We Must Find Our Backbone and Tenacity.

While working for Grimes Publications, I had the opportunity to interview so many incredible people – one of whom was Pine Mountain, Ga., resident and business owner, the late Mr. Al Boyd. He was part of the Normandy invasion and related the details of D-Day to me in 2006 – four months before he passed away

I will never forget the hour I spent with him. 

Today, I want to share those memories with you.

Please reflect on what he said and where we are today.

 

On June 6, 1944, the BBC broadcast two lines from a poem written by French author, Paul Verlaine: “The violins of autumn wound my heart with monotonous languor.”

Those words signaled that D-Day was here.

The naval bombardment began at 0550 hours on the Normandy coast of France, detonating minefields along the shoreline, attempting to destroy enemy positions, and clearing the way for the wave of Allied infantrymen and paratroopers that followed.

The late Mr. Al Boyd of Pine Mountain was in that first wave of attack.

“I was part of the 11th Naval Amphibious Force, a special support group whose job it was to prepare the way for our boys. We had rocket ships, gunboats, flack barges, and underwater demolition teams. We had to take the demolition teams and loads of TNT within two miles of Omaha Beach and cut them loose.

“We were in 8-foot seas and towing something behind us that could blow us all away. The stern would go up into the air and crash back down just in time to take a hit from another 10-foot wave. We nearly bit the dust a time or two.

“After we cut loose the demolition teams, we kept going in and firing, trying to give cover so they could get in there and take out those enemy guns. We were there D-Day plus eight more.

“The seas were very rough, and some of the landing boats had a hard time getting close to shore. They just dropped those big doors, and the boys had to get out wherever they were. They had lots of gear and guns and were up to their chins or higher in the water and fighting those waves. Many of them didn’t make it – they never saw the beach. But the troops just kept coming, and we kept making those runs and firing.

“Omaha was a bloodbath. There were steep cliffs about 300 feet high on the left side where the big 88-millimeter guns were. On the other side was a more gently sloping terrain, where the bunkers and machine gun installations were.

“The first waves of our boys were mowed down like wheat.”

Mr. Boyd grew quiet for a moment as if to pay respect to his comrades he saw perish that day. His eyes had a faraway look that reflected things only he could see.

“The beach was full of the dead and wounded, but there were boys still trying to scale those cliffs. They needed to get up there and throw grenades into the slips of the bunkers and get rid of those big guns.

“You never forget what happened, but you can’t help but wonder why. When you study history, however, you learn the reasons.

It has always been about man’s inhumanity to man…about man’s greed. It doesn’t make sense, but it all boils down to that one word…greed.

“Our boys succeeded on D-Day by pure tenacity – backbone. Many of the enemy troops on Omaha were prisoners of war that the Germans had captured. They were only fighting for their lives…we were fighting for the life of our country. We believed in what we were doing.”

Mr. Boyd’s words illuminate the difference is being great and talking great — action.

In honor of all who have served and defended our country, we must believe in the life of our country again.

We must find our backbone and tenacity.

We must remember what courage is.

Before it is too late.

 

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Moon Song

“I’m here,” said the Moon to the Earth below.

The clouds and rain merely dull my glow.

But no one can extinguish the light in my soul…

I have an iron-strong spirit that shines like gold.

I don’t give in to the overcast skies,

But rise above the force that tries

To keep me silent and afraid to be

An unapologetic, transparent me.”

 

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You Know Who We Are

You know who we are.

We are your neighbors. Your friends and your enemies. Your students and your teachers. Your bosses and your coworkers. Your soul mates and your lovers. Your spouses and your exes.

We work with you, go to school with you, commune with you and socialize with you. We share the same beliefs, and we disagree with you. We get along with you and we don’t.

We are strong and confident, weak and afraid.

We are women and we are men. Old and young. Gay and straight. Bi and trans

We are famous and unknown.

And we are successful and destitute.

Our group is very large and diverse, but we all have something in common.

We were all sexually assaulted or abused.

And too many of us are locked in a shroud of secrecy.

The who, what, when and how is unique to each story. Some of us were children. Others, adults.

But what we all have experienced is insurmountable shame – shame that is not warranted.

We were all victims. But. Victims have nothing for which to be ashamed.

And when we learn that simple truth, we become survivors.

That very simple truth, however, can be buried deep within our psyche and suppressed by fear, pain, anger, misunderstanding, disbelief, judgment, and secrecy. Shoveling away the dirt can take decades, and emerging from the shadows is anything but simple.

But when we find our courage to speak the truth and tell our story to family, friends, professionals or even perfect strangers, we can step out of the darkness and no longer hide.

Because we are no longer ashamed.

We are proud – proud that we had the strength to be honest and own what happened as something someone else did – not something we caused.

Turning taboo into the truth liberates the spirit, and exchanging anger for acceptance brings peace. But the ultimate reason for revealing our story should not be for avenging the perpetrator but for healing ourselves.

So, if you’re not one of us, I implore you to spare your judgment. Please think before you speak. Educate yourself and learn what happens when abuse or assault occur.

And if you are one of us – if you haven’t already – seek the help you need to turn your shame into survival. Find someone who will listen to, understand, and guide you. Embrace your story and speak your truth — in your own way.

Then. You can turn your darkness into light. And finally breathe.

 

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Maybe Your Socks Are Too Damn Tight

Love hurts. It stinks. I’m better off without it. Done. No more for me.

Sound like bitterness?

Maybe. But it could be survival.

Because the best way to remedy a situation that feels like drowning is to swim.

And surviving a breakup is like sinking into a black hole filled with water and swimming with all your might to reach the surface again.

But. Remember this:

You simply cannot mourn the loss of something you never had.

So before you ruin your pillowcase with mascara stains, think about it rationally.

If it was true love you experienced, the object of your affection would have showered you with roses and champagne instead of making a delivery of whatever to someone else.

As soon as you come to grips with that fact, your sadness will change to anger.

But, beware.

Prison is not worth it.

In a matter of time, your anger will change to cynical indifference.

And the way to get to that point is with humor.

As with everything else, laughter can help even the saddest of hearts.

Consider the story a friend of mine told me about her recent break-up.

Her ex told her that he was “looking for a woman to knock his socks off and that it just didn’t happen with her.”

She said she felt like a knife had pierced her heart instead of Cupid’s arrow. But she tried to maintain her composure, stood up, stared him squarely in the eyes and answered: “Then maybe she shouldn’t wear your socks so damn tight.”

If someone can’t see your worth, kick ’em to the curb. That’s their problem. Not yours.

Because if it’s true love, it’s there no matter what.

And that means when the socks are on and off.

 

 

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“Raise the Glasses, Look Back, and Smile”

…thoughts from the past.

I wrote this for the “Harris County Journal” January, 10 years ago. So you have to add a decade to every number.

My dad passed away almost three years ago. But I continue to hear his strong, steady voice telling a good story — always with a hefty dose of humor.

Ten years have passed. But I still raise a glass, look back and smile. 

************

Birthdays.

Amazing how the word changes with time.

Remember when you couldn’t wait for them to roll around?

“I’m almost 13…can’t wait until I’m 16…finally — 18…ah-h-h, sweet 21.”

Remember?

And then it changes.

One day you’re 21, and before you know it, your youngest kid is going to New Orleans to celebrate the milestone.

And that was almost five years ago. Next month, my son will be 26.

Incredible.

But my Dad is the one who defies the calendar.

Last weekend he turned 87, but he is far from old. In fact, he sets a very high standard. He’s like that battery bunny that just doesn’t stop.

“You got one coming up yourself in a week, don’t you?” he asked me as he looked across the supper table Saturday night. “How old will you be?”

“I’ll be 58,” I answered slowly…my voice sounding like fingernails on a blackboard.

“Never thought I’d have chillun’ that old,” he replied. “Seems like yesterday I was a chap myself.”

“Where were you born?” asked my sister-in-law.

“Down there in that white house next to the church. Mother always said the icicles were a foot long that morning. Uncle Marvin and Aunt Eunice delivered me. They lived on this corner where your house is, Pam. He practiced medicine here before they moved to LaGrange.”

Dad talked about the changes and the things and people he missed. He had lived at Jones Crossroads his entire life and knew the surrounding area’s history well.

During the first decades of the 20th century, he said that Harris County was extremely rural and remote. Automobiles, of which there were very few, did not make the scene until the 20’s. The only paved road was U.S. 27, and the main mode of transportation was the mule-drawn wagon or horse and buggy.

“People didn’t go to town back then. There were little country stores everywhere that sold they needed – mainly coffee, sugar, overalls, and work shoes.

“Folks raised hogs for meat, grew all their vegetables, and canned or dried enough produce to carry them through until the next growing season.

“In fact, y’alls great grandfather, Uncle Rob, had a community preserving plant at one time – I guess you could call it a co-op – where the folks in the Hopewell and surrounding communities could bring their produce to be canned.

“But the biggest difference in the Harris County then and the Harris County today is what our claim to fame was.

“During the 20’s and 30’s, we were famous, or should I say infamous, for being the best place around to buy corn liquor – white lightning,” he said with a grin.

We raised our champagne glasses in a toast, saluting the fact we were together and that our kids appeared to be doing well.

After everyone left, I thought about the changes in my life…about the number of years that have passed since I moved back to Harris County – ‘twill be 30 this fall.

Amazing.

I sat down and opened the photo album I started for my Dad a few months ago. I added the prints I made for his birthday – photos of Hal and me when we were wee ones, a picture of our family in Boston in 1958 when my Dad was named “Master Farmer of the Year,” and my brother and I posing on the seawall at Panama City when we were tweens.

The joys and sorrows started flooding back…the memories of my youth, the dreams I had, the nightmares that haunted me, and the blessings my children have always been to me.

I started to feel that familiar wave of tearful loneliness.

“No,” I said aloud. “Don’t look at the scrapbook any longer.”

I closed the cover and stood up.

Memories are just that – memories. You can’t go back.

When ghosts emerge from old photos, it’s time to put them away.

I felt the tears subside.

Yep…I’m a year older and I’ll never be 21 again.

But at least I’m here.

And I hope to toast my silver-haired chillun’ when I’m 87, tease them unmercifully…

…raise my glass, look back and smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When I Was Seventeen…

…I left Jones Crossroads for the University of Georgia,  “with my feet ten feet off” the ground.

It was 1968 — the year Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were murdered.

Vietnam raged while innocence bloomed. Peaceful protests worked miracles. But violence and injustice found safe havens in hate and bigotry.

This era represents when fighting for equal rights and justice  — regardless of one’s race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference or cultural origins — became not only part of my DNA but what fuels my spirit to this day.

And, here we are — 50 years later — and my son, Charlie Bailey,  is campaigning all over the state and sharing a message of equal justice and protection under the law for every Georgian.

He energized the audience at the Georgia Democratic State Convention last Saturday and brought the crowd to their feet.

Why? Because he’s authentic and he’s honest.

He means what he says and he’s doing what he’s doing for the right reasons — because he loves his state and the people who live here.

You may think this is suspect — coming from his mom. But I guarantee you, I wouldn’t be putting it in writing if I didn’t mean it.

I don’t believe it has ever been more important than it is now to elect people like Charlie.

Because today, just like 50 years ago, there are forces that threaten “freedom and justice for all.”

We  must demand that statesmanship takes precedence over showmanship.

We must expect truth and honesty to be stronger than lies and deceit.

We must accept nothing less than what is right being more important than what is politically expedient. 

So join me in helping Charlie win this fight. Please.

Order a yard sign. Because  every show of support counts.

Give to the cause. Because every single dollar counts.

Sign up to volunteer. Because every vote counts.

We can do this.

We can actually elect someone who’s in it for the right reason.

We can elect Charlie Bailey to be Georgia’s next Attorney General.

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Stand with Charlie — Stand Up for Georgia.

Charlie Bailey has been talking for a long time — about 34 years to be exact — since he was about a year old.

And, as his mama, I’ve heard him do a lot of  that talking.

But now, I’m really listening to what he’s saying about why he is running for attorney general here in his home state.

I hear him tout his qualifications of being a senior gang prosecutor in Fulton County and why that is so important to his ability to fight the war against organized crime in Georgia.

I hear him speak about the opioid epidemic here and how nothing is being done by the current AG to thwart this deadly tsunami. I hear him promise not only to sue the pharmaceutical companies who marketed the poison but also to build addiction treatment centers across the state.

I hear him talk about how over four million Georgians with pre-existing conditions could lose their health insurance because Chris Carr (Georgia’s figurehead top prosecutor now) has joined other AG’s across the nation in bringing suit against the Affordable Care Act.

But most importantly, I hear him tell his listeners that if they are tired of elected officials who care more about their pocketbooks than the welfare of Georgians, they now have a candidate who is an authentic people’s candidate. 

If deep pocket donors control the vote, do you really believe the politician they buy gives a hoot about you?

If a candidate takes large sums of money from cable companies and pharmaceutical companies, do you really believe that politician is going to fight those entities if they take advantage of Georgians?

If a candidate determines his talking points because someone in Washington tells him what to say, is that politician acting on behalf of his constituents?

The answer to all of those questions is unequivocally, “No.”

Charlie’s donor list is made up of people like you.

Over 1,200 folks have dug deep and contributed to the cause, with the average donation being about $300.

This, my friends, is truly a grassroots campaign.

This, my friends, is how we the people take back our government and our state from corruption and greed.

Charlie is in this race because he knows he can make a difference in the lives of everyday Georgians. He is in this race because he knows the attorney general is the one elected official in Georgia who can stand between us and the outside forces who seek to make money at the expense of everyday people.

And I can promise you that Charlie is fiercely independent and will do what is just and legal. He will do what is right — not what is politically expedient.

But he needs your help. It takes $2 million to run a statewide campaign, and by this Saturday, we need to reach the half million mark. And we can do it if you join the team and give what you can. Every single dollar makes a difference and every single donor becomes part of a real effort — not just a corporate-funded exercise to maintain the political status quo.

Many of you have already unselfishly given, but I am asking all of you to pitch in and help us win this race.

Regardless of your party affiliation, if you’re sick and tired of your best interest not being represented, stand with Charlie.

I promise that you’ll never regret it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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