GW’s Proclamation

November 25, 2010

George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

G. Washington (his actual signature)

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Thanksgiving

November 23, 2010

7 Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers.
8 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
11 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
13 O offspring of Israel his servant, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
14 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
15 Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
16 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,
17 which he confirmed as a statute to Jacob, as an everlasting covenant to Israel,
18 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your portion for an inheritance.”
19 When you were few in number, and of little account, and sojourners in it,
20 wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people,
21 he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account,
22 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”
23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
25 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be held in awe above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.
28 Ascribe to the LORD, O clans of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
30 tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
35 Say also: “Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.
36 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.

from 1 Chronicles

Or did they?

November 17, 2010

The NBA has a dress code. Break it and get fined. The NBA has a code of conduct. Break it and get fined or suspended. The NBA made an example out of Gilbert Arenas when he brought a gun to work.

Or did they?

In the case of Arenas.

I know it’s only a video game, but I see his point.

This is a mixed up world.

Todd Walker was working in the mortuary Monday, preparing the body of a 14-year-old boy, a kid he’d coached in youth football for five years, for a funeral later this week. Larry Malik Grayson was shot in the head two days after his last freshman football game at Berkeley (Calif.) High School.

It happened at a friend’s house. Somehow a gun appeared and Malik died. The shooting may have been accidental. The details seem unimportant, but the senselessness isn’t and neither is the frequency. Too many lives are being lost or changed because of guns. Too many kids — good kids, kids who play football or baseball or basketball, kids who go to school and try to do right — are dying on the streets of places like Berkeley and Oakland.

One of Walker’s nephews, a 13-year-old, was shot in Oakland earlier this year when someone fired into his house. He survived, but is now blind. Walker prepared the body of another of his former Berkeley Junior Bears football players last month, a 15-year-old. There was a 13-year-old track star shot and killed as he just walked down the street less than a week before he was to start at Skyline High School.

Walker’s heart breaks and his anger rises. As a youth football coach and funeral-home worker, he fights the gun culture and the death culture. He fights the pervasiveness that threatens to turn youth gun violence into just another annoyance of modern life, along the lines of a dropped phone call or a pothole. He tries to use sports to create a positive alternative.

And then last week, he went home and was watching a game when a new commercial for “Call of Duty: Black Ops” came on his television. Seen through Walker’s eyes, the content was bad enough. A woman in high heels, a hotel concierge, a guy in a fast-food worker’s outfit — they’re all shooting automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades in an urban warfare setting.

He was already disgusted, but about halfway through the spot, Walker did a double take: Wait! Wasn’t that Kobe Bryant?

Seriously, is that really Kobe Bryant carrying an assault weapon with the word “MAMBA” on the barrel? Did Kobe Bryant, the highest-paid player in the NBA, take money not only to advertise a shooting game but actually shoot — or simulate shooting — an automatic weapon while doing it? None of his people, not his wife or his agent or someone in the NBA offices, advised him against this?

“I couldn’t believe it was him,” Walker says. “What’s wrong with him?”

Walker gives funeral-home tours to every team he coaches. He tries to hammer home the reality of death by putting kids in cardboard cremation boxes. He shows them the tools he uses to drain bodily fluids and the chemicals he uses to prepare bodies. It probably wouldn’t play in the suburbs, but Walker’s trying to fight a culture that glamorizes death with tattoos, airbrushed T-shirts and roadside memorials. He’s fighting a culture that has desensitized death to the point where fantasy has overtaken reality. In the process, the permanence of death — “That person is gone,” Walker tells the kids when he closes someone inside the box — is often lost.

Those responses might be coping mechanisms or a natural defense against the reality of a situation that some deem hopeless, but Walker fights anyway. The glamorization troubles him. The lack of shock troubles him. He thinks people who don’t value death are less likely to value life.

And then he sees Kobe shooting an assault weapon on TV, along with Jimmy Kimmel and those other “ordinary” people, including an overweight girl wearing glasses and a revenge-is-mine smile as she fires into a building. (She’s apparently in the throes of a self-esteem bump, but it doesn’t take much of a leap to see her as a geek settling things with a gun.) At the end of the spot, the tag line — “There’s a soldier in all of us” — manages to diminish and trivialize the work of real soldiers while sending one of the most irresponsible messages in the history of advertising. (The ad campaign is everywhere, including on ESPN’s family of networks and this website.)

“This is exactly what we’re trying to fight,” Walker says. “I’m looking at a 14-year-old boy right now who got shot in the head, and then I see Kobe get on TV looking like a damned fool, holding an assault weapon and wearing the same stuff the kids are wearing when they kill somebody. The look on his face — all smiling and happy. This is the attitude we’re trying to get away from. It’s OK for him, though, because he’s never had to worry about going home to the ghetto. That ain’t his world.”

The NBA has a dress code. Break it and get fined. The NBA has a code of conduct. Break it and get fined or suspended. The NBA made an example out of Gilbert Arenas when he brought a gun to work. Walker asks, “Where’s the NBA on this one? What the hell is this guy doing? He needs to explain his reasons for that.”

The Lakers, through their public relations people, say they haven’t dealt with any backlash from the spot. “Not a Laker issue,” says VP John Black, who referred me to Bryant’s agents, who had no public comment.

It’s well known that Bryant is involved in military charities and feels a kinship with American soldiers. He reportedly trained with actual black ops soldiers to prepare for the commercial. At the game’s launch, Bryant helped present a check for $1 million to the Call of Duty Endowment for returning soldiers.

Robert Kotick, the CEO of Activision, which makes “Call of Duty,” considers his game a tribute to the military. It’s a claim that’s undercut by a commercial that makes its “heroes” appear to be regular people using their lunch break to take down a helicopter and fire a few rounds into a building.

For all his basketball talent, Kobe has always tried to develop the street cred that doesn’t fit his background. Walker says, “If he’s looking for street cred, he should do a commercial where he’s throwing that assault weapon into an incinerator. We’re trying to send a message that guns aren’t the answer, and we’ve got an NBA player on television shooting that big-ass gun with a stupid-ass look on his face. We can’t win.”

Walker has an idea he knows will never happen. He wants to give Kobe the same tour he gives his young football players.

“I’d like him to come in here and see what I see,” Walker says. “The bodies, the tools, the chemicals — he needs to see it and smell it. He damned sure needs to see it.”

Walker had to get off the phone. He had to go back to work. The Lakers come to Oakland to play the Warriors on Jan. 12.

The offer stands.

ESPN The Magazine senior writer Tim Keown co-wrote Josh Hamilton’s autobiography, “Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back,” which is available on Amazon.com. Sound off to Tim here.

Psalm 144

November 13, 2010

A prayer when I go to work:

1 Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

Reminder from Hosea

November 10, 2010

“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”

Sick

November 5, 2010

WASHINGTON – A woman who was kidnapped and cut open in an attempt to steal her unborn baby charged at her attacker during a sentencing hearing Friday in Prince George’s County.
Veronica Deramous, 40, of Suitland, Md., pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and agreed to a sentence of 25 years in prison.

The victim, Teka Adams, lunged at Deramous as she spoke of an agreement between the two women that Deramous was to purchase Adams’ child.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey witnessed Adams charge Deramous.

“The defendant wavered about whether she would accept a plea or not and then she decided to accept the plea and then the victim got angry came after her,” Ivey says. “so it was a very dramatic day.”

Ivey believes the sentence is appropriate.

“This is the kind of sentence the defendant deserves and she’s going to be off the street for a very long time,” Ivey says.

In December 2009, Deramous allegedly lured Adams from a Southeast D.C. homeless shelter with the promise of free baby clothes, and held her captive — bound and duct-taped — in an apartment for nearly five days.

Police say Deramous then used box cutters and a razor blade to cut into the victim’s belly in an unsuccessful attempt to get the baby.

Adams, who was in her third trimester at the time of the attack, managed to wriggle free and run from the apartment with her placenta and intestines still exposed.

The mother and baby survived, with the daughter being named Miracle.

Adams was escorted from the courtroom after the outburst.