January 28, 2011

Video of couple stoned to death by Taliban

The video of Taliban fighters stoning couple to death for adultery has been edited to remove the more graphic bits and it's still horrific.

Stoned to death with her lover: Horrific video of execution of girl, 19, killed by Afghan Taliban for running away from arranged marriage

TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: 'Anyone who knows about Islam knows that stoning is in the Koran, and that it is Islamic law. There are people who call it inhuman - but in doing so they insult the Prophet. They want to bring foreign thinking to this country'

Hundreds of villagers can be seen on the video standing around as the woman, Siddqa, is buried up to her waist in a four foot hole in the ground. Two mullahs pass sentence before the crowd begins to throw rocks at her head and body as she desperately tries to crawl free.

But the 19-year-old collapses to the ground, covered in blood - but miraculously still alive.

At this point a Taliban fighter shoots her three times in the head with an AK-47The crowd can be heard shouting allahu akbar as she is killed.

Her lover, Khayyam, is then marched in front of the crowd with his hands tied behind his back. He is blindfolded with his own tunic and crouches down close to the ground as he tried to protect his body from the stones.

But he is battered to the floor by a barrage of rocks. He can be heard sobbing before eventually falling silent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Child of Destiny

Michael Barone on Ronald Reagan whose 100th birthday is being celebrated with a spate of articles including the cover of Time.

Ronald Reagan a true believer who caught destiny's eye

"I wasn't a great communicator," said the man who talked his way into college, into radio, into the movies, into politics and into the presidency, "but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full blown from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries." The president who voted for more winning presidential candidates than any other president seems to have always regarded himself as a child of destiny, and it turns out he was. But the destiny, he insisted, was not his own but that of the people of the United States of America.   


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:47 AM | Permalink

"Grabbed by the lapels, shaken loose from mundane and secular preoccupations"

Just in Case

The last thing I wanted to do on a Saturday morning was discuss my husband’s death with 20 women. Not that he had died; neither had theirs. But, encouraged by him, I signed up for a workshop on what to do if suddenly widowed. Leading this sobering examination was a woman whose fate had been exactly that.

Faced with making responsible decisions and meeting challenges in the throes of unexpected grief, she determined to assemble vital material to ease the path of women who would follow her. The terrible truth is that so many do; the average age of widows in the United States is 56, one-third of women are widowed under the age of 50, and, on average, wives outlive husbands by ten to 15 years.

--Predictably, the workshop was full of nuts and bolts about taxes, budgets, and yes, funerals. We were given blue workbooks whose pages were a primer for widows. Categories concerned myths about money, developing self-reliance, mistakes widows make....Overshadowing the pragmatic agenda came an extraordinary bonus relating to matters of the heart.


After hours of exploring practical necessities, our widow redirected us to examinations of conscience. Visibly moved, she noted that we were going home to waiting husbands, no longer her blessing. She invited us to mull over, on that drive, a few questions. These she delivered slowly, long pauses between each. “Why,” she began, “do you think your husband married you? What attracted him? Why did he fall in love with you, and not others? If asked today, do you think he would say those same reasons remain? Is his life better, is it happier, for having married you?”

Her carefully chosen words inspired reflection. It was like the aftermath of a penetrating sermon, the inescapable recognition of having been grabbed by the lapels, shaken loose from mundane and secular preoccupations. Minutes passed. No one budged.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 AM | Permalink

Streaming funerals

Funeral homes have been slow to adopt the streaming technology, "they do not want to replace a communal human experience with a solitary digital one." Yet, in many circumstances, streaming may be the only way to be present at a funeral you otherwise couldn't attend. Or to watch it again.

Private Funerals Now Streamed Online

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:20 AM | Permalink

January 26, 2011

Bowed in mourning


Photographer Daniel Cox captured this image of Emperor Penguins mourning the death of their chicks.

Part of my job is to accept that with the spectacular sights of nature also come the stark facts of life, and to see Emperor Penguins mourning in a human-like way over the death of their chicks is heart-wrenching,' he said.

'They hunch over like they are in a state of grief and they wander around the frozen ice wastes attempting to locate their chicks. 'It is difficult to say how and why they died, but I was told by other scientists that it was not unheard of. 'Weather and things like starvation, if there is a food shortage, can cause this kind of sad event.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

January 25, 2011

"In the hands of a righteous judge"

Shunned as a killer, his funeral brought people together

Killer's Amish burial gives closure

There is fresh grave in the Amish cemetery, next to the one where Katie Gingerich has lain since her murder in 1993. It belongs to her killer and husband, Edward Gingerich, who was 44 when he hanged himself Jan. 14.
His burial within the community that had shunned him after the killing is a gesture of conciliation that remains as bitterly disputed as his life had been. Amish were pitted against Amish over how to respond to a murderer who everyone agreed was psychotic when he killed his wife. It was the only known case of a homicide committed by an Amishman.
The funeral was last Sunday in Atlee's home. The bishop preached, Mr. Miller said. A non-Amish neighbor was astounded at the crowd.

"There were Amish folks who came from far and wide on short notice. They came from other states," said former Allegheny County commissioner Bob Cranmer.

He asked an Amish friend why the community claimed Ed Gingerich in death when it had shunned him in life.

"He told me it was more for the family than it was for him," Mr. Cranmer said.

Mr. Miller agreed, saying he thought it was a gesture of reconciliation toward his brothers and sons. "They buried him right next to Katie," he said.

Mr. Schroeck believes the way Ed Gingerich died only added to his family's anguish.

"His brothers are worried about his immortal soul going to hell because he violated the command 'Thou shalt not kill' by committing suicide," he said.

Mr. Miller isn't trying to sort that out. "He is in the hands of a righteous judge," he said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:09 AM | Permalink

January 22, 2011

Car-shaped coffins


Via Neatorama comes the news of Crusin' Caskets, a California company that makes caskets in any make or model of car so you can go out in style.

Buy it now and get a replaceable liner so you can use it as an ice cooler until it's really needed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:59 PM | Permalink

January 21, 2011

Sargent Shriver, "Serve, serve, serve"

Bono prays tribute What I learned from Sargent Shriver

The Peace Corps was Jack Kennedy’s creation but embodied Sargent Shriver’s spirit. Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty but Sarge led the charge. These, and the Special Olympics, were as dramatic an incarnation of the ideas at the heart of America as the space program.

Robert Sargent Shriver changed the world more than a few times and, I am happy to say, changed my world forever. In the late ’90s, when the Jubilee 2000 campaign — which aimed to cancel the debts that the poorest nations owed to the richest — asked me to help in the United States, I called on the Shriver clan for help and advice. What I got were those things in spades, and a call to arms like a thump in the back.

In the years since, Bobby Shriver — Sarge’s oldest son — and I co-founded three fighting units in the war against global poverty: DATA, ONE and (RED). We may not yet know what it will take to finish the fight and silence suffering in our time, but we are flat out trying to live up to Sarge’s drill.


Toward the end, when I visited Sarge as a frailer man, I was astonished by his good spirits and good humor. He had the room around him laughing out loud. I thought it a fitting final victory in a life that embodied service and transcended, so often, grave duty, that he had a certain weightlessness about him. Even then, his job nearly done, his light shone undiminished, and brightened us all.

Sargent Shriver left behind an astonishing legacy of faith and service and transformed lives.


Los Angeles Times obit
R. Sargent Shriver, a lawyer who served as the social conscience of two administrations, launching the Peace Corps for his brother-in-law, President Kennedy, and leading the "war on poverty" for President Johnson, has died. He was 95.

Shriver died Tuesday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., his family said in a statement. His health had been in decline since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2003.--By then, a lifetime as a public servant — a title he embraced tirelessly and unaffectedly — was behind him. "Serve, serve, serve" was Shriver's credo. "Because in the end, it will be the servants who save us all."

He started such innovative social programs as VISTA, a domestic version of the Peace Corps; Head Start, an enrichment program for low-income preschoolers; the Job Corps, to provide young people with vocational skills; and the aptly named Legal Services for the Poor. Shriver was "one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation," President Obama said in a statement.

--  Yet Shriver's record of public service and innovation was "unmatched by any contemporary leader in or out of government," Colman McCarthy wrote in 2002 in the National Catholic Reporter.

In the 1950s, Shriver was president of the Chicago Board of Education, and for decades he served on the board of the Special Olympics — the athletic games for the mentally disabled that was started in his backyard by his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

The view from Britain, the Guardian
Related by marriage to the Kennedy family, Sargent Shriver, who has died aged 95, had powerful political credentials in the US and sought high office several times – without success. However, through insider appointments in Washington DC, he did more to improve American lives than many influential elected statesmen.

A devoutly conservative Roman Catholic, but liberal in his politics, Shriver represented a kind of American now largely disappeared from national affairs. He was the scion of an old east coast family, born into wealth, but with a devotedly unselfish – though patrician – feeling for public service. If along the way this brought influence and fame, then that was the natural order.

-- Once, while drinking with steelworker voters in an Ohio bar, the chorus went up for another round, in which Shriver's voice was heard enthusiastically ordering Courvoisier.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:55 PM | Permalink

January 20, 2011

John Kennedy's Inauguration.

Fifty years ago today was John Fitzgerald Kennedy's inauguration. As a young girl I remember being so excited and proud that the next President was from Massachusetts and was so handsome, so Catholic with so much vigah and his wife was so beautiful.

I had his autograph, passed out flyers - as if they were needed in Massachusetts - and saw Kennedy in person the night before the election at his final campaign rally at Boston Garden. It was the first political and civic event in which I fully participated. I watched every show, read every story and saved countless magazines and newspapers because it was real history.

I just about memorized his inaugural speech. "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country" galvanized me.

It's been fifty years since I've seen this float and the photograph brings it all back.


This is a Globe file photo captioned

Kennedy's inaugural parade float depicted Massachusetts as the "Cradle of Liberty" and JFK's path to the presidency. The float is seen as it passed the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.

More Globe file photos here. LIFE has s a fine collection of rare and unseen JFK Inauguration photos. Image JFK in top hat and tails.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 PM | Permalink

Burials at sea

As cremations rise, ocean burials also gain.

The Mastrangelos are among a growing number of people choosing to have their cremated remains, or even their bodies, released into the sea — rather than having them buried in a cemetery or spending eternity in an urn.


For families that have lost loved ones, scattering cremated remains at sea can be an affordable way to go, ranging from a few hundred dollars for an unattended service to several thousand for a more elaborate service with flowers, a DJ, and other extras. A cemetery burial, on the other hand, costs about $7,000.

You can also arrange for a real burial at sea

Funeral directors accompany services for full bodies, which are weighted down to keep them on the ocean floor until they decompose. This prevents incidents like the time a body that was buried at sea got caught in a fishing net off the coast of Chatham several years ago.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 PM | Permalink

Fowl play

Singrai Soren owned fighting cocks, the kind with razor blades attached to their legs for more gruesome and deadly fights. When one of his cocks won a fight, Soren would get £28 and a dead cock to feast on.

But Soren was greedy. After a fight in which his cock, described as a "dangerous rooster'" won, Soren tried to force it back into the ring for another fight. The rooster tried to get out of the ring several times, feeling no doubt entitled to his expected hour break between bouts. But Soren kept forcing him back into the ring until the cock finally attacked and sliced Soren's jugular vein with the razor blades attached to his legs.

Those around the ring only realised what had happened when blood started pouring out of him.

The cock, described as "an unknown rooster with black and red feathers" is still at large.

Six days on, police suspect the prized rooster is being sheltered by a rival trainer keen to put the champion bird back in the ring.

_cock_fight .jpg

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

January 19, 2011

The self-sacrifice of a boy and a judge

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

We have two remarkable examples, one a judge, one a boy, who sacrificed their lives for others and we cannot but stand in awe at their last actions before dying.   

Arizona federal Judge John Roll appears to have died while saving the life of another man during the shooting rampage here on Jan. 8, according to an investigator who has viewed surveillance video from the crime scene.

As the shooting starts, the video shows Judge Roll pushing another man, Rob Barber, onto the ground, Mr. Nanos said. "It looks to us as though he is pushing against Ron Barber to move him out of the way." Both men fall to the ground; both are shot. The judge was shot in the back and died.

"It's pretty evident to me that Judge Roll was a hero … if Judge Roll had not pushed Mr. Barber his wounds might have been fatal," Mr. Nanos said. "Judge Roll's actions are of a man trying to save another man's life."


In the devastating floods in Australia, a boy told rescuers to 'save my brother first'
Jordan Rice, 13, was killed in the city of Toowoomba, 80 miles west of Brisbane, as his family car was swamped. The teenager had insisted that rescuers take his 10-year-old brother, Blake, first. Seconds later, Jordan and his mother Donna, 43, were swept away.
"I had the boy [Blake] in one hand, the rope in the other. I wasn't going to let go but then the torrent came through and was pulling us down," said Warren McEr lean, a rescue worker. "Then this great big tall fellow just came out of nowhere, bear hugged us and ripped us out of the water. When I got back [carrying Blake], I turned … the rope snapped and the car just flipped."
"Jordan was swept off," said John Tyson, 46, Ms Rice's partner of 30 years and Jordan's father. "As soon as he went, Donna just let go, you know, trying to clutch at Jordan. The poor little boy, they just both drowned.''
He added: "He [the rescue worker] went to grab Jordan first, who said, 'Save my brother'. I can only imagine the fear coursing through his body.
"He won't go down with any fanfare or anything like that – I don't think anyone will even wear a black armband for him – but he's just the champion of all champions, a family hero."


Later we learned from his father
"Jordan can't swim and is terrified of water," his father, John Tyson, told the Toowoomba Chronicle. "But when the man went to rescue him, he said 'save my brother first.'"
At the funeral of his son who was buried alongside his mother, the father said
"The fire of my heart will continue to burn until it's my time to join them,"
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 PM | Permalink

Momento of a Lost Child

From The Burns Archive, an astonishing collection of historic images. Back when too many children died too early, parents, like this devastated mother, would arrange for photographs of their dead children to be taken so they could be remembered them as part of the family.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:01 PM | Permalink

January 18, 2011

The love of a faithful dog


Leao, the dog belonging to Christina Maria Cesario Santana, stays by her grave for the second day. She died in one of the catastrophic landslidesthat claimed 550 people in Brazil last week, its worse flood disaster on record.   

I was reminded of Greyfriars Bobby who spent 14 years guarding the grave of its owner.

HT Deacon's Bench.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:49 AM | Permalink

January 17, 2011

Doctor Death

Last night, Al Pacino won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the "suicide doctor" Dr. Kevorkian in the HBO produced "You Don't Know Jack"

In accepting the award, he said, “It’s a great honor for me to have portrayed such an extraordinary person as Jack Kavorkian,”

In truth, Kevorkian was a ghoul.

Listen to Wesley Smith on The Disturbing Rehabilitation of Dr. Kevorkian.

When Jack Kevorkian came to the nation’s attention in the 1990s, reporters at first depicted him — correctly — as a macabre and megalomaniacal promoter of death. But he was remade into a popular icon, becoming a pet guest on 60 Minutes, treated to uncharacteristically softball interviews by Mike Wallace and fawned over by Andy Rooney, and then declared by Time magazine to be one of the major “celebrities” of the 1990s. Time even invited him to their 75th anniversary gala as a star guest. You knew the world was spinning the wrong way when Tom Cruise rushed up to shake his hand.


Kevorkian announced his actual purpose unequivocally in his 1991 book, Prescription: Medicide. It was definitely not the relief of suffering, which he called a “first step, an early distasteful professional obligation,” stating, “What I find most satisfying is the prospect of making possible the performance of invaluable experiments or other beneficial medical acts under conditions that this first unpleasant step can help establish, in a word, obitiatry.” In other words, Kevorkian wanted to engage in human vivisection.


Before beginning his assisted suicide campaign, Kevorkian sought permission to experiment on prisoners as part of the execution process. He only turned to the ill and disabled when he had been thwarted from using the criminal justice system to satisfy his macabre obsessions.

About 70 percent of Kevorkian’s assisted suicides were not terminally ill. Most were depressed people with disabilities. Five weren’t even sick upon autopsy.

He is a eugenics believer, stating in a court document, “The voluntary self-elimination of individual mortally diseased and crippled lives taken collectively can only enhance the preservation of public health and welfare.”

He ripped out the kidneys of one of his assisted suicide victims and offered them at a press conference, “first come first served.” The “surgery” was so crude that the Oakland County Medical Examiner called it out of a “slaughterhouse” and a “bizarre mutilation.” The media barely reported the story and it is now long forgotten.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:57 PM | Permalink

January 14, 2011

Funeral for 9-year-old Christina Green

Mourners Gather

Outside the church, more little girls — and hundreds of other people — wearing white and waving American flags lined both sides of the street for more than a quarter-mile to show their support. Hundreds of motorcycle riders from all over stood guard and more than a dozen residents were dressed as angels.


Reminders of the innocence of the bubbly girl born on Sept. 11, 2001 were everywhere: A group of little girls dressed in frilly dresses and white tights craned to see as their friend's casket rolled into the church and Christina's best friend sneaked them a wave from her place in the processional line.

Family, Friends, Dignitaries Honor Youngest Tucson Shooting Victim

Green's small casket was brought into the church underneath a flag that flew at the World Trade Center on 9/11, a tribute to a young girl who was born on the day the Twin Towers fell and died in another tragedy outside of an Arizona supermarket. Green's family members met the casket and solemnly escorted it into St. Elizabeth-Ann Seton Catholic Church for the afternoon ceremony.

_National_9/11flag.jpg _Green_family.jpg

"Christina-Taylor Green, I can't tell you how much we all miss you," John Green said. "I know you would be very proud to have a 9/11 flag here today."--
"I do know she's affected a lot of people in Tucson and we are very proud to be a member of that community. Just looking around us, we know that we have people who love her, love her family. And everybody is going to be okay. She would want that."

Also in the pews were many of Green's young friends, classmates and Little League teammates. About one-quarter of the attendees were children, according to Arizona Daily Star's Stephanie Innes, who attended the service as a pool reporter.

"She wanted to make a difference in her life. She wanted to make her mark, and she did so in so powerful a way that even she cannot imagine," said Bishop Gerald Kicanas during his homily, adding that the slain 9-year-old was also an organ donor.


Hymns during the service included "Amazing Grace" and "Like a Child Rests." After the University of Arizona choir sang Ave Maria, Christina-Taylor's father spoke directly to his daughter.

Trappist monks in Iowa handmade her casket

A spokesperson for the abbey told CNN that Green's family had reached out to them after the shooting, and the casket arrived in Tucson Wednesday morning.

"We didn't want to send an adult coffin that would be too big, we wanted something just for her," said the spokesperson. The casket was crafted from red oak, and was made especially for Green, the spokesperson said. The lid of the casket was inscribed with her name, date of birth and death, and a cross. The family also will receive five small keepsake crosses hewn from the same wood as the casket.

President Barack Obama spoke extensively about Green in a nationally televised address in Tucson Wednesday night.

Mr. Obama said that it is incumbent upon the country to live up to the vision of it held by Green, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001 and aspired to be a political leader and a Major League Baseball player.

"Imagine," the president said. "Here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted."


Christina Taylor Greene, a face of innocence and goodness, R.I.P.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

January 13, 2011

The Arizona shooting victims and the President's eulogies


Victims: Christine Green, Dorothy Morris, U.S. District Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwin Stoddards and Gabriel Zimmerman were killed during the gun massacre last week

Dorothy Morris, 76

Dorothy Morris, known to her friends as "Dot," was a retired homemaker and secretary who lived north of Tucson in Oro Valley, Ariz. Dorothy died in the shooting. Her husband George, a former Marine and retired airline pilot, remains hospitalized after suffering two gunshot wounds. One of the couple's daughters said George Morris tried to protect his wife of 50 years by throwing her to the ground and trying to get on top of her to shield her. The couple both grew up in Reno, Nev., and were high school sweethearts.

The President's eulogy

George and Dorothy Morris -- "Dot" to her friends -- were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together -- traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. (Applause.) Both were shot. Dot passed away.

U.S. District Court Judge John Roll , 63

Named Arizona's chief federal judge in 2006, U.S. District Judge John M. Roll won acclaim for a career as a respected jurist and leader who had pushed to beef up the court's strained bench to handle a growing number of border crime-related cases. Roll was appointed to the federal bench in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. He previously served as a state trial judge and as a judge on the midlevel Arizona Court of appeals, and as a county and state prosecutor. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Roman Catholic Church's Tucson Diocese said Roll was an active parishioner. "He lived his faith as a servant of our nation for the cause of justice," Kicanas said. Roll was a Pennsylvania native who got his law degree from the University of Virginia. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, three sons, and five grandchildren.

The President's eulogy

Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. A graduate of this university and a graduate of this law school Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain 20 years ago ---- appointed by President George H.W. Bush and rose to become Arizona's chief federal judge. His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons and his five beautiful grandchildren.

Phyllis Schneck, 79

When Phyllis Schneck and her husband retired, they spent their winters in Tucson and summers in their native Rutherford, N.J. "They didn't want to ever have to deal with the snow again," said Schneck's daughter, B.J. Offutt of Colorado Springs, Colo. Schneck, who continued to return to Tucson in the winters even after her husband died in 2007, was a homemaker who raised her two daughters and one son and had a talent for cooking. In retirement, Schneck kept herself occupied by volunteering at her church. Her home in Tucson was less than four miles from the supermarket where the shooting took place. Offutt said her mother's appearance at the store was surprising, because she normally shopped at a different store and wasn't very political. Schneck is survived by her three children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The President's eulogy

A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her three children, her seven grandchildren and 2-year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she'd often work under a favorite tree, or sometimes she'd sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.

Dorwin Stoddards, 76

Everyone who knew Dorwan Stoddard thought he would die of complications from one of his 17 heart stents, or during one his numerous construction projects at Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. During his latest project, he fell 20 feet when a ladder buckled, said his pastor and friend Michael Nowak. When the shooting started Saturday, he dove to the ground, covering his wife Mavy, who was shot in the leg three times. The couple had been grade school sweethearts growing up in Tucson. After their respective spouses died, they independently moved back to retire, became reacquainted and fell in love all over again. Mavy Stoddard talked to her husband, who was shot in the head, for 10 minutes while he breathed heavily. Then he stopped breathing. He had two sons from his first marriage, and Mavy has three daughters.

The President's eulogy

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together -- about 70 years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families. But after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy's daughters put it, "be boyfriend and girlfriend again." When they weren't out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with his dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for her.

Gabriel Zimmerman , 30

Gabe Zimmerman, the director of community outreach for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, handled thousands of issues raised by constituents out of the congresswoman's offices in Tucson and Sierra Vista. Zimmerman was one of the Giffords staffers who organized many public events where voters could meet Giffords and talk to her about issues. Co-workers say Zimmerman, who had a master's degree in social work, cared passionately about helping people. Zimmerman's mother, Emily Nottingham, said politics was a good fit for him because it combined policy and making a difference for others. "He had a real interest in helping people and had a real caring for social justice," Nottingham said. Zimmerman, who was engaged, had set a wedding date for 2012.

The President's eulogy

Everything -- everything -- Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion. But his true passion was helping people. As Gabby's outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits that they had earned, that veterans got the medals and the care that they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved -- talking with people and seeing how he could help. And Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.

Christina Taylor Green, 9

Christina Taylor Green was only 9, but the third-grader already was an aspiring politician. Her parents say Christina had just been elected to the student council at Mesa Verde Elementary School and had been interested in politics from a young age. She already had told her parents she wanted to attend Penn State and have a career that involved helping those less fortunate than her. The brown-eyed athletic girl loved to swim with her 11-year-old brother Dallas, her lone sibling. Her mother, Roxanna Green, said Christina also loved animals, singing, dancing and gymnastics. She also was the only girl on her Canyon del Oro Little League baseball team. Her grandfather, former major-league pitcher Dallas Green, managed the 1980 world champion Philadelphia Phillies. Christina's father, John Green, is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Christina was born on the tragic day of Sept. 11, 2001.

The President's eulogy

And then there is nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student; she was a dancer; she was a gymnast; she was a swimmer. She decided that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the Major Leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her. (Applause.) She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age. She'd remind her mother, "We are so blessed. We have the best life." And she'd pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.


Imagine -- imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that some day she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us -- we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.

As has already been mentioned, Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope." On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart." "I hope you jump in rain puddles."

If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. ) And here on this Earth -- here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and we commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit. May God bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 AM | Permalink

January 10, 2011

Studding a baby's skull with diamonds

Dead baby's skull used as "Art"

At its best, art expresses a culture’s best virtues, greatest beauty. But these days, art is more often lauded–or at least given attention–if it is unintelligible, pornographic, subversive, disrespectful, and/or denigrates cherished values or religious traditions. One such value is the respectful way in which dead human bodies are supposed to be treated. We respect the dead because it is a way of respecting the lives that were lived in those bodies, and more broadly, the importance of being human.


When human bodies are plasticized and put on display as if they were having sexual intercourse, and a baby’s skull is studded with diamonds, it isn’t art. It is a nihilistic and decadent disrespect for the dead–which in a sense, means all of us, since we are all headed in the same direction–that speaks, I fear, of a deepening darkness in the culture.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

January 8, 2011

The 'last word' on Last Words

William Barnes is no ordinary librarian. He writes books that become standard research tools for other librarians like Notable Last Facts: A Compendium Of Endings, Conclusions, Terminations And Final Events Throughout History"

I've just spent several hours perusing his new book Last Words of Notable People which organizes and sources the real, variable and doubtful last words of some 3500 people throughout history.

Easy to use, trustworthy and delectable as a box of chocolates and just as hard to put down, the book reveals what was on the minds of people facing imminent death.

Sam Ward, "I think I'm going to give up the ghost." It struck me reading this that giving up the ghost is releasing the soul from the body.

Calamity Jane, "Bury me next to Bill" [Hickok]

George Washington, "Tis well"

Crowfoot, Chief of the Blackfoot Nation of Canada, "A little while and I will be gone from among you, whither I can not tell. From nowhere we come, into nowhere we go. What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night, it is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."

Candy Darling, actor and female impersonator, in the suicide note left behind, wrote in part, "Unfortunately before my death I had no desire for life...I felt too empty to go on in this unreal existence. I sam just so bored by everything. You might say bored to death..."

Manual Garcia, "Three-fingered Jack", member of a gang of desperados and killed by California Rangers, "I will throw up my hands for no gringo dog."

Humphrey Bogart, said to his wife Lauren Bacall as she left the hospital to pick up their children, "Goodbye, Kid. Hurry back." Comatose when she returned, he died in his sleep the next day.

Peggy Guggenheim, American art patron and collector, died at 81 in Padua, Italy, saying "These nurses don't have any idea what's wrong with me. They haven't a clue."

James Michael Curley, Mayor of Boston, Member of US House, Governor of Massachusetts, "I wish to announce the first plank in my campaign for re-election - we're going to have the floors in this goddamned hospital straightened out."

William Morris, English artist and famed craftsman, " I want to get mumbo jumbo out of the world."

Leonard "Chico" Marx, comedian, to his wife, "Remember Honey, don't forget what I told you. Put in my coffin a deck of cards, a mashie niblick and a pretty blonde."
Surprisingly, or maybe not, death for some is pleasant.

William Cullen, Scottish physician and inventor of a method of refrigeration, "I wish I had the power of writing or speaking, for then I would describe to you how pleasant a thing it is to die."

John Singleton Copley, Boston painter and American artist, when asked how he felt said, "Happy, happy, supremely happy."

For others, death is far from pleasant

Francisco Franco, Spanish dictator, "My God, how hard it is to die!"

Cesare Borgia,, notorious for his cruelty and treachery, this Italian nobleman, politician and prelate was the political hero portrayed by Machiavelli in The Prince said this shortly before his death at 31, "I had provided in the course of my life, for everything except death. And now, alas. I am to die, though entirely unprepared."

Not surprising, those who were religious were the least afraid to die and the most prepared.

Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church, "Soul, thou hast served Christ these seventy years and art thou afraid to die? Go out, soul, go out."

Saint Dominic Savio, who died at 14, "Surely you are not crying, Mom, at seeing me go to heaven? Look, Dad, look! Can't you see? The wonderful!. The beautiful."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German clergyman and Lutheran theologian who became involved in a plot to kill Hitler in 1944. Just before he was hanged, he said, "This is the end for me, the beginning of life".

Some last words, favorites of mine, that were not included

St Theresa d'Avila, "My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O My Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another."

St Therese de Lisieux, at 24, consumed by tuberculosis, "My God, I love you!"

Three-year-old Adam of Baghdad who wandered through blood and bodies to follow the Islamic terrorists who were killing the church-goers at Mass and admonish them, "Enough, Enough, Enough," until he himself was killed.

"Tell my Pa I died right" said Sgt Richard Kirkland, 20, who died at the battle of Chickamauga, after giving Union wounded blankets and water as they lay dying after the battle of Marye's Heights.

""Kisses, kisses, More kisses" Duke Ellington asked of his sister Ruth.

Nor were the proverbial last words of 8 out of 10 Darwin nominees, "Hey guys, watch this."

"Last Words of Notable People: Final Words of More Than 3500 Noteworthy People Throughout History" (Reference Desk Press)

Now, the official source on last words for Legacy Matters.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:49 PM | Permalink

January 7, 2011

Virtual friends aren't real

Let there be no mistake. Virtual friends aren't real friends. Your time should be invested in real relationships if you don't want to suffer a lonely death.

Facebook 'friends' mock 'suicide' of woman who posted goodbye message

A middle-aged woman who told her 1,048 Facebook "friends" that she had taken an overdose was found dead the next day after none came to her aid.

Simone Back, 42, posted a last message on the social networking site at 10.53pm on Christmas Day saying: "Took all my pills be dead soon bye bye everyone."

Some users of the site even taunted the 42-year-old over her final status update instead of trying to save her, calling her a “liar” and saying the fatal overdose was “her choice”.

Friends of Miss Back, who lived further away, responded angrily to the comments.
One wrote: “Did you catch the part about Simone taking pills? the 'bye bye’ part? Did anyone go by personally and check on Simone. or call 999? what’s wrong with you people? is the gossip really more important than her? ”
Another said: “If any of you actually call yourself friends one of you should call round and see if she’s OK.”
However, none of Miss Back’s friends did check on her. Mrs Langridge called 999 after someone finally texted her about her daughter’s online suicide note 17 hours after she posted it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:16 PM | Permalink

January 6, 2011

Cut out

Elizabeth Edwards's revenge from beyond the grave after she cut cheating husband John out of will days before death

The final will and testament of Elizabeth Edwards shows she left nothing to her cheating husband, former presidential candidate John Edwards.

She cut her estranged husband out - instead leaving everything to her three children.

The couple's eldest daughter, lawyer Cate, was named as the executor of the will, which Elizabeth, 61, signed on December 1 - just six days before she lost her battle to breast cancer.

-- The couple announced last January that they had separated after 32 years of marriage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

January 5, 2011

He thought his mother was sleeping for more than a week.

What a heart-breaking story.

Three-year-old boy spends Christmas home alone with dead mother he thought was sleeping

A three-year-old boy is believed to have spent days over Christmas sitting alone by the dead body of his ‘sleeping’ mother in the hope that she might ‘wake up’.

At one point, his grandfather telephoned but the young child calmly told him 'mummy’s asleep’. It is not known what the boy did for food and drink.

The heartbreaking tale unfolded in the French town of Loison-sous-Lens, in the northern Pas de Calais region, where Emilie Decroix, 28, collapsed.

Work colleagues in the nearby town of Lens presumed the single mother was off ill and unable to call in.

Instead an aneurysm, or weak bulge in an artery wall, had ruptured close to her brain, causing the office worker to die suddenly.

‘Emilie lived alone with her little boy who clearly believed she was sleeping and might wake up,’ said a police source. ‘

Before the ruptured aneurysm, she would have had all the appearances of a young, fit woman – the child could clearly not envisage that she might be dead.


The child’s grandfather finally called round to the house on New Year’s Eve, where he found her dead body, with his grandson sitting quietly next to her.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink

January 3, 2011

Angel kills one; Garbage saves another

Angel of Death: Mysterious statue kills teenage girl

Police are investigating how a cast-iron statue came to be on the Warrego Highway, where it is believed to have caused a freak crash that killed a teenage girl.

Candice Mangan, 18, was killed instantly when the sedan she was travelling in struck the cherub garden statue on the westbound lanes of the highway and careered into oncoming traffic.

Garbage pile saves Vangelis Kapatos, 26, who tried to commit suicide in midtown

A suicidal man plummeted nine stories and survived in midtown Sunday when he landed on a mountain of trash that had piled up since last week's blizzard, officials said.

Vangelis (Angelo) Kapatos, 26, wearing only pajama bottoms, jumped from his family's apartment in the Whitby building on 45th St. near Eighth Ave. just after noon.

The young man, troubled by a threat of eviction from the rent-regulated apartment, was fresh out of psychiatric treatment, relatives said. He had tried to end his life in a number of other ways before leaping, police sources said.

"He landed on a garbage pile," one official said. "That's the only reason he's alive.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 AM | Permalink

January 1, 2011

Act of Love: Birthday Letters

For some time now, I've recommended that parents write each year to their children on their birthdays.

Parents are the curators of the lives of their young and adolescent children, so they should document their growth and development each year as an act of love.

Here's a wonderful example. The Girl is Seven.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:36 PM | Permalink