Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Roll Tide!

Fads come and go, life begins and ends, but the TIDE is forever... 

Did you know that the Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts of America, located right here in Nassau County, is under the leadership of David Richardson, a Bama alum? What does that have to do with the Girl Scouts of Nassau County? Well as you may or may not be aware, I am a Bama alum too! David’s wife Sharon and I even graduated the same year! What are the odds?

Okay - quick FYI...Bama is the affectionate name of the sports teams at the University of Alabama, where I earned my undergraduate degree. AKA the Crimson Tide, Tide, Roll Tide. Bama has had some very good football teams. And football is sort of like a religion in the south...and I'm nothing if not a good southern girl!

It’s hard be an Southeastern Conference (SEC) fan on Long Island. I mean I know that Hofstra has a football team, but my Bama is 11 and O - as in zero! They have beat 11 other teams over the past 12 weekends and had a bye weekend.  Some of those other teams have been really, really good.  Bama is ranked #2 nationally - in the Bowl Championship Series Poll, Associated Press and ESPN.  (USA Today has them #3, go figure!)

I love college football, but know hardly a thing about the Pros.  I started going to college football games when I was six years old with my Uncle Jake. He was my favorite, and I was his. I'd do anything to please him, including learn all the players names every year, and all the rules. Other kids might absorb a foreign language at a formative age. I soaked up football. Incomplete forward pass stops the clock. First and ten let's do it again. Special teams can make or break a season. I even know what offensive pass interference is, and what a safety is. And, I even know why the Crimson Tide's mascot is an elephant and that when Title IX was passed, giving women equal access to sports, it was Joe Namath who made the first big contribution to women's sports at The University. (Yes, there are several other universities within the borders of the State of Alabama, but whenever you use "the," there is only one...)  And this year Tiffin, the kicker, became the school's all-time high scorer.

The thing is, in the rest of my life, I am a rather peaceful person. I have not had any significant proclivity to violence or even other contact sports. I would not have wanted my own son to play football because he could have gotten hurt. And boys do get hurt - every week. And we're finding out now that all that head knocking, even with the helmets, is probably not good for anybody. Pro-football players appear to have higher instances of early onset dementia and other related ailments. And yet, I can't curb my enthusiasm and anxiety for Bama. When you have won 11 games in a row and you are going up against your all-time rival, it can be very stressful.  

While others are out scooping up the bargains after Thanksgiving, this Friday is the legendary Iron Bowl, Alabama vs. Auburn. (They still call it the Iron Bowl even though it hasn't been played in Birmingham for years.)  When they pull this one off - the following week they go against #1 ranked Florida for the SEC Championship! All I have to left to say is Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and Roll Tide!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. ~José Narosky

On Veterans’ Day I had the privilege of joining the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Chorus at the Veterans Hospital in Northport, NY.  The girls performed in Building 52, the Community Services building, which is also a long-term care building for individuals needing skilled care. Many in the audience were World War II and Korean War vets.  As always, the girls did a great job and received a positive response from the audience. Our Chorus closed their performance with “I’m proud to be an American.” Everyone there was proud to be with them …
As much as the girls gave yesterday, I think that they received even more. They had learned the “theme songs” for each of our military services – “Anchors Aweigh,” “When the Caissons Go Rolling Along,” as well as the songs for the Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.  Each of these songs were both history lessons and vocabulary exercise.  Where are Montezuma and Tripoli?  What is a ‘caisson?’  And who knew the Coast Guard had their own song. Just coming to understand what the words of these songs mean was enriching for the girls. And then seeing how much these patriotic numbers signify to our veterans, to the families of the vets and to those in the audience was another eye-opener. After the concert I overheard several parents of the girls encouraging the girls to speak with the veterans and to say “thank you.”  There were some very sweet moments in that hall…
My father was a World War II veteran who fought in North Africa, on to Italy, had a heart attack and was sent back to the States to recuperate, and then shipped off to fight in the Philippines.  His years of military service were part of his life story, and mine.  He died of heart disease when I was six years-old.  I have the flag that covered his casket and remember the twenty-one gun salute at his graveside.
In June of 2008 I traveled to Normandy, France.  I first went to the International Peace Museum in Caen, and then on to Normandy to see Omaha Beach, site of the World War II D-Day invasion that is credited with turning that war to the Allies favor. I had heard so much about that battle and that war. I have a cousin who died in the invasion and I went to visit his grave in the American Cemetery.  I learned that there is also a German Cemetery nearby.  I was surprised and a bit disappointed in myself that I had not known that in advance. It set me to thinking about both the horrors and the fragilities of war. And all those thousands of boys and men, as well as a few women, had parents, sweethearts, families and communities waiting at home for them, as did the American GIs. One of the quotes that I saw go by on Veterans’ Day referred to the fact that we know more about making war than we do about making peace…
As Girl Scouts, we promise to honor God and Country.  It is so important that we teach our girls about those who have gone before – who have served their country in war, many sacrificing their lives, each of them changed from their experience. We must honor the past, and continue to give our respect and support for those who are currently serving in the military. As Girl Scouts of Nassau County go boldly forward, building girls of courage, confidence and character, we recognize the value of a strong defense and military service. And we have the opportunity to study peace, to learn new strategies for building communities of unity, to exercise tolerance and to practice respect for diversity so that we can make the world a better place.  And maybe one day we will “study war no more …”  And on my next trip to Normandy I will be sure to visit all the cemeteries.