Holidays | Occasions
Holidays | Occasions
Honoring EMS Responders during National EMS Week
This week, our nation honors emergency medical service (EMS) professionals for their dedication to public service. As the HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, I know how important their role is in disasters. As a primary care physician, I know how important their work is every day. People rely on EMS in disasters and other public health emergencies, as well as for personal emergency care.
We know that our health care system must be ready at a moment’s notice to respond to threats to the public’s health. Time and time again, disaster after disaster, EMS responders across the country have risen to that challenge, whether the community is impacted by a hurricane, wildfire, flood, bombing, chemical plant explosion, or pandemic flu. In recent disasters, we have witnessed EMS responders providing triage on the scene in Boston after the bombing, helping evacuate nursing homes in New York state after Hurricane Sandy, and caring for injured or ill patients as they were transported to hospitals in Texas after a plant explosion. Dozens of EMS responders give their lives every year in the service to our communities and our nation. Those who remain continue to take pride in being the people we can depend on even in difficult and dangerous situations.
To become better prepared, the nation is moving increasingly toward building coalitions bringing together EMS providers, public health agencies, hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, health care providers, home health agencies, emergency management agencies, and local businesses. EMS is a critical partner in our health care system, so I encourage EMS professionals to take an active role in helping communities forge and strengthen these partnerships. Given the regular interaction EMS responders have with these organizations in the community, EMS is uniquely positioned to bring potential partners together to plan for and minimize the impact that disasters have on health.
Disaster response and recovery requires a whole community working together. It’s one mission, one team. EMS is a crucial part of that team, there when every minute counts.
Mother’s Day 2013
World: Mother’s Day
The United States commercial market for Mother’s Day has skyrocketed in recent years.
According to the Society of American Florists, 25% of all purchases of fresh flowers and plants are for Mother’s Day; and Hallmark says Mother’s Day is the third largest card selling holiday and second most popular gift-giving holiday after Christmas.
So it may surprise you to find that the first efforts to establish Mother’s Day in the US weren’t exactly successful.
After the Civil War and during the start of the Franco-Prussian War, social activist Julia Ward Howe wrote a Mother’s Day Proclamation calling for peace. She was inspired by a woman named Ann Jarvis who attempted to unite women and improve sanitation conditions through the Mothers’ Work Days. Howe’s Mother’s Day for Peace did not gain much of a following and her proposal to convert the July 4th festivities into a celebration of peace and mothers fell flat.
In 1908, after Jarvis’ death, her daughter Anna M. Jarvis campaigned for a Mother’s Day holiday. Her Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia held the first official Mother’s Day celebration and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson eventually declared the second Sunday of May the official national date for the holiday.
By the end of Anna Jarvis’ life, Mother’s Day was celebrated in more than 40 countries. The carnation was Ann Jarvis’ favorite flower and was present at her funeral. The tradition has arisen of wearing a carnation, colored if the mother is living, and white if not, to honor one’s mother on the holiday. It is also common to honor Grandmothers, wives, and other important mother figures in your life.
Here’s a look at Mother’s Day traditions around the world:
In Mexico, Mother’s Day has been celebrated on May 10 since the early 1900s. It is one of the biggest gift-giving holidays in Latin American countries. The celebration is also tied to the Virgin of Guadalupe who is considered a symbol of motherhood. There is a special mass for Dia de las Madres along with traditional breakfast or brunch for mothers and some sort of serenade in the morning as well in Mexico.
El Salvador and Guatemala also observe Mother’s Day on May 10.
In the United Kingdom Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. In the 1600s, children that were working away from home as servants visited their Mother Church on Mothering Day. They also saw their families and their mothers during this time. Eventually the holiday began to take on a secular celebration as well. A tradition of giving your mother a glazed cake was started. The cake comes from a folk tale about a married couple named Simon and Nell. When they couldn’t decide whether to boil or bake a cake, they did both and invented the Simnel cake.
In Spain and Portugal, where the holiday is more religious, people respect and remember the Virgin Mary on December 8. Children also honor their own mothers on this day.
In the former Republic of Yugoslavia, Mother’s Day was tied to a three day series of holidays. The Mother’s Day cycle in Yugoslavia began with Children’s Day or “Dechiyi Dan” three days before Christmas. The following Sunday was Mother’s Day or “Materitse”, and the Sunday after that was Father’s Day or “Ochichi.“ It was a three day event where in the parents and the children alternated in tying each other up. The children had to promise to be good in order to be released and the mother offered the children treats so that she could be freed.
Many countries celebrate Mother’s Day on March 08:
Afghanistan, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia, to name just a few. However, that date has other importance as well. International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, recognizes the economic, political, and social achievements of women.
The Socialist Party of American began celebrating a National Women’s Day in 1909. The following year the Socialist International met in Copenhagen and established a Women’s Day of an international nature in order to support the women’s rights movement. Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Russia are just a few of the countries that celebrate International Women’s Day rather than Mother’s Day.
France celebrates Mother’s Day the last Sunday in May. After WWI the holiday took shape around the desire to repopulate the country. Medals were awarded depending on the number of children a woman had. This springtime Sunday is referred to as La Fete des Meres, and it provides children and adults throughout France with the opportunity to make their mother the center of attention, and give her gifts and treats. Today a common gift is a cake shaped to resemble a bouquet of flowers, along with candies, flowers, cards and perfumes. In Sweden, the Swedish Red Cross sells little plastic flowers before Mother’s Day. They then use the money that they make from these flowers to help needy children and their mothers.
In Finland Mother’s Day is called aidipayiva. The family picks flower and presents a bouquet to the mother. A small white pungent flower called the valkovuokko is usually preferred.
Some Asian countries, such as Singapore and China, follow suit with the American Mother’s day tradition. In China most names begin with a character signifying mother which honors the maternal heritage. Other Asian countries have their own unique traditions. In Thailand, the celebration of the beloved queen Sirikit Kitayakara’s birthday on August 12 has become a Mother’s Day celebration.
Hong Kong’s holiday, called mu quin jie, usually honors the parents of the mother if she is deceased.
In Japan, the name for Mother’s Day is haha no hi. In the early 1900s the Japanese celebrated Mother’s day according to Western custom, but this was banned during World War II. After the war, the tradition became widespread again and there were drawing contests offered for children to illustrate their mothers. The exhibits celebrating mothers and peace toured throughout the country.
In Iran and Bahrain, Ruz-e Madar or Mothers’ day is observed on the first Day of Spring, March 21. This also happens in Lebanon and United Arab Emirates.
In Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Yaum ul-umm, is modeled after Western Mothers’ Day and is marked by celebrations and feasts.
In Ethiopia, Mother’s Day occurs in mid-fall when the rainy season ends. There is a three day feast called “Antrosht,“ which is part of the celebration.
South Africa celebrates Mother’s Day on the first Sunday in May.
The Egyptian goddess Isis was considered the mother of the gods. She was revered as a loving wife and mother and symbol of fertility and magic. She was revered and a cult even formed to worship her.
In ancient Greece, Rhea, “mother of the gods,“ was honored in the spring with honey-cakes, fine drinks, and flowers at dawn. Her Roman counterpart, Cybele, was celebrated with games and a procession through the streets.
The Celtic goddess Brigid, was celebrated during spring in connection to the first milk of the ewes and calves that flowed, symbolizing purity and nourishment.
For thousands of years, In India, the Hindu people celebrate for nine days in October during a festival called Durga Puja. This puja (or worship) celebrates Hindu goddess Durga, a warrior-like protector and mother. It is currently the largest Hindu festival in Bengal.
Caring for Our Mothers Just as They Care for Us
Throughout our lives – whether as children or adults – our mothers look out for us. They help us take our first steps, send us off for our first day of school, and watch over us as we grow up.
When we get a cold, twist an ankle, or have a more serious illness, they are the ones right by our side, taking our temperature, bringing us chicken soup to make sure we feel better, and calling to find out what the doctor said. And Mother’s Day is the perfect time to thank our mothers for all that they have done and continue to do for us every single day.
Just as our mothers care for us, they also deserve to be cared for. I fought for the health reform law so that we could get more affordable health care to more families. As part of that goal, this law also makes long strides to better protect women’s health and make it a priority.
Too often, when women go to the doctor regular exams aren’t covered and they have to pay out of pocket. These expenses add up and have a real impact on families working hard to get by. The health reform law fixes many of these problems by offering women free annual checkups. These visits include crucial preventive services to protect women’s health, such as free mammograms to test for breast cancer, cervical cancer screenings, screenings for high blood pressure and diabetes, prenatal services, and much more. The law allows women to go to an obstetrician/gynecologist without a referral, and they are free to choose their children’s pediatrician.
For too long, the majority of health plans charged women higher premiums than men for the same health benefits, increasing costs on families, individuals, and single mothers. But the health reform law is changing that and making premiums the same across the board.
Health insurance companies often discriminated against those with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. And many insurance companies specifically discriminated against women by treating pregnancy, Cesarean sections, and medical treatment for domestic violence and sexual assault as pre-existing conditions. Because of the health reform law, starting in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. We need to help women and mothers when they need it most, not turn them away.
And just over a week ago, I was incredibly proud to stand with our Governor as he announced that West Virginia will expand Medicaid eligibility – a key piece of the health reform law that is up to each state to approve. This means that 91,500 more West Virginians are expected to get affordable health care, and 67,000 women in West Virginia could be eligible for coverage. These are women and mothers of all ages who too often have to choose between seeing a doctor when they’re sick or putting food on the table for their families. The health reform law means they don’t have to make that awful choice – they can have both, as they deserve.
Mother’s Day reminds us how important our mothers are in our lives and it’s a moment thank and celebrate them, maybe with a handmade card or breakfast in bed. West Virginia’s own Anna Jarvis understood that when she created Mother’s Day to recognize her mother’s lifesaving work to treat Civil War soldiers.
On Mother’s Day this year, I give thanks for mothers across West Virginia making countless sacrifices every day for the families they love – and for the difference I know a strengthened health care system can make in their lives.
National Train Day 2013
On Saturday, May 11, 2013, the sixth annual National Train Day will inspire train enthusiasts from more than 200 communities across America to gather at their local train stations, to share their commitments to train travel and celebrate the ways train connect us all. Amtrak encourages current and future passengers to host their own events or attend a local one with one simple message: trains matter.
Huntington’s Train Day will be celebrated at the C & O Depot, 937 7th Avenue, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM and includes a special live performance by the 1937 Flood (the band).
National Train Day will showcase that in addition to simply move people and freight, trains are powerful catalysts for local and national economic growth. They are also an instrumental part of the American story, connecting towns and cities,employing thousands, and supporting local businesses and communities nationwide. In 2012, Amtrak welcomed 31.2 million riders, employed 20,000 people and produced $2 billion in sales.
In addition, the more than 500 stations around the country through which Amtrak serves generated millions in local economic impact. National Train Day celebrates this positive impact in communities across the country by inviting current and future passengers to tour equipment, enjoy family-friendly activities, and hear from local dignitaries.
National Crime Victims’ Right Week - April 21-27, 2013
For the past 30 years, one woman has stood up to domestic violence to help victims in southern West Virginia.
Last Friday, Sue Julian, a team coordinator for the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, was honored with the Geneva Foster Pioneer Award by the Victims Compensation Program and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.
She was presented the award by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin at a ceremony at the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse.
Julian started her career here in West Virginia in Williamson where she worked as the director at a battered women and children’s program. In 1989, she went to work for the state as an advocate for domestic abuse victims.
“I’ve been doing this work for 30 years because it really matters to me that our homes are safe for our children and family members,” Julian said.
Because domestic violence crosses all boundaries from age, race, sex and religion, chances are you may know a victim.
“Almost all of us know somebody who has been battered or beaten, violated, sexually assaulted or stalked,” explained Julian. “Because of that, it’s really important for all of us to be working together to create communities that are safe, homes that are nurturing and supportive and to grow a whole new generation of kids who refuse to use violence in their relationships.”
After three decades on the job, Julian plans to retire at the end of June. But that doesn’t mean she’ll be giving up the cause. She plans to work with the state Division of Corrections to help incarcerated women deal with domestic violence through yoga and meditation.
April 21-27, 2013 is National Crime Victims’ Right Week. Operation Reach Out is sponsoring a Walk/Run for Justice. It was originally set for Friday morning. It’s been moved to Monday, April 22.
Happy Easter 2013
Easter is the central religious feast in the Christian religion.
Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion.
People all over the world celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday, two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday.
Now officially Easter lasts for the fifty days until Pentecost. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.
The exact origins of this religious feast day’s name are unknown. Some sources claim the word Easter is derived from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility.
Other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term hebdomada alba, or white week, an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing donned by people who were baptized during that time.
Through a translation error, the term later appeared as esostarum in Old High German, which eventually became Easter in English.
In Spanish, Easter is known as Pascua; in French, Paques.
These words are derived from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover.
Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), the Jewish festival commemorating the ancient Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt.
Pascha eventually came to mean Easter.
Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance.
Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil.
The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins.
The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection.
The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
In addition to Easter’s religious significance, it also has a commercial side, as evidenced by the mounds of jelly beans and marshmallow chicks that appear in stores each spring.
As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions, including Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and candy, have become a standard part of this holy holiday.
Glenville: Dr. Westfall and Staff Easter Egg Hunt 2013 - 03.30.13 - This Saturday
Saturday March 30, 2013 at 11:00 AM
Gilmer County Recreation Center Upper Level
Sponsored by Dr. Westfall
St. Patrick’s Day 2013
St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday celebrated all around the globe to honor the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.
When Is St. Patrick’s Day?
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17th.
Note for 2008: For 2008, the Catholic Church has officially moved St. Patrick’s Day to Saturday, March 15th to avoid a conflict with the Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday. Most secular establishments in the US and Canada, such as restaurants and bars, will continue to celebrate the holiday on March 17th, and the 17th will remain a national day off from work in Ireland.
Who Was Saint Patrick?
Even though Saint Patrick the patron saint of Ireland and one of the most celebrated religious figures around the world, the factual information about his life and times is quite vague. Most information about St. Patrick has been twisted, embellished, or simply made up over centuries by storytellers, causing much ambiguity about the real life of St. Patrick. However, there are some elements of his story about which most scholars accept to be true.
According to Coilin Owens, Irish literature expert and Professor Emeritus of English at George Mason University, Saint Patrick is traditionally thought to have lived “between 432-461 A.D., but more recent scholarship moves the dates up a bit.“ At the age of sixteen he was kidnapped from his native land of the Roman British Isles by a band pirates, and sold into slavery in Ireland. Saint Patrick worked as a shepherd and turned to religion for solace. After six years of slavery he escaped to the Irish coast and fled home to Britain.
While back in his homeland, Patrick decided to become a priest and then decided to return to Ireland after dreaming that the voices of the Irish people were calling him to convert them to Christianity.
After studying and preparing for several years, Patrick traveled back to Ireland as a Christian missionary. Although there were already some Christians living in Ireland, St. Patrick was able to bring upon a massive religious shift to Christianity by converting people of power. Says Prof. Owens, “[St. Patrick] is credited with converting the nobles; who set an example which the people followed.“
But Patrick’s desire to spread of Christianity was not met without mighty opposition. Prof. Owens explains, “Patrick ran into trouble with the local pagan priesthood, the druids: and there are many stories about his arguments with them as well as his survival of plots against them.“ He laid the groundwork for the establishment of hundreds of monasteries and churches that eventually popped up across the Irish country to promote Christianity.
Saint Patrick is also credited with bringing written word to Ireland through the promotion of the study of legal texts and the Bible, says Prof. Owens. Previous to Patrick, storytelling and history were reliant on memory and orally passing down stories.
Patrick’s mission in Ireland is said to have lasted for thirty years. It is believed he died in the 5th century on March 17, which is the day St. Patrick’s Day is commemorated each year.
The first year St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in America in 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts. The first official St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City in 1766. As the saying goes, on this day “everybody is Irish!“ Over 100 U.S. cities now hold Saint Patrick’s Day parades.
What Are the Traditions of St. Patrick’s Day?
There are many traditions and symbols associated with St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland. Here are a handful of the most popular practices.
The shamrock as symbol of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day is partly due to the natural abundance of clover plants in the country, but largely due to its strong association with Christianity. According to Robert Mahony, Professor of English and member of the Center for Irish Studies at Catholic University, legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock to visually illustrate the concept of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) when trying to convert polytheistic pagans to Christianity.
“A clover is one plant with three leaves, but the three leaves are necessary to make it [complete],“ explains Prof. Mahony. “[In Christianity,] God is three persons, but it’s not the same as three gods.“ The simple analogy is thought to have helped non-Christians understand a fundamental element of the Christian religion, facilitating conversion.
It was through the retelling of this story that the shamrock became associated with St. Patrick and Ireland’s conversion to Christianity. As a result, the shamrock is a widely used to commemorate Saint Patrick’s Day, and in modern times has been appropriated by secular institutions as a symbol for the Irish.
Although clovers are most often found in nature with three leaves, rare four-leaf clovers do exist. Finding one is thought to bring someone extreme luck. The folklore for four-leaf clovers differs from that of the Shamrock due to the fact that it has no religious allusions associated with it. It is believed that each leaf of a four-leaf clover represents something different: first is hope, the second is faith, the third is love, and the fourth is happiness.
Just what does a mythical leprechaun look like and why are they so special? A leprechaun looks like a little old man and dresses like a shoemaker with a cocked hat and leather apron. A Leprechaun’s personality is described as aloof and unfriendly. They live alone and pass the time by mending the shoes of Irish fairies.
According to St. Patrick’s Day: Parades, Shamrocks, and Leprechauns by Elaine Landau, the legend is that the fairies pay the leprechauns for their work with golden coins, which the “little people” collect in large pots—the famous “pots of gold” often associated with leprechauns.
If you listen closely for the sound of their hammer you might be able to capture one. If you do you can force him (with the threat of bodily violence) to reveal where he’s hidden his treasure. Be careful! Do not take your eyes off him for if you do he will surely vanish and your hopes of finding his treasure will vanish with him.
So why do people wear green?
Probably because you’ll be pinched if you don’t! School children started this tradition. Green is also the color of spring, the shamrock, and is connected with hope and nature. Historically, green has been a color used in the flags of several revolutionary groups in Ireland and as a result it appears in the official tri-color country flag, adopted in 1919.
In addition to that, Ireland is often called the “Emerald Isle” due to the lush natural greenery found on the island. Says Prof. Mahony, “One of the things that strikes people all the time is how Ireland is incredibly green—it’s very far north, but it doesn’t get frozen. When people say that ‘Ireland has 40 shades of green,‘ they are right!“
The Luck of the Irish
Want to be lucky this St. Patrick’s Day? Follow this advice:
1. Find a four-leaf clover.
2. Wear green (so you don’t get pinched).
3. Kiss the blarney stone.
4. Catch a Leprechaun if you can.
In honor of the festivities you are left with this Irish blessing:
May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow and may trouble avoid you wherever you go!
Governor and First Lady Tomblin Unveil Plans for Annual Easter Carnival
11 AM to 1 PM on Saturday, March 23, 2013
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin have invited West Virginians to participate in an Easter Carnival at the Capitol grounds on Saturday, March 23, 2013.
“From pictures with the Easter Bunny to games, face painting, clowns and more, each year the Easter Carnival brings friends and families together for fun and fellowship,“ Gov. Tomblin said. “Joanne and I want to thank the many sponsors and volunteers who continue to support this family-friendly spring gathering.“
From 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM on Saturday, March 23rd, the North Plaza of the State Capitol Complex will be transformed into a carnival complete with games, prizes, treats and an appearance by the Easter Bunny.
Tickets are not required to attend. Door prizes, for children 12 years old and under, will be awarded at Noon.
For more information, call the Governor’s Office at 304.558.2000.
Valentine’s Day 2013
Have a Very Happy Valentine’s Day
The Gilmer Free Press
Martin Luther King, Jr: A Dream of Hope
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
A lie cannot live.
A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.
A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.
A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
A right delayed is a right denied.
A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.
A riot is the language of the unheard.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.
I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
I submit that an individual who breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law.
I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.
If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.
If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.
It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.
Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?‘
Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.
Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society… shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam.
One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one’s soul.
Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
Science investigates religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power religion gives man wisdom which is control.
Seeing is not always believing.
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.
The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?“ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?“
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.
The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.
The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.
The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt.
The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.
The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
The sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
The time is always right to do what is right.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.
There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.
War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.
Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.
We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
We have guided missiles and misguided men.
We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
We must use time creatively.
We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.
When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
~~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~~
GFP: Happy New Year 2013
Every New Year brings us not only opportunities but challenges as well.
As we enter 2013, the challenges we face at The Gilmer Free Press loom large.
The threats to our community freedom and the right to speak about your concerns are greatly increasing.
But as the Apostle Paul tells us, the key to winning any struggle is running the race to the end.
That’s why we’re so thankful to our readers and supporters who are committed to staying in the battle for the long run.
We have faith that not only what we’re doing is right, but that in the end we will prevail.
Thank you and God bless you, for running the race with us.
Your faithful prayers and support make it possible for us to finish the race and protect the cherished God-given freedoms we all rely on.
The Gilmer Free Press
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
— 2 Corinthians 5:17
Bring in 2013 at an Area West Virginia State Parks Celebration
You, your friends and family can bring in lucky 2013 by attending one of several New Year’s Eve parties planned at an area West Virginia’s state parks.
Canaan Valley Resort – Contact: Lisa Ratliff, 304.866.4121
Ring in the New Year with TWO great party options.
Family party includes buffet dinner, family games and DJ entertainment, punch toast at midnight and party favors.
The adult party includes buffet dining in the Hickory Room, access to the lounge party with live entertainment, plus champagne toast and party favors.
Adult Party: $30 per person.
Family Party: $20 Adult / $12 Child (age 6-12) *Kids ages 5- under are free with parents.
**Tax/gratuities are additional to above rates.
Canaan Valley Resort State Park is located near Davis in Tucker County. Call 304.866.4121x2651 for information or to make reservations, or visit www.canaanresort.com .
The resort website includes ski information, snow and slope conditions and packages.
North Bend State Park – Contact: Ken Zebo, 304.643.2931
Ring in the New Year at North Bend State Park.
Enjoy an evening of live music, delicious food, and celebration.
North Bend lodge, restaurant and cabins are open year-round for getaways or meetings.
The North Bend Rail Trail is also four-season and attracts winter hiking.
To inquire about reservations or to learn more about events at North Bend State Park, call 304.643.2931 or visit www.northbendsp.com.
Stonewall Resort – 304.269.7400
Spend a fun, relaxing New Year’s Eve in Stonewall Resort’s lodge!
The New Year’s Eve – Stillwaters Package for two includes dinner in Stillwaters Restaurant with a delicious menu prepared by the award-winning culinary team.
Then ring in the New Year in the TJ Muskies lounge, with live music starting at 9:00 PM, or relax by the warm, crackling fire in the Grand Hall with a glass of wine and live music.
In the morning, wake up to a wonderful breakfast on the Stillwaters Restaurant Breakfast Kiosk.
Plus, you can enjoy our indoor/outdoor heated pool, two Jacuzzis, outdoor fire pit or take a stroll outdoors.
The package cost is $229 per couple.
Other package details: overnight lodge accommodations, dinner kiosk for two with champagne in Stillwaters Restaurant (reservations required), breakfast kiosk for two in Stillwaters Restaurant on New Year’s Day, and late checkout at 2:00 PM.
Reservations are required for Stillwaters.
Please call 304.269.8880 to make reservations.
Merry Christmas 2012
MANCHIN’S CHRISTMAS GREETINGS
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) wishes all West Virginians a Merry Christmas and issued the following statement about the holiday.
“I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This is the best time of the year because there’s so much to celebrate - especially the love of our families and friends. It’s also the season that has brought hope and joy to the world since that very first Christmas more than 2,000 years ago. During this blessed time of the year, I hope all of us will share the gift of God’s love by giving of ourselves and by sharing generously with those in need. And let us offer special prayers of comfort for those who have lost loved ones this year, for the sacrifices of our military troops and their families, and for those left in grief from the unspeakable violence against the innocent.
“For the New Year, let us resolve to build a future of peace, safety, freedom and prosperity for all. On behalf of my wife Gayle and the entire Manchin family, including our brand new grandbaby, Vivian Gayle, I wish everyone the happiest of holidays. And God bless us all - the great people of West Virginia and the United States of America and the courageous men and women of our armed forces who stand watch over our holiday celebration. Merry Christmas, everyone.”
G-Comm™: Paying It Forward at Christmas and Always, One Act of Kindness at a Time
“‘There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!’”—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Although Charles Dickens immortalized the money-loving, Christmas-hating, bah-humbuggiest of humbugs Ebenezer Scrooge in his classic A Christmas Carol, the world has always been plagued by Scrooges and Grinches so single-minded in their pursuit of money, power and control that they exhibit few qualms about stamping out acts of kindness, compassion and true charity when they arise.
This year has certainly been plagued with its fair share of Scrooges and Grinches disguised as government agents, threatening individuals with fines and arrest for such simple acts of kindness and charity as distributing free bottled water to the thirsty, giving away free food to the hungry and destitute, and making thermal shelters available to house the homeless during cold winter nights.
The latest Scrooge to dampen the goodwill that this time of year tends to bring out in many people comes from Waynesboro, Virginia, where zoning officials have gone out of their way to shut down a Christmas tree farmer’s big-hearted efforts to raise money to buy wigs for cancer patients by giving away his Christmas trees in exchange for donations.
For Christian Critzer, a Christmas tree farmer who lives with his wife and two children in Waynesboro, the Christmas tree donation drive was his way of paying it forward: a way to show his gratitude for his wife having recently won a battle with breast cancer and inspire hope in those still fighting their own battles and dealing with the aftermath of cancer.
Using what he knows best—Christmas trees—Critzer focused his efforts on raising money for the “Fight Like a Girl” campaign at the Charlottesville, VA-based Martha Jefferson hospital, a fund for cancer survivors to buy custom wigs as they recover from their long battles with cancer and chemotherapy. The donations are specifically intended to subsidize the purchase of people buying custom wigs while dealing with cancer treatment. As Critzer learned through his wife’s own battle with cancer from this time last year, wigs—often a necessity for women who’ve lost their hair because of chemotherapy treatments—aren’t covered by insurance.
Using his front yard on a busy street as the staging ground, Critzer attempted to first sell the trees, with the hopes of giving the proceeds to the cancer fund. That all changed when Waynesboro zoning officials threatened Critzer with a citation for operating a commercial enterprise in a residentially zoned area. Determined to do his good deed, Critzer decided to give the trees away, asking a donation in return. “People are hurting,” said Critzer. “A free tree is a blessing. So we decided we’ll offer them for free. If people can afford a donation, that’s what we’ll give to the cancer center, and problem solved.” Unfortunately for the Christmas tree farmer, Waynesboro zoning officials didn’t agree and cited him for violating the city’s zoning ordinances.
The Critzers live on Rosser Avenue, one of the busiest roads in Waynesboro, adjacent to big box stores like Walmart and Martins. According to Critzer, the big Martins sign shines its light through his window 24 hours a day, so it’s not as if his Christmas tree drive is bringing an unusual amount of traffic to the area. Nor does his little “tree lot” seem to be overly distracting. Around this time of year, lots of people tend to go all out, decking their houses and populating their front lawns with so many lights, holiday figurines and blow-ups as to start their own Christmas spectacular. In comparison, Critzer’s front lawn is almost stark, with little more than a string of lights, a small assortment of Christmas trees and a simple sign encouraging donations in exchange for the trees.
Despite Critzer’s various attempts to find a solution that would allow him to keep the tree drive going, Waynesboro officials were adamant that he should shut it down, going so far as to threaten his landlord with fines and issuing a cease and desist order against Critzer. Not wanting to cause his landlord hardship, and not wanting to be a burden to his wife and two children, Christian took down the trees, the lights and the signs. His goal of raising $1000 for the cancer fund remains unrealized and his hopes of paying it forward have been dashed. At least for this year, unless The Rutherford Institute, which has come to Critzer’s defense, can work their own Christmas miracle. Either way and to his credit, Critzer insists that next year, he’ll be back with 100 Christmas trees.
So what’s the lesson to be learned here? Is it that no good deed goes unpunished? Certainly, in an age of bureaucracy and overcriminalization, it can seem that way. Is the problem, as Critzer suggests, that the government needs to revisit its priorities and focus on solving the real problems plaguing communities rather than creating problems where there are none? There’s definitely something to be said for that. “There’s a lot going on in this town that needs attention,” said Critzer. “I don’t think it’s my cancer charity.”
Then there’s Charles Dickens’ reminder, offered up in A Christmas Carol, that it’s never too late to make things right in the world and try to be better people and, most importantly of all, pay your blessings forward. Whether you do it, as Critzer did, by raising money for a charity, or as Scrooge did it, by repenting of his greed, selfishness and bah humbuggery and looking out for those in need, the point, my friends, is to do it now before it’s too late, not just at Christmastime, but always. As Dickens writes, “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
~~ John W. Whitehead ~~
Where is Santa Right Now?
Click H E R E to Track Santa Clause
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, is firing up its Santa tracker again this year to keep track of the jolly old elf’s path around the globe.
Tracking Santa has been a tradition since 1955, when a misprinted ad gave the phone number for what was then known as CONAD as the contact information for a Santa hotline. The director at the time, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, directed those on duty to give Santa’s location on the radar to any child who called. The tradition has continued ever since.
This year, NORAD expects more than 1,500 volunteers to help with the effort, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, NORAD’s director of public affairs. Volunteers take two-hour shifts, and the command relies on partnerships to provide the all-day service without using taxpayer money.
NORAD, of course, keeps up its normal operations during its Santa watch. It is able to house those volunteers in a separate, non-classified facility on its base in Colorado.
Microsoft is the headline partner for this year’s effort, using its Azure cloud platform to help NORAD deal with the annual traffic spike it sees from the effort.
The command center has also rolled out a series of free game and tracking apps for Apple, Google Android and Microsoft phones, as well as Windows PCs, to make the effort more accessible for parents and kids. So far, Davis said, NORAD has seen more than 1.7 million app downloads across all devices.
“We’re excited about it and excited about supporting the folks who are out there 24/7,” said Tim Solms, Microsoft’s general manager for its business with the Defense Department.
NORAD worked with other partners, such as Colorado firm iLink Systems, to design some of its apps.
For the past five years, NORAD’s main partner has been Google. But after discussing the project with Google this year, Davis said, the two groups had different visions for the future of the tracker program and agreed to go their separate ways.
Davis said the split was amicable. Google’s partnership, he said, “helped us to increase the awareness of the program around the world, and we’re very grateful for their partnership.”
“Having a big team is important to us,” Davis said. “We want this to be done as a community service and avoid doing anything that would make it seem commercialized.”
Google is still continuing with its own version of the Santa Tracker this year, separate from NORAD, for those who want to stick with Google Maps as they follow Santa’s sleigh around the world.
Davis said called speculation that NORAD split with Google for financial reasons “hogwash,” and reiterated that NORAD does not make any money through the effort.
Davis said that the Santa Tracker is a favorite tradition and a welcome bit of fun into the demanding daily duties of monitoring U.S. airspace.
“We’re all volunteers who do this out of love for the program and a desire to serve the community,” he said.
Christmas Eve 2012
A GIGGLE with the GOATS Jingle Bells Holiday Performance
A GIGGLE with the GOATS Jingle Bells Holiday Performance
Santa’s Christmas Eve Prayer 2012
The sleigh was all packed,
The reindeer were fed,
But Santa still knelt
By the side of the bed.
“Dear Father,“ he prayed,
“Be with me tonight,
There’s much work to do,
And my schedule is tight.“
“I must jump in my sleigh
And streak through the sky,
Knowing full well
That a reindeer can’t fly.“
“I will visit each household,
Before the first light,
I’ll cover the world,
And all in one night.“
“With sleigh bells a-ringing,
I’ll land on each roof,
Amid the soft clatter
Of each little hoof.“
“To get in the house
Is the difficult part,
So I’ll slide down the chimney
Of each child’s heart.“
“My sack will hold toys
To grant all their wishes,
The supply will be endless,
Like the loaves and the fishes.“
“I will fill all the stockings
And not leave a track,
I’ll eat every cookie
That is left for my snack.“
“I can do all these things Lord,
Only through You,
I just need your blessing,
Then it’s easy to do.“
“All this is to honor
The birth of the One,
That was sent to redeem us ...
Your most Holy Son.“
“So to all of my friends,
Least Your glory I rob,
Please Lord, remind them
Who gave me this job.“
~~ Warren D. Jennings ~~
A Christmas Poem - 2012
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE MADE OF
PLASTER AND STONE.
I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO
IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.
I LOOKED ALL ABOUT,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.
NO STOCKING BY MANTLE,
JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.
WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,
A SOBER THOUGHT
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.
FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.
THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.
THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED
A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.
WAS THIS THE HERO
OF WHOM I’D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,
THE FLOOR FOR A BED?
I REALIZED THE FAMILIES
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS
WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.
SOON ROUND THE WORLD,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE
A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.
THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.
I COULDN’T HELP WONDER
HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.
THE VERY THOUGHT
BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES
AND STARTED TO CRY.
THE SOLDIER AWAKENED
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
“SANTA DON’T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;
I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON’T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY! COUNTRY, MY CORPS.“
THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN’T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.
I WEPT FOR HOURS,
SO SILENT AND STILL
AND WE BOTH SHIVERED
FROM THE COLD NIGHT’S CHILL.
I DIDN’T WANT TO LEAVE
ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR
SO WILLING TO FIGHT.
THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, “CARRY ON SANTA,
IT’S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE.“
ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND!
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.“
~~ by a Marine ~~
Happy Xmas: Ten Great Christmas Albums
“Christmas—an aspirin for the soul or cold-turkey celebration of the birth and life of Christ?
It has to be a measured bit of both, doesn’t it?”
—Ian Anderson, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album
What a year it’s been. We’ve had kids getting micro-chipped in the public schools. Congress, the courts and the White House working in cahoots to erode our privacy rights. The Transportation Security Administration fumbling its way through national security. Hurricane Sandy ravaging the Eastern shore. The police state merging with the surveillance state to keep us tagged, tracked and under control. The military industrial complex lobbying to keep the nation at war and defense contractors in the money. Individuals getting fined and arrested for violating any number of vague and overreaching laws. Homes getting raided and innocent Americans killed by rampaging SWAT teams armed to the hilt.
After endless months of being mired in gloom and doom, we now find ourselves just a few weeks away from Christmas, struggling to latch onto that spirit of joy, excitement, innocence, magic and hope we had as children. Even if one is successful in momentarily blocking out the political gloom and doom, it still takes a monumental effort to get past the Grinches and Scrooges who can you make you feel like yours is anything but a wonderful life. And then there’s Christmas itself, which has become embattled in recent years, co-opted by rampant commercialism, straight-jacketed by political correctness, and denuded of so much of its loveliness, holiness and mystery.
Despite all of this humbuggery, however, there are still a few steps you can take to reclaim the magic of Christmas and enjoy the season. For a start, do something nice for someone else—whether it’s a family member, a neighbor or a stranger on the street. Turn off the news and turn on a Christmas movie, one of the oldies but goodies—something full of good will, sweetness and heart. And then, to top it all off, add some Christmas tunes to the mix, whatever fits the bill for you—be it traditional carols, rollicking oldies, or some rocking new tunes. What I love about Christmas music is how the sacred and irreverent meld into an atmosphere of joy and wonder. Listen to them over dinner, in the car, on your iPod. Hum them under your breath as you do your shopping. Belt them out in the shower or while gathered together in a group setting. Before you know it, you’ll start feeling like it’s Christmastime again.
Out of the hundreds of Christmas albums I’ve listened to over the years, the following are ten of my favorites, covering a broad range of musical styles, moods and tastes, but each in its own way perfectly capturing the essence of Christmas.
It’s Christmas (EMI, 1989):
18 great songs, ranging from John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” The real treats on this album are Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas,” Kate Bush’s “December Will Be Magic Again” and Aled Jones’ “Walking in the Air.”
Christmas Guitar (Rounder, 1986):
28 beautifully done traditional Christmas songs by master guitarist John Fahey. Hearing Fahey’s guitar strings plucking out “Joy to the World,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” among others, is a sublime experience.
Christmas Is A Special Day (The Right Stuff, 1993):
12 fine songs by Fats Domino, the great Fifties rocker, ranging from “Amazing Grace” to “Jingle Bells.” The title song, written by Domino himself, is a real treat. No one has ever played the piano keys like Fats.
Christmas Island (August/Private Music, 1989):
“Frosty the Snowman” will never sound the same after you hear Leon Redbone and Dr. John do their duet. Neither will “Christmas Island” or “Toyland” on this collection of 11 traditional and rather offbeat songs.
A Holiday Celebration (Gold Castle, 1988):
The classic folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary, backed by the New York Choral Society, sing traditional and nontraditional holiday fare on 12 beautifully orchestrated songs. Included are “I Wonder as I Wander,” “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” and “The Cherry Tree Carol.” Also thrown in is Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
The Christmas Album (Columbia, 1992):
Neil Diamond sings 14 songs, ranging from “Silent Night” to “Jingle Bell Rock” to “The Christmas Song” to “Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Diamond also gives us a great rendition of Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” A delightful album.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 1988):
12 traditional Christmas songs by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The pianist extraordinaire and his trio perform “O Tannenbaum,” “The Christmas Song” and “Greensleeves.” Also included is the Charlie Brown Christmas theme.
The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (Fuel Records, 2003):
If you like deep-rooted traditional holiday songs, you’ll love this album. The 16 songs range from “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” to Ian Anderson originals such as “Another Christmas Song” and “Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.” With Anderson on flute and vocals, this album has an old world flavor that will have you wanting mince pie and plum pudding.
A Twisted Christmas (Razor Tie, 2006):
Twisted Sister, the heavy metal group, knocks the socks off a bevy of traditional and pop Christmas songs. Dee Snider’s amazing vocals brings to life “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “Deck the Halls,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” among others—including “Heavy Metal Christmas (The Twelve Days of Christmas).” Great fun and a great band.
Songs for Christmas (Asthmatic Kitty, 2006):
In December 2001, independent singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens set out to create a Christmas gift through songs for his friends and family. It eventually grew to a 5-CD box set, which includes Stevens’ original take on such standards as “Amazing Grace” and “We Three Kings” and some inventive yuletide creations of his own. A lot of fun.
One more thing. We must never forget that the Christmas holiday is named after the Prince of Peace. So in the midst of the giving and the getting and the making merry, let’s not forget to do our part to make this world a better place for everyone. As John Lennon sings in “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”:
And so this is Christmas,
For weak and for strong,
For rich and the poor ones.
The road is so long.
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white,
For yellow and red ones.
Let’s stop all the fight.
Merry Christmas, and in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone.”
~~ John W. Whitehead ~~
Happy Christmas, O Prisoners of the Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
While carving the turkey for your family and merrily quaffing mulled wine ‘midst happy laughter, remember that the romantic Little Town of Bethlehem at the centre of our childhood Christmases is now “an immense prison” in the words of Michel Sabbah, former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and entirely surrounded by Israel’s ugly 8-metre separation wall bristling with machine-gun towers.
The good citizens of Bethlehem are cut off from their capital Jerusalem, only six miles away, the rest of the West Bank and the whole world.
Consider that the United Nations, for obvious reasons, designated Jerusalem and Bethlehem a protected international zone under UN administration. Israeli rule was not to be permitted.
Consider also that when Palestine was under British mandate Christians accounted for 20% of the population and how 63 years of terror, illegal occupation, dispossession, interference and economic wrecking tactics have whittled their numbers down to less than 2%.
Consider that, at this rate, there will soon be no Christians left in the land where Christianity was born… thanks to the cowardice and inaction of our political leaders.
How will the 26 bishops sitting around in our House of Lords, doing nothing, explain that to their dwindling congregations?
As usual, many Palestinians in Bethlehem and the other cities and villages throughout occupied Palestine will be unable to reunite with their families or celebrate Christmas at their holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem due to cruel Israeli-imposed travel restrictions.
Imagine for a moment what sort of Christmas the half-starved children in blockaded Gaza are having this year, and every year… and what New Year prospects face all the other Palestinian children struggling to grow up with the Israeli army’s boot on their necks.
Deep down it is not about religion at all. The struggle is between justice and a criminal conspiracy of huge international proportions, the tentacles of which spread far beyond the Holy Land and impact on all of us, even here in the deepest recesses of England’s green and pleasant land.
In the New Year civil society must resolve to DO SOMETHING about it, one way or another, before the evil spins irreversibly out of control.
~~ Stuart Littlewood ~~
A Minute with Jay: Merry Christmas
Glenville Mayor and Intern at Governor’s Christmas Party
Mayor Allman-Duval and City Intern Matthew Thompson with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and
First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin at the Governor’s Mansion/Christmas Party.
Saturday December 08, 2012
GFP: Thank You… Merry Christmas -2012
Here at The Gilmer Free Press, we believe that the gift of freedom is the greatest gift we could offer our loved ones, not only at Christmas but throughout the year.
As we remember our many blessings during this season of miracles, please know that we count you among the most precious.
We simply could not do this work without you.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and support for The Gilmer Free Press as we continue to strive for truth and justice for all—and “to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
We wish you a blessed Christmas.
May God bless you and yours.
Glenville First Baptist Church: ‘Brand New Star’ Christmas Program - December 19, 2012
Many Thanks to All the Children and the Crew for such a great program. Well Done
Merry Christmas to All
Daily G-Eye™: 12.20.12
Gilmer County Courthouse
Toys provided by Gilmer County Clerk Jean Butcher, her daughter, and Troy Cottrill
They are there for anyone who likes to have them
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G-Comm™: Christmas Story- Mary And Joseph In Palestine
Times were tough for Joseph and Mary. The real estate bubble crashed. Unemployment soared among construction workers. There was no work, not even for a skilled carpenter.
The settlements were still being built, financed mostly by Jewish money from America, contributions from Wall Street speculators and owners of gambling dens.
“Good thing”, Joseph thought, “we have a few sheep and olive trees and Mary keeps some chickens. But Joseph worried, “cheese and olives are not enough to feed a growing boy. Mary is due to deliver our son any day”. His dreams foretold of a sturdy son working alongside of him…multiplying loaves and fish.
The settlers looked down on Joseph. He rarely attended shul, and on the high holidays, he would show up late to avoid the tithe. Their simple cottage was located in a nearby ravine with water from a stream, which flowed year round. It was choice real estate for any settlement expansion. So when Joseph fell behind on his property tax, the settlers took over their home, forcibly evicted Joseph and Mary and offered them a one-way bus ticket to Jerusalem.
Joseph, born and raised in the arid hills, fought back and bloodied not a few settlers with his labor-hardened fists. But in the end he sat, battered on their bridal bed under the olive tree, in black despair.
Mary, much the younger, felt the baby’s movements. Her time was near.
“We have to find shelter, Joseph, we have to move on …this is no time for revenge”, she pleaded.
Joseph, who believed with the Old Testament prophets in an “eye for an eye”, reluctantly agreed.
So it was that Joseph sold their sheep, chickens and other belongings to an Arab neighbor and bought a donkey and cart. He loaded up the mattress, some clothes, cheese, olives and eggs and they set out for the Holy City.
The donkey path was rocky and full of potholes. Mary winced at every bump; she worried that it would harm the baby. Worse, this was the road for the Palestinians with military checkpoints everywhere. No one ever told Joseph that, as a Jew, he could have taken a smooth paved road – forbidden to the Arabs.
At the first roadblock Joseph saw a long line of Arabs waiting. Pointing to his very pregnant wife, Joseph asked the Palestinians, half in Arabic, half in Hebrew, if they could go ahead. A path was opened and the couple went forward.
A young soldier raised his rifle and told Mary and Joseph to get down from the cart. Joseph descended and nodded to his wife’s stomach. The soldier smirked and turned to his comrades, “The old Arab knocks up the girl he bought for a dozen sheep and now he wants a free pass”.
Joseph, red with anger, shouted in rough Hebrew, “I am a Jew. But unlike you … I respect pregnant women”.
The soldier poked Joseph with his rifle and ordered him to step back: “You are worse than an Arab – you’re an old Jew who screws Arab girls”.
Mary frightened by the exchange turned to her husband and cried, “Stop Joseph or he will shoot you and our baby will be born an orphan”.
With great difficulty Mary got down from the wagon. An officer came out of the guard station, summoning a female soldier, “Hey Judi, go feel under her dress, she might be carrying bombs”.
“What’s the matter? Don’t you like to feel them yourself anymore? ” Judith barked back in Brooklyn-accented Hebrew. While the soldiers argued, Mary leaned on Joseph for support. Finally, the soldiers came to an agreement.
“Pull-up your dress and slip”, Judith ordered. Mary blanched in shame. Joseph faced the gun in disgrace. The soldiers laughed and pointed at Mary’s swollen breasts, joking about an unborn terrorist with Arab hands and a Jewish brain.
Joseph and Mary continued on the way to the Holy City. They were frequently detained at the checkpoints along the way. Each time they suffered another delay, another indignity and more gratuitous insults spouted by Sephardim and Ashkenazi, male and female, secular and religious – all soldiers of the Chosen people.
It was dusk when Mary and Joseph finally reached the Wall. The gates had closed for the night. Mary cried out in pain, “Joseph, I can feel the baby coming soon. Please do something quickly”.
Joseph panicked. He saw the lights of a small village nearby and, leaving Mary on the cart, Joseph ran to the nearest house and pounded on the door. A Palestinian woman opened the door slightly and peered into the dark, agitated face of Joseph. “Who are you? What do you want?”
“I am Joseph, a carpenter from the hills of Hebron. My wife is about to give birth and I need shelter to protect Mary and the baby”. Pointing to Mary on the donkey cart, Joseph pleaded in his strange mixture of Hebrew and Arabic.
“Well, you speak like a Jew but you look like an Arab,” the Palestinian woman said laughing as she walked back with him to the cart.
Mary’s face was contorted with pain and fear: her contractions were more frequent and intense.
The woman ordered Joseph to bring the cart around to a stable where the sheep and chickens were kept. As soon as they entered, Mary cried out in pain and the Palestinian woman, who had now been joined by a neighbor midwife, swiftly helped the young mother down onto a bed of straw.
And thus the child was born, as Joseph watched in awe.
It came to pass that shepherds, returning from their fields, heard the mingled cries of birth and joy and hurried to the stable carrying both their rifles and fresh goat milk, not knowing whether it was friend or foe, Jew or Arab. When they entered the stable and beheld the mother and infant, they put aside their weapons and offered the milk to Mary who thanked them in both Hebrew and Arabic.
And the shepherds were amazed and wondered: Who were these strange people, a poor Jewish couple, who came in peace on a donkey cart inscribed with Arabic letters? The news quickly spread about the strange birth of a Jewish child just outside the Wall in a Palestinian’s stable. Many neighbors entered and beheld Mary, the infant and Joseph.
Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers, equipped with night vision goggles, reported from their watchtowers overlooking the Palestinian neighborhood, “The Arabs are meeting just outside the Wall, in a stable, by candle light”.
The gates under the watchtowers flew open and armored carriers with bright lights followed by heavily armed soldiers drove out and surrounded the stable, the assembled villagers and the Palestinian woman’s house. A loud speaker blared, “Come out with your hands up or we’ll shoot.” They all came out from the stable together with Joseph, who stepped forward with his hands stretched out to the sky and spoke, “My wife, Mary cannot comply with your order. She is nursing the baby Jesus”.
~~ James Petras - A Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York ~~
G-Comm™: A Holiday Season to Treasure
As we approach the holidays this year, our emotions in West Virginia and across the nation are torn.
With love for our own children and grandchildren and joy at the thought of their excitement just around the corner, our hearts remain heavy for the families and community of Newtown, Connecticut.
The newspapers and headlines have said it all. Unspeakable. Senseless. A community turned upside down. A nation stunned.
To take the life of a child - the lives of 20 children and their dedicated teachers - is simply inconceivable. And the deep grief those parents, grandparents, siblings and classmates are feeling is hard to imagine - but West Virginians’ hearts and minds are certainly with them.
Across our state that day, parents picked up their children from school with a full embrace. Gave them an extra treat that evening. Rocked them a little longer to sleep.
West Virginia cherishes our communities - neighborhoods where we don’t lock our doors, with children at play and places, like schools, that we just trust to be safe.
So we’re shaken by the thought that such a tragedy could happen in a town just like one of ours to families just like our own. And it’s the nature of West Virginians to hurt right along with them.
As a fully brokenhearted nation grapples with what happened, we also face the very real truth that we’ve seen far too many of these tragedies in recent years.
We’ll all be searching for answers about how to prevent this from ever happening again. Because protecting our children is so sacred, so deeply important - and so needed.
But for the coming days and the holidays approaching, it’s my hope that - with our innermost thoughts and prayers still with those in Newtown - we can treasure the moments.
Sharon and I get such joy from our grandchildren. This Christmas, we’ll enjoy their laughter, their humor and their hugs even more. And that’s my wish for all West Virginians.
Governor, First Lady Tomblin Join West Virginians for Joyful Night Celebration
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin were joined by hundreds of West Virginians at the State Capitol this evening for this year’s Joyful Night celebration. The annual event kicks off the holiday season with the lighting of the state’s Christmas trees.
Children join Governor Tomblin and First Lady Tomblin as they light the state’s
holiday tree during the Joyful Night celebration at the State Capitol.
During the celebration, the governor and first lady along with hundreds of guests toured beautifully decorated trees on the State Capitol grounds. The evening began with the lighting of the North Plaza tree donated by Mr. and Mrs. Ray Fewell of Winfield. Shortly after, the crowd made their way to the Lincoln Plaza for a special tribute to West Virginia veterans, military members and their families around the tree donated by Mr. and Mrs. Al Tolliver of Danese. They then visited the trees inside the Capitol and ended the evening with the reading of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas by the governor and first lady in the Governor’s Mansion.
This year’s event showcased several special trees. West Virginia talent is on display on the ArtisTree, which showcases ornaments crafted by West Virginia artisans and artists in the foyer of the Governor’s Mansion. A tree for our state’s youngest artists is also on display in the rotunda of the State Capitol. And a new tradition this year, the Tomblins collected photos for a special military recognition tree that is on display in the Governor’s Reception Room.
Children attending the Joyful Night celebration listen as Governor Tomblin and First Lady Tomblin
read “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” at the Governor’s mansion.
“Each tree, and the ornaments that make them beautiful, tell a story of who we are as West Virginians,“ First Lady Tomblin said. “I’m truly grateful to the many artists-both young and old-who have offered to showcase their talents at the State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion during this year’s holiday season.“
During the Joyful Night celebration, the governor and first lady donated to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive and encouraged all West Virginians to support charitable causes.
“May we be reminded that this is the season of giving, a time to celebrate with friends, both old and new,“ Governor Tomblin said. “We have much to be thankful for this year, and I encourage all West Virginians to share their blessings this holiday season.“
GSC Tree Lighting Ceremony 2012 Enjoyed by All
The holiday season has officially begun at Glenville State College. GSC President Dr. Peter Barr along with local children lit the official campus Christmas tree at the annual GSC Tree Lighting Ceremony. Many spectators from both GSC and the Glenville community attended the event on Monday, November 26, 2012.
“My wife Betsy started this tradition when we came to Glenville in 2006. It has been exciting to see more and more kids each year at the tree lighting. We love to see the kids in the community grow up and lose their fear of telling Santa Claus their biggest wishes,“ said Barr.
“Our GSC family members along with the Glenville community joined Santa and Mrs. Claus on the third floor of the GSC Mollohan Campus Community Center following the ceremony for refreshments, photos, and fun for the kids,“ said Betsy Barr.
“My daughter, father, and I enjoyed the tree lighting ceremony. One of the highlights of our holiday season is getting to spend time with our GSC family and the community. My daughter, Brooklyn, looks forward to Santa’s visit every year at GSC. I appreciate GSC providing so many activities to involve the community! The family atmosphere at GSC is one of the biggest reasons why I love teaching here,“ said GSC Instructor of Education Shelly Ratliff of Glenville, West Virginia (Gilmer County).
“This was our third year at the event as a family. We appreciate Dr. and Mrs. Barr going out of their way to provide family-friendly activities for the campus and community. It is always great to participate in the free entertainment and enrichment that the college provides (the kid’s room at the library, conversational Spanish classes, movie nights, and of course, holiday festivities). The kids always love seeing Santa and Mrs. Claus and receiving free candy, while we love taking home their pictures to watch them grow from year to year,“ said GSC Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Alan Daniel.
“My husband, daughter, and I had a great time at the tree lighting ceremony and the activities that followed. My daughter, Anna, was thrilled with the inflatable train and the books that were given out,“ said Tiffany Tomey of Linn, West Virginia (Gilmer County). Tomey is a GSC sophomore Art major with concentration in Graphic and Digital Design.
“We’ve only missed one tree lighting at GSC, and that is when I had my daughter Kayleigh. We all enjoy it so much; it’s a family tradition. My son Dustin is no longer scared to sit on Santa’s lap, and Kayleigh even sat on Mrs. Claus’ lap,“ said Jennifer Harper of Glenville, West Virginia (Gilmer County).
The event was free and open to the public. The tree is located in the Luanna T. Smith Amphitheatre and will be decorated with ‘Pioneer blue’ lights and ornaments through the beginning of the new year.
Governor Tomblin and First Lady Announce Joyful Night to be held December 06, 2012
Festivities begin at 6:00 PM.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin announced the first family will welcome West Virginians to the annual Joyful Night celebration and tree lighting ceremony at 6:00 PM Thursday, December 06, 2012, at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston.
The evening’s program and reception will honor the state’s military members, their families and veterans.
All events are free and open to the public.
As part of the festivities, the First Family encourages attendees to bring a new unwrapped toy for the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots campaign.
“The evening’s celebrations will welcome friends from near and far to embrace the spirit of the season,” Governor Tomblin said. “Joanne and I have experienced the rewards of giving many times, and we encourage all West Virginians to rejoice in the season by donating to charitable organizations like the Marines’ Toys for Tots.”
Events will begin at the North Plaza of the Capitol with musical selections by the Cabell Midland High School Marching Knights, the “State Marching Honor Band of the Year”, and the Appalachian Children’s Chorus Cantare Choir from Southern West Virginia. The West Virginia Air National Guard will post the colors, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by the VIPs of Capital High School and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by West Virginia’s only living Medal of Honor Recipient, Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.) Woody Williams. The first family will light the tree, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Ray Fewell of Winfield.
Visitors will proceed to the South Plaza of the Capitol where the Philip Barbour High School Band, the “Pride of Barbour County” will perform and the tree donated by Mr. and Mrs. Al Tolliver of Danese will be lit as the governor and first lady pay tribute to our veterans and military families.
The first floor Rotunda of the Capitol will feature a holiday tree decorated with handmade ornaments created by school children throughout the state as well as a musical performance by the Martin Luther King Jr. Male Chorus. The annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots donation site will be located in the rotunda.
This year’s Military Recognition tree will be showcased in the Governor’s Reception room and will feature photos of loved ones and friends who have served or are serving in the military. During their visit, attendees are invited to create holiday cards to send to our troops serving overseas.
The Governor’s Mansion will be open to visitors during Joyful Night.
In keeping with tradition, the governor and first lady will read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Visitors will have the opportunity to experience musical performances by the Appalachian Children’s Chorus and a soloist from the Governor’s School of Arts, in addition to viewing the second annual ArtisTree, showcasing handmade ornaments from West Virginia artists and artisans.
Finally, visitors can enjoy light refreshment at the Culture Center where the “Mountainaires” Barber Shop Choir will perform concluding the evening’s events.
For more information about the Joyful Night activities, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History at 304.558.0220.
World AIDS Day - 12.01.2.12
Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on World AIDS Day:
On December 01, World AIDS Day, we remember those we have lost, but also celebrate the remarkable progress made in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. When the first World AIDS Day was observed in 1988, we could not imagine the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For those diagnosed with HIV infection, the future was bleak.
This year, the picture is very different. Scientific advances in understanding HIV, and an increasing number of treatment options, are turning the tide for millions of people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and around the world. We are greatly encouraged by evidence that new HIV infections have declined by 50 percent or more in 25 low and middle income countries.
Smart and thoughtful public policy is also making a difference, as we move steadily toward the goal of creating an AIDS-free generation.
On the domestic front, the Obama Administration’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) continues to provide a compelling vision and roadmap for our efforts to end the epidemic in the U.S. The NHAS helps federal, state and local partners focus on key factors that drive the epidemic and put more resources into the communities and populations with the highest risk. Because of the incredible work and dedication of patients, families, researchers, advocates and communities working together to achieve the vision of the NHAS, we have a unique opportunity to significantly alter the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.
On the global front, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has released the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation. The blueprint details what the U.S. Government is contributing toward achieving an AIDS-free generation. The blueprint also highlights that the U.S. will remain committed to fighting global AIDS, but recognizes that this is a shared responsibility in which everyone has a role to play, with country governments in the lead.
I am proud of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) leadership role in the global response. Many of our agencies—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; as well as our Office of Global Affairs —conduct global HIV activities as PEPFAR implementers.
Through these efforts, strong partnerships have been formed between HHS and the ministries of health of countries deeply affected by the epidemic. The scientific and technical expertise that HHS brings to the U.S. efforts make it a key partner in implementing the Blueprint, as it is in implementing the NHAS.
Together, the domestic NHAS and the global Blueprint offer the Administration’s vision of the way to reach the goal of an AIDS-free generation. Very specific action steps have been taken to help move us forward in that direction.
One of the key steps in the domestic response to HIV/AIDS is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which President Obama signed in March 2010. Because of the ACA, an estimated 30 million Americans will gain access to health insurance by 2021. This will increase access to critical HIV testing and prevention services, as well as access to life-extending care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Consistent with the goals of the NHAS, the ACA makes considerable strides in advancing equality for and helping people living with HIV/AIDS get the health insurance and care they need and deserve. When fully implemented, insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage to anyone or imposing annual limits on coverage—an important protection for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Many other provisions in the law are already helping people living with HIV/AIDS, including discounts for Medicare beneficiaries on covered brand name drugs in the “donut hole” and the ability to count benefits from the AIDS Drug Assistance Program as contributions toward Medicare Part D’s true Out of Pocket Spending Limit. These provide significant relief for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS.
Preventive measures are critical for those at risk for, or living with, HIV/AIDS. Many private health insurance plans must now cover, at no additional cost, recommended preventive services, such as regular check-ups and certain cancer screenings. In addition, most private health plans must now cover HIV testing without a co-pay for adults and adolescents at higher risk and HIV testing and counseling for sexually active women. Medicare also covers certain recommended preventive services, including HIV screening for individuals at increased risk, without cost-sharing or deductibles. These preventive measures help people living with HIV/AIDS stay healthy while preventing the spread of HIV.
The ACA also improves prevention efforts by making critical investments in public health surveillance, community-based programs, and outreach. To ensure all populations are treated equitably, the law expands initiatives to strengthen cultural competency training for all healthcare providers. It bolsters Federal commitment to reducing health disparities, expands the healthcare workforce, and increases funding for community health centers. Each of these efforts helps to protect those at greatest risk for, or living with, HIV/AIDS.
Because of the ACA, a series of investments to help providers support patients with chronic disease like HIV/AIDS are available. Under the law, states can receive extra federal funding to support high-quality coordinated care through Health Homes for Medicaid beneficiaries with chronic health needs. The goal of a Health Home is to treat the whole person, coordinating all their care from primary and acute care to behavioral health and long-term services.
Today, I am proud to announce that we will be issuing a rule to explicitly include HIV/AIDS on the list of chronic conditions that every state may target in designing effective Health Homes. This will make it easier for states to provide coordinated care for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Finally, we persist in our work to fight the stigma that continues to hamper our attempts to address the threat of HIV/AIDS. Several efforts, including CDC’s “Let’s Stop HIV Together” and “Testing Makes Us Stronger” campaigns address stigma and discrimination.
Individuals can also take direct action to fight this stigma. We encourage people to join with thousands of others in an innovative photo-sharing initiative called “Facing AIDS.” http://facing.aids.gov/
Individuals can also utilize AIDS.gov’s Smart phone app to take their own photo, write their own message, and upload it to the online gallery. By putting human faces to HIV/AIDS, we can help reduce the stigma around the disease and promote HIV testing.
Every World AIDS Day brings us closer to an AIDS-free generation. I am grateful to be part of an Administration and Department that are committed to that goal. I am also grateful to those who work diligently every day to put an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic—both here in the U.S. and around the world.
Tag that Perfect Christmas Tree
Have the satisfaction of knowing your perfect Christmas tree awaits you by pre-tagging it at a West Virginia choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm.
West Virginia Division of Forestry officials have identified seven farms that allow you to pick the perfect tree before the holiday season rush begins.
Once Christmas draws closer, you can return, cut your fresh tree and take it home to decorate.
“Each family has its own traditions, whether they set up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, on Christmas Eve or anytime in between,“ said Assistant State Forester Bob Radspinner. “Early tagging lets customers know their tree is fresh and ready to be brought home when their schedules allow.“
West Virginia choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms that allow early tagging include:
• Allen DeHaven Trees, Hedgesville, Berkeley County
• Berry Fork Enterprises, Heaters, Braxton County
• Mulkeen Farm & Nursery, Independence, Monongalia County
• Yagel Poor Farm, Craigsville, Nicholas County
• King’s Trees, Bruceton Mills, Preston County
• Piney Tree Farm, Piney View, Raleigh County
• French Creek Christmas Trees, French Creek, Upshur County
If your tradition is choosing, cutting and bringing your tree home on the same day farms can accommodate that as well.
GSC Tree Lighting Ceremony November 26, 2012 - Today
Glenville State College President Dr. Peter Barr will illuminate the official GSC Christmas Tree during the seventh annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Monday, November 26, 2012.
The event will take place at 4:30 PM in the GSC Luanna T. Smith Amphitheatre.
“My wife Betsy started this tradition when we came to Glenville in 2006. It has been exciting to see more and more kids each year at the tree lighting. We love to see the kids in the community grow up and lose their fear of telling Santa Claus their biggest wishes,“ said Barr.
“Our GSC family members along with the Glenville community are invited to join Santa and Mrs. Claus on the third floor of the GSC Mollohan Campus Community Center for refreshments, photos, and fun for kids after the tree lighting,“ said Betsy Barr.
This event is free and open to the public.
For more information, call 304.462.4122.
Black Friday Creeps into Thanksgiving Permanently?
This season could mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.
For decades, stores have opened their doors in the wee hours on the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, major chains such as Target and Sears ushered in customers on Thanksgiving itself, even before the turkey leftovers had gotten cold, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.
Despite an outcry from some employees, both stores and shoppers seemed to like it. Some people went shopping with a full belly, going straight from the dinner table to the stores. Others slept off their big meal and went to the mall before daybreak on Black Friday.
“I ate my turkey dinner and came right here,“ said Rasheed Ali, a college student in New York City who bought a 50-inch TV for $349 and a sewing machine for $50 when Target opened at 9 PM on Thanksgiving. “Then I’m going home and eating more.“
This new approach could become a holiday shopping season tradition.
“It’s Black Thursday and Friday combined,“ said Jackie Fernandez, a retail expert at the consulting firm Deloitte. “This is going to be a new normal of how we shop.“
It won’t be clear for a few days how many shoppers took advantage of the Thanksgiving hours. But about 17% of people said earlier this month that they planned to shop at stores that opened on Thanksgiving, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers.
Meanwhile, 33% intended to shop on Black Friday, down 1%age point from last year. Overall, it is estimated that sales on Black Friday will be up 3.8% to $11.4 billion this year, according to technology company ShopperTrak, which did not forecast sales from Thanksgiving Day.
The Black Friday creep began in earnest a few years ago when stores realized that sales alone weren’t enough to lure shoppers, especially with Americans becoming more comfortable buying things online. Opening on Thanksgiving was risky, with some employees and shoppers complaining it was almost sacrilegious.
But many stores evidently felt they needed an edge, especially this season, when many Americans are worried about high unemployment and wondering whether Congress will be able to head off tax increases and spending cuts before the U.S. reaches the “fiscal cliff” in January.
Overall, the National Retail Federation estimates that sales in November and December will rise 4.1% this year to $586.1 billion, below last year’s 5.6%.
“Every retailer wants to beat everyone else,“ said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, a firm based in Charleston, S.C. “Shoppers love it.“
At Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, most of its 4,000 U.S. namesake stores are already open 24 hours year-round. But the chain added special sales at 8 PM on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than a year ago.
The company said that its start to the holiday season was “the best ever,“ with nearly 10 million transactions and 5,000 items sold per second from 8 PM to midnight on Thanksgiving.
Toys R Us opened at 8 PM on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than last year.
Macy’s, which opened at midnight on Thanksgiving, had 12,000 customers wrapped around its store in New York’s Herald Square.
The earlier start also meant the violence associated with shoppers fighting for bargains likewise began earlier. On Thanksgiving night, a couple was struck by an SUV while walking into a Wal-Mart in Washington state, and in Texas, shoppers scattered when a man who got punched during a fight at a Sears store pulled a gun. Two people also were shot and wounded in Tallahassee, FL, on Friday in a disagreement that police believe was over a parking spot outside a Wal-Mart.
Julie Hansen, a spokeswoman at Minneapolis’ Mall of America, the nation’s largest shopping center, reported that 30,000 shoppers showed up for the mall’s midnight opening, up from 20,000 last year. “This was additional dollars,“ Hansen said. This year, 200 of the 520 mall tenants opened at midnight following Thanksgiving. That’s double from a year ago.
To be sure, it’s not clear whether the longer hours will turn into extra dollars for retailers, or whether sales will simply be spread out over two days.
The Thanksgiving openings appeared to create two waves of shoppers — the late-nights and the early birds.
Sam Chandler and his wife, Lori, were among the night owls. They started shopping at midnight on Thanksgiving. By the time they reached the Wal-Mart in Greenville, SC, early Friday, they had already hit several stores, including Target and Best Buy.
“We’ve learned over the years, you have to stand in line early and pray,“ Sam said.
Stu and April Schatz of Rockland County, NY, went to the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, NJ, which didn’t open until 7 AM on Black Friday, because they didn’t want to deal with the crowds that show up late on Thanksgiving night.
“It’s so much more civilized going in the morning,“ said April Schatz, a teacher. “We wanted to enjoy our evening.“
Thanksgiving Day 2012
On Thanksgiving Day we’re thankful for
Our blessings all year through,
For family we dearly love,
For good friends, old and new.
For sun to light and warm our days,
For stars that glow at night,
For trees of green and skies of blue,
And puffy clouds of white.
We’re grateful for our eyes that see
The beauty all around,
For arms to hug, and legs to walk,
And ears to hear each sound.
The list of all we’re grateful for
Would fill a great big book;
Our thankful hearts find new delights
Everywhere we look!
Copyright MMVIII-MMXIII The Gilmer Free Press. All Rights Reserved