Family Gathering 

Here are the combined familes of Aliceann and me on the ocassion of my 80th birthday. Laura Hillenbrand and her husband Borden Flannigan were not present because of health concerns.
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A tribute to Jack Lamping

During WWI in the French Army soldiers often pledged to each other a final salute called a Tontine. Small groups of comrades would purchase a bottle of brandy to be placed in safe keeping until the last soldier surviving in the group would open the bottle and make a final toast to his departed comrades. Jack Lamping and I had our own Tontine. He was not a drinker so we agreed the final toast was not to be made with a brandy but with tribute at a Memorial Service. This is my Tontine toast to my departed comrade.

We met 52 years ago. It was early on the morning of April 1, 1957. It was my first day on the job as Executive Director of the National Association of Counties (NACo). The phone rang. It was my very first official call. The voice on the other end said that he was Jack Lamping Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Chosen Freeholders. My first response was to ask him what was a Chosen Freeholder.. He explained that was an elected county official and the group was meeting at weeks end in Salem, New Jersey for the 33rd Annual Shad Roe Dinner. He said it was urgent that I address the group. I accept but with considerable reluctance.

When I arrived he warmly greeted me at the door. He ushered me to the speaker’s table where I noted my name was missing the final D. I was amazed at his resourcefulness. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a small bottle of India ink and sketched in the missing letter. I quickly recognize that he was also a great organizer when he said that they were running very late and asked me if I could shorten my remarks to five minutes. I finished in three minutes and was anxious for reactions. Instead the Presiding Officer politely thanked me and announced he would accept a motion to discontinue the Annual Shad Roe Dinner. It passed unanimously. In one speech I ended a fifty year historic event and launched my half century “Lamping Event” that ends this morning.

From that moment until this my wife Aliceann and I have been in almost constant contact with Jack his beloved wife Virginia and later his wonderful daughter Joy Milano and her family. He and Virginia often accompanied by Joy attended most of 25 NACo’s annual meetings in every corner of our county. In many respects however Jack never left New Jersey.

Jack Lamping was a lover and therefore he was very easy to love. He has gone home now and we have assembled to pay our respects and say goodbye. We were so lucky to have Jack with us for 94 years. Most of the legion of his friends have already gone home, are enfeebled or are too far away to assemble otherwise this gathering would be huge.

It is not possible to think of Jack without thinking of Virginia Lamping or as he called her Beaver or My Honey. Their lives revolved around each other. The high point in their marriage was the day Joy came into their lives. If ever a person was correctly named it is Joy Milano .From walking on the beach at Lamppost to their season tickets at the Metropolitan Opera the two they were as inseparable as newly weds.
My wife Aliceann I were delighted when Jack and Virginia accepted our invitation to join us on a trip to Ireland as a follow-up to my churches peace mission to Ireland aimed at reconciliation between the warring Catholics and Protestants. We had a little concerned because Virginia was in a wheelchair and Jack had injured a leg and walked with a cane. It made not one bit of difference. We went everywhere and did everything with no trouble. The highlight was meant to be a trip through the beautiful Lakes of Kearney. It was pouring rain and there was a deep fog and we saw almost nothing. Jack sat in the backseat writing postcards back home happy as a clam.

Jack was what used to be called a gentleman. He never swore. He never lost his temper. He was never critical of anyone. He did not smoke or drink. He was not egotistical or boastful. He never talked about material things or money. He never told off-color jokes. He was accepting of all people regardless of race color or creed. In one respect he was in effect a feminist. He early championed women as leaders in his county association and he was a mover in organizing the Powder Puff Derby promoting the women airplane pilots.

Jack was a patriot starting in World War II when, rife in hand he helped guard the beaches of New Jersey against German submarines depositing spies and saboteurs. He was a passionate scholar of the early days of our Republic. I have sat for hours with him as he held me spellbound by his intimate knowledge of the personalities strengths and weaknesses of each of our Founding Fathers and confirming his and my believe that they were divinely inspired..

Jack was eccentric in an unusual fashion. He did things because he was comfortable doing them and not to impress other people. For example he wore a derby hat and short pants when no one else did. He had a beat up speed graphic camera hanging around his neck most of the time. He carried flashbulbs in his pocket and constantly took pictures for his magazine. He identified his shots as “Lampix” photos and that became his nic-name. He had one bad photo mishap. On the cover of his magazine he published a photo he had taken of his President and his President’s lovely wife. However it wasn't his president’s lovely wife!

For Jack there are many NEVERS. I ever heard him swear. I never heard him telling off colored story. I never heard him say a critical thing about another person's race color or creed or sexual identity. I never saw him downcast or discouraged. He was his own man and to this day I do not know is he was a Democrat or a Republican.

His forte was public relations and among other things he used these skills to save the historic Barnegat Light. He was constantly at the typewriter or with a pen communicating with someone. He and Virginia maintained and annually edited a mailing list of hundreds of friend who received Christmas, Easter and other greetings. He loved to use multi-colors and a letter from him was like an explosion in a paint factory. He had enormous skill as a writer and I always challenged our staff to carefully review any communication from Jack to see if they could improve it in any way. I never saw him without a camera.

Jack was a devote Methodist and taught Bible Study in this Church for ages. He followed our Churches mandate that we “Believe and let believe.” I do not know Jack's favorite Bible story but one of my favorites from the Gospel of Matthew seems appropriate. It is story of a Master (God) who as he was leaving a long trip assembled three servants and in his absence gave them responsibility to manage his property. Upon his return the Master discovered that one servant had made modest increase in the Master’s property but a second out of fear of failure had made no increase. He was reprimanded. The third servant however managed his Masters properties with great vigor and honor and earned a huge profit. His Master’s reward were this tribute “Well done thou Good and faithful servant”.

Dear Friend this is my Tontine salute. Thank you for your wonderful life of care and service that will remain an inspiration to all of us who loved you. But in a far greater measure I am confident that you have already heard the voice of God saving “Well done Jack thou good and faithful servant”. AMEN

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand
Toms River, New Jersey
November 11. 2009

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My Partner 

Aliceann shows her joy at her birthday present---repair of her dented fender.
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Ordinary People who are Changing our World

A new book by
Allison Silberberg

Each time a man stands up for an ideal,
or acts to improve the lot of others,
or strikes out against injustice,
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,
and crossing each other from a million different
centers of energy and daring,
those ripples build a current which can sweep down
the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Robert F. Kennedy
University of Cape Town, South Africa, 1966

This just- released book is both a source of inspiration and a gold mine of useful information that arrives during the most severe economic downturn in our country since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Author Allison Silberberg is a very careful observer, a skilled researcher and a clear writer. She has a long and productive career in helping the less fortunate with both her individual charity and her very effective advocacy. She has over several years carefully documented the careers of 18 individuals that she identifies as visionaries. She was inspired by the above quote from Robert F. Kennedy and her book shows that each of these persons not only accomplished a great deal but their courage and fortitude inspires others and creates incentives that collectively overcome great inequities in our society.

One of her visionaries is Tom Lewis, a retired District of Columbia police officer, who after 20 years in the line of duty decided he wanted to do something for children in need. In 1990 he started the Fishing School. His mission was to bring hope, skills and belief in oneself to economically disadvantaged children and youth in North East Washington DC. He named his mission the Fishing School based upon the adage that if you give a person a fish he will have one meal but if you teach him to fish he can eat for life.

What makes Allison’s book both inspirational and a meaningful read is her sensitive development of each visionary’s personal struggles. Tom Lewis is and example when he said, “I had dropped out of school in 10th grade. I was one of 16 children. My mother and father didn't have any education. My mother was trying to keep meat on the table but we didn't always eat. I went hungry a lot of days.”

This book is inspiriting in my ministry because it documents the power of hope. I started life at the very depths of the Great Depression. On March 30, 1933 our family gathered around the radio to hear the inauguration of a new president. I can still hear President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s voice saying, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He did not give us desperately needed food or shelter or a job for my unemployed father and mother. These would have been individual fish. By giving us hope he helped make us fishermen.

For those of us who still have resources, employment and family support and want to help others, the book is a great source of where to go for information. In one sense, this is a textbook for would be caregivers.

This economic collapse has brought suffering to all of us, but it is infinitely more punishing for those who even in times of prosperity live on the very edge. Allison Silberberg has spent her adult life documenting the darkness in these lives and with this book she keeps lighting little candles.

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“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
again and expecting a different result” Albert Einstein

The decision by President Barack Obama to twice increase the number of troops makes Afghanistan Obama’s War. He is now counseling with his advisers as to whether or not to follow General Stanley Mc Crystal’s recommendation that he again greatly increase the number of soldiers in our six year effort to catch Bin Laden the 9/11 terrorist. My recommendation to him is as quickly as possible to stop OFFENSIVE military operations in that chronically war torn country. All the military leaders and our own experience acknowledge that there is no military salutation in invading troubled counties. . Since our victories in WW II we have used the military option in Koreas, Vietnam, Somalia, Lebanon, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. Like the French we suffered military defeat in Vietnam and have had little military success elsewhere. It has been enormously costly in human life and treasure and has only generated great hatred for our country and inspire new terrorists. To continue to play the same military option is truly insane.

Set aside for a moment the fact that we still maintain post WWII armies in Germany, Japan, and in South Korea and concentrate on one example of this insanity, our more recent military attack on Iraq. It is now universally understood that there were no terrorist’s threats from Iraq and that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attract. He had no Weapons of Mass Destruction which was our justification for our ‘Shock and Awe” invasion. After six futile years our allies have sensibly deserted but the US has about 130,000 US soldiers and 180,000 private contractors presently engaged in Iraq. Our troops have suffered 35,828 casualties including 4,345 killed. The result of our military action and its unleashing of murderous religious homicides, between 91,000 and 99,500 civilians were killed and hundreds and hundreds thousands wounded. These numbers are reported from sponsored by academics and peace activists. It is inhuman for the military to classify these deaths as “Collateral Damage”. Our invasion has caused up to 2.25 million Iraqis to seek refuge in Syria and Jordan. Needless to say 82% of Iraqis and more than half of Americans are opposed to the continuing presence of US forces in their country.

The immediate Iraq war financial costs exceed $800 billion and mounting and the postwar costs to wind down the war and care for the wounded are huge. One estimate of the cost of a US soldier serving for one year in Iraq is $390,000. The daily news reports indicate there still is a great incidence of violence and no indication when this will be a peaceful country. It is often argued that we need to stay in Iraq lest it be invaded by Iran. People who advance this argument do not remember that these two countries were in an eight year war with each other with enormous casualties on both sides. It is ironic that in that conflict the United States supported Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and when USSR invaded Afghanistan the United States and Osama bin Laden opposed the Russians.

With respect to military operations in Afghanistan the President should be discussing Afghanistan tactics with his generals but should also invite in a group of informed historians from Greece, Great Britain and Russia. to explain why since the time of Alexander the Great Afghanistan has been known as “The Graveyard of Empires.” The defeat of the Russian invasion of that country is considered a major contributor to the collapse of Russia’s Communistic Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Terrorism is world wide. The United States has its domestic terrorists exemplified by Timothy McVeigh a Bronze Star veteran who served in the Gulf War with the US first Infantry Division. He became a terrorist in revenge against the federal government's actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco. He visited the standoff at Waco and later prepared a truck bomb and blow up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 killing 168 people. He was convicted of 11 federal offenses and executed on June 11, 2001.

Since terrorism is universal is an opportunity for President Obama to show why he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He has an opportunity to substitute Peace Corps type volunteers and send soldiers only in the role as Policemen. Once we stop killing Afghanistan citizens the vast majority of whom are peaceful, it would drastically cut local support for the radical Al Qaeda and the Taliban. With the United States Army and the armies of other countries to provide protection young people all over the world would be interested in coming to build a workable democratic Government in a country that has been war-torn for hundreds of years. One result could be to substitute general agriculture from poppy growing to help control another world wide plague of illegal drugs.
If this seems too idealistic reflect for a moment that the U.S Marshall Plan and similar efforts in Japan converted our bitter enemies into our great peacetime friends.

First Draft

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