President Don proposed the 2006-2007 office and board directors slate to the general assembly.
The officers are as follows:
President Mike Gritz
President elect Chris Bradford
Vice President Sean McMillan
Secretary Peggy Bloomfield
Treasurer Gordon Fell
The Directors are as follows:
Community Shane Waarbrook
International Ed Gauld
Vocation Elliott Turner
Youth Ann Sampson
The Assembly overwhelmingly approved the slate. We wish the officers and Board of Directors the best of luck in the new term. They will need it!
You may be wondering about the following
1. Why am I getting this in Mid- January
2. Why isn’t YOE Ernie doing it?
3. Why is YYE Elliott doing it?
4. Why does the hair on our ears and nose grow faster as we get older?
Let me explain!!
#1- Ernie came down with pneumonia. He then went to the hospital. He asked Elliott to pinch-hit and he agreed. Then he left town for Christmas intending to complete the job on the 26th or 27th of December. Elliott caught a very nasty cold, which morphed into a sinus infection and consequently he refused to do anything except complain and blow his nose.
#2-see # 1
#3-see # 1
#4- I’d like to know that also. Anybody?
Instead of describing the holiday lunch (because I can’t understand my notes) I shall discuss the year 2005.
We are fortunate to have added the following active members to the club: Reza Bundy, Rick Cullen, Mark Rogo, Peter Tomarken, Warren Dodson and Ed Wright. New Honorary Members are Marie Rolf and Carol Aborn Khoury.
Sadly, we said goodbye to Dr. Bruce Rolf. He will be missed. He was an active member and friend of the club since 1982.
Some memorable events in 2005 were Hurricane Katrina, The Tsunami, Lance Armstrong winning the seventh Tour De France, the USC Trojans journey for a third consecutive national championship (They were undefeated in 2005).
AND NOW, in time for the holidays, I bring you the best Christmas story you never heard.
It started last Christmas, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured American troops.
"We have to let them know we care," Vivian told Bennett.
So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philly, on Dec. 3. The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it.
Yes, there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett Levin - native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former L&I commish - is one of them.
He has three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he stores at his Juniata Park train yard.
One car, the elegant Pennsylvania, carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961 and '62. Later, it carried his brother Bobby's body to D.C. for burial.
"That's a lot of history for one car," says Bennett.
He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to 1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators from around the country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played.
The Levins could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D.C. and Bethesda, in Maryland.
"We wanted to give them a first-class experience," says Bennett. "Gourmet meals on board, private transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats - real hero treatment."
Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee, Bennett met with Walter Reed's commanding general, who loved the idea. However, Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus on the troops alone: No press on the trip, lest the soldiers' day of pampering devolve into a media circus. No politicians either, because, says Bennett, "I didn't want some idiot making this trip into a campaign photo op." Moreover, no Pentagon suits on-board, otherwise the soldiers would be too busy saluting superiors to relax.
The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a problem on his hands.
"I had to actually make this thing happen," he laughs.
Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail cars from around the country - these people tend to know each other - into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary train? The Liberty Limited.
Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D.C. - where they'd be coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly - then back to their owners later.
Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. In addition, SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train to Lincoln Financial Field, for the game.
A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game - on the 50-yard line - and lunch in a hospitality suite.
And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity, goodie bags for attendees: From Woolrich, stadium blankets. From Wal-Mart, digital cameras. From Nikon, field glasses. From GEAR, down jackets. There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too, since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member. The Marines, though, declined the offer. "They voted not to take guests with them, so they could take more Marines," says Levin, choking up at the memory.
Bennett's an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he'd react to meeting the 88 troops and guests at D.C.'s Union Station, where the trip originated. Some GIs were missing limbs. Others were wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day.
"They made it easy to be with them," he says. "They were all smiles on the ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They're so full of life and determination."
At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not even Army's lopsided loss to Navy could deflate the group's rollicking mood. Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal - heroes get hungry, says Levin - before returning to Walter Reed and Bethesda.
"The day was spectacular," says Levin. "It was all about these kids. It was awesome to be part of it." The most poignant moment for the Levins was when 11 Marines hugged them goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station.
"One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you must be f---ing beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn't even answer him."
It's been three weeks, but the Levins and their guests are still feeling the day's love.
"My Christmas came early," says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the Christmas season. "I can't describe the feeling in the air."
Maybe it was hope.
As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, "The fond memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all - whatever the future may bring."
God bless the Levins. And bless the troops, every one.
Ideas to Ponder
1. Borrow money from a pessimists-they don’t expect it back.
2. 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot
3. If you want a rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain
4. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
5. When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
6. Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.
7. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
8. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
9. The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
10. Everyone has a photographic memory, some just don’t have film
My New Year Wish for You…
May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-entomologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber, your asset-manager and the IRS.
May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them. May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes and tell the world about your virtues.
In addition, may we live in a world of peace and with the awareness of God’s love in every sunset, every flower’s unfolding petal, every baby’s smile, every lover’s kiss and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of the heart.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!