January 6, 2021

 

Wow, what a day.  For the rest of my life I will remember what I saw take place this day.  January 6th has always been the day my baby brother was born, but that will always be over shadowed in my mind now as a day I witnessed an attack on our capitol. I was raised to believe that this is the greatest country on Earth and I believe that. I come from a family that believes in service to country, and patriotism is something I have always been proud to be associated with.  What we saw on Wednesday was not patriotism, but many of those that attended the rally believe they are patriots.  They believed the man serving as their commander in chief was asking them to protect his office, and they believed his lies about the election.  Now for us that are not supporters of that man, it is difficult for us to understand how they could possibly believe that the election was stolen after 59 court cases were dismissed, most by Republican appointed judges. But we must not dismiss that for many people the office of President of the United States of America holds a lot of weight, and we want to believe that no one in that position would lie to us. I love this country, and even when I have disagreed with my President on policy, I have always respected the office and therefore the person holding it. That changed with this President. He has lied too many times for me to believe anything he says, but he is our President until January 20th, and I feel sorry for the many people who truly did look up to him and believed him.  It is heartbreaking to me that a US Airforce vet was shot attacking our capitol, when I am sure she was a patriot and got caught up in an unlawful order given by her commander in chief. Her family more than any of us should want this President held accountable. What I saw Wednesday I never believed I would see, but I especially never would have believed that an attack on our Capitol would be ordered by a sitting President. When years from now our nephews and nieces are learning about this in history, it will no doubt bring about many questions. It was the worst day in our history since the civil war.  Far worse than the Oklahoma bombing or 9-11, because this was an attack on the very center of our democracy and ordered by the person that should be leading our defense under any attack.

 

I am not sure where we go from here, but I know the images of the people attacking our Capitol wearing shirts that memorialize Auschwitz and idolized nazi slogans burn in my mind and remind me that democracy is fragile, and that the work my family has done to fight for this country is not over. I am more  resolved than ever that I will speak up when I see injustice, and that I will never be blinded by power of an office or a person. The United States of America is not one person, it’s all of us, it’s democracy at its very best when it is adhered to.  Wednesday showed us that it is fragile though, and that if we do not pay attention we will lose the very things that we love the most about this country.  No patriot I know would ever take down an American flag to fly a Trump flag or a Confederate flag.  I don’t care what flag you fly at your house, but not on OUR HOUSE. There is only one flag I ever want to see flying over our Capitol. I pray that Wednesday was a wake up call and that all of us will realize what we have to lose if we do not hold those that led this attack on our democracy accountable.

 

What will this cost all us in the future, not just economically as we are forced to investigate lie after lie, but emotionally as families are torn apart and so many of our retired military are taken advantage of by our elected officials. I blame the President and those in office that took advantage of their patriotism and led them to believe lies that will cost them everything and those leaders nothing. I blame all of those currently serving that have not done a better job taking care of those that have served and are serving this country. We have more homeless vets every year, and suicide among vets is at an all time high, we no longer honor our commitments to free healthcare for our vets, they are forced to pay a portion of their limited retirement into tri care. Even those that have served 20 plus years, and many of those in war times. How is this right? I am not excusing any American that took part in the attack on our democracy on the 6th. There is nothing that makes that right. But I do think the leadership needs to be held responsible and the full Legislative and Executive branches need to be held accountable going forward and do better for those serving this country. Those police officers protecting our Capitol that day should not be facing fellow officers and military. They should have been joined by those people to serve and protect the United States of America. Our representatives should do the same. They need to forget their party affiliations and remember they are Americans.  

Allen and Isaac

Allen and Isaac

2020

 

For almost everyone this has been a year that cannot end soon enough.   My year began with an emergency flight back from Australia when Sonia’s mother passed. Then Covid came and all our tours were cancelled.  Then we lost Gene Shay and John Prine as well as another almost 2 million people worldwide to Covid.   In August we lost Sonia’s godmother “Aunt Mickey” and just when I thought the year could not be any worse on Christmas Eve my 34 year old nephew was found dead by his father and brother when they went to deliver Christmas presents.  Allen was a special soul, and it breaks my heart to think about a world without him.  His son Isaac is only 8 years old and the two of them were as close as any two people I have ever seen.  We still do not know what caused his death but as we wait for the autopsy report I wonder if it really matters.  It won’t bring him back.  Of course we need to know because if it was Covid we will need to have everyone that was in contact with him tested.  It’s horrifying to think that it could  be that and no one knew he was sick.  He was at a work Christmas party the night before and was so happy when he joined in on Sonia’s terrific Tuesday concert.  It is hard to accept that he is just gone.

 

2020 has definitely been a horrible year.

 

But I am not writing this to depress you.  I am writing because I am truly trying to find things to be grateful for because what I want to do is just curl up in bed and cry.  I love Allen and this is the first year in his young life that I did not see him even once and to know I will never see him again is truly painful.  What I have seen since Allen died though and thru out this year is how much love there is in this world.  People I hardly know have reached out to Sonia and I all year to check in and just to let us know  they are there.  And our friends and extended disappear fear family has been incredible through this entire crazy year and in some ways I have never felt more connected.  This past week I saw that same support extended to Allen’s son and family. We have a large family and sometimes like all families we may not stay in touch with all our cousins, but the entire family has mobilized to make sure that Isaac and his mother know that we are here for anything and everything they need. It’s the same love that I have witnessed around the world in story after story as this pandemic has ripped across the globe.  Yes 2020 has been a horrible year but it’s also been a year full of love and kindness and connections in new ways.  We have seen companies come together and share information in ways that they have never done in order to come up with a vaccine and we saw record voter turn even with the difficulty imposed by Covid.  The pain of 2020 is difficult but as we start 2021 I am going to try my best to focus on Allen’s smile and all the love he brought to us.  

Thank you for all the love and support that you have shared this year and I look forward to being able to see you in person again soon. Whatever 2020 has brought to you good or bad, I hope 2021 is a year that all of us can share with smiles that we can see again. For now wear your mask and stay safe.

Love and peace Terry

Celebrating Gratitude

Today as I woke up and looked out at the marshland of NC, I thought about all the little things growing in those wetlands and how grateful I am that they are still there.  So much of our coasts are being developed and we are blessed that my parents have protected this small piece of it.  I am especially grateful this year that I have this place to come home to. I can drive here and social distant but still see my parents. So many do not have that this year. 

In the last year we have lost Sonia's mother, he godmother and several close friends, one of which was Gene Shay, who was so instrumental in sharing disappear fear with the world.  I am grateful that we had the many years we did with him and Gloria. They are missed.  But today as I share a Thanksgiving meal with my parents and limited famil,y I celebrate also with those of you around the world that we have been fortunate enough to call our extended family and friends and wish you the very best.  We are so very grateful for all that you have done to get thru this crazy year. THANK YOU.

We love you. Happy Thanksgiving today and always.

 

 

ELECTION AFTERMATH

I still remember when someone ran negative ads or made personal attacks during a campaign and my elders would use it as a teaching moment to tell us that was not the right way to do things.  That you could have differences of opinions but you should always treat your opponent with respect and concentrate on the issues you believe in.  We were taught this in sports as well, winning was great but if you lost you were taught that you should hold out your hand and accept the lose graciously. That went for winning also, you were always supposed to be a good sport. 

During the last several years we have gotten used to negative campaigning but I had truly hoped that at the end of this election we could finally move back to a place of civility.  I have been impressed with the Biden Harris team as they have moved forward with trying to do what is best for the country.  We have not heard any bragging about the fact that they won the largest popular vote in history, instead we have seen them continuously reach out to those that did not vote for them. Unfortunately the current administration has shown no sign of being gracious in any way.  They refuse to accept that they lost and even worse they are trying their best to undermine the greatest country in the world by making false claims about election fraud. Claims that state after state and court after court as well as the cabinets own team of election cyber officials have said are false.  The damage that is being done is so much bigger than this one election.  The children that are witnessing this, some of which have been with their parents in the streets supporting the administrations claims will be the same children that will one day refuse to accept a lose in school sports or bully someone.  It will show up in businesses and like negative campaigning it will no longer be the exception but the norm. 

My nieces and nephews are growing up witnessing a White House that tweets hate and lies and there seems to be little consequences for those that support this administration.  South Carolina and Kentucky still elected two of the men that have been most responsible for enabling this President to spread his rhetoric.  I find it hard to believe that while there are so many suffering in this country, we thought it was a good idea to send them back to the Senate to continue to block any progress for the average American.   I don’t care what party you belong to, there has to be a better person to represent us in Washington.  I used to believe that the check and balance system that was built in to the constitution was enough.  That when it really mattered those that we elected would put party aside and do what was best for the country.  This pandemic and this election have proven me wrong.  The leadership of both parties were so busy playing to their respective sides that they did nothing to come together to pass Covid relief before they went to campaign. And now the republican leadership is beyond irresponsible in the way they are handling this election.   Just to be clear I have often voted Republican but this Republican Party is nothing I would support. First the administration was to busy to govern because they were campaigning and now they are to busy to help with a peaceful transition because they are busy trying to bully state legislators and file unfounded lawsuits.   The election is over and it was not even close, the popular vote and the electoral college are for the same candidate and the winner is Joe Biden.  We should all be trying to get behind our new President Elect and more importantly we should be pushing our current President to be a gracious loser and set an example for this country as well as the world that is watching.

And Georgia I pray you help us put a stop to the partisan leadership on the hill.

Celebration and Election

Like so many I sincerely hope that the new President will bring back a sense of decency and respect around the world but while we are celebrating let’s not forget that 70 million fellow Americans voted for the current President and part of moving forward needs to be healing the divide that we certainly have.  I love my country and I believe strongly in our democracy, I also believe that there are always reasons when people feel disenfranchised and we need to listen to them.  All of them.  Middle class white Americans voted in high numbers for the sitting President, it’s easy to just focus on the far left ones and just write that off but that would be a mistake.  I know many people who are not far left but just feel left out of the conversation by the democrats.  The same way that many people of color feel left out of the conversation by the republicans.  Both sides need to understand and listen.  Neither partly is completely right or wrong, and voters from all parties need to look for someone on the other side and find a way to listen to each other if we are truly going to move forward.  We need to hold our elected officials accountable and not allow them to be partisan, nothing gets accomplished for We the People when those that we elect make statements like those by Senate leaders that they will block the new President before they are even sworn in. We pay them to be there to represent our needs, and that means all American needs. Both sides Democrats and Republicans are guilty of stalling bills that the other side brings to the floor and ultimately the side that loses in that is ALL OF US.  We need to fire any Congress or Senate member that puts party over the Citizens of the United States of America.  We need to hold them accountable.  None of us would get paid if we did not get our jobs done.  And to many of us are still out of work right now because our representatives could not come up with a National Plan to help beat this virus and get us back to work.  I love this country and this election showed us that there are at least 145 million Americans that care.  If all of us that voted hold our candidates accountable we can make this country everything we want it to be.

ELECTION DAY 2020

It’s 4:24 am on November 3rd, 2020 and today the world will watch as the United States elections take place.  When our first election was held in 1789 there was not TV or radio or internet. But even in 1789 as word spread about the new United States of America,  other countries wondered how this democracy would work.  In all the elections since 1789 we have had the peaceful transfer of power and countries around the world have watched with respect and sometimes amazement as we have dealt with our elections. Until 2016 As I traveled the world no one ever questioned me about whether or not we could trust our elections. In the last 4 years I am constantly asked that question and in the last few months as I have been forced by Covid to stay home my friends abroad have written numerous times about the chaos of our current election.  I never believed I would see the intentional undermining of our elections by anyone until 2016 and now I am forced to acknowledge that we are witnessing it from within our country and often by our elected officials.  We have worked hard in this country to fight voter suppression and while it is not perfect I did think we had accomplished a lot. In 2000 when Gore and Bush ended up in the Supreme Court people were surprised that Gore did not fight on, but he respected this country enough to not continue the fight for fear that it would interfere with the peaceful transfer of the office taking place on January 20th, 2001.   I never  thought for a minute that members of either party would take to the streets and incite violence or that the sitting president would not relinquish his office. This year I am up at 4:24am because my stomach is in knots wondering what today will bring.  It’s a very sad day for me to think that democracy as I know it is on the line.  That the country that my family has fought to defend in every branch of the military for all of its 244 years is at stake.  No matter which candidates you support no Citizen of these United States of America should support voter suppression or interference in our elections by inside or outside our country.  All of us should do our best to protect what is at the very core of our democracy a peaceful transfer or power.  I have been heartbroken watching the events of the last 4 years, the new voter suppression acts, the violence in the streets that is provoked by our own elected officials at times, the barrage of hate rhetoric that has led to a division that has kept us from even uniting to fight Covid.  I am all for peaceful protests but there is never a time for vandalism no matter what the excuse, nor is there ever a time for a knee on the neck until death in America.  We should all be United in the fight for freedom which begins with a fair election and ends with the peaceful transfer of power on January 20, 2021.  

 

I don’t know what the end of the day will look like or even the end of the week, but I pray that the country I love will be here.  If you are watching from abroad send us love and if you are here in the USA please do your part to bring about a healing in this nation, find someone that voted for the other party and start there.

Mo And Sonsy Gabe

Mo And Sonsy Gabe

What would we see if we could see with the clarity of Mo’s sight.  

 

If our hearts were open and there was no black and white

 

If there were no red states or blue states, just red white and blue; or in the case of Mo  orange and Purple.

 

He left a legacy in just a short 14 years, a legacy of love, of acceptance and strength. 

 

Today the ravens played and Mo watched from above, the stands empty and yet full of purple Pride, the pride that Mo provides from his section of the stands.  His hands always open and ready for a handshake, a heart always open and a smile that could soften the hardest of men.  How could we lose with Mo there. 

 

What a world it would be if all of us could see with the clarity of Mo’s sight.
 

(for those not from Baltimore Mo Gabe was a young man that touched everyone he met with his smile and warmth and loved the orioles and especially the ravens.  The ravens honored him today with 575 cutouts and one of his mother Sonsy who was always with him in the the stands. I don’t see how we could have lost with that much support. Mo saw better than most of us although he was born blind. What a world it could be if we all saw so clearly)

Terry Irons 2020 Magic Island Honolulu

Terry Irons 2020 Magic Island Honolulu

Traveling

For the last several months travel as we knew it has stopped and yet the world has continued to move and our lives have moved on in new directions.  Some of those directions have been positive, the Earth has begun repairing itself before our eyes. We have also begun to recognize the things that are truly important, the ones who make our daily lives work, the truck drivers, the trash collection, the grocery clerks and of course our front line workers. We have realized that while we love our sports and Hollywood what we miss most are our family and friends.

Today as I write this a person I am very close to and consider my Aunt is quarantined because she just got out of the hospital from a bad fall at 94 years old. We can only visit outside her window and try to reassure her. Another Aunt is fighting for her life with hospice care and her immediate family by her side as her husband sits with her on what is their 50th wedding Anniversary.  I have never seen any couple that visibly looks so in love - always.  You can just tell how much Harvey loves Mary Jo. In another time we would jump on a plane and be there to support the family in any way we could. But instead I sit here in Baltimore and pray that there will be more time and we will see her smile again in person. But as I think about this couple and how much love and life has grown in that 50 years of marriage, the children, the grandchildren, all of us that have been touched by their love and their example. The foundation built that all of us can look to. Then I think about the news right now, the protests and pain and all of us trying in some way to make sense of it. The very foundation of our democracy being tested every day. What will we learn from this time? Will the next generation know our history? Will they be able to have a complete picture of who we were?  The good, the bad, the lessons learned. Will tearing down statutes and erasing names, erase the history? Is the answer to hide our past or share it? When we built the holocaust museum there were some who thought we shouldn’t. It was to painful they said, but there were others who believed that if we did not show the world what had happened it would be repeated. When we are lucky history is a blessing, like a marriage that is full of love and builds a family.  But sometimes history is painful, but if we hide it we don’t learn from it and we cannot change it. I don’t know what the answers are, I do know that the Native American side of my family is not a fan of Andrew Jackson but I have never torn down a statute of him and I wouldn’t. I do think the other side of the story should also be told. Most of the founders of this country we could find issue with, but they also laid a foundation that enables us to take to the streets and protest.  Our democracy is not perfect, we have so much inequality and inequity but the foundation is solid and together if we face our history I do believe we can achieve a truly United States of America.