Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Immigrant children: a lesson in compassion from yesteryear

With our nation's current attention on caring for immigrant children, I'd like to highlight a shining example of compassion toward minors during a time far more horrific than our own.

In early November, 1938, the Nazis unleashed their fury on the minority Jewish population of Germany. Synagogues were burned, homes and businesses were looted and destroyed, men and rabbis were dragged from their beds and beaten in the streets. People died and thousands were arrested across the country, sent to prison or 'work camps.' If Jewish Germans had not realized the extent of the threat to their safety before that night, called Kristallnacht or 'Night of Broken Glass,' that night of terror was their wake up call. The following days saw huge lines at emigration offices.

Meanwhile in England, social welfare agencies, some Jewish, some not, scrambled to come up with a plan to help. The prevailing thought was this: in England and in most other nations, immigration laws mandated the emigrating adult to have a job and housing promised upon arrival. Children had no such mandate. So why not allow vulnerable children to leave Germany and live in host homes until their parents could join them?

By early December, the first Kindertransport had been funded through donations, organized and staffed by agency employees and volunteers, and was underway. The Kindertransport was not only legal, it was created by cooperative efforts of the Nazi Party, Parliament, and a number of social welfare agencies and churches. Between December 1938 and September 1939, almost 10,000 children, mostly Jewish, left Germany and occupied countries for resettlement, mostly in the UK and Scandinavia.

The children's parents typically filed to emigrate to the same country as their children, but not many made it before war broke out in September 1939. Then both the borders and the adults' fate were sealed.

History has provided us with this wonderful example of governments and nonprofits working together to protect children. I was honored to interview a former 'Kinder' as I researched The Path Divided, and I will never forget her story. My question is - what are we doing today to protect those who are equally vulnerable?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Man hears of 54 illegal immigrants found in a tractor-trailer, brings them pizza

Watching the news at home in San Antonio, Armando Colunga heard that a tractor-trailer of illegal immigrants had been stopped nearby. He saw video of the 54 detainees sitting on the ground, awaiting their fate. Colunga felt compelled to act. He jumped in his car and drove to the site, unsure of exactly what he wanted to do. 

As he neared the immigrants' location, he saw a Little Caesar's Pizza. It occurred to him that the detainees had been inside that truck for some time and may not have eaten, so he bought seven pizzas. He brought them to the detectives and officers guarding the detainees. They confirmed his fear - the men, women, and teens now sitting outside the truck had been given water but no food. He asked for permission to distribute the pizza, and that permission was granted. 

Colunga learned the detainees are from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Brazil. Of Mexican descent himself, Colunga sympathizes with those who leave Latin America in search of a better life. He told a news affiliate"If they were black or African people or white people coming from London ... I would have done the same thing," he said. "It's not about race." He also thanked the officers who allowed him to distribute the food. 

The tractor-trailer driver has been charged with human smuggling. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Their friendship was more important than the game's outcome

Last Wednesday night, two Minnesota high school baseball teams met in an important game. The winner would move on to the state championship. 

What spectators and fans may not have known is that a few boys on the opposing teams knew one another. Such was the case with Mounds View's pitcher Ty Koehn and Totino-Grace's Jack Kocon. The boys had been friends since Little League, keeping in touch even though they attend different schools and now play on different teams. 

As fate would have it, Koehn was on the mound when Kocon struck out in the game's last inning. While the Mounds View dugout cleared to begin their celebration, Koehn went straight to his friend, still standing stunned at home plate. The friends hugged. Koehn reassured Kocon that he's a great player, and their friendship will last longer than the game and its outcome. After a few moments together, Koehn moved to his teammates and joined the celebration. 

Kocon will never forget his friend's act of compassion. He told a local news station, "I was just thinking in 20 years I'm not gonna remember the score of that game. But I'm gonna remember him coming up to me after that and just kind of being there for me when I needed someone."

Good sportsmanship, and a total class act.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Touching photo shows one man's support for our military

There is a MIA memorial at SunTrust Park in Georgia, an always-empty seat which bears a plaque with this inscription: “Since World War I, more than 92,000 American soldiers are unaccounted for. This unoccupied seat is dedicated to the memory of these brave men and woman and to the sacrifices made in serving this country.” 

During the rainy Memorial Day weekend when the Atlanta Braves played the New York Mets at the park, spectators were asked to pause in honor of the sacrifices of the MIA military. The jumbotron allowed people to see the memorial and a Marine JROTC standing next to it at attention. That's when an unnamed man left his own seat and stood next to the high school aged cadet, sheltering him with his umbrella

Someone snapped a picture.

The Braves posted the photo on their Twitter page and it went viral. Tens of thousands of people have been touched by this simple act of support of our military

Friday, June 1, 2018

Eight-year-old Georgia boy shows us how to take care of each other

While driving home from a high school graduation with his mom and his sister, 8-year-old Maurice Adams Jr. of Milledgeville, Georgia spotted an elderly woman with a walker crossing a busy intersection. She was alone, and faced a set of on the far side of the intersection. Maurice asked his mom if he could help this stranger. Of course his mother said yes. 

So Maurice got out and walked beside the woman as she finished crossing the intersection. He stayed beside her as she climbed the stairs with her walker - an awkward feat for anyone! When they reached the top, the woman turned to Maurice, hugged him, and said, "You're special." 

Unknown to Maurice or the woman, a man named Riley Duncan had watched the pair. He captured some of Maurice's kindness on cell phone videoDuncan posted the video on Facebook, and through that learned the name of the kindhearted boy. He gave Maurice $100 as a reward, adding, "Thank God for our youth."

Then Duncan sent the video to a local news outlet. The video went viral

Maurice’s mom, Contricia Hill, is rightfully proud of her son. Thousands of others who watched the video are proud of Maurice, too. 

Here's my question for administrators in that town: why isn't there a ramp so elderly and others with special needs can get around independently?