An Anniversary, as it were…

EDIT: I actually wrote this last Friday (before I thought about the Godly Men series) and had it waiting in the can until the actual anniversary. Thus the “get back into blogging” introduction. Just to clarify…

Well, I have decided to get back into blogging more. It seems it comes in spells for me. Sometimes, I find it comes naturally. Sometimes, I have a lot to share, but find it is not exactly for public consumption. And more times still, I just get distracted and just don’t sit down and write.

Over the summer, I have not written much of anything except résumé revisions, cover letters, and supplemental questions for job applications. I guess that is one way graduate school did prepare me. If you have been writing a 70-page thesis, a twenty-page application packet does not seem quite so daunting, except when it is your 100th twenty page application packet.

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of my job search. My first professional application for my life post-grad school was for the position Assistant Director of the Elections Division of the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State. (Cool title, huh?) I thought I was doing it right. I started applying in November before I graduated in May. I thought I had plenty of time to walk across the stage to Pomp and Circumstance on Friday night, and show up for my first day of work the following Monday. Well, it did not quite work out that way…

I have made 105 applications since then, and have read probably ten times that number of job announcements. I have applied to DHS, DOL, DOJ, IRS, SSA, and DVA on the federal level. I have applied to CSH, DCA, DCH, DHS, DJJ, DOL, DOR, GBI, DAS, GWCC, OPB, SAO, and BOR on the state level. Throw in higher education jobs, and city and county jobs, and it really does become alphabet soup. I have applied for jobs in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia. For my efforts, I have been rewarded with three in-person interviews and two phone interviews. One interview led to an adjunct teaching job, one I honestly feel was on its way to an offer when the higher-ups pulled the plug on the posting.

I guess such is the joy of graduating into this economy. I know I am not the only one caught in the no-man’s-land of a graduate degree with limited experience. For jobs requiring a 2 or 4 year degree (and typically no experience), I’m overqualified. For jobs requiring a master’s degree, I am being beaten out by people who have been in the field for decades, or by someone with a doctorate.

I am the type of person that needs a goal. I take joy in doing the impossible. I just never imagined the impossible goal would be finding a goal. I do not know what God is trying to teach me through all of this, but I sure hope I learn it quickly. I am quite honestly ready to get on with my life. I spent 12 years in grade school, a year and a half in tech school, 2 years for an associate’s, 2 more got me a bachelor’s, then 2 years for master’s. It’s time for me to be able to put that education to use. There is so much to be done, and I am tired of watching from the sidelines.

Remarks to the Fall 2010 GMC Honors Assembly

Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honor to be here today as we celebrate academic achievement and excellence. I am proud to say I have once sat where you are now. However, I’m not quite so proud to say there have been times as I continued in my academic career when I was not eligible for academic honors you now enjoy. To that end, keep up the good work and maintain your standard of excellence.

The character of Sam Seaborne in the television series “The West Wing” once said, “Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything.”[1] Indeed, increased education leads to increased employability, increased lifetime earnings, and increased job security. Education benefits not only the individual, but society as a whole. An educated citizenry is more likely to participate in the political process, an idea which is very near and dear to my heart, and an educated workforce also increases economic development opportunities for a given area, which leads to more and higher paying jobs.

There are many places which offer an education. It is easy to offer classroom lectures and to assign textbooks, but there are very few places which offer such a complete education as Georgia Military College. The prep school boasts of “developing the intellect and elevating the character,” but this applies not only to the prep school, but also the entire institution. Life is more than possessing the ability to recite answers on an examination. A complete education requires both intellect and character, and both are well grounded in the history and the traditions of GMC.

Wherever we might turn on this campus, we are reminded of core values of “Duty, Honor, and Country” and to keep “Character above All.”[2] We are supported by a proud tradition of those who have gone before us. A few weeks ago, alumni from the last 75 years gathered to celebrate that tradition of which you now hold a part. They spoke of stories of times gone by. They remembered those who had walked with them and whose journey had been completed. The campus has changed since they walked these halls and stood formation on these grounds; the campus has even changed since my days as a student here. Yet, though the physical attributes of campus may change, the traditions do not. You are the heirs to their legacy as you continue your studies, graduate, and then venture out into the world.

The journey which you have undertaken is not an easy one, and yet, you have excelled. The journey which is before you will likewise not be easy. The words of one of my former professors, who was famous for his difficult exams, upon returning the first test in the class, which is typically the lowest grade, most certainly applies.

“Things will get harder. The further we go, the more you have to consider. You must learn more quickly than the difficulty increases.”[3]

You have set the standard for yourself. You have shown your capacity for excellence. Continue to follow that standard.

We are the children of the same traditions. We are the family of Georgia Military College. And now, as we continue on our journeys, I leave you with a paraphrase of the Charge to the Brigade from the epic film, Gods and Generals.[4] I trust when I shall hear your names in the future it will be of more noble deeds accomplished, victories won, and even greater excellence proven. Remember on your journey, “Character above all.” For when we from these halls have parted and life’s battles won, the great spirit of GMC shall inspire us ‘til eternal dawn.[5]

Thank you.

References:
——————

[1] Sorkin, Aaron. The West Wing: Six Meetings Before Lunch. Directed by Clark Johnson. Performed by Rob Lowe. 1999.

[2] Georgia Military College. (n.d.). Character education program. Retrieved from http://www.gmc.cc.ga.us/page.php?page_id=205

[3] Mabie, J. Class Lecture, Quantitative Techniques, Georgia College & State University, October 1, 2008

[4] Maxwell, R (Director). (2003). Gods and Generals [Film]. Atlanta: Turner Pictures

[5] Georgia Military College. (n.d.). Alma mater & cadet prayer. Retrieved from http://cadet.gmc.cc.ga.us/page.php?page_id=560

Independence Day 2010

I see fireworks! I see the pageant and pomp and parade. I hear the bells ringing out. I hear the cannons roar. I see Americans – all Americans. Free forever more! ~ 1776 – The Musical


Ok, so that’s not actually what John Adams said, but it’s close. And, he was right, at least for the most part. He thought the day would be celebrated on the July 2nd, not the 4th. His actual words, written to his wife, Abigail, were:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore. ~ John Adams, July 3, 1776

This time of the year, there is always talk of how great this is this country. But all too often, the reason which compelled the separation is forgotten. The Declaration of Independence sets forth 27 indictments against the British crown, submitted these facts “to a candid world,” and appealed “to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of [their] intentions. ” The document concludes with the pledge of the signers to support the Declaration with their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence. This groundbreaking Declaration?

That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

Alexander Hamilton called this new nation an “empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. ” But why did this empire come to be? How was the line crossed between suffering the evils which were sufferable to the situation where the founders were compelled “alter their former systems of government? ” The answer is simple. Government had overstepped its authority.

The Ronald Reagan quote “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem ” is quite famous and repeatedly quoted by modern day conservatives. The sentiment was not new however. The Thomas Paine, in his great call to arms stating the need for separation from England wrote:

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

This pamphlet was called Common Sense. Several years later, during the darkest days of the War for Independence, Paine again wrote to his fellow countrymen to reassure them their cause was just, and necessary.

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER,” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

There it is. John F. Kennedy summarized it in his inaugural address. He called it “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” The state cannot declare itself to have the authority that is reserved to God. That is the “wall of separation ” Thomas Jefferson wrote about as well.

We have come a long way since those days. But, as John F. Kennedy also said:

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge–and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do–for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom–and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required–not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

I pray each one that reads this blessed and happy Independence Day. Remember that you are the heirs to that first revolution and the torch of liberty rests with you. Carrying the torch of liberty is not an easy task, but the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. Now, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”


References:


“Is Anybody There?.” Lyrics on Demand. Available from http://www.lyricsondemand.com/soundtracks/0/1776lyrics/isanybodytherelyrics.html. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“Independence Day.” Answers.com. Available from http://www.answers.com/topic/independence-day. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“Declaration of Independence.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/declare.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.
Hamilton, Alexander. “Federalist 1.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed01.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“Declaration of Independence.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/declare.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“First Inaugural Address of Ronald Reagan.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/reagan1.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

Paine, Thomas. “Common Sense.” Available from http://www.ushistory.org/paine/commonsense/singlehtml.htm. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

Paine, Thomas. “The American Crisis.” Available from http://libertyonline.hypermall.com/Paine/Crisis/Crisis-TOC.html. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

“Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy.” Avalon Project – Yale University. Available from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/kennedy.asp. Internet; accessed 4 July 2010.

Jefferson, Thomas. “Letter to Danbury Baptist Association.” The Founder’s Constitution. Available from http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions58.html. Internet; accessed 4 July

Galatians 5:1

A Challange for Indpendence Day

Two hundred thirty-three years ago, fifty-three guys got together and decided that some truths were simply self evident. All men are created equal. These men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, these rights being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They declared that the purpose of government was to ensure these rights, and when government failed to perform its duty, the people had the right to alter or abolish that government.

These men went on to list the ways in which King George had violated these rights and submitted this indictment to a candid world. Then, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” they pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Of course, I am writing of the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate on this day. The men whose names are affixed to this document which announced to the world:

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

Their names are burned into our minds and history books: John Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton. Yet, none of these men acted alone. Why? Because, in order to succeed, this undertaking would need MUTUAL effort. One colony, or even a group of colonies, could challenge the British empire effectively. It would require a united effort.

It has never failed that, upon the occasion off viewing a film based in the time of war in the 18th or 19th century, that my uninformed companions mention the idiocy of the tactics of battle during that time. Well, that was a time of major transition in battlefield tactics, but this rank and file system of the battle line was highly effective at the time of its inception. While it may seem foolish to stand in neat lines (ranks in one direction, files in the other, thus rank-and-file) and fire weapons at each other at close range.

But, go back another couple thousand years, when these tactics began. A lone combatant was the strength of one. When combined into a group of 8 men (a Contubernium), and those groups were combined into a Centura (10 contuberniums or 80 men), they were a highly powerful and effective fighting force. Some they locked their shields together and provided defense not only for themselves, but also for their comrades.

The principle of mutually facing life with comrades is also found in scripture.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” ~ Hebrews 10:25

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” ~ Matthew 18:20

So then, not only do we gain strength from each other, the Lord also promises to be in the midst of those who fear him.

Over the course of the last three days, I have celebrated our nation’s independence in three very different ways, in three very different places. On Thursday, I was in Warner Robins. Independence Day is a very big deal there. It is a military town and home of Robins Air Force Base. Just about everyone in the town is somehow related to public service. And boy, when it’s time to celebrate, they go all out. Somewhere between twenty to thirty thousand people pack into the local high school football stadium. There are overflights by military aircraft. The Band of the Air Force Reserve performs along with nationally known guest artists. The fireworks display is something to behold. The show goes into the night, the stalemate in the parking lot much later. It is typically well after midnight before I am able to return home and get to bed. But, it is well worth it.

Friday saw another celebration. This one was what was once the middle of nowhere (in my lifetime) between Eatonton and Greensboro. Then, Lake Oconee became THE place to be in this section of the state. The per capita income has $9.365 in 1985 (when I was born) to $31,331 in 2007. Even adjusting for inflation, that’s more than double. Put frankly, the population, and the wealth, of the county has exploded. Where the Warner Robins was patriotic and enthusiastic, this was regal and elegant. As well it should have been. Instead of a band, the artist here at Reynolds Plantation was trumpeter and vocalist Phil Driscoll (who lives nearby) backed up by the Atlanta Pops. The setting was a far cry from the battleground of a high school football field. Instead, it was on the lake, between the beach and a swimming pool on the back lawn of the Ritz-Carlton Lodge. Instead of taking swallows of coke, here the spectators sipped wine. Instead of wheeling in an ice chest, there were caterers onsite. While I am certain that those in attendance loved their country as much as those I had I had seen the previous evening, they expressed their patriotism in a very different manner.

Finally, today, I went to the Independence Day Celebration in Wrightsville, Georgia. Wrightsville is not really known for anything. Most of the plants which were there have closed. Its main claim to fame is now this one day a year when they go all out to celebrate this country and a guy who was pretty good with a football about 30 years ago. Wrightsville is rural Georgia. VERY rural. It would have done well as the set of Sweet Home Alabama (the actual location of the filming would require a drive of about 60 miles north to Crawfordville). The people here, while not ignorant by any means, are faced with more important concerns than contemplating the deep meanings of life in the United States. But, they love this country. I saw more red, white, and blue today than I did in the last two days combined, never mind the that there was as many people at the Ritz as live in the entire county, and at least three times as many in Warner Robins. The air was full of patriotism. From the parade, to the booths on the town square, to the runners in the road race.

Why do I mention all of these three very different places? Because if this nation is going to continue into the next 233 years, the people at Reynolds Plantation are going to have to join forces with the people in Warner Robins, who in turn are going to have to link arms with the people in Wrightsville. Though many, we ARE one. We are one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge–and more.

~ John F. Kennedy

America is at a crossroads. We have become so divided that idiocies are accepted as proposals simply because they are different than the status quo. My friends, please join with me. Once again, this nation needs to, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, to mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Let not history judge this generation as the one who destroyed the greatest nation in the annals of time.

If the embedded video doesn’t display, click HERE.

Happy Fathers’ Day

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” Proverbs 22:1
“Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 21:23

As I have traveled around this state, one thing has never ceased to amaze me. Everyone knows my father. I have grown accustomed to my dad knowing my lunch arraignments when I’m in Milledgeville, even before I receive the check.

Me: Hello?
Father: So, who’s this attractive female you’re having lunch with, son?
Me: It’s (fill in the blank). I’ll tell Chester you said hi.
Father: What makes you think it was Chester that called?
Me: Ok, so I’ll tell Bill, Larry, Franklin, and Buddy (et al) hey too…

While this has become common around home, it still surprises me when I’m out in “my” turf, at political events and even the capitol. Random people, some of whom I know, several of whom I do not, approach me and inquire, “Are you Quincy Simpson’s son?” Then, without fail, they proceed to tell me how they know my father, and what a great man he is. My father’s good name IS known in the gates of this land.

A good name is a legacy that cannot be purchased. It is something that is given, from father to son. It is up to me, as I enter adulthood, to preserve it for my sons. Then, they will have the charge of preserving it for their sons as it passes from generation to generation. My I preserve it as my father has.