General

Thomas D’Arcy McGee – Member of Parliament Montreal, Minister of Agriculture and President of Council Dominion of Canada

John Mitchell – Prominent New York politician. He was the father of John Purray Mitchell, Mayor of New York at the outbreak of World War 1

  • Author Unknown

 

Simply Amazing!!

The Wonderful World of Albert Einstein

DonkeyHotey
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey

Albert Einstein, the legendary German physicist is a person that has always fascinated me. This genius who developed the theory of relativity and E=MC2, loved his music, had a remarkable sense of humor, and, surprisingly, valued money very little.

So, I have decided to share with you, a few interesting short stories about him that I think that you will find not only fascinating but also entertaining. They will also give you a little insight and appreciation for one of the smartest men the world has ever known.

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Albert Einstein used to have a personal driver that drove him to each one of his lectures. During his speeches, his chauffer would sit at the back of the hall and listen to Einstein’s words of wisdom. After a period of time, the driver remarked to the famous researcher that he could probably give the lecture himself because he had heard it so many times.

At the next lecture stop, Einstein and the driver switched places…with Einstein sitting at the back of the room, dressed in the driver’s uniform. The driver gave the lecture flawlessly..

At the end of the lecture, a member of the audience asked a detailed scientific question about some kind of scientific matter. Without missing a beat, the “lecturer” replied, Well, the answer to that question is so simple, I’ll let my driver, sitting at the back there, answer it.”

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When Albert Einstein was in residence at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton during his later years, a guest asked him if Einstein would show him his laboratory.

The famous scientist and mathematician smiled, held up his fountain pen and pointed to his head!

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Money meant very little to the legend, Albert Einstein. When he first joined the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, he requested a salary so low, officials had to double it to preserve some semblance of institute standards.

He once used a $1,500 check from the Rockefeller Foundation as a bookmark…then lost the book! The foundation’s records were out of kilter for months. When they finally sent a duplicate check, Einstein wrote back, “What’s this for?”

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Einstein, who thought himself as an accomplished violinist, was rehearsing a Haydn composition with a string quartet.

When Einstein failed for the fourth time to get his entry in the second movement, the group’s cellist looked up and somewhat annoyed and said, “The problem with you, Albert, is that you can’t count.”

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Einstein was once asked by the press for an explanation of his theory of relativity which would be meaningful to the common, everyday lay person. The scientist then gave a statement to his secretary which read, “An hour sitting with a pretty girl on a park bench passes like a minute, but a minute sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour.”

The Acre of Diamonds

Zach Dischner
Photo Credit: Zach Dischner via CC Flickr

The following story was told by Dr. Russell H. Conwell to raise millions of dollars to help fund the formation of Temple University in Philadelphia. He used the story to fire the imagination of his listeners during more than 6,000 fund-raising lectures. The story gives us a tremendous illustration of a way that a person can find true happiness in their own “Acres of Happiness.”

Many, many years ago, a young American was traveling down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East and was accompanied by an old Arab guide that he had hired in Bagdad.

During the trip, the guide told him a story about an ancient Persian Ali Hafed. Hafed owned a very large farm, orchards, grain fields, gardens, and money coming in from loans that he made. He was a wealthy and contented man.

One day Hafed was visited by an ancient Buddhist priest who told him how the earth was created and, particularly, about the most valuable thing in the world – diamonds!

Said the priest, “A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight.” The priest told Hafed that, if he had one diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase the entire county, and if he had a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of his great wealth.”

This set Hafed’s mind ablaze with a lust for such great wealth. So he sold his farm, left his family in charge of a neighbor, and began a search for diamonds in places the priest had said might contain them. Hafed spent all of his money on his lifelong, unsuccessful search and died, far from home, a penniless, suffering, disappointed old man.

The man who purchased Hafed’s farm one day led his camel into the garden to drink and as the camel put its nose into the shallow water of the garden brook, Hafed’s successor noticed a curious flash of light emanating from a black stone in the stream. He pulled out the black stone and placed it on the mantel of his fireplace in his home, and forgot about it.

A few days later the same Buddhist priest who had taught Hafed about the diamonds came to meet the new owner and saw the black stone. “That is a diamond!” he shouted. When his host said that it was just a pebble he had picked up in the garden, the priest replied, “I tell you, I know a diamond when I see it. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that the stone is a diamond.”

It turns out that the farm became the famed diamond mine of Golconda, the richest diamond mine in all of history. The Kohinoor diamond and the crown jewels of England and Russia came from that mine.

The moral, of course,  is that, if Hafed had spent his time and energy exploring his own farm, he would have discovered riches beyond his wildest dreams. This story should teach us all, that if you wish you find greatness, and even wealth, you must first begin where you are…NOW! If you serve your community in a positive way, if you are an honest person, if you are a good provider for your family, whether you work in a shop, in a factory, or whatever your occupation may be, you can find happiness and recognition if you do it well. To find success in whatever endeavor that you choose, you must first look for your “acre of diamonds” right where you live.

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Source: “Wisdom Well Said”

The Wonderful Traditions of New Year’s

jay-haung
Photo Credit: Jay Haung via CC Flickr

The annual celebration of New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite times of the year. It is during this time that we reminisce about the past year and, at the same time, look ahead, plan, and make resolutions for the future. Millions and millions of people around the world take part in the festivities and revelry as they welcome in the New Year.

As with many of the holidays that we have throughout the year, I always find it very interesting and enjoyable to find some history and fun facts about each day. This holiday is no different. So, I decided to share some interesting facts with you about the celebration of New Year and some other intriguing things…so…here we go.

Interesting Things That Are Dropped New Year’s Eve

Most people from around the world, know that every year, New York City welcomes in the New Year in Times Square, by dropping a big “ball” which gradually descends from the top of a pole to the bottom, where it rests while all kinds of lights blink and shine as the new year begins. It all started in 1907 after there was a fireworks ban. In 1907, the iron and wood ball weighed 700-pounds and was covered with 25-watt bulbs made of iron. Today, it weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is adorned with 2,668 Waterford crystals. Meanwhile, close to a million people in the square, dance, party, hug and kiss, and have a good time at this joyous moment. Around the world, approximately 1 billion people watch world-wide festivities from their televisions or computers.

But are there other things that are dropped in celebration of New Year’s instead of a giant ball? You bet there is!!! Here are some remarkable objects that are “dropped.” So, without further ado, here are some things from around the United States that I think you will find entertaining.

In Brookville, Florida, a giant tangerine was dropped 40 feet in 2009.

In Traverse, Michigan, a cherry is dropped.

In Flagstaff, Arizona, a pine cone is dropped from a hotel.

In Prescott, Arizona, a boot is dropped

In South Lake, California, a gondola is lowered.

In Temecula, California, a bunch of grapes is dropped.

In Niagara Falls, Ontario, a 10 foot guitar is dropped from a specially designed 120-foot scaffold at the Hard Rock Café.

In Easton, Maryland, a red crab is dropped.

In Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a 100-pound stick of bologna is dropped.

In Easton, Pennsylvania, and giant M&M is dropped

In St. George’s, Bermuda, a paper-Mache Bermuda onion covered with Christmas lights is dropped.

In Black Creek, North Carolina, a large red heart drop is lowered.

In Eastover, North Carolina, a three-foot tall, thirty-pound flea is dropped.

In Elmore, Ohio, a sausage is dropped.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, a flying pig is “flown”, not dropped, demonstrating to everyone that there is at least one occasion “when pigs fly.”

In Red Lion, Pennsylvania. A wooden cigar held by a lion, is raised.

In Panama City, Florida, a 800-pound beach ball is lowered from a tower 12 stories high.

In Praire du Chien, Wisconsin, A carp (real but dead) caught by a local fisherman and weighing between 25-30 pounds is lowered.

In Vincennes, Indiana, a giant 18-foot, 500 pound steel and foam watermelon is raised 100 feet during the final 60 second countdown to midnight.

…..and there are many, many others!!!

 

Several Amazing Facts About the New Year Celebration

The Babylonians celebrated New Years over 4,000 years ago.

The New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne,” means, “times gone by.”

If you want to have a happy new year, don’t eat lobster or chicken. Lobsters can move backward and chickens can scratch in reverse, so it is thought these foods could bring a reversal of fortune.

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey are usually eaten to celebrate.

In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long.

In some countries, the use of fireworks are used for more than just celebrations…they are also believed to scare off evil spirits and bring good luck

44% of American adults plan to kiss someone at midnight.

61% of people say a prayer.

Over 1 million people line the 40 miles of shoreline of the city of Sydney, Australia.

In Japan, at the stroke of midnight, Buddhist monks strike the gongs 108 times in aneffort to drive out the 108 human weaknesses.

New Year’s Day is the oldest celebrated holiday.

Many people in America, eat Black Eyed Peas, cabbage, and ham on New Year’s Day for good luck.

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Well, I hope that you enjoyed these tidbits and facts. I would like to personally wish each and every one of you the healthiest and happiest New Year!!

And here’s to many, many more! J

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Sources:

Ducksters.com

Ibtimes.com

Qualitylogoproducts.com

CNN.com

History.com

Three Great Life Lessons From Alexander the Great

Jean Simon Berthelemy
Painting by Jean-Simon Berthelemy

I am a big fan of history. I love reading and listening to books and documentaries of all kinds of history that ha spanned over the centuries. It is fascinating to see how past world leaders, inventors, athletes, armies, scientists, politicians, wars, etc.

One of the people who has always fascinated me was Alexander the Great. He was a supreme commander who, believe it or not, was actually tutored under the great philosopher, Aristotle! He wasn’t a big man…he was actually a short and stocky man who had two different color eyes…one brown and one blue. He also founded over 20 cities that bore his name…the greatest being the famous city of Alexandria in Egypt. At the peak of his reign, he ruled over 2007731 square miles of the world!!

So, it is no surprise that when I read the following story about Alexander the Great on Speakbindas.com, it fascinated me and actually reminded me of me some really good concepts and lessons in life, that we all, should never forget! I encourage you to take the lessons that you will read and put them into your heart!!


There is very instructive incident involving the life of Alexander, the great Macedonian king. Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed. With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.

He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.

“My first desire is that,” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.

“The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips.

Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.

The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell People that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.”

Alexander’s last words:  “Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“.

With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.

18 Famous Quotes of Muhammad Ali

Ian Rensley
Photo Credit: Ian Rensley via CC Flickr

America and the world lost a great human being a few days ago at the passing of boxing legend, Muhammad Ali. Ali rose to prominence in the 1960’s and 1970’s when he not only became the world heavyweight boxing champion, but also became a advocate for peace and accepted people of all races, religions, and beliefs…despite proclaiming himself as a Muslim and giving himself over to the nation of Islam.

Ali was a unique sports figure. He not only was one of the top, well-known athletes of his time but he was also known around the world. Unlike many well-known athletes of today, he infused poetry, wisdom, and humor together to spread his message of peace and unity around the globe. His humorous quips are known around the globe.

So, in today’s blog, I decided to list some of Muhammad Ali’s famous quotes for you to ponder, think about, smile, and maybe, in some small way, apply to your everyday life!

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  1. To be a champion, you must believe that you are the best. If not, pretend you are.
  2. It is lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges.
  3. Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.
  4. It isn’t the mountain ahead of you that will wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
  5. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
  6. It is hard to be humble when you are as great as I am.
  7. Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
  8. Impossible is not a fact. It is an option.
  9. Inside a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It is staying down that’s wrong.
  10. The man who has no imagination has no wings.
  11. I am the greatest, I knew that before I knew I was.
  12. Don’t count the days; make them count.
  13. Not only do I knock them down, I pick the round.
  14. I should be a postage stamp, that’s the only way I ever get licked.
  15. Last week, I murdered a rock, I injured a stone, hospitalized a brick, I am so mean, I make medicine sick!
  16. A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
  17. I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
  18. Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.

Fun Facts About Memorial Day

Bruce Tuten
Photo Credit: Bruce Tuten via CC Flickr

Memorial day, here in America, is a solemn and somber day in America in which people from around the country can stop, remember, and thank the men and women who have fought and have given parts of their lives for our freedom.

It was once said that Freedom is a lot like oxygen: when you have it, nobody notices it…but go without it, and, wow, do you wish you had it!! It is SO true!

Even though I have celebrated Memorial Day every year since I was a kid, I was wondering the other day…what is the truth and facts behind this hallowed day? In today’s blog, I decided to find out and then, let you know by sharing my findings with you!

Enjoy!

  • Memorial Day originally started during the Civil War.
  • Approximately 750,000 Americans died in the Civil War which made it the deadliest war in American history (just for the record, there were more deaths in the Civil War than all of the other wars combined).
  • Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day and was meant to honor both the Union and Confederate men who lost their lives during the Civil War. By the 1900’s it became a day to celebrate and remember all of the soldiers who died in the military.
  • One of the earliest ceremonies honoring the fallen was organized by freed slaves!
  • Memorial Day actually didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971.
  • In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson named Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
  • According to custom, the American flag is to fly at half staff until noon, and then raise it to full staff until sunset.
  • In 1915, a Georgian school teacher named, Moina Michael, began a movement to make the Red Poppy the national symbol of tribute to veterans and for “keeping the faith with all who died.” The idea of wearing Red Poppies originated from a poem written in 1915, by John McCrae, “In Flanders Field.”
  • It is common for volunteers to place American flags on the graves in the national cemeteries.
  • It has been estimated that 30-35 million people travel by car over the Memorial Day Weekend.

 

 

The Mother Who Became A Hero

I have always found that the power of words and what people say to other individuals, a fascinating thing. We all know how much words can affect people…whether they be good or bad…we all need to watch and be careful what we say. Sometimes words that are spoken wrongly, can hurt or crush a soul, while transversely, words that are vocalized in a positive manner, can uplift and encourage a person…sometimes more than they could ever imagine.

Thomas Edison
Photo Credit: Unknown

Such is a story that I found on the web site, The Meta Picture.com It a story about a mother who changed her son’s life forever. The son later became a famous American inventor and enjoyed world-wide fame. This is a great lesson about the power of words.

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One day, when Thomas Edison was just a boy, he came home after school one day and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.”

His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child: “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers to teach and train him. Please teach him yourself.”

Several years later, after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, Thomas was looking through some old family things when he came across a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper it read: “Your son is addled (mentally ill). We won’t let him come to school anymore.

Edison cried and cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”

Finding Strength in Difficult Times: The Story of the Hero and the Coward

Arash Hashemi
Photo Credit: Arash Hashemi via Wikimedia Commons

We all experience difficult times throughout our lifetime. Some are more trying and problematic than others but through them all, we can learn from those experiences, either in a negative or a positive manner. Legendary NFL football coach, Bill Parcells, once told the following story (paraphrased a little) that illustrated the power of perseverance and determination of an athlete that experienced a grueling and challenging situation and emerged a winner because of it.

More than 30 years ago, there was a well-known, hard hitting boxer named Eugene “the Cyclone” Hart. Hart was heavily favored to win his next bout against a supposedly ungifted puncher, Vita Antuofermo. It was said that the only thing that Antuofermo could do was that “he bled well.” But, here’s the important thing, he had good attributes that you couldn’t see.”

During the fight, Hart dominated Antuofermo, knocking him all over the ring, giving him punishing blows and vicious punches. Antuofermo absorbed the punishment that was dealt to him by his naturally superior opponent, and he did it so well, that Hart became discouraged. In the fifth round, Hart began to tire, not physically but mentally. Taking advantage of the situation, Antuofermo attacked and delivered a series of quick punches that knocked Hart down and out, thus ending the fight.

“When the fighters went back to their makeshift locker rooms, only a thin curtain was between them. Hart’s room was quiet, but on the other side he could hear Antuofermo’s cornerman talking about who would take the fighter to the hospital. Finally he heard Antuofermo say, “every time he hit me with that left hook to the body, I was sure I was going to quit. After the second round, I thought if he hit me there again, I’d quit. I thought the same thing after the fourth round. Then he didn’t hit me no more.”

“At that moment, Hart began to weep. It was really soft at first. Then harder. He was crying because for the first time he understood that Antuofermo had felt the same way he had and worse. The only thing that separated the guy talking from the guy crying was what they had done. The coward and the hero had the same emotions. They’re both humans.”

The important question to ask yourself here is this: how did each man respond to the tough situation that they were experiencing? Maybe you are in an arduous position right now or, if not, one might be coming. How will you react? Like a hero or a coward?

Showing Mercy in the Midst of War

Tony Hisgett
Photo Credit: Tony Hisgett via CC Flickr

How many of us have ever known someone that we really didn’t like? They were someone that we considered our rival, our opponent, our enemy. If we were given the chance, we would “take care of them”, hurt or destroy them. But how many of us have ever been in a situation that we could actually take take out our hate and anger on our enemy…then decided to show mercy and take the honorable thing…take the high road and help them?

Today’s tale is a true story that took place during World War 2 in the skies over Europe. It is my hope that you can learn a simple lesson today…that having compassion and mercy for our enemies actually takes more boldness and courage than to take revenge.

Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called “Ye Old Pub” and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper and deeper into enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.

After flying the B-17 over an enemy airfield, a German pilot, Franz Steigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17.

When he got closer the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he “had never seen a plane in such a bad state”. The tail and rear section was severely damaged, the tail gunner was wounded and the top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose of the plane was smashed and there were holes everywhere.

Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at the English pilot, Charlie Brown, and saw that Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.

Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn around 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane back to the North Sea and to England. He then saluted Charlie Brown, turned away and headed back towards Europe.

When Franz landed he told his commanding officer that he had shot down the B-17 over the sea, and never told the truth to anyone.

Meanwhile, back in England, Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told everyone at their briefing what had happened, but were then ordered never to talk about it.

More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the German Luftwaffe pilot who had saved his crew. After years of research, Franz was finally found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions. The two pilots met in America at the 379th Bomber Group reunion…together with 25 people who are now alive…all because Franz showed mercy and compassion and never fired his guns that day.

When asked why he didn’t shoot them down, Stigler later said, “I didn’t have the heart to finish off those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were desperately trying to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting a man in a parachute.”

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“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.” ~ Dalai Lama

A Beautiful Story of  911: God Bless Our Military

Instapinch
Photo Credit: Instapinch via CC Flickr

AFTER FLIGHT 77 hit the Pentagon on 9/11, the following incident occurred:

A chaplain, who happened to be assigned to the Pentagon, told of an incident that never made the news. A daycare facility inside the Pentagon had many children, including infants who were in  heavy cribs. The daycare supervisor, looking at all the children they needed to evacuate, was in a panic over what they could do. There were many children, mostly toddlers, as well as the infants that would need to be taken out with the cribs.

There was no time to try to bundle them into carriers and strollers. Just then a young Marine came running into the center and asked what they needed. After hearing what the center director was trying to do, he ran back out into the hallway and disappeared. The director thought, “Well, here we are, on our own.”

About 2 minutes later, that Marine returned with 40 other Marines in tow. Each of them grabbed a crib with a child, and the rest started gathering up toddlers. The director and her staff then helped them take all the children out of the center and down toward the park near the Potomac River.

Once they got about 3/4 of a mile outside the building, the Marines stopped in the park, and then did a fabulous thing – they formed a circle with the cribs, which were quite sturdy and heavy, like the covered wagons in the Old West. Inside this circle of cribs, they put the toddlers, to keep them from wandering off. Outside this circle were the 40 Marines, forming a perimeter around the children and waiting for instructions. There they remained until the parents could be notified and come get their children.

The chaplain then said, “I don’t think any of us saw nor heard of this on any of the news stories of the day. It was an incredible story of our men there.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The thought of those Marines and what they did and how fast they reacted; could we expect any less from them? It was one of the most touching stories from the Pentagon.

It’s the Military, not the politicians that ensures our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the Military who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag. If you care to offer the smallest token of recognition and appreciation for the military, please pass this on and pray for our men and women, who have served and are currently serving our country, and pray for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

A Heartwarming Story of Friendship: The Jesse Owens Story

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I decided that for the next few blog posts, which I am going to share some great stories of friendships that I have found. When you read this (and other forthcoming stories), try to envision yourself in the environment and situation that these people were experiencing at the time. Hopefully, it will give you a “feel” of how they felt and why their story of friendship is so special.

The 1936 Olympics was held in Berlin, Germany. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party had risen to power three years earlier and were already to spread their evil beliefs of racism and hate.  Hitler believed that the “perfect” person was from an Aryan race…a blue-eyed, blond haired, the perfect physique without any blemishes or handicaps.

Hitler saw the Games as an opportunity to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy to the world. The official Nazi party newspaper wrote in the strongest terms that Jews and Black people should not be allowed to participate in the Games. However, when threatened with a boycott of the Games by other nations, Hitler relented and allowed Black people and Jews to participate.

After much deliberation and debate whether or not to boycott the Olympics, the United States and other nations decided to participate in the Games.

One of the American athletes was a Track and Field star named Jesse Owens and he was black. Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long jump at the 1936 games. The year before he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches — a record that would stand for 25 years.

As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis’ desire to prove “Aryan superiority,” especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long. “You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!” he said to Owens, referring to his two jumps. For the next few moments the black son of a sharecropper and the white model of Nazi manhood chatted. Then, Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens did and qualified easily. In the finals Owens set an Olympic record and earned the second of four gold medals.

The first person to congratulate him was Luz Long — in full view of Adolf Hitler. Hitler was furious and embarrassed. Owens never again saw Long, who was sent out to the front lines and was killed in World War II. “You could melt down all the medals and cups I have,” Owens later wrote, “and they wouldn’t be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long.”

~ David Wallechinsky in The Complete Book of the Olympics ~

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This is an amazing story of how a friendship trumped the hatred and racism of a nation and a crazy man’s ideology! How thankful are you of the friends that you have? Could your friendship(s) withstand the “storms” of life and the hard times that might come your way? How much can you go out of your way to be a friend to someone in unpleasant situations? REALLY good friends are hard to find…and if you have one…Be THANKFUL!

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“Prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them.”  ~ Unknown ~

The Importance of Self-Confidence

Robin Zebrowski
Photo Credit: Robin Zebrowski via CC Flickr

Self-confidence and a strong belief in oneself and the things that you can achieve is a strong trait that an individual can have. When a person has a good self-image, they find that they can not only accomplish their goals but they can achieve things far and above anything that they ever imagined. In other words, sometimes a person who possess a high level of self-confidence, can discover something within themselves that they might not have thought never existed.

Today’s story is a great illustration of this power of self-confidence.

One of the greatest violinists of all time was named Niccolo Paganini. He was born in 1782 and he enjoyed a well-known and memorable career before his death in 1840.

One day as Paganini was about to perform before a packed opera house, he suddenly discovered that he had walked out on stage with the wrong violin. What he was holding was not his valued instrument but one that belonged to someone else.  His cherished violin was made by the master violin maker, Guarneri.

Paganini was horrified and panic-stricken but knowing that he had no other choice, he began to play with all of the skill that he possessed. Everyone agreed, after the performance, that he had given a performance of a lifetime. When he finished his concert, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

After the concert, in his dressing room, he was praised and commended for his marvelous performance, Paganini replied, ” Today, I learned the most important lesson in my entire career. Before today, I thought the music was in my violin but today I learned that the music is in me.”

 

 

 

The Unfortunate Power of Negative Thinking

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Karl Wallenda takes a walk – 60 feet above the harbor -as the first attraction of the fourth Baltimore City Fair Sunpapers photo Lloyd Pearson published September 22, 1973

There has been an untold amount of research over the years that the power of positive thinking can have a fantastic effect on the way a person lives their life and how they feel about themselves. They have better self-esteem, self confidence, a healthier outlook with life, suffer less stress related illnesses, etc. Many successful individuals in all areas of life, become that way because of the approach that they have towards their life, the jobs they have, their faith, and other aspects of their life. For example, athletes use a method called “mental imagery” in which the athlete closes their eyes, visualize game situations that they would experience in real-life competitions, envision themselves reacting in certain ways, etc. Then, later on when they are actually playing in a actual game…they perform better because they have experienced the situations many times before.

Transversely, there is also the flip-side…the power of negative thinking. People fail many times because they either do not envision themselves at succeeding at a certain task or job, or they lack the confidence, motivation, or will-power to accomplish a specific goal.

Such is the case of the story of one the greatest tightrope walkers of all time, Karl Wallenda. He walked tightropes over great distances, high in the air, and he did so without a safety net.

As he grew older, Wallenda continued to do his death-defying walks. He performed the same breathtaking stunts up into his seventies that he had done as a young man in his twenties.

Then in 1978, he fell to his death while walking a tightrope between two buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

His wife was interviewed on television several weeks later and was questioned about Wallenda’s fall.

“It was very strange,” she said, “For months prior to his performance, he thought about nothing else. But for the first time, he didn’t see himself succeeding. He saw himself failing.”

Mrs. Wallenda went on to say that he even went so far to personally check the installation and construction of the wire itself. “This,” she said, “was something Karl had never done previously.”

There seems little doubt that Karl Wallenda’s negative mental imagery and fears contributed to his failure.

The lesson and encouragement is this: Believe in yourself and be confident knowing that you will succeed with the tasks, jobs, and projects that may come your way. Stay strong and persevere when things or situations get tough and be assured, that you will be rewarded with the satisfaction knowing that you just enjoyed the power of positive thinking!