Friday, November 7, 2008

Nov. 8, 2008 Election Day that Had an Impact In More Ways Than One

In your life, you will experience days that will leave a lasting impression that you will remember for ever. I have had the privilege to have a number of those days. They include the day I graduated from SLCD nearly 21 years ago. When I graduated from Uniondale High School in 2000, when my classmates and myself became the first graduating class of the new millennium. The day that I graduated from Nassau Community College in 2002, which was followed by my graduation from Howard University in 2005 as part of the largest graduating class in the history of the institution. What I had the opportunity to do this past Tuesday was even more remarkable.

On that day, I cast my vote for president to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), who at around 11:02 p.m. was named the 44th President of the United States of America and became this country’s first African American. What made this moment when I cast my ballot at Lawrence Road Middle School early that morning was I had the chance to share this great moment with several of my peers in Desmond Hamilton, Rashaun Church, Kevin and Michael Powell, Gamal Moodie and Sonyere Brown, who I stood behind line along with her parents to cast that vote.

You see for me this moment was special because for us, we were always taught in our days in school, particularly in Grand Avenue Elementary School, where my journey with my peers began is that we could be anything we wanted to be. Through hard work, commitment, dedication and a willingness to believe in ourselves and not what the outside world views of us that it can happen.

A great example of that is the other person who I had a chance to meet up with at LR yesterday. I caught up with my former home room teacher that I had in my 7th grade year in Lawrence Road 13 years ago in Mrs. Silverstein, who now is the Dean at the Middle School.

For me above all else, I voted for Obama was that I wanted to put my stock in history. I wanted to vote for somebody who was qualified and who looked liked me to help guide this country back in the right. I wanted my vote to count. I wanted my vote to be meaningful that goes beyond their skin color.

If you watched his victory speech in Grant Park in Chicago on Tuesday evening, he spoke about the fact that this was not a victory for him. This was a victory for America. This was something that made the African American baby boomer’s dream of seeing someone who embodied what the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and many others before Obama who stood up and wanted to make the United States a place that was equal and where anyone can make a name for themselves.

This is something that really hit home for me in three ways. The first one was when I saw CBS News National Correspondent Byron Pitts show a picture that he said he has kept in his office of African American garbage workers from Memphis, TN in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. He said of those workers who were holding signs that said, “I am a man,” that they wanted to be respected and treated like men.

The other point that made me really treasure what had just occurred on that Tuesday night is when CBS Chief Washington Correspondent and host of ‘Face The Nation’ Bob Schieffer is when he mentioned that when Lyndon B. Johnson when he passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that he lost his party in the South for a generation, which in fact did happen. He also said that vice president of that time Hubert Humphrey called the act the single most effective foreign policy achievement of the United States of this generation. What he meant by that is it showed the world how it thought of those that were of different ethnicities and that we should honor that and not see them as a threat, but as an asset.

Now comes the toughest part of this history making process, our country and its new president must deal with the reality of two wars, repairing our economy and restoring the people’s faith in government.

While Obama has broken a very important glass sealing, he must now build a new foundation that will make this country better from where it has been for the past eight years. He has to deal with the fact that Washington will be now ruled by the Democrats and it will be up to him and Vice President Joe Biden to put together a staff that will allow them to make our country better again.

If anything that this election though has taught us is now we all must step up and hold ourselves accountable. Things will not get better unless we as people make it better.

This will be a long, hard and rough road that we are about to travel. It will not turn around over night or even in Obama’s first term. If there is anyone who is ready for this it is him. Let us remember, he beat the powerful Hillary Clinton in the primaries. He defeated “The Maverick” in John McCain. He is ready for this challenge and we need to be ready alongside him.

While he will not be our official leader of the land until he is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009, we must now make our stand and be ready for when he and his family make their way into the address of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW in Washington DC, we are ready to follow them and their hopes and dreams for this country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What Nov. 4, 2008 Means For The Country And The World

In just 24 hours, every single person in the United States of America will have the opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to make history that will have an impact on our country and even the world. A chance to make a bold statement that will have a great impact on the lives of many. We have shown up, stood up and now it is time for us to step up.

On Nov. 4, 2008 beginning at 6 a.m. we will have the chance to elect the first African American to hold the highest office in all the land in Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) or we will elect Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who would be the oldest person to be elected as president as well as Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AL), who would be the first female to be elected as vice president.

The stakes could be any higher. Our country is in the midst of one of the greatest financial crisis to hit us since the great depression. Home after home in America is being foreclosed on. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs. People are having difficulties paying for just the basics like food for the home, gas to put into their cars, being able to make the monthly payments on their bills, draining the 401(k)’s of those that want to retire soon and widening the gap between the wealthy and the middle class. In a nutshell, Americans are hurting and that in tale has hurt companies and businesses across the world.

Tomorrow is the first and most important step that is necessary for us to get back on track. By voting for Obama or McCain, we can put a new leader into the Oval Office that will have our best interest at heart. We will have an individual who will have a strategy in dealing with a war that has made us feel unsafe here at home and has made our enemies abroad even more powerful. We can elect a president who will reorganize Washington and make government better for the people as a whole and not just for themselves. More than anything else, what we have the chance to do tomorrow is to vote in a president that will hold government accountable for its actions.

Our country is in the mess that it is in because the current administration that we have had in office over the past eight years has looked out for themselves and has put the interest of the people to the side of their minds. To President George Bush, it has become more important to bail out banks that gave out mortgages on homes that were out of peoples price range, to ship jobs that manufacture products that we purchase in the U.S. overseas and stretching our military thin in the war in Iraq that we should have known better to start.

Because of this mess, questions have risen about the future of our country we never thought we ask ourselves. Will the children of our country be able to get a solid education that will allow them to rise and be all that they can be? Will they be able to pay for college? Will people be able to have affordable healthcare we they need it most? Can we still have strong relationships with those that neighbor the U.S. to the North, South, East and West?

We began the process by each and every single one us showing up in front of our television sets and watching not just the presidential debates between Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), but taking the time to go out to political rallies and attending local debates. By doing this you have made it clear to the candidates that you do care about the issues and the solutions or lack their of that they have in solving them not all the other mess that goes on in between.

Upon doing that, you have stood up and have your voice be hear if the opportunity presents itself. Meaning that you when the opportunity has presented itself, you asked the candidates questions that concern you and listened closely to see if they are answering the question that you posed with a status quo response or a genuine  response that shows they will make sure they will put their words into actions when you elect them into office.

You have also shown that you stand by that particular candidate by volunteering your services to their campaign by putting up flyers and posters, making phone calls to get the word about that person, the position they are campaigning for and why they should be elected.

With all of that being said, it is now time for the final and crucial step necessary to begin the course of change the United States. That is you taking those very important minutes of your day to step into that voting booth and casting your ballot. When it is all said and done, the fate Obama, McCain does not come down to a question posed in a debate, voters who volunteer and politicians who take their time to get the word out about that particular candidate, it comes down to that person and their vote.

To say the stakes are high would be an understatement. If we do not step up and do something that millions of people fought for us, particularly for African Americans and women to do many years ago, we could be setting ourselves up for a very rough road.

The time has come for all of us to show up at the poles and step up and vote for our next president. On top of that, this is also a day when we as a society need to step up and vote for those at the local level. It is one thing for us to take care of business at the national level, but all other levels of politics are important. The concerns of the people in each town and state cannot be heard without a state senator in Washington fighting for the people. The judiciary system cannot change unless people in each town, county and state vote.

You see ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow is a very important day. A day that can put our country back on course to where we were back in the 90s under the leadership of Bill Clinton when we had a thriving economy, a job market where people were making names for themselves in their work and when we were one America that was respect by all across the globe. That is what is at stake.

Obama and McCain have made their arguments and so have those running for the Senate and at the local level. They have debated head to head, run ads on television, radio. They have been on talk shows and radio shows. It is now up to us as Americans to step up and vote. You have up at least 15 hours tomorrow to make your voice heard in the most important election in the history of the United States of America. Do not miss this chance.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Friends That Are Special To You and Make You Better Every Single Day

To become great in this world it takes a great deal. It takes you coming to an understanding that you want to improve every single day. That you have family that is behind you 100 percent and will never let you waiver from what you need to become. More than anything else, you need to have friends that see you more than just someone that you can have fun with, talk to and enjoy their company. You need to have friends that will push you and make you believe that working hard, having solid communication, listening to them when they talk to you about something important on their mind, is how you build a solid foundation that will last a lifetime.

Last weekend, I had a chance to catch with some very special classmates at Howard University’s 2008 Homecoming, my third as a graduate of that Institution of higher learning.

We all had a chance to catch up and discuss what has been going on in our lives since we last saw each other. Some of my former classmates and peers I have not seen in over a year. Others I have not seen in nearly two years. When you have been away from each other that long, you hope that the solid connection you have developed in the time you were in school together is still there. Thankfully for me it was for a number of my peers.

To say that I was truly happy to see my friends that I have made a special connection with from the fall of 2002 to the spring of 2005 is an understatement. It was a true to talk with all of them and find out how things have been going for them. Some are in the workforce and are doing very well. Their work ranges from being on Wall Street to working for non-profit organizations. Others are in graduate school or law school. One of my closet friends and the former editor of the Howard University student newspaper “The Hilltop” Josef Sawyer is now working behind the scenes Fox’s America’s Most Wanted. One of my former track and field teammates Leon Snyder is now married and I had a chance to meet his wife at Homecoming on Friday. She was very cool. He without question made a great choice in who he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

The one person I really enjoyed seeing was my one of my other former teammates Lance Gross. He currently is on Tyler Perry’s show House of Payne where he plays the part of Calvin Payne. Last summer he was in Tyler Perry’s film “Meet the Browns.” It was good to see him. He looked great and Hollywood definitely has not changed him. He even introduced me to someone who I have seen on television many times back in the day. Last Saturday, Lance introduced me to Keisha Knight Pulliam, who stars as his characters mate Miranda on “House of Payne,” and who we all remember as Rudy Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” I even got a chance to make a picture with her. It does not get any better than that.

What made this Homecoming very special in being around my former peers is that the respect and admiration that we have for one another in the points that we find ourselves in right now. For some that might where they want to be and for those like myself that are still striving to reach that place of greatness, we all took the time to show our respect for where we all are. It can be very easy for one to bask in the joy of their success and frown down on someone else who has not reach the pinnacle of where they want to be. That is one thing that we all at HU, particularly the edition that I graduated with three years ago, never will allow.

We all have an understanding as former students, but also as people who have come very far from where we were six years ago, that life, especially now is not going to be easy. We all to man have worked very hard to be at the point where we can see each other at an occasion that was very special to us as students and is now even more special as alumni of one of the most historic university’s in the United States of America.

What made my peers at HU special to me is that I was able to be myself and I did not have to change anything about who I was, what I stood for or what I represented in order to fit in. In being around them, I knew and understood that if I was going to make it, I had to come with a never back down, bring your hard hat, be focused and never be satisfied attitude to the table every day and never take anything for granted.

That really hit home for me when my friend Jason Johnson from Texas told me that our good friend Aaron Bonner from Cincinnati, Ohio had passed away. You want to talk about a down moment that was one for me. Aaron was a freshmen when I first met him back in 2002. He was someone I greatly admired because he was someone that was the true definition of cool. He worked very hard in school. He always had a smile on his face. He had two very good friends in Jason and Andre Levy who along with Bonner were a part of the Howard University Campus Pals for three years. What I will miss about Aaron the most is the approach he had to life. He worked hard at his studies each and every single day, but he always managed to enjoy those around him as well as the journey he took each day in the game of life.

It is because of that commitment, I became a great student that graduated Cum Laude in 2005, in the largest graduating class in Howard University history, I was a major part in several student organizations, I was a solid writer for “The Hilltop” and more than anything, I earned the respect of my classmates who refer to me as the “Living Legend” of Howard.

It is that respect that also allows a close friend like David Borrego to let you crash with him and his brother Carlos at their home during Homecoming. You do not get that opportunity unless you show that person during your time as classmates at HU the respect of being a good friend.

That is why when we do see one another at occasions like these, we take lots of pictures, have in-depth conversations about what we are doing. For myself, I do not hide the fact that I do work for the Town of Hempstead’s Parks and Recreation Department. I mentioned that to all my classmates about what I do in Baldwin Park as well as writing this blog for a special education school that I attended when it was in its first inception back in the early 1980s.

On top of sharing what we are doing in our lives at Homecoming, we party. On Friday night, I and my peers partied at the nightclub called “LOVE.” All I can say is it was fun. We were all dressed up very nice. We danced into the night. It was special. It was something that brought me back to my time as an undergrad where after we worked hard during the week in school, we took time to have some responsible, get down fun.

Then on Saturday, the fun continued when I got a chance to attend the HU Alumni Boat Ride out by the Washington Harbor. There is nothing better then getting out on a boat where you dance to music, have fine food and can enjoy the company of some very cool people.

This was one of those weekends that I will remember for a long time. Why you say? Because it allowed me to look back and see where I came from. When I first got to HU after I graduated from Nassau Community College, I was just someone trying to make a name for himself and graduate and make my parents proud of me. I accomplished all of that and them some.

In this life you are going to have the chance to build friendships with some special individuals. People who without you knowing it, make you better than you ever felt possible. They will challenge you, make you look deep within yourself and bring the best out of you. It is up to you to maintain those special friendships, because you never know in life when you are going to need that person for anything.

I have gone to HU’s Homecoming as former student for three years and each year it has gotten better and all of my former peers have risen to new heights from their careers, to getting married to some even having children. It is moments like this that make life special. I only hope in the years to come there are more special moments that we all can share at future HU Homecomings and other reunions.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Yankee Stadium

For many die-hard Yankee fans, saying goodbye to Yankee Stadium this past Sunday was special, but at the same time it was very sad. Why you say, because there will be no postseason baseball as the Yankees will miss the playoffs for the first time in the last 14 years and all the great memories that came with it.

Unlike a lot of sports stadiums and arenas, Yankee Stadium is a place that stands by itself.

This was the place that not only has a team that has won 26 World Series titles, but it is also where some of the greatest sports spectacles took place.

In 1958, the New York Football Giants, who played in Yankee Stadium from 1956-1973, played in what was called, “The Greatest Game Ever Played” when they faced the Baltimore Colts for the NFL Championship on Dec. 22, 1958. The Giants unfortunately lost the game in overtime when fullback Alan Ameche scored a 1-yard touchdown after 8 minutes and 15 seconds to give the Colts a 23-17 win and the NFL title. What made this game special is that it help launch the popularity of the NFL and brought into the spotlight individuals like Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas, Giants running back Frank Gifford, Giants assistant coaches Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi, Giants owner Tim Mara and Vice President and Secretary Wellington Mara who brought the NFL into the spotlight who would later on become synonymous with the game and be etched in its history forever in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.   

Along with football in its early days, “The Stadium” was also the host three notable boxing matches. It was here where Benny Leonard retained his heavyweight title defeating Lou Tendler in a 15-round decision on July 24, 1923. Jack Dempsey knocked out Jack Sharkey in the first $1 million non-title fight on July 7, 1927. The boxing match though that is most remembered at Yankee Stadium was between the bought between Joe Louis and Germany’s Max Schmeling on June 22, 1938. The fight took place as the world was on the verge of World War II. Adolf Hitler called Schmeling before his fight and urged him to defeat Louis for the Nazi Party. Louis knocked out Schmeling less than a minute into the fight and won the World Heavyweight Championship of the World. He also in the process sent a message that went beyond the walls of the Bronx Bombers ballpark.

This was also a place of some other significant moments in American history took place. This was the place where Nelson Mandela appeared four months after his 27-year stint in prison on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town bay in South Africa. In his speech to more than 50,000 people, he encouraged them to unite in peace.

Yankee stadium was also the place that hosted the Papal Visits. The first took place when Pope Paul VI visited on Oct. 4, 1965. Pope john Paul II made his visit to the stadium on Oct. 2, 1979. The most recent visit came on Apr. 20, 2008 when Pope Benedict XVI visited New York and held his service at Yankee Stadium.

“The Stadium” is also the place where some of the greatest music artist of our era entertained crowds with the sounds that have made them the best at what they do. Billy Joel had his concert on June 22, 1990. The group U2 rocked their sounds for the New York faithful on August 8, 1992. English rock band Pink Floyd performed at Yankee stadium on June 10, 1994. The most memorable performance took place on April 25, 1999 when Rock and Roll musician Paul Simon, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sung his most popular song in centerfield on the day when Joe DiMaggio’s Monument dedication.

Yankee Stadium with all those great achievements in professional athletics, music and human kind will always be remembered for the baseball greatness that fans got a chance witness.

It is almost fitting that the first hit in this monumental ballpark happened was by Red Sox first baseman George Burns. The first home run though was by Babe Ruth. The Yanks beat their arch rivals on that day of Apr. 18, 1923 by the score of 4-1.

From that day forward, the Bronx bombers gave New York fans moments to cherish. From nine clinching World Series titles on their field; 10 regular-season no-hitters performed by the likes of Monte Pearson, Jim Abbott, Dwight Gooden, David Wells and David Cone; 10 walk-off postseason home runs, with former Yankee greats Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter and Aaron Boone to name a few.

To really understand the true meaning of what Yankee Stadium has meant to New York, just go back to Sept. 11, 2001 when our nation changed forever. It was “The Stadium” that played a major part in bringing some normalcy back to many New Yorkers. On Sept. 23, 2001, Yankee Stadium was where a memorial service was held for those who were victim of the terrorist attacks.

Two months later, the Yankees made it to the World Series and in Game 3 President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch to back up catcher Todd Greene.

What followed were three consecutive wins by the Yankees in dramatic fashion. in Former third baseman Scott Brosius broke a 6th inning tie with an RBI single that gave the Yanks a 3-2 victory and cut the D-Backs lead in the series 2-1.

The heroics of Game 4 belonged to first baseman Tino Martinez who hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the score 3-3. Then Derek Jeter added another page to his resume of greatness with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning that gave the Yankees a 4-3 victory and tied the series at two. Jeter’s game clinching dinger made him the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit a homer in November and earned him the nickname “Mr. November.”

The come from behind heroics by the Yankees continued in Game 5 when catcher Jorge Posada hit a double to begin things in the bottom of the ninth. Brosius who was the hero in Game 3 helped the Yanks draw even with a two-out blast over the left field wall that tied the contest 2-2.  Former Yankee outfielder Alfonso Soriano won it for the Yankees with a base hit that scored Chuck Knoblauch in the bottom of the 12th inning and the Yankees won 3-2 and were ahead in the series 3-2.

Unfortunately those great come from behind victories went for naught as the Diamondbacks won both Game 6 (15-2) and Game 7 (3-2) back in Arizona and would win their first World Series in franchise history. While the dream at the end was denied for the Yankees, they still gave the faithful of New York and those who watched across North America something to be very proud of, especially those that watched at the stadium.

Yankee stadium became more than just a place that housed 26 World Series titles. It stemmed beyond the record of 4,132-2,430. This stadium was a place that allowed fans to see and appreciate greatness from the likes of Reggie Jackson, Henry Louis Gehrig and many of the former and current Yanks. It was the home of Monument Park where you can see the 24 players, managers, broadcasters and events that made “The Stadium,” what is. This was home of an organization that while it had great players and managers, it always came back to the two most important things, the team and the fans.

While there will be no more baseball in the old Yankee Stadium, there will always be the memories that it bought to so many of us and we can only hope that another 85 years of greatness lie ahead at the new Yankee Stadium.

Friday, September 5, 2008

It’s Back To School: A New Year; New Opportunity, but the Same Goal

This past week was the beginning of another year that brings both joy, opportunity, challenges and another step in the process of growth, education and maturity for children. It is that time of year where children can make strides in their development as a person. It is that time to go back to school. It is also the chance for teachers, administrators and those that are involved with the school, whether it is with SLCD or any other school to take another step forward in making their place of learning better than it ever was before.

This is the time of the year where all of those involved in school that brings a great amount of joy. For kids, they get a chance to see their friends that they may have not seen all summer. They get a chance when they are not improving their minds through school work to interact and learn more about each other. Above all else they take that next step in the process of their friendship.

When you move up a grade with your friends, you go another step in the process of maturity. You conversations may be different. One day you may be talking about what you saw on television last night. The next day, there might be a discussion on what you think is cool about other classmates. The conversation may also include what you did over the summer and the cool things that you learned, a particular place that you visited or a new friendship that you may have established with someone in your neighborhood park, summer camp or on your street.

For teachers and administrators, they also get joy out of the beginning of a new school year. Teachers have a new group of students that they have a chance to make better through education in subjects like mathematics, spelling, reading and writing. Students more than anything get to learn from that leader of education what they feel is important that they walk out of that classroom with at the end of the year besides what they learn from a textbook or a lesson on the blackboard. In each grade, especially in the early years of school, you learn from your teacher some of the most important lessons of life.

For me, especially in my elementary school years, I learned from each teacher I had the importance of focus. You see in order to perform at your maximum potential, you have to bring a high level of concentration where you will not be distracted and unable to grasp the message your teacher is trying to get across to you. Along with that, I learned that the classroom setting is like a family.

While you may only be around each other for a maximum of 10 months, those ten months are of great value. You learn beyond the subject matter how to interact with one another and how important it is for you individual to improve everyday, but how important it is for the class in general to improve as well.

A new school year along with the joy and excitement it brings, it is also accompanied by some challenges. For students, one particular challenge a new year brings is new classmates in school.

One of the hardest things, especially for today’s students to deal with is establishing friendships with new students. That person does not know you and you may not know them. The things that you may like and feel about life may be different from that other individual. That person may enjoy standing out and making their presence felt in the classroom by raising their hand first to answer a question.

To overcome this challenge, it comes down to you as a classmate or a student in the school, just extending your hand and just saying hello as a start. Ask that person who they are? What makes them happy or sad? What do they find fun about life? What makes the school they are a part of special? In order to break that barrier of not knowing someone, you have to take the initiative.

Maybe the greatest challenge that each student faces in the beginning of the school year is evolving. When you move a grade up, you have to establish a certain level of maturity that will allow you to become better as a person. As you get older in your educational life, you take on more things. For example when you were in maybe kindergarten, most of your day may consist of story time and playing with block and games. When you enter your primary years, that being 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade, you have to deal with actual school work like math, spelling, reading and much more. You also get tested in those areas where you get graded. Probably the biggest thing that changes when you move up a grade level is your expectations.

Even as a young kid in school, I always had high expectations for myself. I felt that whenever, I came to school, I had to perform. Just doing my best did not cut it for me. Being involved in a lesson from answering questions to asking some was my way of saying that I am here in the class both physically and emotionally. It show above all else that you are not content of just getting by.

Like students, teachers also face challenges in the beginning of the new school year. They have to establish lessons plans for each day from what they will teach in their subject matter to organizing activities to bring both fun and education to the children. They also have to learn each student’s name. Establish classroom rules and regulations. Tell the students who he or she is and the standards that he or she expects each student to live up to.

For each teacher and student, the new school year brings an energy, excitement, joy and devotion that can empower each person involved in that school to new heights of greatness. It also brings challenges that test a student and teacher’s will and fortitude to push through the tough days and embrace those days enlightenment.

While each year brings along something different, the goal is to take another step forward in achieving success into building a foundation for a better future.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Making A Commitment-The Meaning, The Value and The Importance

In the game of life we all want to achieve greatness. Some want to achieve greatness on a business level. Some of us want to achieve success on a social level. We want to achieve success academically, so that we can build a foundation for achievement in the business world and in a solid social circle. With all great ideas that we want to bring to life, the milestones that we want to achieve and the amazing highs that we want to be on, they all start by doing the hardest, but the most important thing that will allow to make the key steps into reaching those great dreams you have. It is making a commitment.

To become special in this world, to be seen as someone who is one in a million starts with making a commitment. This is you making an agreement to yourself that you will do take the necessary steps to achieve your goal at a certain time in your life. This is you promising yourself that you will from this day forward that you will be different in your approach to certain areas of your life. You are instilling values that will allow you to make a mark on the world.

When you make a commitment to anything in life, there is one thing that comes with it, challenges. What you begin to see right away or as you progress into what you are trying to do, there are going to be obstacles in your way. You will more than anything else have doubters who feel that you do not stand a chance at accomplishing your commitment. You will have to proceed through a commitment in stages, phases, steps and sometimes long processes. Sometimes making a commitment means that you have to put certain things to side like maybe hanging out with your friends, you will have to miss that show you like to watch on television, you may have to get your rest sooner at the end of the day so when the next day comes, you will wake up reading and willing to do what is necessary on that day of the commitment that you have made.

As you go through making the most out of the commitment, you have the chance more than anything to see what you are really made of. What going through a commitment allows you to see above all else is what you can take, what you have to learn to handle and how much you truly care about something. In going through a commitment, you learn to develop character. You begin to see things from a perspective that maybe might not have before. Committing to a goal makes you stronger in the fact that you develop an attitude of not quitting, finishing the task and showing others that getting better may not be easy, but it can be done.

One of the greatest things about commitment is that it can bring people together. When you are part of a group of people that becomes committed, you learn more than anything that you are not alone. People can see your vision of what something can be, is supposed to be, what something can become when the entire group is pointed, going or progressing in the right direction.

Whether you are a kid in the early stages of life or you are an adult who is married, in the workforce, we all are going to make a commitment. We all at one point in our lives are going to want to make something of ourselves, to better who we are individually or a collective body. In order for that dream to become a reality, it takes you looking at yourself in the mirror and making that commitment to yourself that you will take the time, put in the effort, elude every obstacle that stands in your way and make what you want or the group you are a part of wants happen and change the world.

All it takes is a little belief, willingness to put your nose to the grindstone and the understanding that it will not happen over night. It will be a process. When it is achieved, it will change your life. That is commitment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Passing of Giant in Political Journalism and a Proud Human Being

Picture of “Meet The Press” moderator Tim Russert who passed last from a heart attack. This picture is Courtesy of image search

I only watched him for about a year, but in that one year, I got a better understanding of politics that I ever had before. He made me a better thinker about important issues. He made a believer that the issues are country faces are important. More than anything, this man that I watched from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday morning on NBC that the common man can become anything in this world he wants to be because he was able to, with some help from a great father.

As many of you know now Tim Russert, NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief and the great moderator of “Meet the Press” passed away last month from a sudden heart attack. He had been during that day working on voiceovers for this Sunday’s edition of his show at NBC’s Washington Studio.

While I had only become a serious watcher of “Meet the Press” for about a year, I learned a great deal about politics and respected the kind of journalist that Russert was. He was somebody who cared about the issues. His questions to each politician that appeared on his show where questions that made it seem like it came from us. He had a knack for asking that one question that just seemed to be on the mind on all Americans that tuned in to watch him. To me the best example of that was the March 16, 2003 “Meet the Press” when he asked VP Dick Cheney in reference to going to war in Iraq, “Do you think the American people ar4e prepared for the long costly and bloody battle with significant American casualties?”

“I don’t think it is likely to unfold that way Tim because I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators,” Cheney said.

One thing that North America is learning five years later that there have been significant casualties of over four thousand American soldiers killed, the economy has taken a serious hit and has seen our country looking for answers.

As I watched each show that he moderated and his 90-second political reports that he had about three to four times a week on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and that he had each morning on the Today Show, I saw someone who was prepared, knew what was coming and could deliver on cue.

The one show that really made me see “Meet The Press” as different than any other show was when he had entertainer Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School to discuss their book “Come On People: On The Path from Victims to Victors.” It show me that he was a journalist that did care about the issues that our country was facing like the number of African Americans who drop out of school and are going to prison. The only other times that I saw Cosby and Poussaint discuss their book on television was on The Oprah Winfrey show and on Our World with Black Enterprise. That was one particular Sunday Russert struck gold.

More than anything, Russert was a journalist who did his reporting in the simplest way it can be done. The best example of that is when he does his political analysis whether it is on ‘Meet The Press,’ NBC Nightly News or on Today, he does not use graphical maps or computerized charts, he uses a white, dry erase board. It was that board he used on Election Night Nov. 7, 2000 where he wrote on the board three times that Florida would decide the winner of the presidential race. He used that same board about a couple of months ago on Nightly News in deciding the number of delegates necessary to decide who would be the Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party between Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Russert wrote on his Board that Obama needed a little over 90 delegates and Clinton needed over 270 to clinch the nomination.

He was also someone when you heard him on television that you learned something of great historic significance. I learned from a clip that the CBS Evening News played on Friday that this year’s election was the first time since the 1952 election that an incumbent president or vice president is not running for president. As he put referring to the race, “It’s wide open.”

One of the great things that respect about Tim Russert was how he worked his way into being one of the smartest, brightest and hardest working political journalist of our time. I learned in reading about him the last three days in the New York papers that this was a man who started within the fabric of politics. He worked former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Sen. Daniel Moynihan. He worked under the best and he found a way to take what he learned and bring to the table in the journalism world at NBC and the rest is history.

What I really respect about Russert in seeing his life being told in the last few days was what he was like away from his seat on Sunday mornings.

He was someone who was very dedicated to his family. He was an avid sports fan, particularly of the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. He always smiled and showed great enthusiasm for life that was infectious. As I heard throughout the weekend on television from his colleagues at NBC to his competitors on CBS and ABC, they all had a tremendous amount of respect for Russert on and off the television set.

On Sunday’s edition of The Chris Matthews Show on NBC, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell said how he gave a “Meet The Press” hat to her 94-year-old father once, which he wears proudly still.

Al Hunt, Washington Executive Editor of Bloomberg News also mentioned on the same show of how he bought his son Jeffrey a baseball cap to cover the scar he had after the surgery from a serious accident. Hunt’s son to this day now has 400 baseball hats. He also mentioned that when he came home from college about a month ago that one of the first calls he got was from Tim Russert.

As for his own family, Russert was a good of husband and parent as you could have hoped for.

In hearing Russert’s son Luke, who appeared on the Today show on Monday, you could tell of how much of a solid kid he was and that his father was always their for him. To me the best example of how close Luke was to his dad was when he mentioned to Matt Lauer about how he would come up to Boston and he would spend some time with him and his friends and that the age difference never showed.

What really hit home for me about the interview was when Luke mentioned that last moments in the studio where they showed a picture of he stood over the chair with the lights dimmed we saw his dad sit in every Sunday morning with his head down. That is when we knew that one of the best that brought politics into our living rooms every Sunday morning was gone.

Since 1991, Tim Russert brought politics into our lives and made us clear right from the beginning that the issues that he brought to the table each week were issues that were important to us. He brought values to the table that made his guests from those vying for political office to those that want to change politics in our nation prepared to come on his show and answer questions in a true and honest way. More than anything, he was able to remain at the top of his profession not being a yeller, screamer or someone that was just about himself. He was about making others better, about having fun after he got his work done. Being someone others can come up to as they did so many times when they saw him and asked questions about the state of affairs in America.

Basically, Tim Russert was always himself; saw whoever he was talking to as important at the key moment. He made his family a priority as much as he made his work and he earned the respect of those he went up against every Sunday morning like CBS Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer, who also serves as host of Face The Nation and George Stephanopoulos, ABC’s Chief Washington Correspondent and host of This Week.

“Tim and I butted heads for 18 years on Sunday mornings and yet somehow along the way we also became friends,” Schieffer said this past Sunday. “Tim did it the old fashion way. He did not need a squadron of producers and aides to get him briefed up for big interviews. He just kept up with things on a day-to-day hour-to-hour basis and then he did his homework. In our business, you know which of your colleagues do their own work and you know which ones don’t and somehow the public has a way of figuring that out as well. Tim was nothing fancy. No bells or whistles, he just sat them down [meaning his guest] and asked those questions, but they were good questions, but they were always good questions. I think what made him so good was he realized that news programs were about the news, their not about the newscasters. I think that’s why he got so much news himself.”

I will miss watching Tim Russert, particularly now in one of the greatest elections for the White House that I have ever seen play out. I will especially miss how he closed every show when he said, “If it’s Sunday, it’s ‘Meet the Press.’ ”