Archive for December, 2009

Most amusing of 2009

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

It’s nearly that time when the reporters at the Evening Sun start to round up out most acclaimed stories of 2009. Looking back on the crime and fire beat I found no shortage of candidates. With a number of drug busts, murder arrest and conviction, fires and fatal accidents I was feeling like a varsity foot ball coach trying to make cuts during the pre-season. More than just the mayhem is also considered- things like community programs with large impacts, big business news and political changes are important too.

My “top” stories now picked I had a handful of runner-ups I thought deserved at least an honorable blog mention but after reviewing the list it seemed a little depressing so instead I thought I’d include the most amusing stories of 2009 I wrote instead. You may find them entertaining (unless you happen to be in them) but over all they aren’t of any great significance.


Man who shoots two people apologizes to the court but not the victims

A man arrested for firing his shotgun at two others during an alcohol-fueled dispute pleaded guilty to an endangerment felony in court June 22 and was sentenced to one year in local jail.
Lee M. Bush, 49, of the City of Norwich, pleaded guilty to shooting at two men outside of his 29 Court St. apartment with a shotgun last September following an escalating argument that allegedly began over money and cocaine.

The two victims in the crime both of Norwich, were hit as they fled Bush’s residence at around 9:30 p.m. Sept. 5, suffering pellet wounds to their legs, back and arms. None of the injuries were life threatening.

At the sentencing, defense attorney Aaron A. Dean reiterated Bush’s story that Squires and Infante were “two drug miscreants” who had “threatened my client after they assaulted his girlfriend.”

“What happened, happened,” Bush told Supreme Court Judge Kevin M. Dowd, accepting his role in the incident and apologizing to the court for his conduct. He did not, however, directly apologize for his actions against the two men – a point Dean noted in his remarks.

“There were a lot of circumstances involved that the average person isn’t aware of on the street. Basically there were some legitimate issues of justification,” said Dean, referring to the reasons his client fired.

Dean also noted one of the men didn’t seek medical attention following the incident.
“Mr. Bush maintains his position that he shot in the direction of the two men, and not at them. It is basically our position that the direct fire ricocheted off the driveway and then struck the men,” said Dean.

Bush pleaded guilty to first degree reckless endangerment, a D class felony carrying a possible sentence of two and a third to seven years in state prison.

Dowd sentenced Bush to one year in local jail with time already served, saying it was an agreed upon disposition between the DA and the defense. Bush, who has been incarcerated at the Chenango County Correctional Facility since the incident, was released on good behavior by the Sheriff’s Office, having served eight months of the one year sentence.

Both victims in the case have since been arrested on different crimes and sent to jail themselves.
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Drugs by mail and the interest of bail

A Norwich man who allegedly had about $15,000 worth of marijuana mailed to him from a Texas border town had his bail reduced to $1,000 after his lawyer complained that credit card interest rates were wreaking havoc on his client’s finances.

52-year-old Carl Smith Jr. was charged with second degree possession of marijuana and third degree conspiracy, both felonies. He was also charged with unlawful growing of marijuana and fourth degree possession of a weapon, misdemeanors.

On July 9, the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced they had intercepted 10 pounds of marijuana in a postal package mailed from Donna, Texas, to Smith’s home on County Rt. 34 in the Town of Norwich.

Smith was originally remanded to the Chenango County Correctional Facility on $8,000 bail, which his lawyer, Frederick Meagher Jr., said he paid with a friend’s credit card.

Meagher asked the bail to be excused, explaining that the credit card demanded a $700 surcharge for it to be used in the correctional system and had a interest rate of around 29 percent.

District Attorney Joseph A. McBride asked that the bail remain at $8,000, noting the value of the seized drugs and cash was double that amount.

The judge lowered the bail to $1,000.

In addition to the approximate 10 pounds of marijuana, police discovered eight marijuana plants in Smith’s back yard, two small bags of marijuana, a loaded .22 caliber rifle, and an illegal “black jack” weapon. They also uncovered several assorted marijuana pipes and paraphernalia following the month-long investigation by Sheriff’s Office, DEA and Postal Service.
– – –

Truck loaded with dead animals hits house

A delivery truck carrying a load of animal carcasses to a processing plant in Utica lost control in the rain Oct. 28 and careened into a town of Norwich home, injuring the driver.

The unoccupied trailer, located at 1011 along County Road 34, also suffered damage in the impact and left a gaping hole in the structure’s wall, exposing the interior to the elements.

The Chenango County Sheriff’s Office reported that the truck’s driver, 50-year-old Joseph Dimasse of Utica, was taken by the South New Berlin Fire Department’s ambulance to Chenango Memorial Hospital with minor chest and neck pains.

Neighbors at the scene said the home belonged to the Gross family. It was not immediately known how many occupants resided at the trailer or what arrangements were being made to aid them.

Police said the truck was traveling east, down an incline on Burdick-Medbury Road, at about 10:24 a.m. when the driver allegedly lost control of his brakes. The driver was unable to stop the vehicle while attempting to turn left on to County Road 34 and passed through the Burdick-Medbury Road stop sign.

The home was located just to the left of the T-intersection. The truck smashed through a small porch, bushes and the mail box before striking the trailer at about a 45 degree angle, nearly dead center.

At the time of the accident, a steady rain was pelting the area and the road surface was wet. Sheriff’s deputies ticketed Dimasse for inadequate braking.

At the scene, a strong odor of rotting flesh could be detected and police opened the delivery truck’s rear storage area. They discovered more than a dozen 55-gallon drums of discarded animal remains jarred open and thrown around inside as a result of the collision.

Police said the truck was on its way to a Utica pet food plant for processing and the parts were most likley collected from area butchers and sportsmen.
– – –

Burglar only interested in the underwear

A man stood in Chenango County Supreme Court Sept. 23 and said he was motivated to commit burglaries over his desire to steal woman’s lingerie.

Twenty-year-old Paul J. Hendrickson, homeless, but formerly of the Maple Grove Trailer Park in Norwich, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted second degree burglary after admitting he entered the home of a woman living in his neighborhood for the sole reason of stealing her, or her children’s, underwear.

Although allowed to plead to the technicality of attempted burglary, Hendrickson told the court he successfully broke-in and entered on at least on occasion, removing articles of intimate clothing from the victim’s laundry.

Chenango County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Richard Cobb said police later “recovered approximately two dozen articles of women’s undergarments that had been stolen from the victims.”

In the plea arrangement with the District Attorney’s Office, Supreme Court Judge Kevin M. Dowd sentenced Hendrickson to two years in state prison and three years of post-release supervision for each of the charges, to be served simultaneously. Hendrickson was also ordered to pay more than $1,400 in fees and surcharges and must now register as a sex offender for no less than 20 years.

One of the victims who appeared in the courtroom to watch Hendrickson’s sentencing said she has three daughters, ages, 10, 13 and 19, who were also victims of the crime.

In conducting his guilty plea, Dowd asked Hendrickson’s public defender, Alan Gordon, to properly execute the plea allocution of the charges before he would accept the terms of the agreement.

“Did you attempt to break into the home?” Gordon asked his client. “Yes sir,” said Hendrickson.

“And with the intent to steal woman’s underwear?”

“Yes sir,” again replied the defendant.

Gordon said because the felony was a sexually-motivated crime, his client would have to become a registered sex offender.
– – –

The real life Hamburglar

Just over eight hours after police responded to the scene of a burglary at the Norwich McDonald’s Jan. 27, they arrested a 17-year-old Norwich youth for the crime.

David D. Brunell, of County Road 47 in Norwich, was charged with felony third degree burglary and two misdemeanors – fourth degree criminal mischief and petit larceny. Police said they identified the suspect caught in the store’s surveillance videos as Brunell by noon and arrested him at 3:30 p.m. after a brief search.

He allegedly broke into the Norwich McDonald’s at around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday after using a park bench to shatter the drive-through window. Police said Brunell then tried to crawl in through the small window, but was forced to make a second attempt after being injured on the broken glass. The teen managed to crawl through the opening and was caught on the security surveillance system, dangling from the window by his sneaker at one point and later eating hamburger buns as he rummaged through the fast food restaurant.

Police also said Brunell failed in his attempts to force open the business’ safe and cash registers, leaving bloody fingerprints at the scene as a result of his injuries.

Norwich Police Chief Joseph Angelino said that after his arrest, Brunell confirmed investigator’s suspicious that he was under the influence of illegal substances at the time of the incident.

“He could be seen staggering around in the surveillance video,” said the chief. Police said they were able to make such a speedy arrest thanks in part to the store’s security system.

Angelino said he wasn’t sure of a motive for the crime, but said the teen’s “thinking processes were probably hampered by illegal substances.”

Into the New Year

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Brian Golden

While preparing for this year’s Top Stories review, I had the unique opportunity to peruse the majority of the stories which appeared in the Evening Sun throughout 2009. I say unique because really, how many of us have the time or patience to sift through over 250 copies of print.
With the end of the year in sight, I was flabbergasted by the amazing variety of stories that occurred in our little county in a years time. Whether good, bad or just downright crazy, we have an awful lot of news in our community. Some of it was inspiring to me (our president being sworn in kind of sticks out), some of it depressing (friends I’ve lost in the last year) and some just plain humorous (various comments from 30 seconds immediately spring to mind).
Now I’ve been here less than a month (or as Jeff likes to say, 10 minutes), but I can honestly say that these three and a half weeks have been equally exciting, nerve-wracking, surprising and stressful (but not so stressful that I wake up in the middle of the night without being able to breathe and sweating profusely…well, maybe a couple of times).
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I began here at the very tail-end of a strange and complicated year, what with the continuing wars, political bickering, health care reform, bailouts and so forth. It has occurred to me that I experience the news differently now than I did before working here. In fact, it’s more like I experience life differently since beginning here. I look at this city in a new light, I walk around and wonder what has changed so fundamentally for me and can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s a good thing.
All in all, I just want to wish everyone out there a Happy New Year and express my thanks to Jeff, Tyler and Melissa for being such a big help in these, my first weeks. I look forward to reporting the news for this community and all of you who support the Evening Sun by subscribing. In reality, it’s also you who read the paper I should thank for this job, without all of you there wouldn’t be any news. I hope 2010 brings you all great joy and I’m looking forward to the coming year.

The Family Thing

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

I absolutely love having my family in town for the holidays. But I can’t tell you how much they are driving me crazy.

No, seriously. I can’t tell you. Since there is a good chance that they’ll read this. And this little sister doesn’t want to get her buttinsky kicked. (Or ratted out to her parents, for that matter.)

Now before anyone (particularly any blood relations who may be currently staying in my house) takes offense to that, let me explain. I do love having my family close. For far, far too long I lived a couple of thousand miles away. I went for a couple of years without seeing my siblings at a stretch. I hated every minute of it. One of the best things about being back to New York is that I see them more often.

But I’m not used to living with them. And no matter how much you love your family, its hard to go back to sharing a bathroom – or a bedroom- with them again. Particularly if one of them feels the need to sleep with the window wide open when the outside temps are hovering right about zero. And another one hogs all the sesame bagels.

But I digress.

It’s just one of those things about family. Those closest too us know what buttons to push. They know what we’re most sensitive about, and exploit it to their own personal gain.

On the flip side, though, they are also the ones who it’s most fun to laze around with, watching movies, playing board games, telling stories and the like. It’s those moments I can’t get enough of. I love sitting around listening to my brother play guitar; gossiping with my sister while we clean up the kitchen after a meal (particularly one involving her amazing meatballs and some nice crusty bread from La Maison Blanche); playing the umpteenth game of Life with my niece; and catching up with my sister-in-law Lisa.

And while there are moments I want to scream and pull my hair out, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I know that in the back of all of our minds, fueling these silly little squabbles, is the knowledge that at some point everyone has to go back home. And it will be far too long before we see each other again. All I’ll be able to think about is how I wish we’d had more time to do this or do that while they were here.

Every day that I wake up and they are still here, feels like a reprieve. Because I can’t even bear to think about how quiet the house will be once they go.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

The things that I used to do

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
Brian Golden

Things were much simpler when I was young and growing up in Norwich, no cell phones, home computers, Internet or cable with thousands of channels. I understand this will make me sound old to some younger readers, but then again, I am older now (and hopefully wiser).
When I hear people complaining that there is nothing for kids to do around here, I have to shake my head and wonder what they’re talking about. I believe the problem is that kids have so much to do, especially with today’s technology, that they’ve lost the most important quality of all, imagination.
I cannot count the number of games my friends and I concocted. There was Spider (a kind of spooky Hide and Seek), Ditch (remember the days of flitting through neighborhood backyards), and if nothing else there was always “battle the aliens/monsters/nazis” which adults could not see but we could. That’s not even mentioning the games of football, baseball, basketball and ultimate Frisbee.
As I got older and more interested in music, I spent less and less time pursuing sports and playing games (no we did not have Guitar Hero either, you actually had to learn how to play), yet even learning an instrument forced me to use my imagination (I started with “air guitar” and progressed upwards). Music became my passion, although it took me years to realize there was more to music than Hendrix, Clapton, S.R.V., Gilmore and Knopfler.
I know it may sound kind of silly, but parents, please try to explain to your kids that all the stuff they take for granted wasn’t always here. Tell them to read a book (and not on-line), write a story, take a hike (like in the woods, not get out of my face) or build a fort (tree, ground, bedroom, wherever). These are many of the things I did as a child, and I’m better for it now. Oh, and don’t forget, at least once every summer and no matter your age, to splash in as many puddles as you can.

An error in judgment

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

I did a bad thing last night. I lost my cool for a minute at the Oxford School Board meeting, and was apparently a little too honest with the board member who happened to ask me why I was frustrated by the proceeding.

My response wasn’t prompted by my professional role at The Evening Sun, but by the fact that I’m both a graduate of Oxford Academy and a current district resident. And I felt like I’d had the wool pulled over my eyes by the board and administration. I allowed them to convince me to cast my vote in favor of the Phase I capital project by promising to renovate and restore the historic Middle School building and keep it as an educational institution. But here they are, once again, talking about reconfiguring grades and – yes, there was mention of that single Pre-K through 12 campus idea – yet again.

Now, when I say “they,” I really mean the board president, as she acts as the board’s spokesperson. Some of the other board members were visibly uncomfortable with the discussion. And the board member in question did state for the record that she didn’t think the highly unpopular “Option 3” (unified campus) should be considered further because of the public’s previous response to the idea. But I was still shocked and appalled that the topic had not only raised its ugly head again. Especially since it hadn’t appeared on the agenda I’d received. Or the one I’d picked up when I entered the room, for that matter.

Just as anyone, I’m entitled to my opinion. But I work hard to put those feelings aside in my reporting. I’ve gotten used to compartmentalizing my opinions from the bare-bones facts of an issue, not only because it’s part of my job – which it is – but also because I feel very strongly that the facts of the case should stand on their own merit. That stakeholders should have the information they need to make an informed decision about whatever matter is being discussed, but whatever decision they arrive at should be theirs. So I strive to be unbiased, and give both sides, or as many sides of the issue as possible.

I save my opinions, thoughts and beliefs for a more appropriate forum: my columns, blogs and, everyone’s favorite, thumbs.

Despite the fact that I’ve done just that for well over a year – through the first go around when the board was flirting with the idea of demolishing a wing of that venerable old building, when community members were up at arms about proposed budget cuts, controversy over the superintendent’s contract, etc. – my little outburst last night could cost me. Because those that think I have been overly critical of the administration or the board and their actions in the past, are already trying to use it as ammunition against me.

It’s too late to take back my words, and I now realize that I made an error in judgment. But I’m not the only one.

Because, what Oxford’s school board still fails to realize, recognize or understand is that it isn’t my words that have people up at arms – It is their actions.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa

My Mumsy

Monday, December 21st, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

Sometimes, when our parents tell us not to do things, we nod and pledge our allegiance to adhere to their will. Even though we know darn well that we’re going to go right out and do it anyway.

That’s pretty much what I did, when my mother told me in no uncertain terms that she did not want any kind of birthday celebration this year. Sure, Mom, no problem, I said. We won’t do anything special.

Good thing I had my fingers crossed, because the next item on my to-do list was to plan her birthday shindig. As soon as our conversation was over, I promptly picked up the phone and began dialing up a few of my parent’s closest friends.

It crossed my mind as I planned the event, that it might be fun to keep it a surprise. But I figured it would be difficult to explain why I was roasting a 10 lb pork roast for just the three of us.

Regardless of her protestations to the contrary (and boy, did she protest when I unveiled my master plan), I knew she would enjoy herself. And she did. We all did, thanks to the wonderful company, the freely-flowing champagne and the mouthwatering dinner – which I somehow managed to prepare despite the aforementioned bubbly.

Why did I insist on the birthday party? Because my Mumsy deserved it. With her birthday falling just a few days before Christmas, she’s gotten short changed far too often. And since she was always the one to plan our celebrations, there wasn’t anyone to really take the lead on hers.

Our birthdays would be feted with plenty of gaily wrapped presents, our favorite meal and usually a gathering of friends. She, on the other hand, would end up with a few last minute gifts, hastily wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, and one of those Pepperidge Farm frozen layer cakes.

And that was if she was lucky!

Far too often she would fall victim to my father’s unique brand of gift giving. Where he would buy something for himself, and say it was for her Like the year he bought her a pair of skeet guns. It probably goes without saying that my mother is not the member of our family who was into skeet at the time.

My personal favorite was the I called home from Colorado to find he had tried to pass off a four wheeler and a wood splitter as her birthday gift.

When, during hunting season, my father was lamenting the untimely demise of that four wheeler, I reminded him that mom’s birthday was coming up. Let’s just say my mother’s reaction to this helpful suggestion wasn’t suitable for print.

But I think you can get an idea why this year I thought it was high time to raise the bar on her celebration, hence the little dinner party. After putting up with us for all of these years, my Mumsy deserves the very best.

We celebrated a couple of days early, but today is actually “the day.” So, if you see her, make sure to wish her a happy birthday.

How old is she, you ask? Why 49 and holding, of course.

I love you, Mumsy. Happy Birthday.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa

Old dreams with new lives

Friday, December 18th, 2009
Brian Golden

Even though the last two years have been a constant challenge for me, I find myself in a better place with a better mind-set than I ever really expected. For one thing, if you had told me a year ago I would be writing for the Evening Sun, I probably would’ve laughed and said “I wish” (guess the jokes on me).
After my father’s passing in January of 2008, it seemed like I had one bad experience after another. I can admit now that I was quite bitter and really quite selfish. Of course I didn’t see things that way and it cost me big. In my mind no one could understand what I was going through, and even if they could I probably would not have believed them. It’s been a healing process, and a long one at that.
Now I live in the house my father and I built, yet if he were still alive he wouldn’t recognize it. Unfortunately the tenants who rented it from him decided to literally destroy my home. I had to gut the entire structure, including the bathrooms (toilets/showers/sinks), kitchen, carpets (all), walls (covered with black mold), windows (broken) and even the yard was wrecked. All in all I pulled 5.4 tons of garbage out of the house (and I won’t even mention the rats).
In addition to all of this were my failed relationships, of which there were several. Luckily I’m still friends with most of the people involved, and I’ve come to realize that in many ways I hold myself responsible for said failures. My only excuse is that I had not dealt with the many issues facing me, and to those who deserve it, I’m sorry.
I had just about reached the end of my rope, and was preparing to leave Norwich in an attempt to start over, when I saw that tantalizing ad once again, reporter wanted. I’ve always loved the thought of writing for the paper, and for years said it was the only job I would want outside of performing music.
Now I find myself employed, with the opportunity to start over right here where it all began. For years I spoke of leaving this city, now I can’t imagine going anywhere else. When I look around my home I see potential instead of disaster, old dreams given new life. I guess I’d just like to say thank you to all the friends and family who have stuck by me, helped me out when they could and never stopped believing that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to.

Blog Fodder

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

My first exposure – no pun intended – to the work of humorist David Sedaris was more than a decade ago when I read Naked, a series of essays focused on the author’s early years and young adulthood. Although I’d originally purchased the book for a friend, once I realized how freaking funny it was, I promptly re-appropriated it.

(I justified this act, which in the days before political correctness we would have referred to as “Indian-giving,” by assuring myself that she didn’t appreciate it as much as I did. After all, if she had, she wouldn’t have let it out of her sight long enough for me to steal.)

Since that first reading, I have read, re-read and listened to just about everything Sedaris has ever published. From his early Holidays on Ice and Barrel Fever, to Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and, his most recent work, When You are Engulfed by Flames.

Perhaps my favorite, however, is an audio recording of a performance he did at Carnegie Hall called, appropriately, Live at Carnegie Hall. Without fail, every time I listen to it I laugh so hard that I cry, particularly during “Six to Eight Black Men,” where he discusses holiday traditions in the Netherlands.

Since I started working at the Evening Sun, however, one of the essays included on the CD gives me pause. It’s called “Repeat After Me.”

In it, Sedaris talks about his sister’s reaction to the news that some of his work, in which she and his other family members feature prominently, may be made into a movie. The essay – in which he trains her parrot to say he is “so sorry” for using her life as source material – is in part an apology to her. And I think of it every time I write a blog or column where I dip into my own well of source material gathered from the exploits and  embarrassments of those nearest and dearest to me.

Which, lets face it, is every time I write a blog or column.

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when my friends and family members didn’t start, end or at some point interrupt a conversation by saying, “wait, are you going to write about this?” But for the most part, they are willing participants. So willing, in fact, that a few are actually disappointed if I spend time with them and don’t write about it.

The only real exception to that is my parents, who grew up in a time when privacy actually existed (read: pre-internet). When I told my father I would be writing a column, he didn’t congratulate me. Instead, he said, “You’re not going to write about your family, are you?”

In an effort to avoid confrontation, I quickly answered no. Okay, it was a blatant lie. But I kept my fingers crossed.

He and my mom tend to take it in stride now, perhaps they have realized that resistance is futile. Or maybe it’s the fact that I ply them with wine and martinis before I start digging for the good stuff.

A lot of those I write about most don’t live around here. They feel like minor celebrities when they see their name (repeatedly) in print. When they haven’t gotten their fix in awhile, they start jumping up and down begging, “Blog about me, Blog about me!” (I keep telling Liz this is unbecoming, but she doesn’t listen to me.)

That’s why when someone asked me last week if my friends get upset when I blog about them, I had to laugh.

And then I felt compelled to write about it.

Will Tiger Woods come clean?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
Patrick Newell

I am in complete agreement with Tiger Woods’ website blog entry Wednesday, Dec. 2 . As a professional athlete, much like a politician, actor or performing artist, Woods is in the public eye, and how he comports himself in a public setting is subject to scrutiny. Woods understands he is a public figure and the camera is usually canted in his direction, yet he requests (demands) that his private life should not be fodder for the rumor circuit or the sundry tabloids waiting to break another rumor. No one will argue the sanctity of conducting one’s own business without cameras or gossip mongers looming closely.
Yet, the circumstances of his car accident are still unclear, and we may never know the specifics. What we can surmise is that issues with Woods’ private life may have spilled out into the affluent, gated neighborhood that the world’s top golfer calls home. When a car accident causes over $3,000 of property damage, it’s hard for the public to look the other way. Woods has chosen to admonish himself for exhibiting poor judgment and not living up to his own moral standards. Still, he has not explained the circumstances of his accident, and by remaining tight-lipped, is only inviting more public curiosity. When Woods does make his next public appearance in front of the media, expect an inquisition from the news media. Will Woods own up to his actions, like David Letterman? Will he tell part of the truth, a la Alex Rodriguez? Or will he stand by his blog statement and fail to satiate the public’s “need to know?”


Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Tyler Murphy

At 12:30 p.m., 1963, in the bright Texas afternoon an unknown number of shots from a debatable number of assailants, motivated by a contested range of controversial notions, brought their evil intentions to bear and struck down America’s 35th president.

Nov. 22 was the 46 year anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

A man’s death is rarely broadcast so widely and can be so vividly recalled by those born before and after its time.

Most can identify the scene, often shown in black and white or in Technicolor, of that convertible strolling through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

No sound, just the clipping movement of outdated film technology and the violent, unpredictable wrenching of a man’s body smeared in a sudden burst of blood. After seeing the severity of the moment it’s hard to imagine he made it to the hospital before dying.

Nearly five decades later the passage of time seems to make the circumstances of that day and the events surrounding it seem less defined than they were even then.

Apart of his epic assassination Kennedy was a man not unlike our current controversial president- a man of powerful oratory skills, a humanitarian and a candidate ushered in an era of great change.

“The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.

And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world,” Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961 United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.

His successes were equality muddled by his failures, which included the infamous “Bay of Pigs” debacle. Still let us remember this is a president who supported racial and social equality in a time of violent segregation. A man who held back the reins of world nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half a century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them.

Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power,” Kennedy’s Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort, September 12, 1962

Perhaps one of the most dramatic accomplishments was challenging America’s ambition to reach the moon before the Russian’s space program, a challenge realized on July 20, 1969 when the United States’ Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, six years after Kennedy’s death.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

The footsteps of man upon the moon may have roots in Kennedy’s words and in his short time on the American landscape he often challenged, and inspired, his idealism’s to the country.

“In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are– but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”–a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

Kennedy served as president from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. His background included military service in World War II where he commanded a Torpedo Boat, the PT-109, in the South Pacific. The boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer in 1943 and during the collision Kennedy was injured but manage to rally his crew and swam to a nearby island. They carried with them a badly wounded comrade and Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”

Kennedy was a man of impressive beliefs and I appreciate his role in our American history. Few words have moved me so deeply and many of them carry a wisdom still comparable to our modern challenges. I hope the brief excerpts contained herein are enough to provoke at least a curiosity. I recommend a visit to YouTube or another site with an audio recording, though his words are impressively read there is no equal experience when heard through Kennedy’s own passionate presentation.

To read more of Kennedy’s words visit a collection of his speeches at