“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair;” excerpts from A Tale of two cities

I love “pomp and circumstances” so on Tuesday under a beautiful, cloudless blue sky, we arrived at Fort Myers Virginia to celebrate and witness the retirement of General William Kip Ward from the United States Army after 40 years of distinguished service. The parade of colors and the military personnel in direct precision with each other, each individually, yet stepping collectively as one parading in front of General Ward for final inspection was flawless. The sounds of the cannon saluting a faithful soldier for a job well done filled the air. The reception in the officers club was a reunion of past and present military personnel that had served with Kip throughout his career. Guests arrived from London, Germany and Hawaii to celebrate the legacy of General Ward.

“Smoke gets in your eyes” Our eyes were “misty” doing the emotional tribute Kip gave to his bride Joyce of forty years. The crowd filled the air with laughter when he thanked her for her service as a military wife. They married after graduating from Morgan State; Kip promising Joyce that he would only serve the military for four years. The day was especially significant for Kip’s mom Phyllis who was celebrating her birthday.

“I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Goodbye.” Douglas MacArthur

“What a difference a day makes” The next day under a dismal, gray cloudy sky, I arrived at the VFW Post 10028 in Aberdeen Maryland for the funeral of my forty-year-old cousin Captain Charles Edward Warfield who was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan just weeks before he would have retired. The poignant moment, watching the motorcycle veterans standing at attention in their denims, tee shirts and bandanas holding the American flag in honor of the fallen comrade they had never met. “The ties that bind” was their service to their country with honor and a comrade who paid the ultimate price. The distant look in their eyes as TAPs played and the resounding gun salute, spoke volumes, each wrapped in their own “precious memories.” The warm presence of the American Red Cross as they prepared the repast and provided support for the family was uplifting and showed the Red Cross in a different capacity.

“Solider Boy” Two soldiers honored by their comrades for a distinguished career and paying the ultimate sacrifice of service and death. “God Bless America.”

“It’s not what you achieve, it’s what you overcome. That’s what defines your career.”Carlton Fisk

“All aboard” Family and friends caught the morning train to Philadelphia to attend the retirement celebration of Leonard Wilmore after forty years with the United States Postal service. The 30th Street station in Philadelphia reminds me of Union Station in Washington, bustling with commuters mingling in the many shops and eateries, full of energy and anticipation, travelling to their destination. Baltimoreans enjoying the retirement luncheon at Popi’s in South Philly were Thelma Russell, Barbara Byrd, Joan Stevenson, James & Pat Waddy, Norman Smith, Dorothy Johnson and Jackie Robinson.

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Sir Isaac Newton

Congratulations to Louis Fields of African American Tourism Council of MD on receiving the 2011 Maryland Small Business Champion of the Year award.

Congratulations to artist and former baker Ernest M. Kromah of Kromah Gallery, the Afro American Newspaper and Creative Alliance they were recipients of Muse 360 Brick by Brick award at their annual benefit at The Frederick Douglass/Isaac Meyers Maritime Museum. The event showcased the Rayn Fall Dance Ensemble. Sharayna Christmas Rose is the director of Muse 360.

“Heaven Bound” “The greatest thing that’s happened to me is being able to walk along streets and people say, ‘Hi, Mayor, Hi, Don, Hi Schaefer. They don’t think I’m anything at all, except one of them.” Rest in Peace William Donald Schaefer

“I’ll always love my momma” The Polston family, Warren, Harvey, Michele, Michael and Wayne are inviting friends to join them on Mother’s day at Wildwood United Methodist Church 700 Wildwood Parkway as they celebrate the memory and legacy of their mother Regina who would have celebrated her 100th birthday.

May 8 is the day the calendar says we should honor our mother, but scripture tells us to honor our mother that the days of our lives shall be long. For those who are blessed to be with their mother make it a special day. For those whose mothers are angels reflect on your mother’s love and share that love with a young mother who may be struggling and give her encouragement.

“This is dedicated” to all mothers, our version of R. Kelly’s song “When a woman loves”

“When a mother loves, she loves for real. She took me back, after I broke her heart about a thousand times. She gave her life to me with no regrets, she followed me and she, the girl she raised me and I’m forever indebted, I’m forever indebted to her, cause when a mother loves she loves for real.”

Happy Mother’s day! “I’ll be seeing you” Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch