siblings for lost brothers and sisters, and wives for lost spouses. Children have grieved for parents who are no longer among them, missing them as a piece of them has passed away too. There is a time of grief and a time to put grief aside.
The distinctiveness that forms the character of the identity of our country is realized in our spirit. As Americans, we were the ones who dared to defy an empire and challenge a continent and conquer space. That spirit still beats in the heart of every one of us. We dare to be a country that lives our dreams. I want my daughters to have an America that still loves its heroes, where character still matters and our leaders inspire and comfort us with the courage of their vision. There is nothing sadder than to look into the eyes of a child without dreams and see nothing but the empty stare of lost hope. That is not my America, is it yours?
There are two things I do not do often enough. One is saying thank you to those who have done so much for me: family, friends and those who read the opinions of a country boy who simply wants to leave the world a better place than he found. The other is to do more things for those who need our help. This year we should remember the voices and anguish of the less fortunate who are hungry or do not have a bed to sleep in. We should demonstrate compassion for those who are in need by reaching out to others. I will try to do better. I invite you to join me.
I am reminded of a toast I heard at a wedding, which a groom made to his bride: "Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you. We all need to walk together, and we need to walk with God." Each generation, by its actions must open the door for the next. It is imperative that we leave behind a legacy of hope and opportunity. We begin by examining our own family relationships and our friendships in greater depth. I think most of us have had some healing to do at one time or another. We carry scars visible and invisible. Do not let another day go by without doing your part to heal the hurt and erase the pain.
If you were able to witness the funeral of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks you heard these words by Reverend J. Edwin Bacon, All Saints Church, Pasadena, California who said: We remember that by her act of courage on a bus that afternoon 50 years ago, she injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization. We remember this night that she sat down in order that others might stand up We remember this night that she refused to cooperate any longer with unjust laws. We remember this night that she said, "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in."
Then he prayed: "Make us tired of giving in, Lord, to a life of timidity and insensitivity that does not live for liberty and justice for all. Make us tired of giving in, Lord, to leadership that does not ask us to sacrifice so that the human race can become the human family. For in living for others and in prayerful awareness of our dependence upon You and of our interdependence on one another will we truly be blessed."
Davey Gerhard, a member of Holy Innocents' in San Francisco, California added this: "Immortal God, all around us there is death. We are killing ourselves with addictions to escape the reality of the world about us. On our streets there is death of body, and death of spirit. We are killing and being killed by bombs and bullets. There are empty places at our tables, our families are torn apart. We pray for those who have died, and those who are wounded. Lord make us instruments of your Peace, Where there is darkness, let us sow light."
If we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition then in 2006 do not forget the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will and live it everyday. Do not be afraid to be someone who sows light in this year or the next or any of the other years to follow.
--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Tallahassee, Florida.
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