Sunday, July 5, 2015

Celebrating Independence

The foundation for this great nation was built over 239 years ago when our "founding fathers" made an irreversible decision. This decision to "declare independence" and free themselves of British subjugation was one that would  change the political landscape of the world forever. This decision resulted from passionate enthusiasm, spirited debate, careful reflection and was not without risk. 

Failure was a very real and an even likely consequence that would follow this bold decision. Yet the only way to achieve the desired changes being sought was for our colonial ancestors to challenge the resolve of their formidable oppressors. The first steps were taken as a consequence of political debate and actions within the halls of the early Congress. The final steps and attainment of their goals would only occur after blood was spilled on the battlefield.

Several years after declaring their independence the colonists eventually earned recognition of their independence. They had achievied an unlikely victory on the battlefield and after accepting the terms of peace proposed by the British monarchy had become independent and eventually sovereign.  Years of suffering and sacrifice had yielded the unlikeliest of outcomes. Not only had independence been desired, now it's attainment had become reality.

Today "independence" remains at the core of our values as citizens of this democratic republic. As a parent and an educator one my most important responsibilities is to foster that independent spirit in my own children and those that I teach. Creating choices that put them in position to exercise their voice is a great starting point. Through the facilitation of practice and process, opportunities are created that allow them to take ownership of the product of their efforts. Their future success and the success of our nation depends on their ability to think, act and contribute independently. Furthermore it is vital that they embrace the importance of risk taking to ensure their advancement and the advancement of our great nation.

As this holiday weekend comes to a gradual close, I am once again in awe of the courageous efforts of our "founding fathers" and those Continental soldiers who fought so valiantly helping to achieve our "independence".  In 1776 it was revolutionary and even treasonous for individuals to think and act independently of the ruling monarchy.  

The Declaration of Independence presented a bold and revolutionary challenge to the existing monarchical govermment. Years later after victory was ensured this concept of "independence" would be a central principle of the new republic's governing philosophy.  Today this principle remains deeply embedded  in our national identity and continues to permeate our national culture. 

Every year 300 million people take a holiday during the early summer and celebrate the independence of the United States of America. It is vital to our future identity and national security that we never lose sight of the reasons for the celebration.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Almost Perfect

For the first time in recent memory the school year was coming to a quick end and a short vacation on Father's Day weekend would follow its conclusion. The weeks leading up to the last day of school provided more tham enough time to plan our brief family get away. Our destination would be Washington D.C. Certainly the allure of the trip was the opportunity to embrace our national heritage from a cultural and historical perspective, but little did we know that we would experience some history of our own during our brief stay.

Our family being a "baseball family" wrestled with the idea of spending much of our first day at Nationals Park taking in a ball game, knowing that we would have    to sacrifice taking in some of the sights that we also looked forward to seeing. In the end however we decided to attend the game. As it turned out that would be an excellent decision. 

We departed for Washington D.C. early on Saturday morning the day after school ended. My amazing wife Jennifer had spent a great deal of time planning the trip and we all were looking forward to our eventual arrival. 

Upon arrival in D.C. we had a quick lunch at a local sandwich shop, contacted Uber and arranged for our transportation to the stadium. We had never been to this venue before so we looked forward to the nuances that made the ball park special.

The day was one where you couldn't find enough shade or feel quite cool enough. Despite the oppressive weather we looked forward to the start of the game and watching two of the best pitchers in the National League engage in a potential pitchers duel. The hometown Nationals would face the Pittsburgh Pirates and , Max Scherzer would face Fransisco Liriiano. 

The expected pitching duel lived up to its billng early on, as both pitchers dominated the oppositions lineup for the first half of the game which was moving at a rapid pace. Eventually though Bryce Harper would treat the hometown fans to an opposite field home run and an early lead.  The Nationals offense would take control of the game over the next several innings making the possibility of a Pirate comeback remote. The story though was only half written.

Max Scherzer was looking to write some history of his own. After six innings there was a buzz in the crowd as the patrons began to realize that a perfect game was in the works. Nary a baserunner had reached base via, walk, hit or error for the Pirates as Scherzer's dominance continued throughout the afternoon and into the early evening. Over the next few frames little would change other then some defensive heroics by the Nationals. 

The top of the ninth inning arrived with the Nationals comfortably ahead. The outcome was all but decided except for one major detail. Finishing the perfect game. 

The first two hiitters were retired and the next batter was down to his last strike. Scherzer was on the verge of perfection and making history. We were all on the edge of our seats bearing witness. The Pirate hitter Jose Tabata fouled off the next few pitches.. and then it happened. Scherzer's  next offering rode in on Tabata and hit him on the elbow which was protected by the players body armor. Tabata was awarded first base and just like that, in a blink of an eye a frenetic crowd stood in shock and disbelief. 
 The perfect game had suddenly become imperfect ,but there was still an opportunity to make history.   The no-hitter was still in tact and when the next batters fly ball landed safely in the glove of Michael Taylor in left field ,Scherzer would achieve just that. A major league no hitter and his place in the history books. 

In the end he wasn't perfect but for almost 3 hours and 26 batters he was. He came as close to a perfect game without achieving it as anyone could. In the end he emerged with a no-hitter, a complete game,a shut out and a win. Quite a nice reward for his efforts in the hazy and hot afternoon sunshine. Perfect? nope but almost.

Our vacation on the other hand was off to the perfect start, considering we almost didn't even go to the game. It wasn't just that I've attended 100s of baseball games and never witnessed a no hitter before, or an almost perfect game, if you will. We were there together, as a family on Father's Day weekend and we had all witnessed history. The four of us together on this special weekend in this special place. The memory will live long beyond the day or the weekend, it will live in our hearts forever. Perfect? Pretty close!