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KIDS' THOUGHTS ON 2020

WHAT SOME KIDS THINK ABOUT 2020:
 
Youthful Words of Wisdom

   

      “Unprecedented” was once considered exceptional word usage. Now, it is part of our daily vernacular thanks to the strange, tragic year 2020. More than 340,000 Americans are dead of the corona virus. Most schools are closed. Happy gathering spots such as restaurants, theaters, and bars are desperately trying survive. Work places have shuttered or transitioned to acceptable “social distancing” accommodations. 

     

     Still, it is always good to search for hope, so I did one of the things I enjoy doing most when pondering life’s direction: I sought out my one niece and all six of my grandkids (including just-turned four-year old Catherine) and asked them to send me some brief thoughts on what they will remember most about this unprecedented year. On the surface, perhaps not a lot of what they have to say will surprise you. But look a little closer, and their thoughts might be quite revealing.

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     So, going from oldest to youngest, here is what the kids in my family had to say:

>>>Caroline (college sophomore)The first thing I learned about myself during 2020 was how much the community of orchestra/chamber groups, and my friendships mean to me. I have seen myself grow a lot as a violinist through my practice challenge, the Curtis Institute Summer Program, and as the American University Symphonic Orchestra’s concertmaster. I also loved how our family started doing weekly Zoom calls to catch up and to check on each other throughout these hard times. I think this was a great time for reflection and growth for our family, and I hope we keep doing our calls after the pandemic is over! 

>>>Maddie (high school senior)Things I will remember most about 2020 are how close I have gotten with my family because of corona and how many things used to be taken for granted. I was also applying to colleges and having to attend school virtually. Covid forced me to find new hobbies and happiness in small things that before 2020 were normal activities, such as calls with friends and family or getting to eat at a restaurant!

>>>Jack (high school sophomore):Covid was important to me because it pushed back all of my sports and canceled my lacrosse season last yar. The election was important because we got a new president who will do great things. And the death of Kobe Bryant was important to me because he was such an inspiring athlete. 

 

>>>Ryan (high school sophomore)The coronavirus was so important for me because it changed the way we do everything. For starters, it just feels uncomfortable now to watch videos or movies from the past where people are in groups without masks. It also affected my school and sports life because I have to do classes from home, and sports were postponed for many months. Overall, it just has affected almost every aspect of everyone’s life.

 

>>>Zoey (high school freshman):  One thing that I will remember about 2020 is the change of lifestyle that we all had to transition into. It was like a flash—one day we were able to walk around with no mask and were able to stand close to people, and the next day we had all new rules! Another thing I will remember is the way this virus was handled. Our president chose his own luxurious life over the millions of lives in the country he runs. He continued to say this deadly virus was a “hoax” even after he went to the hospital for covid. Lastly, I will remember school—school has been one of the largest learning curves for me and other people. 

 

>>>Wyatt (sixth grader): I remember when Joe Biden won the 2020 election against Trump. It was important because now we will have a better president for the economy and for the people. I also remember when covid started in the United States—I thought that it would not impact us, but I was terribly wrong, with the U.S. being the most impacted country in the world by this terrible disease. And I will also remember that the Washington Football Team changed its name, which showed that (owner) Dan Snyder at least gives a crap about other people.

 

>>>Catherine (preschool): I don’t like masks! They make me itchy. But my favorite masks are the rainbow one and the unicorn one. I want to go back to school because I am bored, but I would miss (big sister) Zoey. But I do miss Eloise (her friend) and want to see her.

                    

     Back to Me: I talk to the kids. I read their words. I think of what Pablo Picasso is credited as saying: “Youth has no age.” I hope he is correct.

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2021!!!

If you would like to send me your thoughts, and if you would like to share what kids in your family have to say about 2020, please email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com.While I can’t promise that I will print all comments, I will definitely read them and respond to as many as possible.

Copyright: Chuck Cascio; all rights reserved.

A Unique Election Wager

(Note from Chuck Cascio: This piece was written by my son Marc, a teacher, coach, and writer. He poses an important question in a unique context.)

AN ELECTION WAGER TO CONSIDER…

By

Marc Cascio

     Pascal's Wager is a philosophical aphorism that discusses whether God does or does not exist. The long and short of it is that if you bet on God, and you are correct, you gain all, whereas if you lose, you lose nothing because you are just dead. Let's put Pascal's Wager in COVID-19 terms, though it is a bit of a stretch since we know the virus exists in a tangible sense.

     If you throw in with Trump, who has already had the virus and was airlifted to a place where he could receive treatment from the world's top medical professionals, you are buying into the premise that the virus is "going away," which is contrary to statistical evidence. You are also subscribing to a man who is dismissing Dr. Anthony Fauci, who recently said that the way the virus has been bungled has created a situation where the "stars are aligned " for a tragic scenario.

     Throwing in with Trump dismisses tangible evidence and relies on the fantasy that this is over and we can resume life as normal. If he is right, we gain everything. If he is wrong, we lose big.

 

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      On the other hand, you could choose to throw in with medical science and Joe Biden, both of whom refuse to dismiss this virus as an arbitrary nuisance. They seem to recognize the fact that the virus is proliferating just as winter and the flu season hit and people are forced inside more and more. They warn of a potential doomsday scenario predicated on a knowledge of medical science. 

     So if you align with the Biden group, you accept the fact that our inconveniences will continue and perhaps even become greater, but the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term hassles.

     It is mind boggling to me that anyone would bet with their lives on the Trump camp. It is, simply, not logical. It is dangerous, it is irresponsible, and the consequences of doing so could be beyond imagination. 

     If you draw a Venn diagram of those who hold with Trump, I believe there would be a large intersection of those who also have faith (which means belief in the absence of evidence) in God. By choosing this route, they may force all of us to find out the answer to Pascal's Wager much sooner than we wish!

Copyright Marc Cascio; all rights reserved.

Save Lives. Provide Hope. Help those impacted by blood cancer.

(The following was written by my stepdaughter Michele Bresnick Walsh, one of the most courageous and giving individuals I have ever known. Please read her incredible story and consider donating to this cause; doing so can save a life!--Chuck Cascio)

Save lives. Provide hope. Help those impacted by blood cancer.

by

Michele Bresnick Walsh

      I am participating in our 7th Heropalooza (and first virtual one) in honor of Lisa Rostaing, the woman to my left in the picture below. Lisa is a true hero who saved my life by donating her bone marrow to me on March 4, 2009. 

     

     In October 2008, just three weeks after Mike Walsh proposed to me, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Because of the type of leukemia I had, the doctors at Johns Hopkins knew that chemotherapy alone would not cure my cancer. I needed a bone marrow transplant, and my sister was not a match. So we had to turn to the national bone marrow registry. Luckily, I found a perfect match in Lisa. She had never met me and didn't know anything about me, yet she donated her bone marrow to me and saved my life. I wouldn’t be here today if Lisa, a random stranger from Los Angeles, had not gotten on the bone marrow registry back in 2005 and stepped up to the plate when she received the call to donate her marrow.

 

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     Because of Lisa, I was able to return to work full time, I am happily married, and I have a full head of hair again! Since we met in 2010, we have had the opportunity to go on vacation in the Bahamas together, attend a taping of the Ellen Show, and in 2014, I had the honor and privilege of attending her wedding. And, now she has two beautiful children. 

     

     I have been cancer free for over 11 years now, and in celebration of my 11th re-birthday, I am attempting to raise $11,000 to support There Goes My Hero (www.theregoesmyhero.org), a 501(c)(3) organization of which I am the immediate Past-President, with the mission of saving lives, providing hope and helping those impacted by blood cancer.

     To date, There Goes My Hero has added almost 22,000 people to the bone marrow registry, of which 365 have been potential matches and 42 have gone on to life-saving transplants. We have also funded over 150,000 meals to patients and families in need. And our newly established Hero Fund supports Baltimore area blood cancer patients and their families by covering the unanticipated costs of treatment. This includes meals during treatment, medically tailored meals post-discharge, transportation, parking, and copays.

     

Please consider donating to my fundraising efforts. And if you want to help in my fundraising efforts, please see my team page--Team Brez--and join the team. If you are not already on the bone marrow registry, please ask me about how to do so--it's just a simple cheek swab. I am lucky that I found my match, but there are still so many others who can’t find one. Please help us in our mission to find a match for every person who needs one!

     

     Because of COVID-19, we could not hold the annual race and crab feast event in person. But I still plan to run a 5K in my neighborhood to honor Lisa. Blood cancer doesn’t understand the concept of social distancing, so notwithstanding COVID-19, the need for bone marrow matches continues to grow. 

   
Thank you for your support!
Michele Bresnick Walsh

Voices of Concern for Our Imperiled Democracy

VOICES OF CONCERN FOR OUR IMPERILED DEMOCRACY

An Introduction by Gerald A. DiGrezio, Colonel, USA, retired

Below is a letter I signed along with 16 other members of my 1968 Infantry Officer Candidate School at Ft Benning, GA.  While we certainly do not claim that we represent the views of the entire class during this period of extreme political diversity, we are a group of mostly Vietnam Veterans with a very singular concern. The signers come from all political persuasions and areas of this country but are united in our concern for what has transpired during the past four years of this presidency.

We are in an era of time when each week a discovered situation would bring the demise of an administration, but we have become so shell shocked that it barely causes a ripple in the news cycle.  We are led by a president who is only concerned with his own image and is bereft of any concern for the Constitution and the rule of law.  Just two instances in a very long list are his multiple firings of Inspectors General and the U. S. Attorney in Manhattan.

The duplicity by the Republicans in Congress and the United States Senate has been palpable.  To watch the demise of a political party that prided itself on  patriotism and support of the Constitution has been mystifying at best and duplicitous at worst.

While we know that this letter will only be a raindrop in a deluge of national concern, the signers felt compelled to issue it.  After all, we took and oath to defend this country against all enemies “foreign and domestic.”  And while I never expected to say it, the greatest threat to the United States of America is resoundingly domestic.

###########

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VOICES OF CONCERN FOR OUR IMPERILED DEMOCRACY

We the undersigned are former or retired army officers now in our seventies.  We share a common bond, having graduated from the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Georgia in 1968.  From there, we served in the military in a variety of capacities, wherever we were needed.  As young men, we were committed to defending America’s values, our freedoms, our democracy, and our Constitution.  Some of us made a career in the military, but most of us went on to have productive careers back home in the civilian world.  As a group, we have diverse political views: Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, and Conservatives.  But we are all concerned Americans.

In the past few months, our system of government has been increasingly under siege.  Our nation has reached this critical point under the current administration of Donald J. Trump.  Important voices have begun to speak out, led by respected members of the highest military rank.  We would like to join this chorus of alarm.

Our government structure, with its co-equal branches, is in jeopardy.  Our judicial system is reeling.  The FBI, the CIA and the NSA are being mocked and belittled.  Our Attorney General’s office is overtly politicized.  Our State Department is being decimated. Where are the voices of outrage in Congress? The Senate is virtually mute.

We are concerned that our country is rapidly spinning toward a Presidency staffed by family members and cronies in which the only prerequisite is blind loyalty.  The United States is withdrawing from the world, enjoying little respect internationally.  This cannot continue.  

Quoting James Mattis, a Marine Four Star General and former Secretary of Defense:

                 “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority…We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

We honor the General’s courage, and emphatically call on both chambers of Congress to follow his lead in defending our democracy and our Constitution.  We urge all Americans to consider these ideals as you vote this Fall.

         Signed:                                                                   

John F. Baxter III (1LT, USA)
Mark T. Creaven (1LT, USA)
Larry W. Clark (1LT, USA)
Colonel Gerald A. DiGrezio, USA, Retired
Joseph F. Frisz (1LT, USA)
John A. Guy (1LT, USA)
Gary J. Goodman (1LT, USA)
Captain Robert R. Hammeras, USA, Retired
Daniel R. Mabesoone (1LT, USA)
A.C. (Budd) Mazurek (1LT, USA)
John F. McMackin Jr. (1LT, USA)
Carl A. Ohlson (1LT, USA)
Charles A. Powell (1LT, USA)
John B. Slidell (1LT, USA)
Lt. Colonel Charles R. Stone, USA, Retired
Lt. Colonel Ralph S. Swingler, USA, Retired
Wayne P. Yetter (1LT, USA)
 

Copyright: Gerald A. DiGrezio, all rights reserved.

 

BLM Is Gaining Awareness--Thank You, Pandemic!

BLM Is Gaining Awareness--Thank You, Pandemic!

By

Paul Thomas

Chuck's Note: Paul Thomas is an educator and a self-described "geek" and  "mutt." On his personal blog, A Reston Kid Rambles (restonkid.blogspot.com), he writes about race, music, politics, economics, and many other topics. An education consultant who does business as Docent Learning (www.docentlearning.com), Paul also blogs about educational topics at Driven to Learn (blog.docentlearning.com). Paul lives in Reston, VA with his wife and two kids. Paul originally posted this piece on Facebook; it is reprinted here with his permission. 

So... I have seen articles about why Black Lives Matter is gaining such traction now. Why didn't it gain this sustained attention after the deaths of Trayvon Martin or the Charleston Nine or Philando Castile? I know that the movement has been building in strength for years, and that the current political climate helps shine a light on the issues. But I think we have something else to thank for the current focus: The Pandemic.

Thanks to the pandemic, the normally short news cycle is lengthened. There are no playoffs or movie premiers or new seasons or political rallies to distract us. We aren't splitting our time between conference rooms and gyms and brutal commutes and Little League and band concerts and parties. Instead, we're sitting in our homes and focusing on the problems around us. We're worried about the heroes caring for the sick and the underpaid workers who are barely hanging on. We're worried about widening opportunity gaps for students who are falling farther behind. We're worried about how small businesses will recover. We're worried about how we are all going to move forward!

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In this sea of worry, we see this horrific video, and there is nothing to distract us from it. Now we have something for which we can stand up and fight. We can't do much about many of the things we worry about, but we can stand up and protest the systemic racism of which police brutality is a symptom.

Thanks, pandemic!

You've made us a captive audience that can't turn away from the structural racial issues in our society that we haven't made the time to focus on before. They aren't new, but now we are giving them the attention for which they have been screaming for years!

Copyright: Paul Thomas; all rights reserved.

>>>Want to share your thoughts? Send them to chuckwrites@yahoo.com