Category: History

How to Do D.C.

Eyegal and I have been in Washington, D.C. since Wednesday for a little getaway plus a friend’s wedding, and we’ve compiled a list of tips on how to “do D.C.” I’ll probably have more to say about my impressions of this wonderful city and the wedding later in the week, but since we’re traveling back today this will have to do for now:

  • For outdoor touring, pick the one day in the summer when the temperature tops out at a mere 75 degrees with only a trace of humidity and a few scattered clouds. Oh wait–that was last Thursday and probably won’t happen again anytime soon.
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On Tuesday, April 22, 1980, the following events occurred:

Pennsylvania primary takes place today…..PA poll shows George Bush leading Ronald Reagan, while President Carter and Sen. Ted Kennedy are in dead heat…..European Community decides to support Carter’s sanctions against Iran…..State Dept. sends telegrams to hostage families urging them to abide by ban on travel to Iran…..International Olympic Committee, meeting in Switzerland, undecided about Moscow Olympics boycott…..Canada urges it’s Olympic committee to cancel plans to attend Summer Games…..In Liberia, officials of former government are executed…..Harold Brown (not Carter’s SecDef nor the inventor of the electric chair) dies in Roanoke, Virginia at the age of 47…..House

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April Is The Cruellist Month

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

–T.S. Eliot The Wasteland

I think Eliot was right. And that’s not even counting my own personal tragedies that have occurred in this month.

The Washington Post tells what it’s like to try to archive all the compassionate gestures directed toward Virginia Tech last year.

And here is my own contribution.

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The Last of the Doughboys

doughboy.jpgAlthough yesterday was officially Veterans Day, every day is Veterans Day for me. By virtue of my choice of practice, I have the privilege of providing eye care to “him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” (and increasingly these days, her as well).

I consider it an honor and a privilege to care for these men and women who are, by and large, among the most decent, salt-of-the-earth folks you’ll ever meet. Indeed, they are cut from a finer grade of cloth than any politician who ever sent them into battle. At this point in my career, if I was suddenly thrust into a situation where I had to care for the well-to-do and whiny LASIK/liposuction crowd, I would probably end up strangling someone in frustration.… Read the rest

A Sacred Bond Between Doctor and Patient

I was at work doing an eye exam, where else would I be? And by the time my first patient’s eyes were fully dilated, mine were too–only for a different reason.

As I finished his exam, I told him what was unfolding, that we were apparently under attack and no one was quite sure where it was going to stop.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he replied, the blood draining ever so slightly from his face.

To this day, I will occasionally call up a patient’s records on the computer and there it will be in bold relief–9/11/01, 8:00AM.… Read the rest


One of my favorite parts about visiting my Mom in Virginia is exploring the museum that is her house and searching among the archives and exhibits for long lost treasures.

Among the items that I’ve found (and rescued) in the past:

  • My collection of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars (unfortunately, I couldn’t locate the Hot Wheels Supercharger Sprint Set)
  • My baseball and sports card collection (and it is a very good one if I have to say so myself)
  • My scrapbooks from elementary, junior high and high school which contain old class pictures and portraits, 4-H and church camp ribbons, newspaper clippings containing my super-amazing, jaw-dropping feats on the tennis courts and cross country trails (heh), my acceptance letter to Duke University and goofy letters from an old high school girlfriend which still hold the slightest hint of perfume.
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Interesting Religious Reads

USA Today starts the week off with two interesting religious reads.

First, a report on the growing New Sanctuary Movement, a coalition of houses of worship which is providing shelter and protection to illegal immigrants.

Second, it seems at least some boomer offspring are outdoing their parents when it comes to faith and fervor.

I find the notion that sacred space might still exist and that it might be recognized by civil authorities in this post-everything world intriguing. During the Civil War, Union cavalry soldiers commandeered local Huntsville churches to serve as stables and barracks.

Well, except for one. Above the front door of the Episcopal Church of the Nativity is a marble inscription–“Reverence My Sanctuary”–taken from Leviticus 26:2.… Read the rest

Vote for Boo–It’s the Right Thing To Doo

boo-ii.jpgWhen I was in high school, I had a teacher who made sure that we knew about the civil rights struggle in America. I’m thankful that I learned early in life about Medgar Evers, the Birmingham church bombing and the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. I can remember chafing and squirming when I learned how the perpetrators of those crimes had escaped justice and were still free to live their lives as they pleased.

Little did I know that the goofy, red-haired guy wearing the suspenders and top hat who used to do the announcements in chapel at Harding would be the one to help bring those scoundrels to justice.… Read the rest

A Southern Halloween

grim-reaper.jpgHave you ever met a ghost?

I haven’t (as far as I know). But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. My friend Jeff believes he has met some ghosts and offers up some sobering thoughts and Halloween reflections on these denizens of the afterworld in his essay, “Stumbling in Endor.” I felt a shiver or two running up my spine (at least I think that’s all it was) when I read this, and I bet you will too.

With its storied tradition of gothic tragedy, it figures the South would produce more than its share of tortured souls wandering the earth in search of redemption and release.… Read the rest

8:46 AM 9/11/02

Three thousand voices cry out in shock and awe at the mournful moment
A crisp, clear morning is shattered by fire and fury.
Frantic chatter from little wireless boxes fills the air,
And only the essentials matter now:
“I don’t want to die.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Take care of the kids.”
“I’ll be with you always.”
“I just want you to know I love you.”

I hear them even now, phantoms flitting about my head as the daily grind Halts on yet another Black Tuesday.
Each gently asks, “Remember me?”
They gather round and tell their stories of life and love:
John, who loved soccer and coached his kids,
Suzanne, who loved her little sister with Downs,
Mario, who considered fine wine with a good meal and the company of Friends a sacrament,
Max*, who loved tinkering with old Mustangs and playing the trombone.… Read the rest

Cubera Nights

USS_Cubera;0834702.jpg.jpgIt was fitting that my Father’s Day gift arrived in a small, Priority Mail shipping container. The Navy ballcap emblazoned with “USS Cubera, SS-347″ barely fit inside its tight, cardboard quarters. The snugness reminded me of the way her crew must have felt, tightly sealed inside the smothering, steel hull of the Balao Class fast-attack submarine as she patrolled the waters of the Caribbean and the Atlantic during the Cold War, her eyes ever open for any sign of danger from Mother Bear.

And of course, the cap reminded me of my father, which, I suppose, was the whole point.… Read the rest

Nothing New Under the Sun

“Our youths love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders, and love to chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their household. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers.” — Socrates, Greek philosopher and teacher (470-399 B.C.)

The origins of that quote, like many, are often disputed, but it does illustrate the point that “the problem with today’s youth” most likely dates back a few millennia. I was reminded of this as I read “Tech Creates a Bubble for Kids” in this morning’s USA Today.… Read the rest

Hanging Out in American Babylon

Since my entry into the blogosphere a few months ago, I’ve noticed quite a few Christians, especially seminary students, who seem to struggle with the idea of “dual citizenship”–i.e., balancing their identity as both Americans and Christians. As they react to what they see as a too close alliance between the cross and the flag among those on the Christian Right, their tendency is to resort to Platonic dualism and “either/or” solutions. In other words, choose whom you will serve, cross or flag, but never both.… Read the rest