Friday, September 10, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand and join me in the singing of our National Anthem

Last night I watched the Opening Game of the 2010 NFL Season. There was all the accompanying hoopla and hype. There was also the singing of the National Anthem. The singer was Colbie Callait. I don't really keep up with the current contemporary music of the day so I am not familiar with her music. However, her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was painful to me. Too many times I have seen and heard our National Anthem torn to shreds by artists who put their own spin on it. I say enough is enough.

I am of the persuasion that our National Anthem should be sung as it was written to be sung. This is a tradition that should not be changed. Do you see any other countries changing how their anthems are sung or performed? I doubt it. There is a reason for that.

I think it's okay to put a personal leaning on it, but not to the point where it is unrecognizable as our National Anthem. It is not just another song. It is a poem that was written by Washington lawyer Francis Scott Key from a British naval ship during the War of 1812, where he had been sent to secure the release of a Maryland doctor who was being held there. The British had captured Washington, DC and were marching toward Baltimore but had to go through Fort McHenry to do it.

His historic poem is actually a question to the listener, "Please tell me, can you still see our flag?" on the morning after the battle, which raged through the night. He heard bomb blast after bomb blast and saw the rockets racing through the sky, and was anxious to know if Fort McHenry had been able to hold off the British. When he saw the flag flying over the Fort, he was inspired and wrote his poem, which was set to music and eventually became our "Star Spangled Banner" National Anthem.

It is by and large one of the most difficult songs to sing and it takes a skilled singer to do it justice. I believe that is part of the reason why it should remain as it was originally penned and set to music. The challenge of the song is well befitting the challenge that faced those brave souls at Fort McHenry that night. And it is well befitting the challenges that faced our brave souls who have fought in the past and those who fight in the present and will fight in the future... to secure the blessings of the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. My father, God rest his soul, served in the US Army in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. As an Army brat, I have been raised to respect and honor what our military has done and to be a patriot.

It is merely a song, yes. But it represents the core of bravery, courage under fire, heroism in the face of mortal danger... the core upon which this country was founded. It is a core that we must not forget.

Ultimately, that is why I believe the Star Spangled Banner should be regarded with honor and dignity, with all due respect to its originator and author... and why every effort should be made to preserve it intact. And I believe that as some have suggested, the National Anthem should be sung by all when it is sung at the opening of ball games across this country. We could all use practice and maybe, just maybe it will have the effect it was originally intended to have. One of pride and patriotism. One of stepping up to the plate. One of heroism in a day and age where fake heroes are made in Hollywood and the real ones live daily lives of anonymity.

The real heroes are on the battlefield. The real heroes are in our schools, still teaching our children when the odds are stacked against them. The real heroes are raising kids at home. The real heroes are serving others who need a helping hand. The real heroes are everyday people. The ones who show up day after day and do whatever it takes to keep their families fed, clothed, warm and dry. The real heroes are the ones who get kicked in the teeth and knocked off their feet but they get back up to fight another day. The real heroes are moms, dads, sisters, brothers... all the people that shape our lives so that we can become the best we can be.

Yes, our country has had its share of problems and some of its history is downright shameful. However, there is so much about this country's rich history that is good. I, for one, want to remember it and believe it is important to pass on from generation to generation. I think it is a mistake to throw out the baby with the bath water by just chucking it all for something new.

Some things are better left in their original state. Such is the Star Spangled Banner, our National Anthem.

God bless America.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Proud to be a Who Dat... even prouder of Sean Payton

I just finished reading Sean Payton's book "Home Team." It is not reaching to say that the book is both easy and satisfying to read... especially if you are a Who Dat.

We members of the Who Dat Nation are standing tall and proud because our beloved team has done what we have all dreamed they would do for as long as we have loved them. It has brought us to an even higher plane of our Who Dat-dom.

Once upon a time, we hoped against hope. We became accustomed to the usual letdown at the end of each season as we said to ourselves, "There's always next year." Not so anymore.

Sean Payton has captured the essence of his own personal journey from the beginning in 2005 when he was hired by Mickey Loomis and Tom Benson to be the head coach of the New Orleans Saints. The rookie head coach of a team whose future was marked with uncertainty and whose past had been plagued by great misfortune and disappointment.

As I turned the pages of this page-turner book of Payton's, it dawned on me that he was letting me in on some things that were so far on the inside of the Saints organization that I felt honored to be reading it all. I found Sean to be humorous and humble, yet confident and daring all at once. Nobody I have ever seen coach a professional football team has ever captivated me like Sean Payton. He's got moxy and style. He's got cajones... major ones. And he's got quiet strength that is overshadowed by the public persona that comes with being an NFL team coach, much less the Super Bowl Champions head coach. I like that he wants his book to be like a conversation he would have in an airport bar with someone, just one on one. That's the kind of personable guy he is. That makes me love him even more.

Some of what he wrote did not come as a surprise because I had already seen it and heard it on (AKA, my beloved Saints fan website. That's pretty astonishing to me because I live far away from NOLA and the Saints stomping grounds. But because of the kindness and hard work of people like james_k_p, St.Chadwick, Kfran, mvtrucking and so many others on this wonderful forum, I got to stay very well-informed and I even got to see every single preseason game, every season game, tons of interviews and local news videos.... all this and so much more. How happy did that make me as a 28-year fan and member of the Who Dat Nation... someone who has never set foot in NOLA (yet) or been to the Superdome? Let me tell you, I have been floating on cloud 9 ever since I found this website and all the friendly Who Dats who are frequent fliers there!

Every week as our team played game after game, I had some great new photo(s) to put up on display in my office. Some of my favorites were the photoshops that somebody did of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick standing on the sidelines during their humiliating defeat on MNF at the Dome. The caption in the balloon above Brady's head read, "Maybe I'm not the best..." and above Belichick's another balloon read "Who Dat." And of course, who can forget the photoshop of a very angry Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith throwing his headset but you didn't see the headset hit the ground, you only saw Matt Ryan crawling on the ground under the raised hand of Smith, looking as if he was getting whipped by his own miserable, pathetic, anger-management-candidate coach. Brilliant stuff.

Every week I got to talk about the game with the guys at work and tell them things they did not know about the Saints and about the game they just played. It was awesome!

But, I digress... back to Payton's book. Tonight as I finished and read the team rosters of the 2006 Saints team and the 2009 Super Bowl XLIV Saints roster, I began to cry. My emotions surprised me as I looked at the names of each player from the 2006 season, who were not there for the Big Show in Miami... but who had been a part of the beginning stages of this incredible team. And my eyes filled with tears. I cannot tell you exactly why I was crying, or why I cry whenever I watch the games again that were so full of emotion.. the NFCCG against the Vikings and Hartley's winning FG that sent us to the Super Bowl... the QB sneak that Drew did in Miami followed by his great dunk over the crossbar of the goal post... Shockey's first TD catch against the Lions in week 1... Meachem's thievery of the previously-intercepted pass to run it back for a momentum-changing TD... so many incredible moments that take my breath away, make me so proud and bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

Sean Payton did a great job with his book. It is definitely a must-read for all Who Dats. You must read this book.

So, I just finished it and was inspired to blog about it. I hope others do the same.

Here's to another magnificent season and run for the prize of another Lombardi for the Saints and NOLA!!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

The River of Life

Sometimes life flows and you just go with it. Other times there's a bend in the river and you are taken off track from where you thought you were headed. And sometimes there is a sudden increase in speed and you find yourself breathless from trying to keep your head above the water. Every once in a while, there's a pool where you can just be calm and still.

No matter what the flow is like, even, twisting and turning, tumultuous or limpid, I find it changes me along with its changes. I can only but trust those changes are what have been divinely appointed for me.

For I have no control over the river of life. I know it begins, has a constant ebb and flow, sometimes floods and other times trickles, and still other times falls over the cliff in a waterfall deluge... all leading to the end.

What happens then I cannot but imagine. I only know that my God has promised to never leave me or forsake me. I only know that He holds my times in His hands. I only know that He loves me with an everlasting love. This is enough for me.

What is past is past, what is present is present, what is to come is a mystery that thrills my soul to think about it. This life is not the end-all, be-all. It is only my soul's journey to my soul's destination: my home in heaven with my beloved Savior and Lord Jesus.

More and more I think about that place that He is preparing for me, and I yearn for it with earnest. I have been blessed with many things and much love in this life. But none of it compares to what I will be blessed with when I see my God face to face; when I will be like Him. Those who don't know Him or doubt Him or deny Him cannot understand this home of which I speak; this hope that carries me from day to day, this promise to one day be united with Him for all eternity. But that's alright.

Each one must come to terms with Jesus on their own and in their own time. But each one will, eventually. Each one will bow their knees and each one will verbally confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. It will happen. I only pray that they have come to know Him as the Lover and Redeemer of their souls and the Lord of their lives by that time.

Every day the world gets darker with violence and ungodly remedies for life. Every day the worst comes out in man. It is not anything new, it is just amplified by our technology and our culture. Our lifestyles smack of selfishness and greed. People are made homeless paupers by the greed of the rich who are insatiable in their quest for more riches. Nobody cares about God anymore. Not like before. It's different. They deny Him. They mock His people. They laugh to scorn anything having to do with Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. The One Who came so that they could be forgiven through His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary; shed blood and poured out life for the sins of the world; all because of His undying love for us.

But they are not interested in acknowledging their sin. They want their way. As we all did before we knew the truth of who we are (those of us who have believed on Jesus Christ to the saving of our souls). We are hopeless and eternally lost without Him. Because we always want our way. And our way is the way of death. There is no hope for the one who denies God. Even the demons know God is who He says He is... and they tremble.

The Bible is an amazing book... because it is the very Word of God. The letter written by men, inspired by the Holy Spirit... which conveys who God is, what He has done, and what He will do. Anyone who reads it with an open heart, with a thirst for knowledge of the truth... they will find God. The One true living God. One who reads it any other way will not. They will find themselves growing angrier and angrier as they are faced with the truth of their own sin (because truth is truth), but they will not accept it. Their hearts will be hardened and grow cold to the point of no return. Those are the ones who have sealed their own fate. They do not choose freedom, truth, liberty, forgiveness and eternal life through the confession of their own sin and their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior. They instead choose their own way. If one does not choose eternal life, then one chooses eternal judgment for their sins. The only way to escape that judgment is to admit that they are sinners, admit they need forgiveness and accept Jesus and His gift of eternal life. That's all they have to do.

But we are all stubborn, willful and prideful. We are lost in our own folly without the light of God in our lives. Thank God He is persistent and continues to beckon us and draw us to Him with cords of lovingkindness. Oh, that man would give thanks to God for His mercy endures forever!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I am feeling the urge to write again after a long hiatus. Much in life has changed and I find myself wondering where it will all lead. The time of balancing the state budget is at hand and yet the status quo inexplicably continues despite the desperate economic and fiscal state of our state. Will they ever get their act together? Will they ever care how much each day they don't get their job done it hurts us (the people)? I doubt it. Yes, cynicism has set in and will not be easily assuaged. Ahh... such is the plight of the forlorn and demonized state worker. It's really not our fault you know.

I'm leaving for Washington to visit my daughter and granddaughter again. It's been 2 years and I can hardly believe it. It's time. Much to do and lots of hugs and kisses to be given my sweet girls!

Planning, packing, getting last minute errands done before I leave. It will be good to see them. More to come later...

That's all for now...