Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2004

Bits and Pieces

From politics to the Relay, time to come together

June 3, 2004

Watching both Bob Dole and former President Bill Clinton on Channel 6 recently as they appeared together at the lectern for the first Dole lecture at Kansas University, I was struck by what an odd couple they make.
Both confirmed in their political beliefs as Democrat and Republican, they stood together and praised the accomplishments of the other, explaining how their relationship has grown through the years as they worked together on such projects as a scholarship fund for the children of those killed in the towers of 9-11. They raised several million dollars to ensure each of those children receive a college education.
In addition, Clinton remarked on how often he and the former Kansas senator worked together on many issues during his presidency. Calling for a return to civility, Clinton not only talked about tolerance for those with different opinions, but he and Dole also symbolized this by their obvious admiration and friendship for each other. Once again an example of a picture is "worth a thousand words."
As they learned to respect the other's opinion and learned to compromise, the former presidents noted, they both grew in respect for the other. Clinton emphasized how important compromise was in a world that was more and more interdependent. Clinton stressed that all of us, if we are to continue to exist, must quit demonizing the other and instead focus on our similarities.
He recalled that a famed eugenist said all of us, in whatever culture or country we inhabit, are 99.9 percent alike in our genetic makeup -- only 9/10th of a percent remained that makes us unique. Realizing this, he called for each of us to do what we can to stop the intolerance and fracturing that existed in our world today. Which called to mind the song lyrics: "There ain't no good guys; there ain't no bad guys; there's only you and me, and we just disagree."
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Writing about Memorial Day in the past, I have focused on my own memories of decorating graves -- a family tradition that continues to this day. This year I made the trip to the Catholic cemetery in Emporia -- as well as the cemetery in Lebo and Clinton -- to remember those of our family who have died. I contemplate the 800 and more new graves that would appear as large mounds of dirt all over our country this Memorial Day.
I am speaking now of those men and women who have given their lives in the recent Iraqi war. While their loved ones mourn their deaths, the war goes on without an apparent end. The official word now is that there will be a return of leadership to the Iraqis the end of June.
Hopefully this will lead to a withdrawal of our troops in a timely manner and without large numbers of additional casualties. Even if this happens, I still wonder at the wisdom of this war and what good it has brought to both our country and the Iraqi people.
It is true, an inhumane dictator has fallen, and we can only hope that for the Iraqi people the peace they hope for will come in the form of a new government free of factions and old controversies. They also need the unity of which Clinton speaks and the cessation of demonizing others in order to bring some harmony to their country that has suffered so much.
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I spent this past weekend in Emporia attending my 50th high school reunion. These events get harder to attend each time. It takes a lot to get me motivated to go, but if I do go I'm always glad I did. After 50 years, we are still a lively bunch, and funny memories and stories were recalled. One thing about the 50th -- by this time everyone has relaxed. We have either fulfilled our dreams or decided we never will and that it doesn't matter. Competition and divisiveness goes out the window in terms of looks, economic status and race. We all understand the wisdom of my Mom's oft-spoken words that, "We are all in the same boat," and each year flies by a wee bit quicker.
A very positive note was that many alumni were involved in volunteer work -- giving back now that they are retired and have the time to give. Whether visiting nursing homes, delivering meals on wheels or reading to elementary school children, many are giving of themselves and finding much satisfaction in doing so.
Health issues arise (several of us shared "knee stories"), but we are all thankful to be walking and breathing and able to still work out and exercise. The 60s years are much like the 40s in previous generations. We are still able to lift weights, walk or run, play golf, drive RVs all over the country, roller skate, ride bicycles, and paint our own houses. Unlike my husband's Irish aunts who took to wearing black when they turned 50 and waited for the grim reaper to appear, life is good and we want to enjoy every minute.
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The seventh annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life is returning to Eudora again this year under the leadership of Eric Strimple and Deb Campbell. They and their committee have worked hard for five months to create a fun and profitable event for our community.
I hope that many of you, whether involved in the Relay or not, will venture out to Laws Field this Friday and join in the fun. There will be food, a dinner for survivors, games and a moon walk for the kids, an auction of gift baskets, created and contributed by the teams and of course music and a luminaria program where we remember those who have died of cancer and honor those who are still with us.
In addition to being a good cause this is a celebration of life and fun with something for everyone. Come and join us.

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