Fathers Still Matter

Tender moments between father and sonIn the United States, 24 million children, one out of three, grow up in homes without their biological father. 

One of the best ways to strengthen society is to keep fathers in the lives of their children. 

When you diminish the role of a father in any way, you diminish a child. I encourage everyone to re-establish the role of fathers in the home as equal to the role of mothers.

You don’t have to be perfect to be a family; you just have to be willing to never give up.

Here is an infographic, based in part on data from the US Census Bureau, illustrating the impact of children growing up without a father in the home. 

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Hearsay: A Public Service Announcement

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Hearsay

In every town, in every street,
In nearly every house, you meet
A little imp, who wriggles in
With half a sneer and half a grin,
And climbs upon your rocking chair,
Or creeps upon you anywhere;
And when he gets you very near,
Just whispers something in your ear-
Some rumor of another’s shame-
And “Little Hearsay” is his name.
He never really claims to know-
He’s only heard that it is so;
And then he whispers it to you,
So you will go and whisper too.
For if enough is passed along
The rumor, even though it’s wrong-
If John tells Henry, Henry-Joe,
And Joe tells Mary, Mary-Flo,
And Flo tells Mildred, Mildred-Ruth-
It very soon may pass for truth.
You understand, this little elf
He doesn’t say he knows himself,
He doesn’t claim it’s really true-
He only whispers it to you,
Because he knows you’ll go and tell
Some other whisperer as well.
And so before the setting sun
He gets the devil’s mischief done,
And there is less of joy and good
Around your little neighborhood.
Look out for “Hearsay!” when he sneaks
Inside the house-when slander speaks
Just ask the proof in every case;
Just ask the name and date and place;
And if he says he’s only heard,
Declare you don’t believe a word,
And tell him you will not repeat
The silly chatter of the street.
However gossips smile and smirk,
Refuse to do their devil’s work.

Author unknown, circa 1929.

Tucker: The Prize of DeKalb County

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Both the Lakeside City Alliance (LCA) and the Tucker2014 cityhood studies tell us what we already know. Tucker is the place to be.

A one-line synopsis of the LCA study might as well read, “LCA funded Study Indicates Tucker is a Great Place to Live” or “Study Says Lakeside City Viable – If it Includes Tucker.” Remove Tucker from the proposal and it doesn’t work. Without Tucker, the resources the LCA needs to support a city dry up.

The City of Briarcliff Initiative (COBI) relies less on Tucker in their proposal, but in recent weeks they’ve increased their efforts to incorrectly define Tucker as only existing outside I-285, and their characteristic good will seems to be fading.

Some are complaining that Tucker’s advocacy group, Tucker2014, isn’t compromising on boundaries. Whether this is true or not, it’s difficult to call it “compromise” when the only group asked to give anything up is Tucker. Tucker is a physical reality. The communities proposed by the LCA and the COBI only exist on paper.

The message both groups are now sending is that they need Tucker for their plans to work. If Tucker won’t let goSenator Fran Millar and the LCA have proven that they are not ashamed to lay claim to what they want.

Can a City of Tucker thrive without Northlake within its city limits? Possibly. That’s not the question because Northlake – all of Northlake – is already in Tucker.

Asking Tucker to let go of Northlake or Montreal is a bit like asking someone to have his or her arm amputated simply because someone else thinks it’s a nice arm. Can a person live a fulfilling life with only one arm? Yes, but why let someone take an arm without resistance? Claiming that the person has a great arm on the other side of his or her body is not a reasonable argument.

To carry the analogy further, in the case of the LCA, more than the arm is wanted. It doesn’t take a physician to see that the map reaches deep into the heart of Tucker to excise Henderson Park and more.

The recently modified LCA map drops the awkward jog across I-285 encapsulating medical practices in Tucker on Montreal Road. Yet the parasitic hunger continues to lunge forward, this time within 60 feet of Tucker High School.

Something powerful is fueling the desire to cannibalize Tucker and Frankenstein together a new community. If not, why are Senator Millar and the LCA working so hard to take half of it?

What about the $30,000.00 incorporation studies the State required each group to fund? Do the results no longer matter? The studies took months to complete, each determining economic feasibility based on geography, but with Senator Millar’s assistance the LCA presented a different map to the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee. A map that was not part of the State approved University of Georgia study and, after a quick bathroom break, senate committee memberMike Crane,Hunter HillChuck Hufstetler, and William T. Ligon, Jr. approved it.

Not a good week for the integrity of the Republican Party in Georgia. The home field advantage should not encourage one to take advantage of his or her neighbor. A friend and Tucker resident said, “This reminds me of Chicago politics. I should move back, at least then I could have good pizza.”

Critics may read this and think, ‘No one is taking anything from Tucker, everything belongs to DeKalb County.’ That would be a fine argument if those same critics proposed keeping everything in the hands of the County, but the majority do not. They want to take it for themselves. If there were a zip code, census county division, expressway exit signs, etc. bearing the name Lakeside for the past 50 years the LCA would be claiming the area belongs to the community of Lakeside. Problem is, there are no such signs and no such community.

It must be irritating to see the name “Tucker” written predominately in so many places at the county, state, and federal level.

This whole endeavor is more than a bit embarrassing to many living in the Lakeside and Druid Hills high school districts and, according to LCA straw polls, it doesn’t reflect the desires of the people inside the Perimeter. Perhaps that is why fears related to “what if” questions about high school feeder districts changing, concerns about crime, and real estate values have held such sway in LCA discussions outside of I-285. Why try and sell a bill of goods in Poland if no one is buying it in the motherland? That the motherland isn’t buying in bulk ought to mean something.

There is something magnetic within Tucker that both groups want, but haven’t created on their own.  From the outside, it must look easier to divide and conquer than to build.

Thankfully, the Legislature is frozen out this week, keeping slippery ideas off the senate floor. Hopefully, this short cooling down period will motivate those in positions of authority to consider the wider consequences of “winning” the prize.

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(Originally posted in the Tucker Patch, February 13, 2014.)

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“Tucker, If By Some Bare Chance You Shouldn’t Know”

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Tucker, if by some bare chance you shouldn’t know,” said the August Chronicle, “is located in DeKalb County on the Seaboard, about half way between Atlanta and Lawrenceville.”

If not for the word “Seaboard,” current discussions over cityhood might cause some to think this is a recent quote. It isn’t. It’s from a 1913 article on the decision of the railway commission, requiring Deluxe trains to stop when hailed at the Tucker depot.

The headline reads:

“Even Trains De Luxe Can’t Pass Tucker By . . . No sassy flyers of the Seaboard [Railroad] can scoot through that village without halting on signal of the Tuckerites.”

A century later, as unlikely as it seems, some in the area have lost track of exactly where Tucker is located. Like the “sassy flyers” of the past, perhaps they too have scooted through without halting. Perhaps this lack of knowing is genuine, or maybe there is another motive behind dismissing Tucker. It’s difficult to know and unwise to speculate, but “if by some bare chance you shouldn’t know,” there are plenty who do.

The Georgia Department of Transportation makes the location of Tucker abundantly clear to hundreds of thousands of daily commuters. Signs in both directions on Hwy 78 and I-285; Exit 37 “LaVista Rd Tucker,” Exit 4 “Mountain Ind Blvd Tucker,” and Exit 7 “Hugh Howell Rd Tucker,” all point to Tucker. The road connecting the communities of Chamblee and Tucker is called, of all things, “Chamblee-Tucker Road.” It crosses both I-285 and I-85 and rarely a weekday goes by without mention of the road in multiple traffic reports.

Mark ArumScott Slade, and Captain Herb, know where Tucker is located. Their voices, along with the voices oClark HowardWalter ReevesKirk MellishJamie Dupree and others, transmit to millions of commuters and homes across North Georgia from the WSB tower in Tucker, Georgia.

DeKalb County Fire & Rescue know that both Station #5 and Station #22 are in Tucker. The County also knows that Henderson Park, Kelley C. Cofer Park, and Peters Park are in Tucker. The administrators at Emory University know that their Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital is in Tucker.

The US Postal Service has known the location of Tucker is since at least 1892. Tucker has been around for a while.

The Tucker Mattress Company opened in 1917; Tucker High School in 1918; Cofer Brothers Inc., in 1919; and Tucker received a US Census Bureau designation in the 1930s. The Tucker Masonic Lodge No. 42 opened in 1940; Matthew’s Cafeteria and Tucker Football League in 1955; Tucker Business Association,TuckerReid H. Cofer Library, and Bikeways of Tucker in the 1960s; and Triumph (Tucker) Youth Soccer Association in the  1970s.

But, “if by some bare chance you” still don’t know where Tucker is, have confidence that Jason’s Deli at Northlake Festival knows the location of theirTucker Deli.” Folks Southern Kitchen knows they are in Tucker too. So do the owners of Mellow MushroomPetSmart, and Chick Fil-A.

Waffle House has four locations spread across Tucker. If that’s not enough south in your mouth there’s the Old Hickory House, and yes there’s an IHOP for flapjack lovers.

Yet at 529 words into this article, it becomes silly to keep pointing out every instance of the word “Tucker” or every well-known establishment in Tucker. The pressing question isn’t “where is Tucker.” The question is what will become of Tucker in the near future and who will determine that future?

For most, the boarders of Tucker fade out in various directions and there hasn’t been a need to draw lines. Like it or not, Tucker has never been exclusive. The us against them mentality doesn’t work well in DeKalb County and it finds no comfort in Tucker. Signs in support of the Lakeside City Alliance (LCA) along Henderson read “Don’t get left out,” seemingly unaware they are already in Tucker.

Will the LCA and their sister organization, convince those within their proposed city boundaries that a new community is the right solution? Can they convince residents in parts of Tucker to join them?

Change is essential to healthy growth and Tucker welcomes sassy fliers from every direction but when the signal goes up to slow down and stop, it’s time to stop. Like hundreds of rural and suburban communities across the state, Tucker will likely define its own future.

In the meantime “if by some bare chance you” still don’t know, unincorporated Tucker, with over 1,700 employers and an annual payroll of more than $1.3 billion, continues to flourish on both sides of I-285.

(Originally posted in the Tucker Patch, October 21, 2013.)

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

 

The need to be both vulnerable and authentic has been on my mind for months. Choosing to experience vulnerability, or having “the courage to be imperfect” as Brené Brown describes, is empowering. It’s a necessity not a flaw.

Resisting vulnerability weakens rather than strengthens. It takes honesty and self-awareness not to recoil in uncomfortable moments.

Brené wisely states that we cannot numb emotion selectively.

It’s not easy but it appears to be essential for personal growth and lasting relationships. We can never truly connect with others without a willingness to be vulnerable. There is more to it than I’ve explained. It takes repeated  experience to ‘get it.’

Brené gets it. Do we get it? More importantly, do I get it? 

 

Memorial Day: Charles Arthur Shannon 1913 – 1945

Charles Arthur Shannon 1913 – 1945

My great uncle, Arthur Shannon, was an aerial photographer in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. On April 14, 1945 his plane crashed in the sea near Formosa (Taiwan). He was picked up by the United States Navy but died shortly thereafter as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. He was thirty-two.

A collection of his papers and his Purple Heart sit on a shelf in my office. A few dozen letters to his sisters, mother, a nephew, and his wife Regina; college admission letters, telegrams, clipped newspaper articles; a large scrapbook typical of the 1930s and 1940s, and a few photographs are all that remain to tell the story of his life. 

He grew up with his parents and five siblings in a house near the corner of North Avenue and North Highland in Atlanta, Georgia. The family attended Druid Hills Baptist Church and Regina lived near by. According to one of his report cards, in 1928 he only missed one day of school at Bass Junior High School in Little Five Points.

A letter dated May 8, 1945, from the United States Secretary of War, addressed to Regina, reads as follows:

My dear Mrs. Shannon:

At the request of the President, I write to inform you that the Purple Heart has been awarded posthumously to your husband, Sergeant Charles A. Shannon, Air Corps, who sacrificed his life in the defense of his country.

Little that we can do or say will console you for the death of your loved one. We profoundly appreciate the greatness of your loss, for in a very real sense the loss is a loss shared by all of us. When the medal, which you will shortly receive, reaches you, I want you to know that with it goes my sincerest sympathy, and the hope that time and victory of our cause will finally lighten the burden of your grief.

Sincerely yours,

Henry L. Stimson

Arthur’s marriage to Regina was short. They had known each other for years but didn’t marry until Arthur’s enlistment in the Army. They never lived together due to the war and had no children. Regina died in a car accident just a few months after Arthur’s military death benefits began to arrive. It’s ironic that they both died in a crash on opposite sides of the earth.

There is no heroic story to tell about his wartime experience. Just a citizen doing his duty. A son, brother, uncle, and husband whose life was cut short in defense of the republic. There was no ram in the thicket that day. No one to step in and take his place.

The cost of war is high. Did he die in vain? What would he say if he could answer the question? His voice has been silenced yet in my mind the gentle and clear answer is, no. The cost of tyranny is much higher.

“Love’s Austere and Lonely Offices”

This evening, I’ve been reflecting on the last two lines of the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden. The character in the poem is an adult looking back at the cold winter mornings of youth, recognizing the lack of gratitude shown towards the family patriarch in what the author calls a house of “chronic angers.” The poem concludes with the lines:

“What did I know, what did I know of Love’s austere and lonely offices?”

The line “Love’s austere and lonely offices” is so pathetically true. Love is simple in nature yet there is a tendency to make it something glamorous, something beyond its scope. Something it cannot and should not be. At times, love is austere; it is stern and unadorned. It is silent, hidden behind the scenes.

A friend edits the ending of every fairy tales she reads to her children, adding; “and they worked really hard on their marriage, and lived happily ever after.” She is opening their imaginations to the story between the pages. The real life story of the silent heroes we call mom and dad.

For a child, love’s lonely office includes not understanding why “no” and “not now” mean “I love you.”

For a married couple love’s “lonely offices” are they places they stand without regard to personal pleasure. Because of love, friends and extended family never come first. Because of love, time and resources are sacrificed for things that hold little interest. Because of love, both will fret over whether or not they have done the right thing.

It is love that allows them to disagree passionately without fear that an opinion held too strongly will break them apart. It is love that allows conflict and love that keeps all other opportunities for romantic interest out of sight and out of mind.

Love’s eye is not blind. It is selective. It weighs truth in the balance and understands that no collection of flaws and quirks are superior to the man, woman, or child they have chosen.

Certainly “love’s austere and lonely offices” are not the only offices held in marriage, but they are the sacrificial offices required to keep the flame of love’s temple alive.