Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Stan Musial

Cardinal baseball. It is almost a religion in these parts. I know it is for my family. If you want to be told to shut up and leave try talking during a Cardinal game at my parent's house. To say that we bleed Cardinal Red is an understatement.

My Father, who I sometimes refer to as the Rainman of sports knowledge, probably has not missed a total of 20 games on the radio or on television since the late 1950's. (except for his time in Vietnam) To this day he still carries a small transistor radio with him where ever he goes during the summer so he won't miss a single pitch.

My Dad is now 65 years old. If you want to see him revert into a 7 year old boy, bring up Stan Musial. His entire expression changes. He tells stories of Musial's accomplishments and how he got to meet him when he was 17, the night he joined the Navy. He talks how he is the greatest cardinal of them all.
This past week, Stan "The Man" turned 90. He also learned that he would be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award. This is the highest honor a civilian can be awarded. He is more than deserving. The Post Dispatch detailed the award and gave 90 reasons why we love The Man. Here are those articles.

Happy Birthday Mr. Musial.

On the grand occasion of Stan Musial's 90th birthday Sunday, we offer our own special gift: a literary cake, topped with 90 reasons why we love The Man, or one for each year:
1 • Musial is the nicest person we've known. He's devoted much of his life to making others happy. "I suppose it's because I'm a you-only-live-once type, and I figure I might as well enjoy everything that happens," Musial said at the end of his career. "It's also with me pretty much a matter of putting myself in somebody else's place. So what I try to do is never to hurt anybody else and figure if I don't, then I'm not likely to get hurt myself."
2 • Musial, unlike so many athletes, always appreciated what he has and was thankful to play baseball for a living. He is the anti-Terrell Owens. "Maybe one reason I'm so cheerful is that for more than 20 years I've had an unbeatable combination going for me - getting paid, often a lot, to do the thing I love the most," Musial once said.
3 • A lovely man, with lovely symmetry. Musial stroked two hits in his first game in the majors Sept. 17, 1941. He ended his career with two hits in his final game Sept. 29, 1963, in St. Louis. And with those last two hits, Musial finished with 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 on the road. As the writer George Will once wrote, "baseball's rich in wonderful statistics, but it's hard to find one more beautiful than Stan Musial's hitting record. He didn't care where he was, he just hit."
4 • The Musial Statue. No, it doesn't look like him. It's not nearly as perfect as the Man himself. But Cardinals fans from around St. Louis, from every state and even the world have flocked to the statue for decades to take photos and meet family, friends and fellow Cardinals fans. It's the destination of a baseball pilgrimage.
5 • The Man once made a cameo acting appearance on the hit 1960s show, "That Girl," starring Marlo Thomas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Prince is getting married. Who gives a rat's a**?

The Prince is getting married.  The Prince is getting married! Oh, he gave her his mother’s engagement ring.  She is getting her chance to be a princess.  WHO CARES!!!??  I don’t think it would be any more possible for me to care less about this.  I have in the past expressed my deep dislike for soccer and the World’s Cup and its outcome.  However, I must retract some of my previous soccer hating statements.  “The Engagement” has now taken front and center in my “couldn’t care less” category.

I am not completely cynical in regard to this.  I am glad someone is going to marry Prince Horseteeth.  I hope that his little brother Prince Chucky gets to be the best man.  Congratulations to them.  Ok, maybe that was a little harsh.  Let’s step back, have a cup of tea and think about this.

I guess this is a big deal.  I thought the biggest news in the world was if Mel Gibson and his girlfriend had settled custody and proved Mel has a bad temper.  Maybe, it is the latest Lohan news?  Who can be concerned about such menial news when the Queen has invited the new couple over for Christmas this year?

Is there more proof out there of how unconnected with reality we are?  What about a news story about that young serviceman that is getting married and then leaving for the war?  Or, how he gave her his Mom’s engagement ring that she got from that Vietnam Vet that never returned home.  A story of the father killed in battle and will never see his new born child.  We never hear these stories.  They do not make good news.

I am not saying we need only gloom and doom in the news.  However, I find it tough to stomach being force fed all of the royal wedding news when there are greater things transpiring in the World.  I guarantee by the time the actual wedding gets here, we will be completely overloaded and repulsed by the mere mention of it.  I guess I am shallow and not understanding, but who really cares?  Honestly.  I am going to try to be more open minded.  Well, kick the soccer ball my way; put the wedding on pay per view for me.  Oh, and on a serious note, Heidi and Spencer are going to renew their vows.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Marines and Thank You Veterans

The past week has been filled with emotional tributes and humbling experiences.  The month of November is home to two very important days to me and to our country.  The first is November 10th, The Marine Corps birthday.  This is a sacred day to all Marines young and old.  We turned 235 years old this past week.  I think we look pretty good for our age.  Besides the birth of my children, the day that I was called Marine for the first time is the proudest day of my life.  I can still hear the voice of Senior DI Sgt. Romans as he called us Marines for the first time before we marched over for graduation on August 31st 1990.  He explained he had been the one that had spent the time in training with us and would not be cheated by some Officer who had no idea of who we were, of the privilege of calling us Marines.

Sgt. Romans was the epitome of a U.S. Marine.  He was one of the four Oakland police officers killed in the line of duty in 2009.

The Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated like Christmas for each Marine.  It is a time for us to puff out our chests and let everyone know that we are truly The Few, The Proud.  We are the smallest branch of the military, less than 1% of America’s population are Marines or Former Marines.  It is a small fraternity and we like it that way.  The Marine Corps has a much celebrated history.  One that is colorful and filled with stories of bravery and heroic acts that go beyond human belief.  As Marines we are unapologetic for who we are.  We have a mission and we will accomplish it to provide the security that each American enjoys.  Semper Fidelis to all of my fellow Marines.

On November 11th our nation recognizes all Veterans and their sacrifice.  One did not have to serve in combat to have made a sacrifice for our country.  Anyone that has served has made the sacrifice.  Your country called and you stepped forward.  You did your part.  It is the Veteran that placed his or her life on the life so the very people who protest them would have the right to do so.

I had the opportunity this year on Veteran’s day to take part in an interactive television show and documentary honoring Veterans.  I was asked by a television crew to be the Desert Storm Veteran.  I was accompanied by World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraqi Veterans.  It was an honor to stand among them.  The filming took place at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.  In the audience there were several disabled Veterans and Vets from all eras.  To see the sacrifice these individuals have made and continue to make is very humbling.  In between the two shows I drove out into the cemetery, as I looked out in to the thousand of white headstones it truly slams home what has been given to ensure we have freedom.

The following day I attended a Veteran’s Breakfast and Ceremony provided by Herculaneum High School.  It has to be held the day after Veteran’s Day, because HHS is closed on Veteran’s Day, as they should be.  I tip my hat to them.

I find it a travesty that other schools are in session on Veteran’s Day.  Shame on you.  To the school boards that refuse to vote for the closure, shame on you as well.  All of the days that are taken off each school year for whatever reason, I think you can close for November 11th.  I don’t want to hear the excuse of “we teach about it that day”.  You have all year to teach it, close that day.  I would like to take the families of Veterans who were killed in action into the school board meetings and let them be told their loved one’s sacrifice wasn’t worthy of honoring with a day off.

As Americans we must each do our part to ensure the sacrifice and service of all Veterans is never overlooked.  Take the time to thank a Veteran and have the guts to stand up speak for the Veterans who no longer can.  They did for you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Suicide, Permanent Call for Help

During this past week I attended the wake of a classmate and a friend who passed away. We graduated together. We had gone to school together since the 6th grade. We were friends in school, not best of friends but friends. He was really a hell of a nice guy. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that would say anything different. 

We rarely saw each other after graduation. We would run into each other on occasion in town or out and about. I saw him last a few weeks ago. Last week, for some reason, life became too much for him. He took his own life. I am not going to go into details or pass on rumors. Very sad. He was married with children.

As a police officer, I have dealt with numerous suicides. They each have their own tragic story and even more of a tragic ending. I can't think of any of them in which I didn't shake my head thinking to myself, how can it be that bad? But, I have come to realize to that individual it has become THAT bad. They are not thinking correctly. Something has tilted too far on the inside.
I am not sure they realize the pain that is caused to the family. In most of the cases I worked, from what we could figure they felt they were too much of a burden, in a hopeless situation and all would be better off without them around. Man, are they wrong.

When a person commits suicide, there is a society driven stigma. The act of suicide invokes such strong emotions ranging from sadness, guilt, anger and embarrassment from family and friends. There is a lot of self blame and the feeling of what could I have done to prevent this. Honestly, most of the time there was nothing that could have been done. It is very tough to protect someone from themselves. Probably the hardest for the family members is to arrive at the fact, it is not their fault.
There are approximately 35,000 suicides per year in the US. There are 800,000 attempts per year. Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women.

In many of the cases there are warning signs. Signs that may help the family get the person help. It isn't a 100% catch all prevention, but it might help. Some of the signs are:

Situational Indicators
Loss of a Relationship Via Rejection or Separation
Death of a Loved One
Diagnosis of a Terminal Illness
Loss of Financial Security
A Change in Physical Appearance
Loss of Employment/A New Job
Loss of Self-Esteem

Emotional Indicators

A Sudden Lift Of Depression!
It is a well-known fact that as a person begins to climb from depression the possibility of a suicide attempt increases. There are two thoughts as to why this happens. The first is that when a person makes up their mind to take their own life, they become more at peace with the situation. They feel more in control and thus the depression begins to lighten. The second idea is that as lethargy lifts, a person finds the energy to carry out suicidal plans made while incapacitated. Regardless of the reason, however, this is a very critical time.

Behavioral Indicators
Acquiring a Weapon
Hoarding Medication
Putting Affairs in Order
Making or Changing a Will
Increased Interest in Suicide
Giving Away Personal Belongings
Mending Grievances
Checking on Insurance Policy
Withdrawing from People

Verbal Indicators
Straightforward Comments:

  • "I wish I were dead"
    "I wish I had the nerve to kill myself."
    "I wish I could die in my sleep."
    "If it weren't for my kids, my husband ... I would commit suicide."
  • Hints:
    • "I hate life."
      "Why do I bother?"
      "I can't take it anymore."
      "Nothing matters anymore."
      Pasted from <

None of these signs are guaranteeing that someone is suicidal. However, they can be warnings.
Be aware, be a good listener.
If it does happen, let them know it is not their fault and be there for the survivors. There are several support groups and help outlets.

In closing, I guess I just wanted to try raise awareness and I am sorry old friend. May you rest in peace, now.