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Pearl City, HI, United States

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flight 93: Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of the Way*

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, July 27, 2008

Copyright © 2008 by Ralph Couey

Contextual Note:  During the first half of 2008, a controversy developed over the sale of the last piece of land required for the construction of the permanent memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 on 9/11. As the parties involved squabbled back and forth, public exasperation grew. This essay was an attempt to give voice to those feelings.

Many of us have watched, with no small amount of disgust, as the drama over the Flight 93 Memorial has played out on the airwaves and front pages of the region. What should have been a simple land purchase has taken on the drama of a soap opera. Both sides in the dispute have made pious proclamations to the rest of us through the media blaming each other for the apparent impasse. I'll not waste valuable column inches rehashing the issues here, except to voice my impression that nobody's being completely honest.

This is not terribly unique. We all remember the charges and counter-charges sailing through the air as New York City tried to reach a consensus on the design and execution of the memorial planned for Ground Zero. For some reason, these memorials have become focal points for clashing political views. The problem with that, of course, is through that process, the meaning and the point that lies behind the existence of such memorials becomes obscured, even tarnished.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Measure of a Man*

The Vitruvian Man, from the Da Vinci Code Research Guide

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Sunday October 12, 2008
as "Expectations of a man are many"

Copyright © 2008 by Ralph Couey
Written content only

What is the measure of a man?

A man is measured by his integrity. He tells the truth, even when the truth is painful. His word is his bond. When he makes a promise, there is never any doubt his promise is good. To quote Mahatma Ghandi, “I hold that a man, who deliberately and intelligently takes a pledge and breaks it, forfeits his manhood.”

A man is measured by his strength. Yes, he is strong, physically. But he is measured more by that strength that lies within. It is his resolution and courage, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “…of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.” In times of crisis and danger, when no one else dares to step forward and act, the man does this without hesitation. Especially when this act places his own safety in jeopardy.

A man is measured by his commitment. He takes his friendships seriously. He will support the good things, and not be afraid to call someone out who is doing wrong, even when he knows it may cost him that friendship. He treats women with respect and honor, but not obeisance. His love is not given cheaply, but must be earned. Once earned, that love will always be there, a rock to cling to no matter how terrible the storms of life. A man understands that fatherhood is the ultimate experience of manhood. He knows instinctively that he must lead, and be the unbending moral and ethical rudder for his offspring. And the clearest of all examples of what it means to be an adult. Mario Cuomo once said of his father, “I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands work fifteen and sixteen hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example.”