(Author’s note: this commentary was written on Sept. 11 and 12, 2001, as events transpired. It has since been reprinted in various edits, in various years on the anniversary of those 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Today, September 11, 2021, 20 years on from that horrific day, let us pause and remember, not only those who died and those they left behind, but the specific example of those first responders who walked into danger to offer a helping hand to those trapped inside the twisted wreckage of hatred delivered to NYC, but did not walk out. For it is their example and sacrifice on that day that points humanity toward a better future where 9/11’s and Kabul Airport bombings are a part of our past, rather than the expectation for our collective future.)
September 11, 2001: The faint ring of a telephone stirred me from a restless sleep. I grudgingly opened my eyes and realized that it was fairly early in the morning on Tuesday, a weekend for me in my current employment cycle … I stumbled into my adjacent office and without my glasses tried to make out the caller ID through a sleep-encrusted blur. I lift the receiver.
“Turn on your television!” my friend Dewey’s voice commanded excitedly. “We were watching one of the World Trade Center buildings burning after a plane ran into it about 15 minutes ago and another one just flew into the other building!”
“When?” – Reality and dreams seemed to be mixing though I thought I was awake.
“Now!!! A second ago,” Dewey said & I knew this was not a “Jerky Boys” prank phone call. I hung up the phone without responding. I understood as my mind snapped to, that the information was presented not for discussion, but for action. I was at my complex of three televisions at the far end of my third-floor loft apartment over the Main Street Mill that was so reminiscent to me of the fifth-floor walkup loft I had sublet for a year 11 blocks north of the World Trade Center some 20 years earlier. I hit the “on” button on the smallest of the three, the old 13-inch that I had gotten from my mom. It sat several feet from my living area couch and was my preferred home-alone viewing screen. Perhaps its size helped me maintain the illusion that I wasn’t really addicted to it.
The crystal-sharp satellite picture quickly appeared, I picked up the remote and punched in 970, the satellite channel for the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. As a child, it would, as likely as not, have been the morning news station I would be watching as I got ready for school and my parents prepared for their respective federal government jobs in D.C. and Rosslyn, Virginia.
There they were, the twin towers gleaming on a bright September morning against a cloudless, bright, blue sky – except for the huge plumes of black smoke pouring from the top 20 or so floors of both buildings. I flashed on the old ’70s movie “Towering Inferno”. How did that movie I’d never seen more than about 10 minutes of at a time end?!? How many were saved? How long did it take to finally – just burn out?
Bryant Gumble’s calm TV voice hypnotically recited the facts as known at – I flicked the info button to see the time, 9:07 a.m.
“Two planes … believed to be a 737 and a 767 … 18 minutes apart … North Tower first, then the South Tower … Not known if intent or accidents … Here it is. Watch to the right of your screen and you’ll see the second plane as it approaches and plows into the South Tower.”
Oh man, that wasn’t an accident!! There was malevolent intent apparent the first time I saw it. That building was a target. But can’t alarm the public with unsubstantiated theories – public, I have public there!!!
I raced back to my office for the phone. Stuart and Annie Lee, my friends since college days in Richmond, Virginia, at old VCU, the urban university; Stuart and Annie, whom I sublet that Lower Manhattan loft from in 1979-80, when I had my New York state of mind experience, still lived in that five-story walkup, 11 blocks from the World Trade Center.
Two-one-two, two-zero-two, NYC/DC, I always transpose those area codes in my head. I focus and dial two-one-two … The line picks up on the second ring. It is Annie’s voice, “Hello” – she seems breathless.
“Annie, what the hell is going on up there,” I blurt out not letting on how relieved I am to hear her voice.
“I don’t know but it’s pretty bizarre,” she replied.
We used to joke about whether the North Tower, the closest one to their loft, would fall on their building if it tipped over on its side northbound. It seemed that close, those big rectangles looming out of the back loft windows and over the rooftop deck Stuart had built. That was after their 1977 wedding in Charleston, South Carolina, Annie’s home turf. I glanced at the time on the caller ID. It was 9:11 a.m. – REALLY?!? I thought without verbalizing it.
“I just saw a tape of the second plane hitting the second building,” I said.
Annie hesitated, then said, “Roger, I was down there when they exploded.”
I was stunned. She had been closer than her home, at 9 in the morning. Was she nuts? What was Annie, an artist, a sculptor doing in the financial district at 8:45 in the morning? I must have verbalized the question as well as thought it.
“I was at the fish market they have in the parking lot on the east side of the Trade Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays (that’s an acceptable reason, I thought). We heard a plane and we all ducked. We knew it didn’t belong there so low over the city. Then the building exploded and we had to run under this building overhang to get away from all the burning debris that was coming down after the explosion. After the second explosion I thought I better get out of there and I went to look for my bike, which was on the Trade Center side. Luckily it was OK and I just came in the door when you called.
“You said the plane HIT the building?” she trailed off, apparently just making the connection between the low-flying plane that had caused those at the fish market to duck reflexively and the first explosion. “I didn’t, we didn’t – Listen Roger, I don’t mean to cut you off but I want to clear the line for my mom. I know she’s going to try and call or I should call her before the lines get clogged up.”
“OK, sure. Where’s Stuart,” I wanted to make sure the calm in her voice included knowledge of Stuart’s whereabouts before we disconnected.
“Good. You all take care and stay in touch.” I hung up.
They were OK.
That she was down there in physical jeopardy had jolted me …
I was back at the TV. I plopped on the couch. It was 9:15. It was like I was hypnotized, the emotional trauma of world-changing events perceived at an almost subconscious level. In a weird way it was like 1963 and 1968. But no, it was 2001 – the real first year of not only a new century but a new millennium; 2001, much bigger deal than 1901; none like it since 1001 – a thousand-year bookmark on the pages of history. So, I channel surf throughout the morning of September 11, 2001.
The World Trade Center, the Pentagon are in flames!! All air traffic to the U.S. being diverted and all planes in the states being brought down. – How?
“A plane down in the woods of western Pennsylvania – Camp David may have been the target” is theorized on the air.
BUT THEN – a huge plume of smoke in lower Manhattan. What the …?!?!
Is there only one building there?
In a panic I look for competent reporting and a familiar voice. CNBC broadcasts from lower Manhattan, competent, who knows; familiar and boots on the ground, yes.
“One of the two World Trade Center towers has collapsed,” a camera shot from across the Hudson River – lower Manhattan looks like it is on fire – back to NWI (News World International) – they had the live feed from a New York City ABC affiliate earlier with a poor guy on the phone who was trapped on the 85th floor because the fire doors had locked up – which building was he in? Is he dead? He said things were under control and stabilizing and he was giving directions to where he and one other person were trapped with windows blown out – the firemen must have been going up …
Watching NWI with their main Canadian affiliate as … the … second tower … collapses from the top down – “Oh my God. Oh my God” the on-air voice repeats calm but distraught – how is that even possible? – as off camera, yelling and screaming with no pretense of calm maintained as the North Tower joins its sibling on the ground … where am I?!!? Two 110-story buildings … gone …
I watch lower Manhattan from across the Hudson River again. It is totally enshrouded in smoke. Are people suffocating in that? Could you breathe in there?
Again try Stuart and Annie. Nothing …
Then tears came and I sobbed with worry for my friends and for my old neighborhood; for 50,000 or 5,000 people, I didn’t know; for two buildings that had stood like a magical, surrealistic backdrop to an already magical skyline for a quarter of a century or more; for the firemen and the cops who went in there trying to get trapped people out … It’s just enormously, monumentally tragic and screwed up and I don’t feel bad about crying …
That it has come to this is tragic in more than the obvious ways. – Things will never be the same. A dark thought flashes into my consciousness – is that what it is really all about?
As the day progresses I follow the pending collapse of adjacent buildings, watch ghost-like, dust-covered people stumble, walk calmly with their briefcases or run from the rubble and spreading, spewing cloud that covers lower Manhattan.
As the skies over America clear of all air traffic for the first time in the age of air travel, an age that has existed all of my life, I wonder how the next attack will come, who will bring it and why …
As the day progressed into night, lower Manhattan took on an eerie look as powerful spotlights bracketed debris and the continually rising cloud of smoke from fires burning deep within the rubble of 220 stories, estimated at 1.2 million tons of debris that will take a year to clear …
Who knows how long it will take my mind – or anyone’s – to assimilate what has happened.
By Roger Bianchini
Sept. 11-12, 2001
Summary of the Warren County EDA meeting of January 14, 2022
The Board of Directors of the Front Royal and Warren County Economic Development Authority held the first board of directors’ meeting of the New Year via Zoom. The meeting was authorized under Governor Northam’s executive mandate for the health emergency.
The Board adopted two resolutions.
The first resolution the board unanimously approved was a one-year lease with a 60-day notice clause for 1329 Happy Creek Road. The house is part of a settlement on the Jennifer MacDonald bankruptcy.
The second resolution supports Sands Anderson, EDA’s legal counsel, in the lawsuits to recover lost funds during the Jennifer MacDonald tenure as executive director. The resolution authorizes the EDA Chairperson, Jeff Browne, to direct Sands Anderson in trial strategy as necessary regarding claims and defenses based on the EDA’s strategies.
Beginning with the January 14, 2022 meeting, committee reports are in writing and submitted prior to the meeting with the board report. The committee reports along with the agendas of each meeting will be posted on the website prior to the meeting. The January committee reports are posted. The committee chairs highlighted the items in the reports and answered questions.
Board Vice-Chairman and Asset Committee Chair Greg Harold discussed the long-term need for housing in the community to support businesses brought to the county in the future. Tom Patteson presented an oral report on the staffing for the EDA. Dr. Patteson expressed disappointment that several qualified candidates interviewed but took other positions. He recommended expanding the advertising for the Executive Director position to include the IEDC, an association of professional economic developers.
Dr. Patteson resigned effective January 31, 2022, at the end of his four-year term. The board as a whole and individual board members expressed their gratitude and appreciation for all his work on the board including serving as treasurer. Dr. Patteson provided a balance to the board, attention to detail, and business acumen.
As of January 31st there will be two open positions on the board. Jeff Browne emphasized a full board is needed especially now with the board managing much of the day-to-day operations of the EDA.
VDOT crews focus on secondary roads tonight – drivers should watch for refreezing and drifting
STAUNTON – (5:00 p.m.) Plow crews in the Virginia Department of Transportation Staunton District continue with snow removal operations following a major winter storm on Sunday, January 16. With interstate and most primary roads now clear or in minor condition, work will focus on secondary roads. Crews will plow and treat roads throughout the night. If possible people should not park along the road so that plows can fully clear snow from the neighborhood and other residential roads.
With temperatures dipping below freezing, drivers who travel tonight and tomorrow morning may encounter damp areas of roadways that are frozen, creating black ice. Caution should be used when traveling. Ice is prone to form first on bridges, overpasses, and other elevated surfaces.
High winds are forecasted for the area. Blowing and drifting snow covering plowed roads may occur. Crews will continue to monitor and plow as needed. Travelers should be aware of possible snow-covered areas on previously plowed roads.
Here are the road conditions as of 5:00 p.m. in the Virginia Department of Transportation Staunton District:
Interstate 64 – Minor conditions in Alleghany County. Clear conditions in Rockbridge and Augusta counties.
Interstate 66 – Clear conditions in Warren County.
Interstate 81 –. Clear conditions in Rockbridge, Augusta, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Frederick counties.
Primary roads – Minor conditions in Alleghany, Highland, Bath, Shenandoah, Frederick, and Clarke counties. Clear conditions in Rockbridge, Augusta, Rockingham, Warren, and Page counties.
Secondary roads – Minor conditions in Warren County. Moderate conditions in Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany, and Bath counties.
For winter weather road conditions go to http://www.511Virginia.org, look at the orange bar on the top of the page and click on “Text Views” and then click on “Road Condition Table”. Look at the pull-down box that lists all jurisdictions. In this box, individual counties can be chosen to view.
On the go? Then visit VDOT’s Free Virginia 511 Tools to get your 511 app for android or iOS. Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can be accessed through its mobile-friendly website at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. Agents are on site 24/7 every day of the year to assist the public. People can also call the VDOT Customer Service Center at 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623).
The Staunton District Snow Page is on the VDOT website under Travel Center Snow Emergency Pages. The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton.
The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton. VDOT can be followed on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube. RSS feeds are also available for statewide information. The VDOT Web page is located at http://www.VirginiaDOT.org.
The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany, and Bath counties.
Road condition definitions:
Severe – drifting or partially blocking the road.
Moderate – snow or ice on major portions of the roadway.
Minor – bare pavement except for isolated spots of snow, ice, or slush.
Governor Glenn Youngkin delivers address to the Joint Assembly
On January 17, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin delivers to the Joint Assembly in Virginia’s State Capitol.
As prepared for Delivery
Standing here before you, and looking around this room, I’m struck by the history that’s been made in this place, the people’s house.
As well as the fact that the work you do here has great consequence for the people of Virginia. And so it is as we gather here today.
Mr. Speaker, Madam President, Lt. Governor Earle-Sears, Chief Justice Goodwyn, and Justices of the Supreme Court, members of the General Assembly, my fellow Virginians, today we begin anew, all of us together.
After years of fractured politics, a deadly pandemic, lives and livelihoods lost, soaring mental health incidents and drug overdoses, rising crime rates, ever-increasing costs for housing, food and fuel, Virginians have sent us here to turn the page.
They came out in record numbers to make their voice heard. They chose a new vision for the future.
Today, I want to speak to that vision and begin our partnership to address the priorities of the people.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know so many of the members of these two legislative bodies both Republicans and Democrats.
You have invited me to your homes. We’ve shared meals together. We’ve done community service together. And I thank you for that.
We’re all part of Team Virginia.
And as I shared on Saturday, we can take inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King’s life which we celebrate today and his words that “we may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
The work we have to do, we must do together.
And there isn’t a better example of people coming together on behalf of Virginia than the brave crews, the law enforcement heroes, and the first responders who worked during yesterday’s storm in the freezing cold, ice and snow to keep our streets safe, the lights on and our hospitals open.
Before I speak to the work ahead, I want to recognize someone who has traveled with me every step of the way.
She inspired me to live a life of faith as a younger man. She is an example of humility and strength not just to our children but to women across this great commonwealth.
She is the best partner I could ever imagine our First Lady, Suzanne Youngkin.
After a year of campaigning at diners, senior centers, schools, housing projects, courthouses…even pickup basketball games, I’ve taken the measure of our people.
I’ve found them to be resilient, optimistic, courageous. I listened to their hopes and concerns their dreams and fears. Their stories of inspiration and stories of tragedy.
Some cried on my shoulders. Some prayed over me. And some spoke bluntly maybe a little too bluntly at times.
Almost all expressed a desire for a Virginia worthy of the ambitions of its people.
I come here today to echo their clarion call for change.
To form a government that works for ordinary citizens. That’s a catalyst for opportunity and not an obstacle. And that addresses the kitchen table concerns of working families that are real and mounting.
It’s been said that all great change starts at kitchen tables across America.
You see, that’s where families talk about what matters to them. It’s also where parents discuss their worries stagnant wages in the face of rising expenses caring for an elderly parent and trying to find a way to save for their kids’ future.
I want to share with you something that we’ve all heard from voters.
They’re genuinely concerned that the cold halls of government are disconnected from the cold realities families face while sitting at their kitchen tables every day.
In that respect, we shouldn’t misconstrue record revenue for government as economic success for Virginians.
The view from the people, whose labor generates those tax receipts is quite different than the talk in Richmond.
They see an economy whose growth has stalled at less than 1% per year for 8 years. With household incomes stagnating over the last year — as the cost of living has sky-rocketed.
They see declining schools, they see violent crime reports dominating the news, they see record low labor participation, they see small businesses struggling, and they see government failures and encroachments on their liberties.
From the perspective of every day Virginia families times are tough. And the state of our Commonwealth is not what it should be.
Today we’re at the proverbial “tipping point” where the cash flow to the government from rising tax burdens is very high.
And yet the impact of high costs and high taxes, and an increased regulatory burden are clearly being felt in the real economy and the real lives of Virginians.
The good news is that we have the ability to course-correct before this poor performance becomes permanent.
With current and projected tax driven surpluses we can lower the tax burdens on Virginia families.
And make crucial investments in those critical pillars to the great Virginia promise of a lower cost-of-living, excellent schools, safe communities, a rip-roaring economy that lifts up all Virginians, and a state government that works for Virginians.
To do that, I’m asking each of us in this body Republican and Democrat alike to come together.
To rise above the Richmond of divisive, special interest politics, the small and the parochial to usher in a sweeping vision of change
And to put this commonwealth on a pathway to prosperity.
On day one, we hit the ground running, signing 11 executive actions, and swearing in a full cabinet, outstanding individuals, who are qualified and share Virginia’s values.
As of today, we’ve worked with legislators to introduce 59 pieces of legislation to tackle our day one agenda.
And we’ll be submitting a package of 25 budget amendments to reflect our bipartisan priorities.
We’re addressing issues that are critical to the future of this commonwealth. And that every member in this chamber can get behind.
Virginians have given us a license to lead. They have charged us all to deliver on a Day One agenda.
We know on some issues there’ll be deep disagreement.
But I believe this chamber is big enough for us to talk through our differences. And there is more that binds us than divides us.
For we all share a common goal to leave a better Virginia for our children.
We’re going to start by investing in Virginia classrooms.
Education is the key to opportunity. The means by which all children and their parents can realize their greatest dreams.
Virginia schools have a lofty reputation. But lately we’ve not lived up to that reputation.
In fact, our education standards for math and reading are now the lowest in the nation.
Unelected political appointees lowered standards which inevitably led to a decline in student performance.
60% of our students don’t meet national proficiency standards, including over 70% of Latino students, and over 80% of black students, failing to meet standard on the math NAEP tests. Remarkably, despite these dramatic declines noted by the National Center for Education Statistics only one Virginia school has been deemed failing
because accreditation standards were lowered.
Starting now we’re ending the accountability shell games intended to make us feel good but amount to the often stated “soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Let’s stop cheating our kids.
On this we should join arms and purpose together so that when our time here is done we’ll collectively have raised education standards from the lowest to the highest in the nation.
I’m also calling for $150 million to help us meet our goal of starting 20 new charter schools.
Whether they’re called charter schools, lab schools, or schools of innovation – it doesn’t really matter.
I don’t care what we call it I just care that we do it.
We’re joined today by the students of Green Run Collegiate Charter School in Virginia Beach. Green Run Collegiate shares a facility with Green Run High School.
They have an innovative curriculum. They provide access to every child in the school district to attend the collegiate program. They’re thriving and their parents are thrilled.
Please join me in welcoming these future Virginia leaders to our commonwealth’s capitol.
We’re going to build partnerships between the commonwealth and our great universities to create lab schools of excellence.
It could be a lab school in Southwest Virginia in partnership with UVA Wise.
It could be an entrepreneurship or entertainment industry-focused school partnering with one of our amazing historically black colleges and universities.
Or a partnership with Old Dominion University for opportunities in offshore wind development or maritime projects.
When it comes to the education budget, I’ve heard consistent bipartisan agreement from all of you that the budget you’ll pass, and that I’ll sign will reflect a record investment in education including a significant boost in teacher pay.
With the exception of a parent or guardian no one impacts the future of a young child more than a quality teacher.
We will attract quality professionals to Virginia schools. And we will pay teachers as the professionals they are.
We must also recognize that the people most responsible for a child’s education are parents.
My message to parents is this,
You have a fundamental right, enshrined in law by this General Assembly, to make decisions with regard to your child’s upbringing, education and care.
And we will protect and reassert that right.
Hear me clearly when parents are empowered and engaged, a child’s life is enhanced.
I’ve heard the concerns of parents about curriculum.
Virginia parents want our history – all of our history, the good and the bad to be taught. And they want their children to be told how to think, not what to think.
That’s why we should not use inherently divisive concepts like Critical Race Theory in Virginia. And why we should not be teaching our children to see everything through the lens of race.
That’s also why I want to give parents the right to be informed before their child is exposed to sexually explicit materials.
Please, send me the same bill you passed on a bipartisan basis in 2017 and I will sign it.
The classroom environment must be safe, so children can learn.
I’m asking members of this general assembly to prioritize school safety by putting a school resource officer on every campus.
I also ask you to join me in protecting students from sex trafficking organizations that recruit them on and off campus.
Let’s train educators to see the signs of trafficking. And to stand in the gap for children at risk of being preyed upon.
Let’s also involve local law enforcement agencies in the approval of school safety audits.
And whenever someone preys upon a child in a Virginia school — we must require it to be reported to local law enforcement for investigation.
No more cover-ups. No more sweeping it under the rug. Parents deserve to know if their child is at risk.
Schools exist for the educational benefit of children, and for that reason they must remain open. I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated for Covid-19 and get the booster.
As we battle covid, its parents that should decide the health measures taken for their children.
That is why I signed an executive order that allows parents to opt-out of mask mandates in schools. This is a matter of individual liberty.
Again, this body passed a law that protects parent’s fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of their children.
And health care workers should get to make those decisions too.
And I will continue to oppose President Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for health workers as we continue to fight a crisis of staffing in Virginia’s healthcare system.
Our fight against COVID-19 will move forward based on this simple principle we will protect lives and livelihoods.
That means no more mandates and no more shutdowns. As I said on Saturday it means Virginia is open for business.
It also means the science since the beginning of the pandemic has not been static. We now have therapeutics better testing protocols and fortunately a less severe variant.
And of course, we have vaccines. It means, educating our friends and neighbors and encouraging them to get the vaccine and the booster.
There are 1.6 million unvaccinated Virginians today.
And speaking to you as your Governor, I’ll never tell you what you must do. But speaking to you as a friend and a neighbor I strongly encourage you to get the vaccine.
The data is clear people who do not get the vaccine are four times as likely to be hospitalized.
The vaccine will not only help keep people out of the hospital, it will also keep people working, earning a paycheck and growing our economy, something that has to remain a top priority for us all.
Our Day One Plan will jump-start jobs.
We’re going to repeal needless regulations. We’re going to invest in job training. We’re going to foster innovation. And we’re going to win the competition for jobs and corporate re-locations.
I support a significant investment in mega-sites.
To make sure we don’t lose the next advanced battery manufacturing plant after seeing several go to Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.
And while we’re at it let’s broaden the baseball stadium authority to include football. And perhaps we’ll get one of those too.
I want our rural Virginians to know we’re spreading prosperity far and wide. And rural Virginia won’t be left behind.
We’re not only bringing jobs, we’re bringing high-speed broadband.
Every governor for the last decade has stood in this chamber and told you that rural broadband was a priority. This time we’re going to get it done.
We’re also going to make certain that key projects at our ports and our highways are completed.
So the message is clear, if your cargo container ships is stuck off the coast of another state come to Virginia.
We’re ready for your business. And we won’t make supply chain problems worse with regulatory red tape.
And let me be clear, I believe in the fundamental right to work.
If anyone tries to bring me a bill that creates forced unionization it will meet the business end of my veto pen.
The states around us have created more jobs, grown their economies faster, and took steps years ago that we must take now, lower taxes, business-friendly regulations, workforce development, and more.
This is a real competition, and to win, we have to “play to win.”
One of the other challenges businesses face especially small businesses is the high cost of providing health care for their employees.
Over the last three years, you sent the governor eight versions of an association health plan bill to make it easier for workers to get health care.
It was vetoed eight times. Pass that bill again and I will sign it.
Virginians are struggling with the high cost of living, in a commonwealth with skyrocketing housing costs, rising fuel prices, and the silent wage theft of inflation.
There are economic fundamentals we don’t control in Virginia – that must be dealt with at the federal level.
But Washington continues to fiddle in the face of real supply chain challenges. And allows our nation to be overly-reliant on China for critical goods and services.
But there is one vital thing we can do to help Virginians. And that is remove some of the tax burden — added on top of rising prices for groceries, gasoline and housing.
That’s why I support suspending the recent gas tax increase for a year and fully eliminating the grocery tax immediately.
There’s bipartisan support for eliminating the grocery tax. Together, we will give Virginians real relief.
We also need to give Virginians a real break on their personal income tax by doubling the standard deduction. And providing the largest tax rebate in Virginia history.
These tax cuts benefit the people who need it the most.
And represent the largest tax relief ever given to the people of Virginia $1,500 this year for the typical Virginia family.
But beyond the economic implications of this package, I believe we have a special obligation to a group of individuals that have served our country with distinction our military veterans.
Those who risk life and limb for country and community don’t do it for the pay. They do it because service is in their blood.
The care and support of our veterans, have always transcended partisan politics.
That’s why I’m asking this General Assembly to act on something long talked about.
Let’s eliminate the tax on the first $40,000 in military retirement pay together.
Anyone who wears the uniform risks their life each day on the job. And this includes police officers, firefighters, EMTs, every first responder that keeps us safe.
We’re in a fractious era and no group of individuals is under greater scrutiny today than our law enforcement.
A culture of lawlessness has filled the void in Virginia with violent crime on the rise.
In November, Police Officer Michael Chandler of the Big Stone Gap Police Department was violently gunned down by a vicious criminal.
Incidents like this are all too common today.
We’ll never know the depth of his loss to his family but we grieve with them and pray for them.
In Virginia, we must stand with our law enforcement agencies. And therefore, I’m asking you to fund our police to protect our communities.
Officer Michael Chandler’s widow — Natasha Chandler is also a member of law enforcement. She’s a Wise County Deputy Sheriff who even after losing her husband, insisted on returning to serve.
She’s watching this afternoon.
Please join me in recognizing the sacrifice that her husband, Michael, made on our behalf.
The budget submitted to this General Assembly includes pay raises for troopers, sheriffs’ deputies and corrections officers.
Those are strong first steps I know we all support.
But we need to provide more funding for our police departments. And more funding for training and equipment.
Together, we should dedicate $100 million in ARPA funds to a training and equipment grant program for law enforcement. And provide capital funding for a new state police training facility.
Furthermore, I’m asking you to dedicate $26 million in state funding for police departments. But only in localities that are increasing funding for their police departments.
We’ll also fund community violence intervention by dedicating at least $5 million to Operation Cease Fire.
It’s time to take down the temperature around discussions of policing.
The solution is constructive engagement and dialogue. Not inadequate funding which creates more lawlessness.
And when it comes to lawlessness, I want to be crystal clear.
If we won’t tolerate it in communities across the commonwealth then we certainly won’t tolerate it within a state agency.
On Saturday, I fired the entire parole board.
And I asked Attorney General Miyares to begin an investigation into what happened there.
The violations of law and the Constitution, the unconscionable refusal to notify families, of victims about pending decisions to release murderers, were simply unacceptable.
We will not accept selective violations of our constitutional rights. We will protect all of them.
We don’t get to pick and choose the parts of the Constitution we want to preserve and protect.
In order for our government to work for the people, we must also reform the institutions of government that fail to serve the people.
I’ll admit I’ve never run a government agency. But I know something about running a business.
And we’re going to bring business efficiency to government bureaucracy.
That’s why I appointed a Commonwealth Chief Transformation Officer — to oversee government transformation.
We will make government more responsive, more efficient, and more transparent and we’ll start by fixing the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Employment Commission.
Furthermore, we will be innovative in leveraging federal transportation funds to address the challenges of growth and gridlock.
In Virginia, we are going to build roads, bridges, rail lines and utility lines.
We are going to be better prepared for weather events that strain our highways and the electric grid.
And we will marshal our resources to make our infrastructure the most reliable in the nation.
As I travel Virginia, I remain in awe of the raw natural beauty of our Commonwealth.
The mountains, waterways, beaches, parks, farm land, livestock, vineyards, and natural resources testify to our Creator’s artistry.
I deeply treasure the natural beauty of Virginia. And my administration will dedicate itself to protecting and promoting it as a core principle of our service.
That’s why we will end the dumping of raw sewage in the James River once and for all.
I also support fully funding best management practices on our farms in order to protect our soil and water from the Chesapeake Bay to the Jackson River.
And we are going to see the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay to the finish line.
Coastal resiliency is critical to me.
And it’s critical to our nation because of our Port and military assets in Hampton Roads.
That’s why we’re going to create the Coastal Virginia Resiliency Authority to battle rising seas and make sure the federal government does its part too.
Let me state our goal.
Let’s work together in partnership. To build a government as virtuous as our people. One that serves.
You don’t have to look too far to find examples of that spirit among the people of Virginia.
I met a veteran of our military on the campaign trail by the name of Natasha Barijon (BEAR-ee-un).
She’s an immigrant. And like so many first generation immigrants, she loves this country with a passion few can understand though certainly our lieutenant governor can.
Natasha knows what life is like in other parts of the world.
Which is why tears flowed down her face when she told me about her journey to America her pride in serving in our military and the hopes and dreams she has for her daughter to grow up in a better America.
Natasha represents the best of America.
She may not have been born here but she is every bit American as someone who was. Because she has lived the ideals of this great land.
Natasha is also watching today.
Please join me in recognizing her service to our country and her dreams for her daughter.
Virginia is home to heroes. Many living and many who lie in eternal rest.
I attended the funeral of one such hero last month, in Virginia Beach – the Commanding Officer of SEAL Team 8, Brian Bourgeois.
Brian could light up a room with his laugh and he could put his subordinates at ease during the most tense moments.
He gave his life in service to freedom. And he left behind a wife, Megan, and five children. One of which – Barrett – led us in the pledge of allegiance on Saturday.
What price would we in this room put on freedom?
For some freedom is so precious they would offer everything in its defense.
Those of us who live in the freedom they so valiantly protect must live lives worthy of their sacrifice. Set aside petty divisions. Set aside ego and self-advancement. And join together to make this Virginia we love better, stronger, freer.
My friends in this esteemed legislature, I’m inspired to be with you this afternoon. And to be working with you to build a future of limitless opportunity and strengthen the spirit of Virginia.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Warren County EDA faces 2022 with optimism while bidding farewell to one board member and seeking administrative staff replacements
After an hour-and-a-half closed session to discuss a variety of topics, including disposition of three cited properties, the civil litigation against Jennifer McDonald, refinancing of a First Bank & Trust loan, and personnel matters involving two EDA Board members, the Warren County Economic Development Authority received Executive, Finance, and Asset Committee reports; acknowledgment of the County Administrator’s Report included in the packet; and several old and new business matters.
That “Old Business” included updates on the development of the EDA Strategic Plan and Search Committee work in finding permanent replacements for departed Executive Director Doug Parsons and Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson. The 9 a.m. Friday morning (Jan. 14) meeting concluded at 11:15 a.m. after a review of potential reallocation of Budget Line Items in its lone “New Business” topic.
A head’s up on one of the closed session personnel matters may have been given in open session when during his Executive Committee report, EDA Board Chairman Jeff Browne acknowledged the pending departure of Tom Pattison at the end of the month as his four-year term comes to a close. Pattison’s retirement leaves the EDA Board of Directors two members short. It was observed that is especially problematic with the board chairman, among other members, juggling what would normally be staff responsibilities to help fill the gap as replacements for departed Executive Director Doug Parsons and Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson are sought.
County Administrator Ed Daley joined Browne and his board in bidding Pattison a fond farewell and thanks for his work in helping the realigned EDA Board get adjusted to the evolving, post-financial scandal landscape they were entering in early to mid-2019. Daley was part of that board as chairman, along with current members Browne and Greg Harold. Daley pointed out Pattison had arrived on the board just a few months prior to the influx of new members during the post-financial scandal turnover.
“He was a terrific asset … you’ll be sorely missed. We appreciate everything you’ve done on our behalf and the County. So, thank you,” Browne said of Pattison’s role in getting the new board on track over the past 3-1/2 years in the wake of questions about EDA operations and contractual arrangements under the leadership of former Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.
“Thank you for your kind comments,” Pattison responded, adding, “And I’d like to say that I’ve certainly been pleased to serve with such a fine board, conscientious and well-qualified, as well as the administration when we had (Doug) Parsons and others. I’ve also enjoyed working with the County and County Administration, and also with Sharon and her expertise and advice over the years (EDA attorney Sharon Pandak). So, I leave thinking the board is in good hands.”
However, Pattison wasn’t resting on his laurels, noting that he had some comments on staff recruiting strategies when the Search Committee Update portion of the meeting arrived under Old Business. Currently, the EDA is functioning with county staff filling the two EDA administrative staff positions on a part-time basis as permanent replacements are being sought after Parsons and Henderson left for other career opportunities, Parsons with the Fauquier County EDA and Henderson with the Northwest Regional Commission.
And following Daley’s acknowledgment of his submission of the County Administrator’s Report and Browne’s noting that once again there was no Town Manager’s Report, the Search Committee Update discussion was broached. Pattison told his colleagues that the county human resources department had reported that there have been “a paucity of applications” for the executive director’s position in particular. Discussion indicated one factor could be confusion over who the director would be answerable to.
Later during the discussion County Administrator Daley noted that the initial advertisement for the position was drawn up while the County and Town were still talking about a joint effort in reorganizing the half-century-old joint County-Town EDA. But as the subsequent town council decision, under the guidance of then-Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick, to litigate against the EDA for real or imagined losses, as opposed to engaging in offered “good faith negotiations” to establish exactly what was owed to whom from the financial scandal; not to mention the continued absence of a monthly staff report on Town efforts toward economic development, that is obviously no longer the case.
Pattison suggested removing confusion in that regard, along with new, broader sources in which to advertise the vacant positions moving forward. “One question for the person looking at it, is ‘exactly who am I going to answer to?’ I think it should be clear that it’s going to be to Ed (County Administrator Daley) and the board of supervisors … and it doesn’t make sense that they’d have to answer to the Front Royal EDA personnel.”
Daley concurred, telling the EDA board, “… that will be clarified that we will work with their (the Town) EDA, but will not be making reports to the town council or their EDA or anything like that.”
Pattison also suggested the list of qualifications be narrowed somewhat, with an emphasis on the marketing of properties, a current focus of the EDA in the wake of the McDonald executive tenure. That is due to some questionable real estate moves dating to McDonald’s executive directorship when it is suggested real estate transactions may have been used to cloak alleged misdirection of EDA assets.
Shenandoah Valley roads improving – but high winds and refreezing pose threats
STAUNTON – (11:00 a.m.) Road conditions in the Shenandoah Valley and Alleghany Highlands are steadily improving in the wake of Sunday’s winter storm. But many roads in the region, especially secondary routes, remain mostly snow-covered as of mid-day Monday. The Virginia Department of Transportation is working to improve conditions on major roadways and plowing secondary roads.
High winds forecasted for Monday can cause blowing or drifting snow to re-cover previously plowed roadways. Motorists should also be alert for downed trees, limbs, or utility lines. In addition, temperatures are expected to drop well below freezing Monday evening and create a risk of black ice on many roads.
Road-clearing priorities are as follows:
Interstates, primary roads, and major secondary roads with vital emergency and public facilities, or those with high traffic volumes will be cleared first. Secondary and subdivision streets will be treated in the event of a multi-day storm, but crews will focus efforts on roads that are traveled most.
VDOT employees and contractors continue to plow and treat roadways around the clock on rotating 12-hour shifts. Here are the road conditions as of 11 a.m. Monday in the 11-county VDOT Staunton District:
Interstate 64 – Moderate conditions in Alleghany County. Minor conditions in Rockbridge and Augusta counties.
Interstate 66 – Minor conditions in Warren County.
Interstate 81 – Minor conditions in Rockbridge, Augusta, Rockingham, and Frederick counties. Clear conditions in Shenandoah County.
Primary roads – Moderate conditions in Alleghany, Rockbridge, Highland, and Clarke counties. Minor conditions in Bath, Augusta, Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah, Frederick, and Warren counties.
Secondary roads – Moderate conditions in Alleghany, Bath, Rockbridge, Highland, Augusta, Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah, Frederick, Clarke, and Warren counties.
For winter weather road conditions on http://www.511Virginia.org, click on “Text Views” on the orange bar at the top of the page, and then click on “Road Condition Table.” The pull-down box lists all jurisdictions. In this box, individual counties can be chosen to view.
On the go? Visit VDOT’s Free Virginia 511 Tools to get your 511 app for android or iOS. Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can be accessed through its mobile-friendly website at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. Agents are on site 24/7 every day of the year to assist the public. People can also call the VDOT Customer Service Center at 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623).
The Staunton District Snow Page is on the VDOT website under Travel Center Snow Emergency Pages. The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton.
VDOT can be followed on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube. RSS feeds are also available for statewide information. The VDOT Web page is located at http://www.VirginiaDOT.org.
The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany, and Bath counties.
Road condition definitions:
Severe – drifting or partially blocking the road.
Moderate – snow or ice on major portions of the roadway.
Minor – bare pavement except for isolated spots of snow, ice, or slush.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy: ‘Beyond Vietnam’
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.
And as in past years when Royal Examiner has published these words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we must again ask ourselves if where we are as a nation and a world today is a legacy of our collective failure to heed Dr. King’s words of April 1967? And ask again – how close to the “too late” moment Dr. King described in 1967 are we today?
– 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.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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.
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 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 late … Over 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.