Sacrifices transcend time

Author: natalie  //  Category: Holidays, National

 As many of us enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend unofficially kicking off summer, barbecuing, and relaxing, let’s not forget the patriots the day was set aside to remember – the men and women of the United States military who gave their lives in the service of this country.  They are the very fabric of Old Glory, and greatly deserve our respect and recognition.

 

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, started out commemorating Union soldiers who died fighting in the American Civil War. The holiday later changed names and grew to include those who died in any war or military action.

The day of remembrance began in the late 1860’s, and continued to be celebrated on the fixed date of May 30 until 1971 when all states came under the federal Uniform Holidays Bill, putting Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.  Some groups have pushed for many years to have the fixed date reinstated.  In a 2002 Memorial Day Address, the Veterans of Foreign Wars stated, “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.” That point may very well be valid. Many seem oblivious to the costs of freedom.

While reading accounts of soldiers who paid for liberty with their lives, I’m always struck by the bravery shown in the face of certain death. Some of them knew they’d be laying down their lives, and I’m reminded how complacent we’ve become in taking what they fought over for granted. Holes were forever left in the lineage of many families, so that you and I, unknowns from a different place in time, could pursue life, liberty and happiness.

It is important that we understand the battles, wars waged, and exactly what these fine soldiers died for. There’s much to be learned from the fires within those souls. They recognized beliefs and ideals far greater than themselves. It’s unsettling at times to see what was bought and paid for threatened, but I remain optimistic seeing  today’s heroes rise up against adversity.

Having been born on Pearl Harbor Day, I’m sensitive to the price paid by the American soldier, as I grew up understanding its significance.  After 9/11, I felt an even more acute awareness for how tenuous a thread our freedoms hang.  The men and women who have given their lives understood as well, and many left us willingly. I can only hope their families take some comfort in knowing their loved one left an indelible mark on our history.

A big posthumous thank you this Memorial Day to the patriots who paid for my freedom with their lives.  I owe a debt I can never repay, but I promise to live each day defending and upholding the freedoms you fought for. Your gifts to this country touch the very core of who I am, and I’ll never forget. Your stories are timeless, as are your sacrifices. You’re gone, but not forgotten.

© 2008 Natalie Whatley

 

 

Welcome to my little spot on the web!

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you

Hello everyone!  This site is in its infancy, and I admit to not knowing much about admin. of a site at this time.  I’m learning, so please bear with me.

Thanks for visiting!  

Thin blue line needs fattening up

Author: natalie  //  Category: Baytown, Texas

In honor of National Law Enforcement Officer Week, I spent an hour Friday alongside officers, elected officials, and fellow citizens as the Baytown Police Department hosted a memorial service paying tribute to police officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice this past year.

I arrived at the service ready to pay my respects with issues regarding Baytown’s own anorexic blue line weighing heavily on my mind. Crime in Baytown, and what to do about it, has become a rather hot topic.  As City Manager Garry Brumback began to speak, my feelings were echoed as we were reminded that while we should never forget those who have fallen, we have a responsibility to those who haven’t.

Many believe the criminal element needs to be swept out of town via a much larger broom, but there are some issues impeding that end. There are approximately 20 positions open at BPD, and while many are hollering “get ‘em hired and on patrol”…not so fast. If only it were that easy. Qualified applicants are not coming to the table, and police agencies across the nation find themselves in similar positions. Competition is fierce, leaving only those willing to pay fully staffed.

I’ve been told that raising salaries would go a long way in gaining new recruits, as well as aiding in the retention of well-trained officers. What surprised me was the size of the increase it would take to make a difference – an additional $2,749 annually for starting patrol officers. Offering competitive pay is the very least we can do.

While merely scratching the surface in researching our local hiring woes, I realized we are in dire need of getting our priorities straight. The elementary lesson of wants vs. needs seemed to slip our collective minds as we recently voted in some “wants” that will come with hefty price tags affecting what is available for “needs”.

Economic down-turns and rising costs will leave the city manager and city council very little wiggle room as they begin the budget process this summer. We have a responsibility to get involved, learn the issues they face, and give our input on how our dollars can be best spent. City council meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. You can reach your elected officials and city council members electronically, and view meeting agendas and packets at www.baytown.org/government.

It is my understanding that current efforts to improve the situation are moving forward. It will take time to turn the situation around – it didn’t get to this point overnight. In the meantime, our elected representatives need to be reminded what we view as important.

I recently heard our men and women in blue referred to as “magicians”. They’ve been seen time and time again pulling through the seemingly impossible, but we’re rapidly approaching, if not already at, a place where the unattainable is being asked. It’s not fair to set these dedicated people up for failure. Our population has grown, and the police force has not. We wouldn’t have gotten this far had it not been for the well-trained, devoted personnel currently and previously charged with protecting our city. It’s time to return the favor.

© 2008 Natalie Whatley

Angels mothering among us

Author: natalie  //  Category: Holidays, Life with children

Happy Mother’s Day to all who have given themselves to paving the road into the future.  

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May a national holiday for honoring mothers’ contributions to society.  It’s an incredibly important job with lengthy tenure, long hours, pay outside the material realm, and rewards beyond measure.  As a mother, I know the trials and tribulations as well as the immense pride and joy. I didn’t know there would be special angels sent to shed some light on the meaning of true love and incredible faith.

On this day reserved for celebrating, I’d like to recognize a very special group – mothers of special needs children. You are an inspiration, and I marvel at your grace, patience and strength.  I’ve realized it’s no coincidence that I encountered you after what I perceived as difficulty with one of my own children. I may have been angry, or glum, and there you were to remind me to put my petty grievances into perspective. You carry a far greater load, and I had no right being the one feeling saddled down. You often pick me up, and today, it’s my turn.

While getting to know some of you, I learned what I knew had to be true. There was a time in your life when acceptance of what had been placed in your hands was difficult. Yet, it’s you, who have taught me about acceptance and true unconditional love. You have all the same hopes and dreams that I have for my children – happiness, success, and societal acceptance.  

Your days are filled with more challenges than I’ll see in a lifetime. You handle it all with poise and an inner peace I can’t even begin to understand. Sure, you have bad days, and lose it just like the rest of us, but there’s something in you…you’re fighters and you take it all in stride.

I imagine that the triumphs of your child must be far sweeter than anything I can fathom. How many of you were told, “He/she will never…..” So many of you took that as a challenge, and it’s the greatest act of defiance I’ve ever seen. You’re tenacious in pushing beyond the limits someone else placed on you and your child’s life. Some say you’re in denial.  I call it amazing.

Neither you, nor your child chose the fate of a lifelong disability, and you wish people understood that fact. Even in the face of cruelty, exhaustion, and isolation you move forward – grateful to the people who offer support, compassion, or just plain kindness. 

Necessity often requires you to be consumed by what must be done each day.  I see YOU.  That child is precious and surely would not be where they are today had it not been for your perseverance and dedication. Don’t think for one second you’ve become invisible. You’re beautiful inside and out, with a heart of gold, and a halo to match. I’m honored to be a mom alongside true angels on earth, and humbled in your presence.  

Happy Mother’s Day, Donna and Jennifer. Thank you for lighting the path so that I could see.

© 2008 Natalie Whatley

’08 Model gets great smileage

Author: natalie  //  Category: It's all about me

Since we’re becoming such close friends through this column, I have a confession to make. I’m a flasher.  I know, it’s very risky behavior in today’s climate, but I can’t help myself. I’m liable to flash any one of you in my daily travels. There’s no offense intended, and please feel free to flash back.  I was required to submit a photo, so you’ll no doubt know who I am when you see me. I’m shameless, and even flash upon request.

There’s a long story on how this sordid behavior began. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it all started 30 years ago when I learned a hard lesson. Teeth are no match for concrete, even when you’re looking really cool doing stunts on your shiny new bicycle. The damage was patched as best as 1978 dental practices allowed, and up until the past few years, I’d put the whole repulsive incident behind me.

In spite of the repair work, and braces as a teen, I became self-conscious and found myself holding back in the smiling department. That was difficult given that I have a lot to smile about. The composite material used to fill the gaping hole in my grin had become discolored, and upper wisdom teeth had shot the previous orthodontic work. Since I’m creeping up on….oh, I can barely breathe and say it, 40, I decided to find a more aesthetically pleasing option, and ventured off on a quest for a more beautiful smile. L’Oreal says I’m worth it. Who am I to argue?

 My dental journey, which was wrought with a fair amount of anxiety and some discomfort, lasted a long and grinding 18 months. Thankfully, I didn’t travel alone.  Dr. Robert Buck, orthodontic virtuoso, straightened everything out, while Dr. Ryan Garrett, color-matching genius and porcelain sculptor, fashioned a veneer to cover the broken tooth.  Jeff, the hard-working-husband-extraordinaire, paid for it all.  Bless his heart, he still has no idea how much it set him back. The “domino effect” came into play, and he quit asking. In return, he’ll receive a lifetime supply of loving smiles.

The highlight of my trip was having the porcelain veneer installed. Prior to that happy day, I had a couple of sessions under the nitrous to prepare (that’s dental speak for grind down, thus the previously mentioned anxiety) the damaged tooth. I certainly didn’t feel a thing, and even wore headphones which piped some downright catchy tunes into my ears.

No one seemed to notice that I was dancing euphorically on the ceiling, or that I was the life of the party going on inside my head. I was having a fabulous time with my synapses firing under an altered state, until my bladder called. I’m happy to report that I was indeed able to avoid unspeakable embarrassment, and that we all had a good laugh about my unknown antics afterwards.

 I’ve earned the rights to some flashy behavior, and I plan on getting a whole lot of smileage out of my new grin.  It’s the least I can do for the three men who found what was lost by a free-spirited little girl. Thanks, guys. 

 

© 2008 Natalie Whatley