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Hyattsville Life&Times | December 2007

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Evolution of resolutions by Adaora Otiji


Locals recently gathered at Magruder Park for Hyattsville’s annual Christmas tree lighting. “Banjer Dan” offered holiday cheer with Christmas carols and seasonal songs while Santa Claus brought toys and smiles to the children gathered.

Celebrating denial by Michael Martucci


nce again the seasonal holidays have arrived all too quickly. Many of us groan at the thought. Here we go again! We run to keep up the pace so as not to be swept asunder mankind’s marching advance. Each year we’re a little older, and seemingly less prepared. As a nation, we seem less tolerant and willing to reflect upon what has gotten us here. We recede to our homes and whisper quiet thanks to our families. We no longer shout from the mountain tops about those things that have made us a beacon for the world. The common sense of “community” is slowly being abandoned in favor of the “self.” Profit seems to be the top priority while our very laws are abandoned and perverted. We’ve begun to lose our souls. The truth is that actions speak louder than words. Modern day American history has found us removing the underpinning of the nation’s Christianity. We no longer allow prayer in schools nor humility toward something greater than ourselves. We forget to place our hand on our hearts during the National Anthem and we prefer to use our military protectors as political pawns rather than recognize them as true heroes.We certainly have not accorded veterans the proper status in more than 30 years. One look at any V.A. hospital will tell you all you need to know about our priorities. Rather than protecting the rights of the minority, the hardening hearts in America are dictating law to the majority. Could revolution be far behind? We have lost our way. The very things that allowed this country to be strong for nearly 200 years are under attack, and are systematically being dismantled. The slow water torture, drip..., drip…, drip… we hear is our life blood being drained.

What is worse is that we are inflicting the wounds upon ourselves. Yes, we still celebrate Thanksgiving just like the pilgrims did. We were fairly puritanical and religious in the 1600s. Today the folks who made nice with Native Americans during that first feast would scarcely recognize their own country for its holy abandonment. Christmas is a target. The idea of even calling December holidays “Christmastime” is offensive to some people. An attempt to secularize the nation’s institutions and traditions has been mobilized, but in doing so its supporters weaken the national foundation. We celebrate our holidays merely as time away from toil instead of cherishing those days for what they really mean. We don’t want to be reminded of the true meaning of Thanksgiving or Christmas. That would involve admitting to our own narcissism. Unfortunately, we can’t even identify how offensive we are to our founding constitutional tenets. The constitutional right exists to freely practice religion, not to curtail it. Thus, in rewriting the past, we do a great disservice to those who will follow us. So gluttonous are we that we are about to choke on our own freedom. We fashion idols to the contemptible, and revere the truth less and less. The first step on a road to recovery is to recognize the problem. We are still in denial over these suicidal tendencies. Unless we admit the errors, we are likely to falter and ultimately perish. The ash-heap of history is replete with other empires and paradises that disappeared because mankind wanted the one fruit that would harm it instead of the many which will nurture. It’s time to redeem ourselves. Step out of the denial, and set a course of action to make us a great nation once again.Then we will truly have something to celebrate.

he beginning of every year brings clean slates and a chance for people to start again with New Year’s resolutions. Millions of people decide on resolutions as they ring in the New Year, but most rarely accomplish the task they set out to complete. Some start off strong, but lose the drive, energy and excitement they had at the beginning of the year. According to a 2005 survey by most Americans do not even bother to make New Year’s resolutions anymore. Of 18-to 24-yearolds polled 57 percent said they still make resolutions each year compare to 32 percent of people over age 54. “I don’t really focus on New Year’s resolutions,” said Hyattsville resident Kate Terrell. “I just do the best I can to focus on my health.” Of all the promises people make

every year the most popular is to lose weight or get in shape according to the United States Office of Citizen Services and Communications’ list of popular New Year’s resolutions. The constant nag to meet certain standards of beauty drives resolutionmakers to that goal every year and in turn, makes gyms all over the country richer. With weight loss in mind people set goals at the beginning of the year for three things: class reunions, the beach and spring, said Jay Johnson, operations manager of Flexible Family Fitness in Hyattsville. “Everybody’s motivated at the beginning of the year and then it dies down by mid-year,” Johnson said. “[People] want to see results immediately, but you’re not going to see dramatic results in a month.” Flexible Family Fitness sees a spike in those numbers around the beginning of the year, he said.

“Around January we get an influx of people, around 30 percent in actual memberships,” said Joanna Carter, Director of Family Fitness. “It’s a real bang in January and February.” Religion is also an important resolution topic in the Hyattsville area, where there are more than a thousand places of worship. “I’d like to seek a higher consciousness and higher spirituality, mostly through prayer,” said resident Versie Smith. Many churches in Hyattsville offer an 11 p.m. New Year’s Eve service in place of the normal party for people who want to start their year on a more spiritual note. Smith does not think she will achieve her goal this year, excluding herself from the 8 percent of Americans who say they always achieve their goals, according the survey.

Commentary and opinion on history & politics

Hugh’sNews Handwriting tells dark tale? by Hugh Turley


s Americans are killed and wounded daily in the Middle East, the public might well revisit the May 22, 1949 death of James V. Forrestal, the first Secretary of Defense of the United States. Forrestal cautioned that U.S. oil supplies could be endangered, relations with Middle East nations could be strained, and a possible military entanglement in the region could result from U.S. support for the partitioning of Palestine and sponsorship of Israel in 1948. In the opinion of biographers

Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley (Driven Patriot, the Life and Times of James Forrestal), Forrestal’s position on the Middle East was motivated by his concern for basic national interests. He thought it was wrong for his Irish immigrant father’s emotional ties to the Old Country to color his politics, and he viewed many Middle East partisans in the United States similarly. Initial news reports on Forrestal’s death said it was a suicide caused by depression. As evidence that he was depressed, they said Forrestal was copying a morbid poem, Chorus from Ajax by Sophocles, just before

he plunged from the 16th-floor window of the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Historic document available at Princeton Although Forrestal died in 1949, the official report on his death, known as the Willcutts Report after Admiral Morton D. Willcutts, the head of the National Naval Medical Center, which includes the Bethesda Naval Hospital, was not available to the public until 2004. The Hyattsville Life & Times found the handwritten poem in the Willcutts Report at the Seeley G. Mudd

HUGH'S NEWS continued on page 15

Left: Poem said to be James Forrestal's handwriting. Source: Willcutts Review Board Report, Seeley Mudd Library, Princeton University. Right: James Forrestal's handwriting. Source: Truman Presidential Library.

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Hyattsville Life & Times December 2007 Issue  
Hyattsville Life & Times December 2007 Issue  

Lead story: Executive committee