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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

So, what exactly do I "stand" for?

Okay, it's a fair question. And it deserves a well thought out response. I hope you will find just that herein.

Many writers/authors have a cause. Some are cheerleaders for social change. Others bring the environment to the forefront. And still more want to feed the hungry children here and there. While I support many causes in my daily life, here are the big three to which I plan on donating some of my writing profits.

All literacy in general, but especially children's literacy.

Found this interesting little tidbit online: According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 34 percent of America’s fourth graders read at grade level. (parenting.blog.nytimes.com)

Here's the problem with the above statement: those children who fall behind in reading, typically fall behind in other areas of school work. This leads to higher dropout rates as well as another alarming issue - a larger number of high school graduates that are functionally illiterate. And that my friends, is a huge problem.

Last month I read another alarming stat, but I'll be darned if I can remember where I found it. So I'm going to paraphrase and hopefully someone will help me out and refer to this article in the comments below. The statement went something like this: In 1970, the number of Americans who didn't read a book in the last year was 7%. By 2012, that number rose to 28%.

A huge part of learning is reading. We have to - absolutely must - get our children reading, and reading more. Whether it's a magazine, a sporting journal, a book, or even a comic; we need our children more actively involved in this past time.

I stand firmly with our youth who find themselves bullied these days.

When I was a kid, times were simpler. If you were bullied, you had more options. I remember being picked on by a certain classmate in third grade. Regardless of what I did, it seemed this young lad made fun of me. Others laughed at his bullying. I felt embarrassed, less of a person.

It started up again immediately in fourth grade. When I walked into the classroom on the first day, there he sat, ready to dish it out all over again. After about a week of it, I realized something. Over the summer I had grown nine inches; him - zero. I now stood a full head taller than he. So one day at recess, when he decided to bully and badger me about something (I honestly don't remember what his problem was anymore), I confidently stepped over and shoved him to the ground. Staring down at the now cowardly bully, I made this statement: "If you don't shut up, I'm going to pound you."

That was it; the bullying ended. Looking back it probably wasn't the best way to handle the situation, but I'm sure my father would have told me to do just that...if I had ever been brave enough to tell my dad.

I know it's different now. Social media brings a whole new life to bullying; takes it to another level. I understand. And hopefully my post on bullying will help at least one person who finds his or herself in the rotten spot which I found myself in so many years ago.

Our Troops
I live by the expression, "Hate the War, but Love the Warrior!"

On December 13, 1862 Robert E. Lee stood on a hill overlooking the Battle of Fredericksburg. As the cannons roared just below him and spewed death upon the Union troops, he uttered these immortal words: "It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it."

A few years back I visited my son in Fredericksburg and stood on the spot where it is believed Lee spoke the above phrase. It's a haunting place; the feeling of dead souls seems to fill the air. Just below the ridge you can still see the trenches that the Confederate soldiers dug to protect themselves from the Union artillery. War, it does truly seem, is hell.

We send our finest young men and women to do battle for our country. While we may not support the war effort, we need to remember our troops. Many are returning nowhere near as whole as when they left. Some die; more are physically injured. Many of our children return emotionally and psychologically battered.

They need our love, our support, and our help. I for one will do my part.

Alright, I've said enough for now. Starting next week, I will pick up with Literacy. Watch for that post on Wednesday July 9th. And please share these posts with a friend and encourage them to share with others as well. I'm not really trying to sell books on my blog - I'm attempting to help others as much I can. Even if it's just one person at a time.

Until next week, enjoy your summer (and do some fun reading).