Opinion
Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy: ‘Beyond Vietnam’
January 15, 2018
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Sometimes words remain appropriate, not only for the era in which they are spoken, but for multiple eras, and perhaps for the length of humanity’s struggle to overcome the worst aspects of our collective nature – greed, avarice, hypocrisy and the bondage of others to forward one’s own self interests – in other words, FOREVER. 

Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of April 4, 1967 now known as the “Beyond Vietnam” speech are such words.  They illustrate the depth of Dr. King’s comprehension that the Civil Rights Movement was a struggle of more than one race in one nation at one point in time.  

These words, spoken exactly one year to the day before his assassination, are why some pause each January to remember and celebrate his life; while others are simply reminded of why he was, and continues to be hated by those attracted to power without compassion. 

As last year when we first printed them on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this first month of 2018 these words remain pointedly appropriate as our national debate increasingly focuses on racial, ethnic, religious and national stereotyping as primary motives for immigration and foreign policy decisions.  And yet again we might ask ourselves if our ongoing borderless, worldwide war on terror isn’t at least in part, a legacy of our collective failure to heed Dr. King’s words of April 1967? 

And 51 years down the road, we must ask ourselves one final question – how close to “too late” are we as a people and a nation? 

Due to the speech’s length, some introductory comments and other details on the Vietnam era have been edited out – deletions are indicated by (…) and some points have been emphasized with bold highlights. 

There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. – Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photos/Public Domain)

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

‘Beyond Vietnam 

I come to this great magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization that brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” … The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one … 

Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world … Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.  And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history … For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us … 

“Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?” “Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask? 

And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live …  

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such … 

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent … 

Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land. 

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances. 

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men – for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life? 

… Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of son-ship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. 

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula … They must see Americans as strange liberators  … We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops … Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness … They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of new violence? 

… At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved … and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor. 

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. 

If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I speak as a child of God … I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. 

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: “Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.” 

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit … and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about … Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. 

And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution … It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. 

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. 

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” 

It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” 

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them, is not just … America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood … 

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. – Martin Luther King Jr.

We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice … It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries … A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies … This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind … When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response … I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality … This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God” … 

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too lateOver the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” 

There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”  We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace … and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors.  If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight … Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world … 

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated: 

Once to every man and nation comes a moment do decide,
In the strife of truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light. 

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ‘tis truth alone is strong
Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own. 

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. 

Local News Town Events
Free community breakfast Saturday open to all, aims to identify, assist homeless
January 15, 2018
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A volunteer serves a meal at a previous event. /File photo.

FRONT ROYAL – A free community breakfast will be held on  Saturday, Jan. 20 from 8 a.m. to noon at the  Calvary Episcopal Church, Parish Hall (2nd St. behind Church) at 132 North Royal Ave. in town.

Linda Allen, coordinator for the event, said in a media release,  “All are welcome. We want the breakfast to be a meet-and-greet vehicle to strengthen the community, pool info on how we can identify and assist those going through a homeless experience, and get word out about the ‘Point in Time
Count,’ which is the collection of data HUD uses to allocate funds to our region.

These funds go to housing assistance, mental health services, and shelter placement. Funds are allocated by the ‘Continuum of Care,’ which doles out the money to local, approved organizations.”

The purpose of the ‘Drop-In Café’ , which operates under the nonprofit Center for Workforce Development, is to feed, listen and talk with those experiencing hardships.

Ms. Allen said that in cooperation with other organizations, the group will  “assist in submitting local and state forms to connect individuals to resources for financial help, food, and job training.”

She said the group can also assist with  resume writing, helping the homeless keep medical appointments and manage medical records,  provide
assistance in finding jobs and can provide clothing and sleeping bags, if needed.

“The short term goal is to keep people warm and dry. The long term objective is to develop a shelter for women and families as well as a thermal shelter during the winter months,” the release states.

Linda Allen said in an interview Monday morning that, “This winter has been particularly brutal.  We have homeless who are living outside and something MUST be done!”

She says that donations of items such as tents, warm socks, gloves, thermal underwear, personal care/hygiene items for men and women and gift cards (from local stores where needed items can be purchased) are currently needed and greatly appreciated.  Monetary donations are also appreciated, and tax-deductible, as the Center for Workforce Development is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

For more information, or to volunteer or arrange pick-up of a donation, contact Ms. Allen at 540-550-0110.

Local News
National Park Service waives entrance fees on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 15, 2018
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Mary’s Rock/ Photo provided by U.S. National Park Service

The National Park Service is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day by waiving entrance fees.

The “fee-free” day on Monday covers entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees, though camping and tour fees may still apply.

National Parks in Virginia waiving fees on Monday include:

•Assateague Island National Seashore
•Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
•George Washington Memorial Parkway’s Great Falls Park
•Prince William Forest Park
•Shenandoah National Park

A full list of National Park sites is available on the Find Your Park website.

Business
Why making websites mobile-friendly is important
January 15, 2018
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People are more attached to their smartphones than ever but recent analysis from Alliance Data shows that although 63 percent of millennials shop on them every day, only 39 percent of their total purchases are actually made online.
This trend is alarming news for online stores and vendors that are eager to get this targeted demographic to follow through on their online purchases. This data is also a little puzzling because this same age group is much more likely to use their phones to research products, comparison shop, and look for coupons online before heading into the physical store to buy the merchandise.

According to recent data from Osterman Research, online security could play a significant role in determining whether or not someone actually buys their goods online. They cite the 42.2 percent of millennials in America that have limited their purchases due to security concerns. Any data shared over the internet carries with it some risk of identity theft or fraud. In this case, increased use of security-focused shopping portals, coupled with better transparency of the website itself could help pave the way for peace of mind.

Perhaps more likely, CNET argues that many people turn to physical stores to complete their purchases simply because it can still be quite frustrating to input all the required information on a tiny smartphone keypad. Names, email addresses, passwords, physical addresses, and credit card numbers entered during checkout is a tedious process for all but the savviest users. Even using a desktop makes the process much more comfortable and the pictures are easier to view and navigate to boot.

For online retailers to secure their shoppers’ attention and wallets, the process of adding items to carts and checking out should be as seamless as possible. Integrating many different types of payment options, such as Paypal or Apple Pay, would also help entice people who trust a dedicated payment platform over an online storefront.

Seasonal
To remember a dream: the importance of non-violence
January 15, 2018
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In 1986 it was declared that every third Monday in January would mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This federal holiday has since been celebrated as an occasion to promote tolerance and equal rights for all, regardless of background, race or religion. On such a day, it’s important to remember who Dr. King was and what he did for the progress of this country through non-violent activism.

WHO WAS MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.?
He was an American clergyman and civil-rights leader who played a leading role in the desegregation of the Montgomery bus system in 1956. His civil interests ranged from equal rights to concerns over poverty and even criticism of the Vietnam War. His philosophy of nonviolence sought to teach us that the only way to fight hate is through love, and that you don’t need guns to change the course of human history.

WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF NON-VIOLENCE?
Non-violence:
• Is a way of life for courageous people
• Seeks to win friendship and understanding
• Holds that voluntary suffering can educate and transform
• Chooses love over hate

Martin Luther King Jr. believed that the only way to defeat injustice was through education. He believed that people shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin, but rather by the contents of their character. We celebrate this day to remember the civil injustices our country faced
and to ensure we stay on the path to a brighter, more inclusive future.

Local News
Warren County Democratic Chair urges citizens to keep pressure on elected officials
January 15, 2018
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FRONT ROYAL – The Warren County Democratic Committee held a party caucus in town, on Jan. 6, 2018 at which time officers were elected. Warren County resident Steve Foreman was re-elected chair. Also elected were Meredith Parnes, vice-chair, Diane Demarcus, secretary, and Barry Gaffney, treasurer.

Foreman said by email Saturday, that in light of the latest remarks from the President and  near total silence from both the Republican leadership and Republicans who attended the meeting, he is urging voters to contact their legislators.

“Our members of Congress will not respond unless we pressure them. The only thing they understand is power, and our power is at the ballot box,” Mr. Foreman said.

A  letter Foreman wrote to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who was present at that White House meeting is below:

“Unless I have somehow missed seeing a comment from Rep. Goodlatte, I am dismayed to see that the Representative has not gone on record opposing the consistent stream of hate and disinformation that continually issues from President Trump. At the beginning, and throughout his presidential campaign, we saw a constant stream of racism, which came to what appeared to be a crescendo in the wake of the events in Charlottesville last fall. “Unfortunately, this was not the worst of it. We now have the president spewing more hate during a meeting at which Mr. Goodlatte was present (on 1/11/2018). Our elected representatives are not only supposed to be working for us, but should project the best that we can be as a nation.

“We can only assume that the Republican Party is in tacit agreement with the President in his indiscriminate hatred for those different from him and that they do not disagree with the image of America projected worldwide, identifying with the worst common denominator that exists in this country. I wish that I could believe that the Republican Party did not support these dangerous views, but failing any public disassociation with them, I must conclude that they share these beliefs. This failure of leadership suggests the lack of a moral compass and a willingness to subvert principles in exchange for political power.”

Royal Examiner reached out to Rep. Goodlatte’s office but received no response prior to publication.

Interesting Things You Need to Know
More precious than diamonds: The rarest blood in the world
January 14, 2018
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Suppose in one room we gathered Duffy, Kidd, Diego, Lutheran, Langereis, Vel, and Junior.

This would constitute a most extraordinary meeting because these are the names of the rarest blood types ever identified. Only 550 people in the world have Lutheran blood, for example.

But if in that meeting we included a man named Thomas from Switzerland, you would have the rarest meeting in the history of the earth.

There’s no engaging name for Thomas’ blood, except insofar as some have called it ‘golden.’ His blood is RH-null and it is so extraordinary that, of the 7.5 billion people in the world, only 43 have ever been identified as having it and only nine are active blood donors today.

Most people know there are eight blood types: A, B, AB, and 0, positive or negative. But each of these blood types can be divided into distinct varieties depending on which antigens the blood contains or doesn’t contain. AB blood has A and B antigens. O blood doesn’t have either. Positive blood contains the Rh D antigen; negative blood lacks it. But there are hundreds of antigens coating the blood, making perhaps millions of combinations, according to Smithsonian.
It’s important to know the antigen profile of blood because, if the wrong antigen combination is transfused, a patient can die. Even so, doctors do millions of transfusions every day with few complications.

But golden blood is unique, and that is an understatement. Rh-null has no antigens. It can be accepted by anyone with a rare blood type in the RH system and that makes it infinitely precious. It is so precious that it is never used except under the most extreme circumstances.

The flip side is that a person with RH-null blood can only accept RH-null blood. That means Thomas of Switzerland should never find himself in the position of needing a blood transfusion. If he does, he should certainly not find himself in a remote part of the world. This rare blood can be provided if the tiny number of donors are available, but it requires an international mobilization of blood providers to do it. Much would depend on timing and Thomas’ location.

In 2014, Thomas told Mosaic Science that he drives carefully, never speeds, and doesn’t take vacations to exotic locales. But he does ski.

State News
Governor Ralph Northam delivers Inaugural Address
January 13, 2018
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Mr. Speaker, Lt. Governor Fairfax, Attorney General Herring, Members of the General Assembly, Justices of the Supreme Court, Judge Tyler, honored guests, Pam, Aubrey, and Wes, my fellow Virginians.

I am truly humbled that you have taken the time to be with us on such a special day for our Commonwealth.

Today we carry out the peaceful transition of power.

Americans invented this ritual. It dates to our earliest days as a country.

It makes us American. And at this hour, more than 1.3 million Americans protect this right.

They serve in our armed forces overseas and right here at home. They put their lives on the line to protect our way of life and we should always be grateful for their sacrifice. Please join me in thanking them for their service.

If you ask the men and women who serve why they stepped forward, the answer is often the same:

I volunteered. Because it was my duty. Virginians understand that. Because our Commonwealth was founded on public service. But the way ahead hasn’t always been smooth.

In a church on a hill 15 blocks from here, Virginia’s first elected Governor helped launch the American Revolution when he cried, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

But at the bottom of that same hill, one of the country’s largest slave-trading markets was coming to life. A place where Virginians would sell men, women, and children for profit. Our history is complex in Virginia. It includes good things, and bad. But no other place on earth can claim it.

This unique heritage endows us with a responsibility to shape the future—to leave this place better than we found it. That’s the Virginia way. It’s a model that Governor Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy have followed these past four years. Virginia is better off today because of them, and Pam and I are proud to have been their partners.

Two hundred thousand new jobs. $20 billion in capital investment. Voting rights restored for 173,000 Virginians. 10 million more school breakfasts served to children who need them. First state in the nation to functionally end homelessness among veterans. That’s a record to be proud of, and I am ready to build upon it!

The McAuliffe administration has been about putting the needs of the people you serve first. Those values defined my upbringing from the earliest days I can remember. My mother taught children who were learning English as their second language how to read. She worked in health care, nursing sick people back to health on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. She volunteered with the hospice, comforting people in their final hours. he taught me that, no matter who we are or where we come from, we are all equal in the beginning – and in the end.

My father, who grew up on a farm on the Eastern Shore, served in the Navy during World War II, a member of America’s greatest generation. He became a Commonwealth’s Attorney and a judge just as his father had before him.

Before my brother joined the Navy and I joined the Army, my father always encouraged us to play sports. I think he knew we would learn the importance of teamwork and the fundamental truth that success isn’t about one person’s individual contributions, it’s about the team.

Watching the things my parents did, for our family and for our community, taught me a lot growing up. But the greatest lesson I learned came from watching how they did those things. Their humble and steady service to the people around them taught me what strength looks like. It taught me that you don’t have to be loud to lead.

I was blessed to grow up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and to call it my home. As a kid I spent hours behind our house, crabbing and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. To this day that is where I find peace. When I was just old enough to take to the water myself, my dad helped me build a rowboat and launch it, with strict instructions: stay close to home. As I grew and became more comfortable, I began to take longer trips away from the shore, until I was ready to head out into the open water. I remember standing with my father as I prepared to embark, and like all good Dads, he knew I was nervous even before I did.

He said, Ralph, remember—when you get out there, you can always trust your compass. If things get dark or foggy, if you can’t find your way—keep your eye on the compass. It’ll always bring you home safely. He was right about that compass.

As I got older and took various jobs on the water, working on a deep sea fishing boat and as the captain of a ferry to Tangier Island, I came to trust that compass to guide me when the way ahead was not clear. My dad’s advice stayed with me when I reached the Virginia Military Institute and was given a different kind of compass, in the simple words of the VMI honor code:

“A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.”

Those words have stuck with me all these years because they’re so clear. They have become a kind of moral compass for me. They always call me back home safely.

Virginia and this country need that more than ever these days. It can be hard to find our way in a time when there’s so much shouting, when nasty, shallow tweets take the place of honest debate, and when scoring political points gets in the way of dealing with real problems.

If you’ve felt that way, I want you to listen to me right now:

We are bigger than this. We all have a moral compass deep in our hearts. And it’s time to summon it again, because we have a lot of work to do. We’re going in the wrong direction on healthcare in Virginia and America. More people need coverage, not less.

It is past time for us to step forward together and expand Medicaid to nearly 400,000 Virginians who need access to care. We should also resolve together today to refrain from any effort to curtail a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decisions about her health. If we are going to build a healthier Virginia for everyone, we must address the public health crisis of gun violence.

Gunshots kill more people in Virginia every year than car accidents, but if you walk into the right gun show, it’s easier to get a firearm than it is to rent a car. I am ready to work with you to make Virginia safer by passing smart reforms that keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.

We have to acknowledge that the incredible economic progress we have made in Virginia has been uneven. As technology companies and sky scrapers rise in many regions, other parts of Virginia are watching blue collar jobs move out while the opioid crisis moves in. And those challenges are not limited to rural areas.

In far too many places in Virginia, your zip code determines not just how well you will do, but how long you will live. Here in our capital city, a child born two miles that way can expect to live to about age 63. But a child born five miles in that direction can expect to live 20 years longer.

You don’t have to be a doctor to know that something’s wrong. The solutions to these problems are not easy. But we do know what they are. he way ahead starts with access to quality health care and public education for every Virginian, no matter whom they are or where they live.

It depends on smart interventions in the case of addiction or mental health challenges and a focused economic development strategy that connects the right people with the right skills and the right jobs.

As Governor, I will approach these challenges with the same skills I learned as a doctor.

Over the years I have taken care of thousands of children. Never once have they or their families asked me if I am a Democrat or a Republican, nor have I asked them. Each patient is a person in front of you, who’s sick. A child who needs your help, and who deserves every opportunity to thrive.

Doctors are taught that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to make them better. A good doctor trusts science and brings no pre-conceived notions to the examining table.

A good doctor listens first, to what a patient is saying and not saying. A good doctor understands that a symptom may have a hidden cause. The pain in a child’s belly could be an ulcer, for example. Or it could be from hunger because the pantry at home is bare and the last time she ate was lunch at school yesterday.

We learn quickly that the problems patients are having are usually more complex than the symptoms we can see on the surface. And getting them back to health means devoting the time and resources it takes to alleviate those root causes.

As Governor, I will draw on these lessons. I will remember that Virginians didn’t send us here to be Democrats or Republicans – they sent us here to solve problems. I will remember that no one has a monopoly on good ideas.

The path to progress is marked by honest give and take among people who truly want to make life better for those around them. I will remember that treating symptoms of problems may be easy in the short-run, but getting to the root of the problem and solving it from the bottom up is always more effective in the long-run.

When we make decisions, we’ll apply this test.
• Does this action do the most good for the most Virginians?
• Have we been transparent with the public about what we are doing and why we are doing it?
• And finally, is there a better way forward that we haven’t yet considered?

The guiding principle of this administration will be simple: we will work together to make our Commonwealth work better for all Virginians, no matter who they are or where they’re from. We cannot rest until every family and every community has the same access to opportunity that others do.

Here are my personal commitments to you.
• I will always tell the truth.
• I will strive every day to maintain the trust you placed in me on Election Day.
• I will always put Virginia’s interests first.
• I will work with anyone whose policies help Virginia. And when they do not, I will oppose them.
• I will visit every city and county while I’m Governor, and every public college and university.
• I will continue to personally care for patients at RAM, Virginia’s Remote Area Medical clinic—and keep pushing to cover more and more Virginians.
• I will be there personally to welcome Virginia National Guardsmen and women when they return home from overseas.
• And my door will always be open to you.

Here’s the last commitment I make to you. And it’s the most important. It comes from an experience that has shaped the way I practice medicine and public service.

Shortly after I left the Army and began practicing as a child neurologist, I met a young couple whose son was living with severe autism. I examined the little boy, and his case was tough. So I explained to his mother that nothing I could do would alter her son’s condition or improve his quality of life.

More than a decade later, a woman approached me in the grocery store. She reminded me that I had seen her son years ago, and that she and her family chose not to return for a follow-up. She asked me if I knew why they had not returned, and I confessed to her that I did not, and that I hadn’t really thought much about it. She looked me in the eye and said, “Dr. Northam, when you said you couldn’t help us, you took away our hope.”

I can still hear her words to this day.

When I told her that I was unable to help her son, I diagnosed the problem correctly. But I missed the opportunity to provide the one thing her family still needed the most:

And that was hope.

From that moment on, I have recognized the incredible power of hope and my responsibility to preserve it in the people I serve. Hope is not just a source of comfort for the afflicted – it is a wellspring of energy to fight for a better tomorrow, no matter the odds.

I am committed as your Governor to fight every day for the hope that tomorrow will be better – for all of us, not just some of us. Because it can be. If we work together, tomorrow can be better for the nearly 400,000 Virginians who are one illness or accident away from bankruptcy because they have no insurance.

Tomorrow can be better for the families in rural communities who are praying for new jobs so their children don’t have to move away to build happy lives. Tomorrow can be better for the children who are sitting in crowded and crumbling schools across this state, tired and distracted from too little food and too much violence in their communities. Tomorrow can be better for the men and women who depend on clean air and water for their livelihood and for the children who will inherit the environment we pass on to them. Tomorrow can be better for people who too often face discrimination, harassment or violence because of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

If we work together today, tomorrow will be better for all of the Virginians who have placed their trust in us to fight for them every day.

This country is once again looking to Virginia to lead the way. Let us lead with humility and optimism, telling the truth, learning from history and removing every obstacle to progress for all Virginians. I ask you to join me.

Let’s get to work.

Thank you.

Local News
Local Realtor/Philanthropist Beth Medved Waller Offers $5,000 Prize for Hero X Challenge
January 13, 2018
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Beth Meved Waller has started the new year with a twist–she’s offering a prize instead of seeking donations for a cause!  Inspired by the What Matters outreach trip to Africa, Waller and her children would love someone local to participate in their challenge so please spread the word about their endeavor outlined below (taken from https://herox.com/Whatmattersfund)...

Saving without Sacrifice!  This mobile application will make it REWARDING to save for WHAT MATTERS:  a special cause, vacation or purchase!  My children and I have started a family fund we call, “The Africa Jar,” in an attempt to save money for Light up Life Foundations, a team that helps youth in the slums of Uganda (I just returned from Africa before Christmas).  When we are out and about and making purchases throughout the day, we think twice about our spending and often put the item back or refrain from ordering extra at a restaurant.  Rather than feel like we are “pinching pennies” or missing out, this jar now turns our “sacrifices” into happy moments when we smile and blurt out, “AFRICA JAR!”  Instead of missing that soda, candy or coffee we pass up, we feel excited that the money we would have “swallowed away” will now go to help starving children on the other side of the world!

Everyone has something that matters to them that they’d love to save money to fund.  Perhaps it’s not a cause.  It could be a dream vacation or a longed-for purchase, or someone could set up multiple funds.  My kids and I want everyone to be able to feel like we feel when our jar effortlessly fills EVERY SINGLE DAY with savings from needless purchases we would normally not think twice about.  We’ve issued a $5,000 HERO X Challenge for a brilliant mind to create a mobile application that will make it easy and even more exciting to save for “What Matters.”

We would like the application to be a simple way for individuals and families to log onto a virtual savings account (that could be linked to a checking account for real-time transfers if savers desire OR if that’s too complicated it could be just an online tally). To add to the account, users will click on a button and enter the amount saved and why. For example, at the McDonald’s drive-through we didn’t purchase the soda and opted for a water, saving $1.  There are many options/ideas we have to create a fun application that is simple to use.  The concept is very social-media friendly as well and it would be easy for nonprofits and those who support them to spread information about funds over social media to encourage others to participate.  Sponsors could even be solicited to have special “What Matters Match” campaigns to match every dollar saved up to $x for a certain cause that participants have pledged to support with their fund.

This application has great potential to teach children about savings in an interactive and fun way.  It also has the ability to help people of all ages save small amounts of money that add up to support amazing causes around the globe.  We look forward to working with whomever takes our challenge to help us challenge the world to start “Saving without Sacrifice.”  My philanthropic company, What Matters, will help spread the word about this tool because “What Matters is your heart……Let It!”

What Matters Warren
Heather Davis and Tammy Ruggiero present The Bridge Project
January 13, 2018
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Local poet and writer, Heather Davis has launched a project called The Bridge Project into our community with the intention of connecting people across all types of differences.  The call is out for us all to participate by creating art or writing that expresses what is inside our heart.  How do we want to connect?  What does connection mean to us individually?  In a world that feels so divided sometimes, let’s join together and build a bridge!  The final product will be a bridge for display all around town to admire and explore. How fun!

Theme: How we connect to other people across differences of age, gender, race, class, religion, culture, sexuality, nationality, ability, etc.
Requirements: Create artwork and/or write on 5 x 7 watercolor paper.
Submit: Send to Stover Insurance at 214 East Jackson Street, Front Royal, VA 22630 or place into marked boxes at Blue Wing Frog, Happy Creek Coffee, or the Samuels Public Library. DEADLINE: February 15, 2018

Note: Finished artwork will become part of a community art installation and will not be returned. Please send your name & contact info with the artwork.

Workshops: Free art/writing workshops will be held on January 20 and 27 at the Samuels Library from 10 am-12 pm to create the cards. Ages 12 and up.
Event: Finished cards will be affixed to a wooden slat rope bridge for display at a public event celebrating our connections across difference.