Thursday, January 22, 2015

Who is a hero?

We didn't watch the SOTU address Tuesday night.  I asked a former marine late Tuesday afternoon if we would be bad citizens if we went to see American Sniper instead of watching the SOTU.  He assured me we would be GREAT Americans!

BOOM!  From a Marine become VP.  From a Marine become Sr. VP.  What more authorization could I want?

American Sniper, here we come!

One side note - it was the first time I had ever been charged the senior rate for a movie.  She didn't even ask; she just charged it.  And I'm ok with that.


Now, back to the movie.  It is very well done.  Is it graphic?  Sure, but so is the subject.  Is it real?  I believe so.  Do you feel the tension?  No doubt.  But is all of that well done?  Absolutely.

Are military snipers cowards?  I would never say that.

Is their job clean and easy?  Not in the least.

Do I know enough about snipers to speak to anything more than in the context of military snipers and as depicted in this movie?  No way.  I know that I don't.  But do I have any doubt in my mind that we could send military troops into war or terror zones without snipers and expect to be successful?  None whatsoever.  These guys play just as important a role as any other soldier, so Chris Kyle is a hero just like many other American soldiers who serve and sacrifice.

One of the best features of the movie is that Chris Kyle is not portrayed as perfect.  We see his faults, his temper, his relationship struggles, his vulnerabilities.  And that got me to thinking about the word "hero".  Who is a hero?

Was Chris Kyle a hero because of his kill count?  Nope.

Was Chris Kyle a hero because his nickname was Legend?  Nope.

Was Chris Kyle a hero because there was a bounty on his head from the enemy?  Nope.

So what made Chris Kyle a hero?  The same things that make anyone a hero - character traits such as sacrifice, humility, conviction, strength, humor.

Sacrifice - setting aside what was rightfully his for a higher purpose.

Humility - recognizing his role in the larger plan and showing up over and over to do the hard stuff.

Conviction - staying on task without letting down his guard oftentimes picking up on clues that others miss.

Strength - of body, mind, spirit and heart, doing the hard work to get and keep those four things in balance when extreme difficulties take their toll.

Humor - because even the most serious situations can't be taken too seriously.

Do you know any heroes?  Of course; we all do.  I can think of a few young parents who are heroes - who live out all of those traits everyday.

Who else?  Other names come to my mind like Jesus, MLK, 99.8% of first responders, teachers and ministers, plus former Marines turned VP's to name just a few.

Chris Kyle was not a superhero.  He was a real hero.  He had plenty of struggles and made mistakes like almost everyone I mentioned above. But that is good.  That gives us hope.  Hope that any of us can be heroes, at least everyday heroes even if we never have a movie made about us someday.

Go see American Sniper.  Chris Kyle's is a story that needs to be told and heard.  Because there are always larger stories worth fighting for, which is usually where heroes come from.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Random Personal Stories

It is Thursday tomorrow, and I'm not baking tonight.  How crazy is that?  I just mentioned that to my hubby, and he smiled and pondered "How long has that been?"  Practically every Wednesday evening for the last year I have spent baking for our 2014 Baking Friday venture.

But not tonight.  That's right, folks.  I am taking a break.  I don't know for how long, but I'm taking a bit of a baking break.

Will it last as long as a year?

No way!  In fact, I have a wedding to bake for coming up in a couple of months.

Will it last as long as a month?

Hmmm....who knows?  But it's at least lasting as long as this week.  That much I can say.  For now.

My guess is that this break will last around 3 or so months.  I did a LOT of baking last year after all!

In the meantime, I thought I would share a couple of stories about me that my kids might not know.  I honestly don't know if my kids know these things about me or not, and it's not like they're all that big or important to know.  They're just stories.

But the more I have shared my early life with G, the more I have realized the gaps in my knowledge of my own parents.  For example, I think that my dad graduated from Warrensburg, MO, high school long about 1938, but I don't know that for sure.  I think that his dad was an auto mechanic at the time, but I also don't know that for sure either.  So here are a few random facts about me.

I used to ride the bus to work when I worked for St. Louis Union Trust Company downtown.  The building was located on the block bordered by Broadway, Locust, 6th and Olive, across the street from the old Famous & Barr store, later taken over by Macy's.  We would often go to Famous for lunch, and most of the time I was getting their "Famous" French Onion soup.  You could get it in the main restaurant on the 6th floor , the cafe on the 9th floor or Papa Fabar's on the 2nd floor.  If I didn't get the French Onion Soup, then chances are good I was having the John White burger - a burger covered in cheese sauce and french fried onions.

I need to make both of these soon!

But back to riding the bus.  I worked for the trust company before marrying while I was still living with my parents in Florissant.  I caught the bus at the stop in front of Fisher's Sporting Goods store.  Sometimes I would walk to the stop, but usually I was dropped off.  Once I moved out, I would catch the bus at the corner of Florissant Road and January Avenue.  Sometimes I would drive all the way to work (especially if I woke up late!)  And I still have dreams about working downtown and catching the bus home at the end of a day when I had driven my car into work that day!  Feel free to analyze that dream at your own leisure!

One thing about riding the bus?  I made some nice friends, because back then we didn't all have cell phones to play games on during the ride.  We would actually talk to each other!  I remember one man in particular.  His name was George.  He and his wife, Hazel, had raised 8 children together, and he was still very much in love with her.  They actually came to S's first birthday party in 1984, and I still think of him often whenever we drive by their house.

A couple more things about that time in my life and then I will close this post.  I worked for SLUT Co, (yes, that was the nickname!) from 1980 to 1985 (quitting after my daughter, S, was born).  I had two primary jobs for them during that time.  The first one was in what they called the "Synoptic Records" Department.

Seriously.  That was the real name of the department at the time.

The company is no longer in business, but they were in the corporate trustee business.  They were actually very highly respected for about 100 years here in St. Louis.  Well our job in the "Synoptic Records" Department was to monitor the vault where the original Wills and Trusts were housed, but also read through each of them and "synopsize" the terms and conditions onto a card for quick reference by the investment officers and administrators.  It was really rather interesting in a legal-ese, geeky sort of way, reading about income beneficiaries and the encroachment provisions and allowed investment specifications as well has how the trust would be distributed at the end and under what conditions.

I wish I had a picture of one of these old cards that we would create and maintain back then with all of that good info.  They were each about 8" x 23" that we folded almost in half to a size of about 8" x 12" to store in a cabinet full of thin, sliding doors and lifting folder tabs.  Both of these must have been custom designed just for the trust company.  I was not conscience of that at the time, but looking back now, I realize that had to have been the case.  The closest pic I can find of what one of these cabinets was like is this, but imagine a whole wall of these plus the cards opened with a flip top up and not left to right.
The front of these cards had the trust name, trustees names, beneficiaries and terms while the inside was full of the significant events and changes during the life of the trust.  We would type these on old IBM Selectric typewriters.  And you were living high if you had an auto-correcting typewriter!
Truly some of these cards dated back to the early 1900's which was a long time ago even in the early 80's!  But looking at this office equipment, how old does this make me????

With that I will close.  Maybe next time I will share about my second main job at the trust company - in the Probate department - where we did spreadsheets BEFORE Excel!


Mom aka Really Old School Mom