Especially on Memorial Day, people were thanking us Vets for our “service to our country.” I appreciate your thanks, but as you all know, it’s those who can’t hear the thanks that have earned the greatest gratitude. Nevertheless, it warms this old soldier’s heart to hear and feel this support of our troops both past and present. Thank you for saying thank you!
Archive for May, 2011
This is a team of volunteer firefighters pushing Ashley 3.1 miles in Ashley’s first ever 5K. Ashley is 27-year-old Ashley Bryant who’s afflicted with cerebral palsy. His Mom, Wendy, stayed with him from the start. That’s Wendy behind the wheelchair pushing the last quarter of a mile. Thhis was part of the Holly Springs 5K about 30 miles north of Atlanta. After finishing, Wendy posed with her oldest son. She also told us how the experience blends into Ashley’s life-style.The 45-year-old Wendy usually runs a 5K in about 27 minutes. With team-Ashley, she was about 10-minutes slower, but being behind and alongside her son is sweeter than speed.
At the end of a race Saturday, this lady came up to me and asked, “you wanta swing?” My mind’s eye immediately flashed back to my childhood days. But it turned out to be that her question was based on not that long ago. At first I didn’t recognize her. She reminded me that her name is Martha Blanton. Long before the days of the popular TV show, Dancing with the Stars, I was dancing with Martha. She attempted to teach me and my wife the waltz, the two-step, the tango, the samba and occasionally, we would swing it. In the public classes, I was sometimes the only male. For private lessons, Martha would come to our home or we could go to her’s. I had not seen Martha for several years, probably more than a decade. She now lives about 30 miles north of us in Canton, Georgia. We climaxed the public classes with a dance recital. My memory conveniently fails me, but I do remember I received applause as the outstanding male dancer. I was the only male “dancer”. Born thirty years too soon for Dancing with the Stars!
A friend asked me today why prosecutors are not charging Bishop Eddie Long with a crime. One of the explanations: his accusers were 16 or older at the time they claim they had intimate relations with the Bishop. Georgia law says the age of consent is 16. We’ve seen no indication that another Georgia law will be applied to this case. It says that a person in a position of authority who uses that controlling authority for sex with a subordinate can be prosecuted. For example, a few Georgia teachers have gone to prison for having sex with students. Does a preacher have controlling authority over members of his congregation?
Bishop Eddie Long of Metro Atlanta seems to have joined a long list of TV preachers who’ve sinned and got caught. The word came Thursday that Long and his church have reached an out of court settlement with 4 young men who accused Long of using his position to force them into a sexual relationship with him. Long denies the claims. Through the years, I’ve covered several of those TV preachers whose conduct caught up with them. My two most memorable are Jim Bakker and Bishop Earl Paulk. Bakker and his wife Tammy ran a TV ministry in North Carolina. Earl Paulk was another mega-church preacher from here in Metro Atlanta. Bakker, Paulk and Long seem to have at least one thing in common: they are showmen in the mold of the fictional Elmer Gantry. They seem to regard their followers as “sheep to be sheared”. It’s always amazed me that the sheep keep coming back again and again. Perhaps Long’s sheep are wondering why Long agreed to a settlement if the accusations are not true.
As Oprah Winfrey ended her 25-year run Wednesday, I was remembering the mid seventies when Oprah and Monica both applied for an opening at WSB-Television. We were looking to develop a prime-time female African-American anchor. Jocelyn Dorsey already was co-anchor of the noon news. Jocelyn would later become channel 2’s public affairs director. In 1975, universities were not graduating enough minority anchors with the skills to fill the demand. Those that were available commanded premium pay. Among those we could afford, Monica and Oprah were at the top of our list. Our late General Manager and vice-president Don Heald would make the decision. As you know, Don chose Monica. Oprah went on to Chicago to achieve international fame.
Regardless, I heard Don say several times through the years that he made the right decision. I agree. Monica’s the best. She’ll begin a new assignment Thursday as WSB replaces the syndicated Oprah with a 4 p.m. version of Channel 2 Action News. Monica will co-anchor with John Bachman. Monica’s not leaving WSB, but she will get to go home a little earlier. Jovita Moore will succeed Monica on WSB’s 11 o’clock news with Justin Farmer.
This is a billboard we saw today in a nearby neighborhood. I don’t know Cas, Bug…or is it Love Bug. However, the public display of Bug’s affection for Cas inspires me to want to meet them both one day. There’s no indication of Cas’ age unless the number of hearts surrounding the the Happy Birthday message is a clue. How many hearts can you count?
At the Emory Healthy Heart Risk Reduction Program, I have a chance to meet scores of giving and talented people. Dentist Ken McMillan and others regularly make missionary trips to needy areas of the world to provide free dental care. This year, world-known Atlanta artist Wayland Moore went with McMillan’s team of dentists to a Mexican village about an hour south of San Antonio, Texas. McMillan told me, “I feel like I’m in the presence of greatness” watching Wayland paint. The extraordinary man told me he completed 19 sketches during his week-long stay. Two of them are self portraits with photographs as his models. McMillan’s group may be the first to make the missionary trip with its own artist. Here’s Wayland talking about what they did.Dentist McMillan says they’ll be proud to take Wayland and his wife with them next year.. wherever they go on their next mission trip.
I ran two races this weekend! The last one was the “Freight Train 5 mile” in Kennesaw, Georgia…just north of Atlanta. Hats are not uncommon, but Jose “Pepe” Rivas was wearing a sombrero that must have created a drag on his momemtum going forward. I later learned that Pepe works at a Mexican restaurant in Calhoun, Georgia. His English is limited. The sombrero-wearing runner came over to me after the race. He wanted a picture with me. Just before his wife snapped us together, Pepe put his sombrero on me. Here is the result. I think I’ll dream tonight that it’s a magic sombrero that allows me to recapture the speed I enjoyed when I was Pepe’s age. That would be MAGIC!
The federal courts this week said Georgia can now go forward with its executions. One of the first likely to get the needle is Andrew Grant De Young. A jury convicted and a judge sentenced De Young to death for the 1993 murder of his parents and sister. Some are saying it’s about time that De Young exited this world. I believe that of all the murder trials I’ve covered during my half-a-century with WSB-Television, the horrific nature of De Young’s crime ranks among the top 5 or 6. Please see earlier postings for pictures and details.