I walked to and from school every day from Kindergarten, through 9th grade.
Starting when I was seven years old, part of my daily ritual was picking up the newspaper off of the driveway, and bringing it in the house.
Taking the rubber band off of "The Home News", was something I came to appreciate.
I would sit at the top of the stairs, and spread out the paper -- reading it from cover to cover.
I guess I was a weird kid, reading the paper every day from the age of 7, through high school.
For some odd reason, I loved looking at and reading the Obituary section. The pictures, and the stories of people who had lives, but they no longer, were alive.
I read each and every one, (I still read the Obits to this day when I get a paper) - and, I tried to imagine what that persons life was like, and the impact they had on the relatives, and the people they left behind on this earth.
"Maria is survived by four children, Albert, Mary, Gwen, and Martin."
I thought about those children, and in each passing Obit -- I thought, (and through the words on a newspaper page), felt their loss. I translated the words I was reading about a person's life, their accomplishments -- and their connections to others, all the way through, to the stinging subtraction and emptiness, that their loved ones felt and experienced, with their death.
I think in some small way it helped me. It helped me understand (or comprehend) at an early age, the finality of death.
It also helped me articulate, and convey words that have meaning. Learning how to write, and understand words, by reading and understanding the OBIT section of the newspaper --- taught me NOT about death......
But, about LIFE.
It taught me about LIFE.
In some weird way, reading about the lives of people on a page, educated me on how to keep communication (written) brief, make it impactful, and layer it with a representation of a lifetime full of charm, and energy.
I took it with me, and saved it -- never fully realizing that reading the newspaper at a young age, would be a habit that helped define me.
After the OBITUARY section, I went to the "FRONT SECTION" of the Home News, and this part was -- "WORLD NEWS."
Reading that section every day helped me in "framing" issues, challenges, and events that were happening around the world.
The Cold War, Eastern Europe, our Government --- these were the main issues that interested me through the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administration, as I sat on the top of those stairs -- and read the stories of the day.
Israel and the Middle East was always a topic that interested me.
Thousands of years of wars, wars over land, and hatred of others -- all because of religious differences.
How could this be?
At a young age, I began to process and try to understand how religion, and more importantly extremism of any kind, could be used as a weapon to hurt and destroy others.
Iran, and the taking of the hostages in our embassy consumed me.
The daily numbers of just how long the hostages were in captivity was something that newspaper published every day -- and I will never forget it. I kept wondering what the hostages were eating? How were they sleeping? How were they being treated?
Would they get out alive?
I followed the story (like many Americans) each and every day, searching for a kernel of good news. Searching for leadership, and yearning for the hostages to be freed from their captors......
But, I saw leadership. I saw the stark differences in just how important words, and converying them properly could be.
Candidate Reagan let the enemies who held our hostages know, that when he becomes President of the US, a different administration, with a new leadership in America, that this will portend very bad things, for enemies who harm American citizens. And, he meant it.
And, that is what is missing today in the mess of our foreign policy.
Strong words. Unequivocal.
Words that have meaning. Words that define, good, from evil.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was a man who represented our country in Libya. He was killed while doing his job.
He was a GOOD MAN. No movie on Islam (as we have been told) inspired his death.
To think that he was murdered on the 11th anniversary of 9-11, is both a signal, and well as a clear strike at the heart of every single American.
Here is Christopher Stevens as he accepted his post as Ambassador to Libya. This was his message to the Libyan people.
The obituary of this man cannot be understated. (please watch the above video).
His obituary should be a testament to his accomplishments, as well as an honest assessment of why we died.
Why and how did he die?
As soon as we can have that conversation, led by a President who can speak the truth, led by a leader who will not seek to blame a movie, or blasphemy of a prophet -- for the death of a GREAT AMERICAN, then we can write a real Obituary.
Chris Stevens entered hallowed ground in my personal "hall of fame" obituary world, that I hold dear. People who died, but the real reason they died, was never shared in full transparency -- with the people reading the OBIT pages -- on the top stair of their house. The kid yearning for the truth.
Christopher Stevens is added to the list. If you don't know the people (or victims) above, click on any one to learn.
We can learn much from OBITUARIES -- words that have meaning. Words that speak about the totality of ones life.
If Christopher Stevens died in vain, then our ability to communicate, and share truths, will be forever sacrificed.
Leadership means telling the truth. Whether it is a death notice (Obit), or a message to the American people, that each of us as Americans, are Chris Stevens's --- in an attempt to be placed by our sworn enemies, on an.....