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Confidence… thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Most of us sense that America is at a crossroads. Our confidence may be shaken and our reputation may be sullied, but this generation of Americans is up to the challenge. Today, many of your fellow countrymen are taking a stand, reaffirming traditional American values.
In communities large and small, Americans are pressing their shoulder to the wheel. Many are sharing sustenance with those Americans damaged by the greed and avarice of others. As a nation, adversity has changed us.
America The Beautiful
Spoken By Robert Butche
For those who sense the land of the free and the home of the brave may have forgotten the very values that made possible our freedoms, there is good news. Our government may have lost its way and so may have the mighty, powerful and wealthy.
But clearly not the ordinary Americans who fought for our freedoms and created the wealth others have so easily squandered. Look around your own community, ask your neighbors, visit distant towns and villages.
Those troubled by recent events and dismayed at the immense failures of responsibility by those we trusted, take note — there is a new day dawning. It is not arising in Washington, nor being financed in New York. The new day unfolding before us is one of hope, rising from despair on a foundation of character and warmed by sharing. and renewed sense of community.
Your fellow Americans know that America The Beautiful, the real one, not the one badly damaged by reckless bankers, or single-mindedly run into the ground by MBAs, lives on in the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens. Beautiful Americans are everywhere — in the big cities of the east, in small towns and villages that dot the vast prairies, along and atop the hills of Appalachia, astride our mighty mountains and communities large and small along our great rivers.
Real Americans live in places called Los Gatos, Kissimmee, Plymouth, Boise, DeKalb and Milwaukee. They come in all colors, at all ages, and from all faiths. They are Americans at heart, driven by confidence in one another, and steeped in values of fairness, sharing and doing what’s right.
Maybe you’ve been too preoccupied with your own problems to have noticed. The Beautiful America is still intact. It’s been quiet of late — drowned out by the clamor of those who forsook what our nation is all about, or those who dishonored themselves by stepping on others in their quest for a bigger piece of the pie you and other Beautiful Americans make possible.
But our voice, yours, mine and everyone else is being heard today. Perhaps not from you, or me, but from those long quiet, or too young to be thought responsible.
Perhaps you’ve wondered recently where we’re going as a nation. Many have had reason to wonder if we have lost our way. Some may have thought the enduring flame of honesty and integrity that has been the hallmark of the American experience in the last 227 years might have gone dark.
And with good reason. For in today’s swirl of reckless bankers, polarizing politicians, and immensely overpaid sports figures, ordinary Americans had good reason to wonder. Had their country forgotten from whence we arose? Had the land of the free and the home of the brave somehow abandoned the traditions of fairness and shared responsibility that made us the envy of the world?
We have not. No matter where you are, or the troubles that befall each of us today, America the Beautiful still lives, not just in song, but in the heart and minds of countless Americans. Did you know there still are responsible Americans in every town, cranny and city?
There are millions of us. Even the very young know what it means to be fair, responsible, and accountable. America’s New Dawn is arising on the hopes and aspirations of our children. It is in good hands, indeed.
If you’ve not heard Johntell Franklin’s story, you’ll surely want to — for he, his classmates, and his high school counterparts are Americans about whom we can all be proud. Any who might wonder if the generation who will inherit our mistakes is up to the challenge, take heed.
Although still in high school ( Milwaukee Madison ) Johntell Franklin’s story tells us something important about his generation of Americans.
Just last month, Johntell’s mother, Carlitha Franklin had been in remission from a long battle with cancer. Then, on Saturday morning, while son Jontell was taking his college ACT exam, she began to hemorrhage. According to Johntell’s Milwaukee Madison high school basketball coach, Aaron Womack, late Saturday afternoon, a decision had been made to extinguish Mrs. Franklin’s life-support system.
Moments later, Womack asked Johntell if he should call off that evening’s basketball game against DeKalb. “He said, No,” Womack assured reporters, “tell the guys to go out and do their best.”
That night the game began nearly two hours late due to Coach Womack remaining at the hospital. When the game finally started, Milwaukee Madison was short its best scorer. Early in the second quarter, Womack was surprised to see Johntell enter the gym.
“I wanted to go and support my team,” the young man later told reporters, “I’m a captain. I set an example. I’m a competitor. I can’t just sit there and watch,” he explained.
Once Johntell had been greeted, some might have said mobbed by his friends and classmates, Coach Womack told Johntell to suit up. When Franklin reported to the bench, cheers filled the small gymnasium. Across the floor, the players and coaches for DeKalb High School applauded enthusiastically.
But there was a problem. Coach Womack had given game officials only eight names for that night’s game. When Womack put Johntell Franklin in the game, the officials called a technical foul against Womack for failing to list Franklin on the official scorecard.
“I told the referees I knew there would be a technical,” Womack later explained. “I put Johntell in after DeKalb called a timeout and the next thing I heard was DeKalb’s coaches complaining that they didn’t want a technical.”
DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman said “We argued, but the referees said those were the rules, even if there were extenuating circumstances.” In all the confusion, the discussion over whether or not DeKalb would be awarded two free throws went on for nearly ten minutes. It was Coach Rohlman who came up with a solution.
“I gathered my kids and said, ‘Who wants to take these free throws?’ Darius McNeal put up his hand. I said, ‘You realize you’re going to miss, right?’ He nodded his head.”
At the other end of the floor, Womack gathered Madison’s players to watch McNeal shoot DeKalb’s two free throws. From the moment McNeal launched his first shot, Coach Womack watched the ball slowly roll across the floor all the way to the end line. The referees were unsure what to do.
“I turned around and saw the ref pick up the ball and hand it back to the player,” Womack said. While the startled Milwaukee Madison team watched, Darius McNeal launched the second shot two or three feet in front of him. It bounced a couple of times then rolled past the basket. The crowd was electrified.
“I did it for the guy who lost his mom,” McNeal said after the game. “It was the right thing to do. Any one of my teammates would have done the same thing,” McNeal explained, “and I think anyone on the Madison team would have done the same for us.”
There is a new day dawning in America. Who of us will be surprised that it will be enlightened by the values, energy and sportsmanship of responsible young people — and those who mentor and teach them what it means to be an American.