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Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays and a Prosperous NewYear

ireland703Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou! Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr! Milad Majid! Feliz Navidad! Merry Keshmish! Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah! Heughliche Winachten un ‘n moi Nijaar! Glædelig Jul! Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad! Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto! Chuc Mung Giang Sinh! Merry Christmas.

All of us at Our Town Tustin (yes, that is all seven of us if you count the livestock) would like to wish our Christian friends, a very Merry Christmas, our Jewish friends, a very Happy and belated Hanukkah, and our friends of other faiths and belief traditions a very Happy Holiday. And, to everyone, we wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

What started out as a year of promise and prosperity has become, over the months, a struggle to overcome the adversity caused by a tiny bug no one can see. After more than eight months of isolation, shortages and loss of jobs and income, we seem to be at the bottom. Yet, it is amazing to see how resilient our America is. With the advent of Christmas has also, with the coming vaccine,  come another advent of a brighter year ahead.

Through it all, we have seen some amazing acts of kindness and care. Our own Tyron Jackson and his OWW organization of volunteers have made sure many of our homeless and otherwise forgotten members of our local society have felt some normalcy and sense of decency in their lives. The social media app, Next Door, is replete with stories of individuals and groups who, many for the first time, are reaching out to others in need with kindness and care packages. Our church food drives have not stopped despite the come-and-go ban on attending services. Indeed, many have stepped up their efforts because they know that this is a trying time for many who have never experienced this kind of need before.

Though we still grieve for families torn apart by senseless violence, our nation, state and town remain united in promise and faith. And, please pray for our US Military members who remain abroad in far away lands. They spend this holiday season away from their loved ones so that you and I may spend it with ours.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays and a Prosperous NewYear

ireland703Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou! Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr! Milad Majid! Feliz Navidad! Merry Keshmish! Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah! Heughliche Winachten un ‘n moi Nijaar! Glædelig Jul! Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad! Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto! Chuc Mung Giang Sinh! Merry Christmas.

The Hanukkah candles have burned down, the Christmas tree remains empty but aglow.

All of us at Our Town Tustin (yes, that is all three of us) would like to wish our Christian friends, a very Merry Christmas, our Jewish friends, a very Happy Hanukkah (regardless of the way you spell it), and our friends of other faiths and belief traditions a very Happy Holiday. And, to everyone, we wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Though we still grieve for families torn apart by senseless violence, our nation, state and town remain united in promise and faith. And, as we always ask at this time of year, please pray for our US Military members who remain abroad in far away lands. They spend this holiday season apart from their loved ones so that you and I may spend it safely with ours.

A Thoughtful Memorial Day

tomb-of-the-unknown-soldierI have a childhood friend, John W. Cook, whose name will be emblazoned forever on a granite wall in Washington, D.C. John was the best friend of my oldest brother and they were thick as thieves growing up in Southern California. John probably    spent as much time at my house as he did at his own.   

In 1967, John had a decision to make. He knew there was a high likelihood that he would be drafted, even if he was a full-time college student. He also very badly wanted to fly. While in school, he was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and flew on civil rescue missions frequently. It didn’t hurt that his dad held a flight endurance record or two, either. So, he made the decision to take the Army on his own terms and enlisted. He was given his opportunity for his “dream job” and was chosen for helicopter flight school.

After graduation, he was promptly shipped off to Vietnam. On February 19, 1967, while on a mission to pick up a Special Forces team in Laos, John’s helicopter was shot down by an enemy RPG. He survived the crash and was even medevaced out only to die nine days later in a hospital in Japan. John was the co-pilot of the aircraft. At his death, John was awarded the Purple Heart to go with his Air Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery. His crewman, Sgt. Fred Zabitosky, was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing John and his pilot from the burning aircraft during intense hostile fire.

Forty-six years later, on Memorial Day, this is who I think of.

On Monday I will be doing what I hope many of you will do: visiting a local cemetery for one of the many Memorial Day ceremonies held throughout the county. It is a small price to pay, to honor what they have given in life.    So, start your Memorial Day not with a hotdog bun in hand, but with a note of gratitude in your heart for Chief Warrant Officer John W. Cook Jr. or one of your loved ones who might have died in conflict, serving their country.    It is true that we continue to live in the greatest country in the world thanks to the sacrifice of millions of men and women who continue to give their lives in the name of freedom and who will never know another summer with their friends.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays and a Prosperous NewYear

ireland703Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou! Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr! Milad Majid! Feliz Navidad! Merry Keshmish! Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah! Heughliche Winachten un ‘n moi Nijaar! Glædelig Jul! Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad! Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto! Chuc Mung Giang Sinh! Merry Christmas.

All of us at Our Town Tustin (yes, that is all three of us) would like to wish our Christian friends, a very Merry Christmas, our Jewish friends, a very Happy Hanukkah (regardless of the way you spell it), and our friends of other faiths and belief traditions a very Happy Holiday. And, to everyone, we wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Though we still grieve for families torn apart by senseless violence, our nation, state and town remain united in promise and faith. And, please pray for our US Military members who remain abroad in far away lands. They spend this holiday season away from their loved ones so that you and I may spend it with ours.