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Amie’s Commencement Address May 24, 2011

Speech Text:

President Haynes, Deans, beloved faculty, and distinguished guests, welcome. And to my fellow Cougar graduates, Congratulations! I would like to thank our families, who have worked almost as hard as we have to realize this day. I honor my husband Michael, my children Lauren and Alex, my friends and family who have helped me earn this degree. Thank you.

Five minutes after my last final, I updated my facebook status. It read: after 15 years of classes, 4 colleges in 4 states,12 proud years as a Marine Corp wife, 6 deployments, 2 children, 5 papers and 7 finals… just this week… today… I have finally graduated.

My story is not unique at Cal State San Marcos. Most graduating today have juggled jobs, families, fought for our country, commuted countless miles or even taken one class at a time. For some, today is a beginning; for others of us, this is a victory years in the making. I am proud to be graduating from a university that values both journeys. So, whether you came to San Marcos as a true freshman or started college alongside your own freshman, I congratulate you. Well done!

What do you say to people who collectively know almost everything? It was a bit daunting, but here is some wisdom I have learned.

Life is not all about me. Money, education and esteem are worth little unless you employ them to help others. Put your neighbor’s needs above your own.

Ethical and virtuous behavior should not be what we profess but what we practice. No amount of fortune or fame is worth losing your integrity.

Now is the time to take chances. Trust your instincts, but listen to wise counsel.

Explore the world so you can learn about who you are. And travel now, while youth hostels are still fun.

Dreams are achieved through hard work and time, so have more patience than pride. Stay teachable so you don’t miss new discoveries that lie ahead. Embrace adversity and failure, they fuel creativity.

Attitude is everything. Decide to wake each morning purposeful and positive. Negativity will break a company, a community, a country.

Remember, life is short; don’t just seek a job; seek a purpose, seek your passion, seek to make a difference.

Life is short; don’t waste energy and time envying someone else’s life. Seek to make yours worthy. Surround yourself with people who do the same.

Life is short; don’t wait for a future event to make you happy. Enjoy the journey now. Embrace each day, finish them well.

You have a purpose in this life, don’t settle for anything less. Congratulations Graduating Class of 2011.

To God be all the honor and praise.

Copyright Amie Charney 2011

San Marcos, CA – May 21, 2011 – Amie Charney was selected from the California State University San Marcos Graduating Class of 2011 to give the commencement address at the Saturday afternoon commencement ceremony (May 21, 2011, 2 PM). Charney graduated Magna Cum Laude with her degree in Literature and Writing.

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Where were you on 9/11? September 10, 2010

My husband and I were talking last night about impact events. An impact event is a moment never lost in the stream of daily minutia. That is why we celebrate and mourn them; weddings, births, deaths, national tragedies…we feel compelled as humans to venerate the day so we never forget.

My parents still remember where they were November 22, 1963, sitting in their school classrooms wondering why their teachers were to choked up to talk. On January 28, 1986 I was home sick from 6th grade, watching television at the neighbor’s house when cartoons were interrupted to watch the live Challenger launch and then explosion. I remember driving to work on April 19, 1995 sobbing in my car when the Oklahoma City bombing was reported on the radio. These days are etched on my memory as vividly as my wedding day and birth of my children.

September 11, 2001 was an impact event felt the world over. My husband and I were in a small outback town in Australia. He was there on deployment, and I had flown to meet him. Our one year old daughter was in Chicago with her grandparents, and we had called in to check on her before going to bed. His mother answered the phone and said turn on CNN, which we did…just in time to see the second plane angle to the building and plow through. I was numb. My mother-in-law was sobbing, clinging she said to our daughter. At the time she had an office in the Chicago Sears Tower. She did not go into work for days after the tragedy, because our world had gone mad and no one knew what might happen next.

My husband and I started to pack. Within 30 minutes a car was sent to get us from our hotel, and sped to the safety of base. I spent the next two days in an underground bunker with 300 Marines preparing for…for who knew what at the time. These incredibly brave men and women were mobilized, horrified, sad, even devastated perhaps…but ready and resolved. I envied them. I couldn’t stop crying and worrying. I envied them because they could do something about it, and all I could do was kneel at the base chapel alter and pray.

They began to mobilize and I had to leave. That was a surreal drive through the outback…by myself…going 120 mph (no speed limits), dodging road trains…trying to get back to Darwin to get a plane into Sydney and then perhaps home. I barely made it to Sydney. I landed at midnight, and Ansett Airlines went out of business minutes after I landed. I was fortunate to get a hotel room in Sydney, there were very few left.

The atmosphere in Sydney was so different from the week we had been there prior. It was somber, reflective and a little frightened. I will forever be indebted, as an American, to the Australian people. They were supportive and loving to what felt like an instant community of refugees. They held memorial services for us in their churches. Everywhere I went there were hugs, tears, offers of support and prayers from complete strangers.

For me, and the many Americans I met there…waiting like me to go home…getting on an airplane felt as frightening as climbing Mt. Everest. I got one of the last tickets on the first plane to leave Australia. All I wanted to do was get to Chicago and hug my daughter tight. The only ticket I could get was into Los Angeles, and then it was unknown when I could get a flight from there…but at least I would be on home soil. I guarantee you, America never felt as much like home to me as at that moment.

It took almost eight hours to get through Sydney airport security…and no one in that line cared. We wanted them to search everything. I was flying United, and the pilot and flight attendants gave instructions through tears. Strangers hugged each other and put down their books to talk with their seat mates. People shared stories, prayed together and even held hands during take off. When we finally landed at LAX, a cheer strangled through tears and sobs, went up through the plane. On man knelt on the terminal ground and kissed it when we got off the plane. We were Americans, in that small microcosm of our country, we were united.

Landing in LAX was like stepping into a war zone. National guard soliders with M-16s and police officers geared like SWAT almost outnumbered the passengers. I literally had left one country a month earlier and returned to a completely different one. Eventually I made it home to hug my baby. I didn’t let go for a long time. I was grateful though…there were a lot of mothers who would never hug their babies again.

Although we will never forget 9/11, the farther away we have moved from it, the more its lessons fade in our minds. That is why we need to venerate the day – listen to the reading of the names, remember to hug your family, pray with a complete stranger, and hold the hands of our fellow Americans in gratitude for the wonderful country we live in.

Always Remember…Where were you on 9/11? Share your story in the comments below.

 

Vote. Need a reason? Here’s one. October 28, 2008

Please Vote.

Many have died for your right to cast it, many more in this world would die for the chance.

 

Souls Don’t Have Color April 29, 2008

I was raised in Seattle. A city known for it’s integration and acceptance of people, no matter color or creed. My parents taught me, and I teach my children that in this nation… in this world, we do not “judge people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”…it’s whats inside that counts. I truly believe that this world would be a boring, flat existence if we were all the same. Every note of the eternal symphony composed by our Master Craftsman is meant to be there…without omission. So why do I feel so insulted, so wronged by the newly touted Right Reverend Wright? The sacrifice that my husband and hundreds of thousands more have paid for in blood… profusely shed… for his right to to yell from a bully pulpit… God Damn America… feels trodden upon like a filthy rag. Well that infuriates me.

Why are you trying to divide America down lines that don’t exist for most of the people that I know? We are all God’s children, “black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics”… instead of dividing, why not try to “join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

The paragraphs above are as far as I got in this essay.

I can’t go on… I don’t have the words. Tonight, I am eternally grateful for better writers than I. Specifically for,  John Moody, Executive Vice President, News Editorial for FOX News

Memo to Reverend Wright: Do Souls Have Color?

 

I’m white.

I’m Christian.

 I’m American.

 I’m not a racist.

And I’m offended by Jeremiah Wright. The Trinity United Church’s former pastor put on nearly an hour of smug mugging for the cameras at the National Press Club in Washington. Among other things, he repeated with a kind of glee that the attacks on 9/11 were retribution for America’s sins. He tried to distinguish African-influenced Christian churches in the United States from those that are not. He said, in part, that his recent plunge into the limelight “just might mean that the reality of the African-American church will no longer be invisible.”

What reality is that, reverend? How is reality visible or invisible? Is it a different reality from my church? Who says so? God? Or just you? What the heck, to be polite, are you talking about?

Let’s be clear: Reverend Wright has the right to say what he wants; that is the beauty of this country that he believes has so wronged him. His remarks are protected, even if they offend me, which they do. I, too, have rights, including the right to offend the Reverend, which I expect this will do.

I attend a Roman Catholic church where the pastor and most of the congregation are white. Yet my pastor would no more speak of white America, or the white church, or the hardships imposed on white people by the U.S. government because of affirmative action, than he would say “Goddamn America”. This does not mean that there is uniformity of opinion in my church. I know that my pastor and I disagree on issues of politics. I know that because we have talked outside the church, not because he preaches his politics from the pulpit. I would find it impossible to attend if he did this, because that would be an abuse of his position. His job is to help me in my quest for eternal salvation, not to tell me the kind of world he wants to live in until he and I achieve that goal.

He does not preach in order to divide. He preaches to bring comfort and hope to those in the Lord’s House.

Wright speaks about white racism while espousing the kind of hateful, bitter (yes, I know that word’s been used before) division between white and black that is the essence of racism. Do I know what goes on inside his head? No. But neither does he know what thoughts I secretly harbor.

“Be not deceived, God is not mocked,” Wright said, quoting Galatians 6:7. Reverend Wright, who dislikes being judged by sound bites, omitted the first passages of that biblical book. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.”

Whose burden were you bearing when you spoke, Reverend? If Americans have sinned, are you ministering to them in the spirit of meekness? You speak of the black church, yes. But what of the white church? Do churches have colors? Do souls? Are you and your church superior to mine? Allow me to tell you: you and it are not.

Your words, reverend, were an affront to me, but of far more importance, to the Almighty. You can still atone, but remember, God is not mocked.

John Moody is Executive Vice President, News Editorial for FOX News.

Please take a moment, and thank Mr. Moody for his poignant and appropriate words. They were heartfelt, honest and fair. He spoke for many of us that don’t know how to express what we feel. Thank you, Mr. Moody.

GOD BLESS AMERICA

 

The Few…The Proud…and the comforters of Job April 12, 2008

American Soldier by Toby Keith

Patriotic Medley

If I hear another talking head say….”We support our troops…we love our military service men and women…they are our national treasure!”… followed by how wrong the missions they embark on are, how wrong it is that they are defending our country in another, how terrible it is that we are sacrificing “our boys” in a war that is simply no longer popular….. I WILL PUKE. Consider this blog that: Word Puke.

I am the proud wife of a Marine. My husband…my family…is serving our country now, and has for the past twelve years. Out of those twelve years he has deployed five times, four have been served in combat. He has flown over 2300 hours, and has 17 air medals (many with valor) amoung the other commendations to his credit. He has done so willingly, modestly, without complaint because he loves his family and his country. Our family…my children… have sacrificed milestones, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths …time…peace of mind…for this country; for you. We are not alone. There are thousands more who have, and are, defending our freedom with life, limb and time. They are patriots. A patriot is “one who loves their country and supports its authority and interests.” They go when called upon to defend life and liberty; you and me. Through their bootprints and our tears, we have earned the right to be called citizens of this country… not only because we were privileged and blessed by God to have been born here, but because when called, they answer and we support.  

Unbelievably, there are those that feel the need to put a hand on my shoulder to commiserate and comfort me for our sacrifice…

“Tell your husband thank you for his service…but you know, I just don’t support anything he is being made to do right now.”

Like they expect me to support their position?

No. Hell no.

I tell them, isn’t nice that my husband is “over there”, that my family and many others are sacrificing peace of mind and time…so that you have the freedom…the right…. to think and speak that way. You see this nation has forgotten that WE send the military. We DO. They serve us. They defend us. Whether you voted for Bush or Gore… whether you will vote for McCain or Hill-bama…. we the people, send the military. The majority speaks, and though we may be divided… become one once they do.

So don’t try that post-Vietnam politically correct… we must at least appear to love the Marine on the front line even if we don’t support anything they do…crap. You see for all intents and purposes, they are the mission. Hard to seperate… near impossible. Those that wear the uniform, and the military families that support them, consciously put the interests of their nation above their own personal interests and comforts. My husband, those that serve our country, are models of what civic virtue should be. They recognize that with rights come responsibilities. With what generation have we lost this basic equation?

We have instead become a nation of pompous, entitled brats that don’t feel the need to serve the country we owe our freedom and liberty to. I think that if you desire to exert control over the fate of our country then you should be prepared to sacrifice for the life of it. Perhaps, this is the downfall of a volunteer only force… we don’t ask our young men and women to truly defend our liberty anymore. Instead, we have become a nation that feels free to spout unsupported, politically correct…yet often incorrect tripe without any forethought to the consquences that may follow… just to fill a 24 hour news addiction.

….at least, that is how it appears on the surface. You see, I fall into the camp which believes that the politicians, the media, those that think they control public opinion and polls…are sorely out of touch with who American’s really are and what they believe. I think if they would come from their high towers and talk to you, and me….for the most part, they would be shocked that we don’t think like they do…have never thought like they have…and never want to.

So why do we allow them to control the public forum and yell louder than any from a bully pulpit? When do we get to regain the sanity…and majesty that this country really is about?

I am, 

a Proud Marine Wife

 

 

 

 
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