‘The British were coming’… and they were met by the “Green Mountain Boys,” and others in the Colonial troops, at the hills of Humbardton, Vermont on July 7, 1777. It was the only battle of the American Revolution to be fought totally on Vermont soil. According to literature at the National Historic Site here, the Colonists gave the British “startling exposure to American courage in battle.” We arrived here a week after the annual reenactment of a battle that claimed 580 casualties, 27% of those who fought on both sides. And though we missed the reenactment, looking out over the expansive battlefield today, it was as if you could still almost hear the pitched musket fire of yesteryear.
We stopped in the small town of Whitehall, New York. This was the birthplace of the U.S. Navy. In 1776, Congress ordered the construction of a fleet of ships here to counter an anticipated British invasion. It came. And on Oct. 11, 1776, 12 American ships sailed foward to take on a formidable British Armada. The Americans, according to accounts, fought valiantly — under the direction of, none other than, Commander Benedict Arnold. And even though the Americans “lost,” with most of their ships being crippled or destroyed altogether, the battle forced a delay in the rest of the British invasion, which, ultimately, gave the Colonial forces more time to prepare. And the rest, as they say, is history… What history doesn’t say, at least much, I told editor Pat Ripley of the Whitehall newspaper here is that that the fleet of First Navy boats that would be launched for “freedom’s sake,” were built in part, ironically enough, by slaves. I learned this, and many other things, at a museum here dedicated to those early Navy days.
We got to Utica, New York just in time to watch the “Boilermaker,” the largest 15K (9.3 mile) road race in the country — some 10,000 runners participated today. My son Joseph and I watched most of those runners go by, including two guys dressed like the “Blues Brothers” in sun glasses, suits, ties… and boy were they sweating. These guys were followed closely by a woman wearing a rather loud pink flamingo hat, with the neck and head duly flopping about. And chugging along behind her, at a pace that can best be described as “average,” was a guy who had a t-shirt that said: “Gary: age 58.” Being ‘average,’ and all, Joseph and I cheered particularly loud for him… We then stopped at the Shrine of Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda, New York. She is one step from becoming a “saint” in the Catholic Church. Of the Mohawk Tribe, she had suffered much persecution because of her Christian faith in the mid-1660s. She also had a quite noted love of God’s creation. So much so, she is often referred to as a patroness for the environment. And it is the environment that many are out of touch with these days I told an agricultural reporter for the nearby The Amsterdam Recorder later this afternoon. I said often the closest many get to nature anymore “…is watching the Weather Channel.”
We stopped at the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, New York. Ms. Tubman, interestingly enough, was one of my wife Liz’s childhood heroes growing up in New Zealand. Ms. Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849 from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, then made 19 perilous trips South to help free some 300 other slaves from the “Jaws of Hell.” A reward of $40,000 was offered for her capture. Liz got a t-shirt here with what Ms. Tubman would frequently say to those she was helping on the trip up North: “Children, if you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.”
We headed east stopping at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York. It was here in 1848 that the first Women’s Rights Convention in U.S. history was held. Some of the issues included the right to vote, property rights, equal education… The National Woman’s Hall of Fame walls here display all kinds of women instrumental in bringing about some of this change: Dorothy Day, a famous Catholic activist, Bessie Coleman (first African American woman pilot — get her license two years before Amelia Aerhart), Sojourner Truth, a nationally reknowned traveling preacher… Amy Worth, a staff member at the Women’s Hall of Fame, said people come year round from all over the world to visit here.
We headed into the near west side of Buffalo where we met with an absolutely fascinating doctor, Myron Glick. He has started a Family Practice here called Jericho Road. And he treats everyone, insurance or no insurance (using a minimal sliding fee scale). This general area is the home for refugee families from all over the world, and Dr. Glick estimates he’s treated patients from at least 50 countries. He said what drives him is his faith. And that faith (he’s Christian) he believes would say, “…that every person has a right to quality health care.” Dr. Glick is pushing for a National Health Care System. And in the interum, he’s looking to help start a similar practice in Buffalo’s near east side. After meeting with Dr. Glick, I told a reporter from the Western New York Catholic newspaper that Dr. Glick is demonstrating a good example of the spirit of the Catholic Church’s teachings on bringing more social justice to the world.
Jamestown, New York is the birthplace of the late actress Lucille Ball. You can’t go around a corner here without seeing her picture in a mural, on a storefront, wherever. About 20,000 people come to her museum here annually. “The world hasn’t stopped ‘loving Lucy,'” said the museum’s marketing director Pat Briminger. We then headed north in Gowanda, NY where I interviewed Officer Ron Russell. He ‘bicycles a beat’ here as part of the town’s Community Oriented Policing model. As part of the program, Officer Russell attended two 40-hour Bicycle Training Programs for C.O.P. officers. Officer Russell said being on a bicycle (as opposed to being encased in a squad car) has helped him develop a better rapport with the town people. And as rapport builds, cooperation with police increases — and crime drops. Our Sarah, 8, listened in on the conversation tonight. Afterward she said: “Boy Dad, he (Officer Russell) really made me feel safe.”
I did the WJTN “Jim Roselli” radio show out of Jamestown, New York this morning. I said a key platform point of ours is: “You can’t heal the country until you heal the family.” Dr. Edward Hallowell, who was the next radio guest, and is a pshychiatrist and instructor at Harvard University, leaned into the microphone and said: “That’s right.” Several hours later, a reporter from Channel 8 News (with the camera rolling) said to me: “So if you win…” I stopped him and said: “What do you mean ‘if?'” And, ok, if I did win… I’d definitely consider Jamestown’s Dr. Rudolph Mueller for a top post in the Surgeon General’s Office. Mueller practices internal medicine and is the author of: “As Sick As It Gets (Healthcare in America)”. He, as are many others these days, is pushing for a National Health Care System where everyone is covered. Dr. Mueller frequently travels the country lecturing and trying to get his point across. Meeting with Dr. Mueller this afternoon, I asked him why he was pushing so passionately for this. He said he’d heard too many horror stories, like the one of a local woman here. She got a cut on her foot. It got infected. She was strapped financially and afraid she couldn’t afford a medical bill. Gangrene set in. By the time she finally went for treatment, there was only one course left. Her leg had to be cut off. “The system is wrong,” Dr. Mueller asserted. “It needs to be redesigned.”
We headed north to Jamestown, New York where The Post-Journal reporter Dennis Phillips asked why I was running. I replied: “We’re concerned about violence in society — including to the unborn — drug abuse, the break down of the nuclear family and the extremely overt and addictive sexual acting out in the media and society in general.”Phillips also interviewed Barb Marlinski, who we had met earlier, for the article. Barb said: “He is for everything that’s important to me and I think he is important for everything that should be important to everybody in the United States.” This evening I also met with Ken Vedder, 17, who has started a website for youth: teenpundit.com. His site offers space for political columns and things like blogs for debates on such topics as Religion, Science, World Politics, U.S. Politics… Ken said youth are often anxious to be heard on these issues, but sometimes aren’t asked their opinion.
I toured the Phoenix House today in Warren, Pennsylvania. It is a halfway house for men with drug and alcohol addiction. It is not connected to a county, or state, agency; but rather was started by what we refer to as an “extra mile American.” Jack Wells started the Phoenix House some 18 years ago because, simply, he saw a need. Since then, some 500 men have gone through the house and Wells estimates some 50% have stayed straight. Many have subsequently gone back to their families, have successful careers and are helping others get straight now too. When asked his motivation for starting the halfway house, Wells replied: “Did you ever save someone else’s life who was drowning?” After meeting with Wells, in honor of the 4th of July, I also met with a couple men who fought for freedom. Gary Seymour and Joby McAulay, both also from Warren, are Vietnam veterans. McAulay started the local chapter of Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. (VVnW) several years prior. He also spearheaded the drive to get “The Moving Wall” ( a 5/8th size replica of The Wall in D.C.) to come to Warren recently. He said in a town of 9,000, there were some 4,000 people for the opening ceremony. McAulay said for the five days The Wall was here, people came from all over and left pictures, bracelets, a bottle of a fallen comrade’s favorite beer… on the grass in front of the panel with that particular friend or loved one’s name on it. McAuley, who fought with the 4th Infantry, said in just one battle he lost “44 buddies.” There were a lot of tears those five days in Warren McAuley said, some of them his.