Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Reflection - Four Men Who Served Well

Friday, August 28, 2009, was filled with sadness.
Four men were eulogized by their families and friends and the world already
misses them.

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009)

United States Senator from Massachusetts for 47 years and a member of the Democratic Party, played a major role in passing more than 300 bills, including laws addressing immigration, cancer research, health insurance, apartheid, disability discrimination, AIDS care, civil rights, mental health benefits, children's health insurance, education and volunteering. In the 2000s, he led several unsuccessful immigration reform efforts.

The Rev. Robert E. Grimm, (May 1, 1922 – August 17, 2009)
Buffalo, New York

He pushed for understanding and cooperation among people of various faiths in Western New York. Ordained in 1949 in the Congregational Church, now known as the United Church of Christ. He was always a person who wanted to bring people together.
Passionate about peace and justice “He was a very energetic and faithful Christian in terms of both doing justice and loving kindness in his walk with God. He said “I personally am committed to this because I believe the church always has to be involved in building community. My theory about one church is not one church, but somehow out of our diversity, we learn to respect one another and be supportive of one another.”

Lieutenant Charles (Chip) McCarthy and Fire Fighter Jonathan Croom
Buffalo, New York

They lost their lives this week while fighting a fire. Monday was a day of great tragedy and loss for the brave men and women of the Buffalo Fire Department. They responded to their call to duty and did what every fire fighter does every day – sought to protect anyone who might be in danger. We honor the memory of these true heroes.

The motto of the Buffalo Fire Department is -
UT VIVANT ALII - So Others May Live

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.


On Friday I attended the memorial services for Rev. Grimm and Jonathan Croom. I also viewed the service for Senator Kennedy on television, and read about Lt. McCarthy in the newspaper.

I was struck by the similarities of these four amazing men. They loved their families and were wonderful role models, leaving a legacy for future generations. Their dreams will live on in the lessons that they gave to their children.

I pray that we, also, can follow their example and try to make a difference in this world.

Their private, personal lifestyles that flowed out spontaneously and naturally, often in unrecorded, unacknowledged, even unremembered acts of kindness. Family and friends related memories of their numerous acts of humanity.

As I gave thought to the events of this week the following passages from the Bible came to my mind:

Matthew 25: 35 - 40

“I was hungry, and you fed me: thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you received me into your home,
I was naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you took care of me: I was in prison, and you visited me.”

The righteous will then answer him, when, Lord, did we ever see you hungry, and feed you? Or thirsty, and give you a drink?
When did we see you a stranger, and welcome you into our homes? Or naked, and clothe you?
When did we ever see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?

The King will reply “I tell you whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine you did it for me! The righteous will go on to eternal life."

Four men – a politician, 2 firemen, and a minister.
Whether changing the nation, saving lives or saving souls they all left the world a better place.

Matthew 25:21
The master replied, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"

May God wrap the families in his arms and bring them comfort and peace as they mourn the loss of their loved ones.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Buffalo's Farewell - August 28, 2009

Buffalo's farewell to two courageous firefighters who died on Monday morning as they answered a call to save lives.

The Stars and Stripes is hanging between two fire truck ladders in tribute

Mark Mulville/Buffalo News
Funeral procession for Lt. McCarthy in the morning

The Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, made of of active-duty and retired firefighters, came from Washington, D.C. to
play during the funeral procession

The men from Ladder 7 atop the fire engine,
stand on guard next to the casket of
Firefighter Jonathan Croom

Honor Guard giving respect

More than 10,000 firefighters, police officers and first responders
came to Buffalo from around the United States and Canada
to attend the funerals

UT VIVANT ALII - So Others May Live

St. Joseph's Cathedral, Buffalo, New York

Officers saluting from the top of a building as the funeral procession
arrives at the Cathedral

Officers from Worcester, Massachusetts, in attendance. One officer told me that Buffalo firefighters had come to the funeral of the seven men lost in the warehouse fire in Worcester a few years ago and they wanted to pay their respects today.

The badges of all uniformed personnel were in mourning,
covered with a black band


A sad day for this community which always pulls together in times of need.

As well as those pictured above, thousands of residents of Buffalo and surrounding towns came out to stand at the side of the roads of the funeral routes today, to show their respect to the two fallen firefighters Lt. Charles W. McCarthy, Jr. and Firefighter Jonathan S. Croom.

May they rest in peace.

photos by peacesojourner (unless noted)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Sad Day in Buffalo - August 24, 2009

A Sad Day in Buffalo, New York - August 24, 2009

Flags are flying at half-mast throughout the city

Lieutenant Charles McCarthy Rescue 1, and Fire Fighter Jonathan Croom Ladder 7
both died on Monday morning while fighting a local fire.

The fire continued to burn hours after the first alarm was sounded.
Derek Gee / Buffalo News

Buffalo Fire Commissioner Michael S. Lombardo monitors the scene.

He fought back tears during the news conference, saying he knew both men and described them as "tremendous firefighters" who both received honors for their work in the past.

"This is a family, and we lost two members of our family," Lombardo said

Brotherhood of firefighters waiting for news of the firemen who were trapped in the fire.
Derek Gee / Buffalo News

Firefighters salute as they remove the bodies of the fallen firefighters from the building.
(Associated Press)

Lt. Charles 'Chip' McCarthy and Firefighter Jonathan Croom of the Buffalo Fire Department were killed after falling through a floor in a burning building.

Lt. Charles McCarthy leaves behind his wife, three children and a 6-month-old grandchild.
He was a long time veteran of the Buffalo Fire Department.

Jonathan Croom, 34, was a ten-year veteran of the Buffalo Fire Department. His fellow crew members at Ladder 7 on Main Street describe Croom as a family man who was always smiling, and some of them say they thought of Croom as their "little brother".

A Fallen Firefighters Prayer

As firefighters we understand,
That death’s card dealt in our hand.
A card we hope we never play,
But one we hold there anyway.

That card is something we ignore,
As we crawl across a weakened floor.
For we know that we’re the only prayer,
For anyone that might be there.

So remember as you wipe your tears,
The joy I knew throughout the years.
As I did the job I loved to do,
I pray that thought will see you through.


On Monday morning two Buffalo firefighters died in a fire that they had responded to.
It was reported that a person was trapped in the basement. When they entered the building to save that person the floor collapsed, they both fell into the basement, became trapped and were not able to get out.

Blessings to all first responders who put their lives on the line for us daily.
My condolences go out to their families, friends, and co-workers.
Also to the entire community which is mourning the loss of these brave men.

"It's a very tragic day for the city of Buffalo," Mayor Byron W. Brown said during a news conference. "Our hearts are broken right now."


Friday, August 21, 2009

The History of Some of England's Traditional Icons

I thought I would write a little about the history of a few of the traditional icons of the U.K.
When I was visiting earlier this year I was filled with nostalgia and found myself taking photos of many things that were familiar to me when I was growing up.

For several years I lived and worked just around the corner from Harley Street, near Regent's Park, London. This street is known world over for its large cluster of private dentists,
surgeons, and doctors, mostly where the rich and famous seek health care.

Since the 19th century, the number of doctors, hospitals, and medical organizations in and around Harley Street has greatly increased. Records show that there were around 20 doctors in 1860. When the National Health Service was established in 1948, there were about 1,500. Today, thousands of people are employed in the Harley Street area, in clinics, medical practices, and hospitals such as The London Clinic.

When I was in the London Waterloo Train Station I was fascinated with this example of modern health care. Medicentres are walk-in private medical centres based in London. No appointment is necessary and you will normally be seen within 20 minutes. A great idea for travelers passing through or people who work in the city who can drop in on their lunch break.

* If a person becomes ill while visiting Britain, they are eligible for free, out patient, emergency treatment in the Accident and Emergency departments of National Health Service hospitals.

The London Bus is one of London's principal icons, the red rear-entrance double-deck Routemaster is recognized worldwide. Although it has now been largely phased out of service, with only two heritage routes still using the vehicles,
the majority of buses in London are still red.
Buses have been used on the streets of London since 1829, when George Shillibeer started operating his horse drawn omnibus service from Paddington to the city. The London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) began using motor omnibuses in 1902, and manufactured them itself from 1909. The last horse-drawn bus ran on 25 October 1911, although independent operators used them until 1914. The company is now known as London Transport.

This particular bus had been rented out to transport a wedding party to the church and reception - quite a novel idea :-)

A mailbox in the United Kingdom is called a pillar box where mail is deposited to be collected by the Royal Mail. Pillar boxes have been in use since 1852, just 12 years after the introduction of the first adhesive postage stamps and uniform penny post. Royal Mail estimates there are over 100,000 post boxes in the United Kingdom.
Most traditional British pillar-boxes produced after 1905 are made of cast iron. Each post box has its own set of keys and postal workers have to carry large bunches with them when clearing the boxes.

And last but not least, the red telephone box, a public telephone kiosk designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, is a familiar sight on the streets of the United Kingdom . The first standard public telephone kiosk introduced by the U. K. Post Office was produced in concrete. The red telephone box was the result of a competition in 1924 to design a kiosk that would be acceptable to the London Metropolitan. The Post Office chose to make Scott's winning design in cast iron and to paint it red to make it easily visible.
In 1935 it was designed to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V. It was the first red telephone kiosk to be used extensively outside of London and many thousands were deployed in virtually every town and city. It has become a British icon.
Upon the privatization of Post Office Telephone's successor, British Telecom (BT) issued a more utilitarian design, and began to replace most of the existing boxes.

photos by peacesojourner

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

United States Forces casualties in the war- 5,113

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

An Aug. 10, 2009 photo shows Marine Lt. Victoria Sherwood, left, of Woodbury, Conn., waiting with members of a Female Engagement Team for a security detail to take position before making contact with locals in the village of Khwaja Jamal with Golf Company, 2nd Batallion, 3rd Regiment of the 2nd MEB, 2nd MEF in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. .

A combined force of some 500 U.S. and Afghan troops took part in the attack, which included helicopters, snipers, and women Marines brought in to deal with Afghan women during the compound-by-compound search conducted by Afghan forces that accompanied the Americans.

Casualties have mounted as U.S. and NATO troops ramp up military operations to send thousands more U.S. forces to Afghanistan to cope with the rising Taliban insurgency.

Three U.S. Marines and a Polish soldier died in the latest attacks, setting August on course to surpass the 75 U.S. and NATO deaths from all causes in July.

United States Forces casualties in the war in Afghanistan

As of August 10, 2009: there have been

782 United States Forces casualties in the war in Afghanistan.

3,442 additional American soldiers have been wounded in action during the war;

2,166 of them not returning to duty.

United States Forces casualties in the war in Iraq

Dead - 4,331

Wounded - 31,463


Support the troops - bring them home now!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Reflection - Sunset Over The Buffalo Marina, New York

As often as possible I take an evening walk along Buffalo's lakefront Marina. One evening this week was especially special. The things that filled my vision and ears were exceptional.

God is painting the sky with a sunset at the end of this day.

Psalm 65:8 the whole world stands in awe of the great things that you have done. Your deeds bring shouts of joy from one end of the earth to the other.

As I stood at the railing I watched the slow moving boats as they returned to the harbor. Most of the passengers waved to me and called out greetings. It was obvious that they were returning after a relaxing day on Lake Erie.

A local drumming group, Daughters of Creative Sound, practice at the waterside every Wednesday evening. I sat in my lawn chair listening to their wonderful
music and watching the sun set.

1 Chronicles 13:8 - All the people danced with all their might to honor God. They sang and played musical instruments – harps, drums, cymbals and trumpets.

Psalm 100:1 - Make a joyful noise unto the LORD.

Nothing seems closer to heaven

Than a beautiful sweet sunset

The touch of God’s sturdy hand

Seems as close as you can get

A pallet of subtle colors

Sometimes streak across the sky

Or brilliant vibrant shades

As you kiss the day goodbye

I think God is looking down

Smiling at what he’s created

And you know that He is proud

As His splendor is clearly stated

And the reflection in the water

Is like a look into our hearts

Are we peaceful and serene

Or would we like another start

So at the end of a busy day

Enjoy the priceless sunset

Because the evening brings us

As close to heaven as we can get!

Marilyn Lott


I find that even when I may have a heavy heart it is impossible not to find gratitude in the daily events of life. This particular evening was filled with so many amazing sights and sounds. People stopped talking and gathered around to listen to the music, children (and some adults) were dancing quietly and the sun slowly set on this sweet scene away from the hustle and bustle of a large city. I went home filled with gratitude and happy to be living here.

photos by peacesojourner

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bald-Headed, Pink-Faced Songbird Discovered

Bald-Headed, Pink-Faced Songbird

(Iain Woxvold / University of Melbourne) Scientists stumbled upon this bald-headed, pink-faced songbird while surveying a limestone outcrop in Laos

A bald-headed songbird with a pink, nearly featherless face and distinctive calls has just been found in a rugged region of Laos, according to scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Melbourne who made the discovery.

Aside from its unique characteristics, the avian is noteworthy because it is the only known bald songbird in Asia

What were you doing before you were discovered?
I think you are beautiful!
Welcome to our world - I hope you will be appreciated.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Arm Swinging -In Case You Missed This......

In case you missed this important article. Recently Biomedical researchers in Paris came up with some startling new information after making a careful study on the important topic of 'Why do humans swing their arms while walking?'

Here are the amazing results!

Out on a limb:

Arm-swinging riddle is answered

PARIS (AFP) – Recently Biomedical researchers said they could explain why we swing our arms when we walk, a practice that has long made scientists curious.

We need muscles to swing our arms, and we need to provide energy in the form of food for those muscles. So what's the advantage?

Little or none, some experts have said, contending that arm swinging, like our appendix, is an evolutionary relic from when we used to go about on all fours.

But a trio of specialists from the United States and the Netherlands have put the question to rigorous tests.

They built a mechanical model to get an idea of the dynamics of arm-swinging and then they recruited 10 volunteers, who were asked to walk with a normal swing, an opposite-to-normal swing, with their arms folded or held by their sides.

The metabolic cost of this activity was derived from oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) production as the human guinea pigs breathed in and out.

Arm-swinging turned out to be a plus, rather than a negative, the investigators found.

For one thing, it is surprisingly, h“armless" in energy costs, requiring little torque, or rotational twist, from the shoulder muscles.

Holding one's arms as one walks requires 12 percent more metabolic energy, compared with swinging them.

The arms' pendulum swing also helps dampen the bouncy up-and-down motion of walking, which is itself an energy drain for the muscles of the lower legs.

If you hold your arms while walking, this movement, called vertical ground reaction moment, rises by a whopping 63 percent.

Should you prefer to walk with an opposite-to-normal swing -- meaning that your right arm moves in sync with your right leg and your left arm is matched to the motion of your left leg -- the energy cost of using your shoulder muscles will fall.

The downside, though, is that opposite-to-normal swing forces up the metabolic rate by a quarter.

The study, headed by Steven Collins at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, says we should give the thumb's-up to arm swinging.

"Rather than a relic of the locomotion needs of our quadrupedal ancestors, arm swinging is an integral part of the energy economy of human gait," says the paper.

It appears in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the biological research journal of the Royal Society, Britain's de-facto academy of sciences.


I really wonder how much money this experiment cost and who actually funded it!

You can't make this stuff up can you?

Real life is stranger than fiction sometimes :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor makes Supreme Court history

Judge Sonia Sotomayor makes

Supreme Court history

The U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in a 68-31 vote, as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court. Nine Republicans backed her nomination.
The 55-year-old federal appeals court judge becomes the 111th person to sit on the high court, and the third female justice. President Obama welcomed the vote, saying he has "great confidence" in Sotomayor.

Don't you agree that she will be a welcomed addition to the present Supreme Court?



Monday, August 3, 2009

The Venceremos Brigade Returns Home Today

The Peace Bridge

A group called the Venceremos (We Shall Overcome) Brigade re-entered
the U.S. in Buffalo today
after defying the U.S. travel ban to Cuba.

The Venceremos Brigade is a U.S. political organization formed in 1969. It was formed as a coalition of young people attempting to show solidarity with the Cuban Revolution by working side by side with Cuban workers and challenging U.S. policies towards Cuba, including the United States embargo against Cuba and the U.S. government's restrictions on travel to the island.

Well wishers stand out to welcome the travellers who returned to the United States this morning. The sun was shining and the group was happy as the Venceremos Brigade crossed over the Peace Bridge from Fort Erie, Canada to Buffalo, New York.

The first Brigades participated in sugar harvests in Cuba and subsequent Brigades have done agricultural and construction work in many parts of the island.
In the summer of 2003, the group joined with the "Pastors For Peace" project of the Inter religious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) and organized a group travelling to Cuba, to highlight their objection to the U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Here are some of the group arriving on the last leg of their journey from Cuba.
This is the 40th consecutive year that the group has traveled to Cuba.
More than 150 Americans from around the country are part of this year's trip.

A rally calling for the U.S. to end the travel ban was held after the group's arrival
at Front Park in Buffalo.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

5, 086 U.S. Military have been killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars

This is an older photo but don't doubt that troops 
are still coming home in this manner.

The Human Cost of Occupation -  U.S. Military Casualties in Iraq 
Since war began (3/19/03): 4330 

Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03)  4191

Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3869 

Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 102 

American Wounded Official Estimated - Total Wounded: 31446 

Latest Fatality July 24, 2009

Figures  last updated 07/24/09 

U.S. Wounded
Daily DoD Casualty Release
320,000 Vets Have Brain Injuries
War Veterans’ Concussions Are Often Overlooked
How Many Servicemembers Were Wounded?
18 Vet Suicides Per Day?

Iraqi Casualties - more than one million Iraqis have died in this war


Other Coalition Troops - Iraq 318
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan 756
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan 517
Journalists - Iraq 139
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq 1,360

Sources: DoD, MNF, and


August 1, 2009:

The war in Iraq is truly an U.S.-only effort today after Britain and Australia, the last of its international partners, pulled out.

The quiet end of the coalition was a departure from its creation, which saw then-U.S. President George W. Bush court countries for support before and after the March 2003 invasion.

At its height, the coalition numbered about 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries– 250,000 from the United States, about 40,000 from Britain, and the rest ranging from 2,000 Australians to 70 Albanians. But most of the United States' traditional European allies, those who supported actions in Afghanistan and the previous Iraq war, sat it out. It effectively ended this week.

Mass protests were held in many countries, including Spain, which was one of the most notable withdrawals from the coalition.

American combat forces withdrew from Iraq's urban areas at the end of June and all troops are to withdraw by the end of 2011, according to the agreement. President Barack Obama has ordered the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by Aug. 31, 2010, leaving roughly 50,000 troops to train and advise Iraqi security forces.

The United States is now a coalition of one!

In Afghanistan the current forces include 62,000 U.S. troops and 39,000 allied troops, plus about 175,000 Afghan Army and police. Some of the allies plan to pull their troops home in the next couple of years.

If you would like the wars to end call or write to the President:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
(Please include your e-mail address)
Phone Numbers

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461

Support the troops - Bring them home now!