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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.

 

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.

 

I Pledge July 3, 2008

Memorial Flag flown over the USS Arizona

Memorial Flag flown over the USS Arizona

As the United States of America dawns its 233rd year, I thought it fitting to take a moment and give honor to the country we love.

As some are cracking out the beer and BBQ, as some are readying their fireworks display, as some are whipping up their picnic salads, as some are watching parades… as some are strapping on their guns and body armor, as some are patrolling foreign shores, as some are weeping quietly and praying for their safety, as some are mourning the ones that will never return… I would like us to take a moment and think about this nation, and what it stands for.

So often in our lives we have begrudgingly stood, doffed our caps with hands over our hearts and recited a pledge taught to us in primary school. I wonder, how many have truly considered the honor it is to stand in freedom and say those words. My prayer this Fourth of July is that we can stop merely pledging and start practicing.

I PLEDGE …. a solemn promise, a binding oath, a formal vow taken with the knowledge of one’s responsibility  

 ALLIEGENCE devotion, fidelity owed by a citizen to their government 

to the FLAG the visible representation, the distinctive symbol of our Nation; representing the freedoms and rights guaranteed to its citizens. Its colors standing for purity, innocence, bravery, sacrifice, vigilance and justice: the cornerstones of our society.

of the United States of America a confederation of sovereign states united to protect a shared vision of self evident truths: that all mankind is created equal and endowed by God with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

and to the republic…  a government in which supreme power resides in its citizens and is exercised by elected officers responsible and governing according to laws approved by those citizens. 

for which it stands… the values and freedoms that we as a united nation will die to protect

One Nation… One Nation means “… malice toward none, with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting, peace, among ourselves…” Abraham Lincoln

Under God… “”It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God… and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln

Indivisible…the union of states is incapable of undergoing division: discussion absolutely, disagreement certainly, but division impossible.

With Liberty… the state of being free and enjoying social, political, and economic rights and privileges: The power of choice.

“Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Emma Lazarus, American Poet, engraved on the Statue of Liberty.

and Justice… what is right, fair, appropriate and deserved

FOR ALL! …The United States of America and the freedoms she holds dear is our birthright, no matter creed, color or religion.

As I sit and pray for my husband who is defending this great nation on foreign soil once again, I realize that with great gifts come great responsibility and sacrifice. There are thousands right now who are defending our freedom with life, limb and time. They have been called upon, by this nation, to defend her life and liberty; you and me. Let us do our part to support them…

…until the last one comes home.

I Pledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Depot withdraws Support of the Troops June 10, 2008

Many of you know that my husband is deployed back to Iraq for the fourth time. We always laugh that when he leaves, everything breaks….his fix-it mojo exits our little world. As I sit here all the light bulbs in our bathroom have burnt out, the pool motor burnt out, the control panel is fried, the burners on the stove aren’t lighting and we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. So usually, to fix all these things and do more “retail therapy” home renovations projects, it’s off to Home Depot I go.

Over the past four years that we have lived here, and had a Home Depot literally down the road, I have been overwhelmed by their consistent support of the troops. No matter if it was light bulbs, flooring or appliances I knew that I could count on them for a great 10% discount extended to military families. Often stores do specials on Memorial, Veterans Day or the 4th of July when it seems the patriotic thing to do… but Home Depot chose to have that every day…and because of that…out of all the home stores in our area…I chose them.

Until today.

I was informed by the check out associate that as of yesterday, Home Depot has withdrawn their military discount program. So, I informed him that the purchase I was making would be my last with his company. As a corporation they have the right to conduct business however they see fit. As a customer I have the right to stop purchasing there, and to let my readers know about the change of Home Depot’s corporate policy. I confirmed the information with a manager at the store, and also called the Corporate Office for confirmation… I am still waiting for a response.

I am grateful for the years that they have supported military families, and am extremely disappointed that they have decided to stop doing that. It’s not about the discount per-say (although it would have been nice to have when purchasing my new stove) it is also about the feeling I got when they looked at my ID, gave me the discount, and said thanks for serving. Your families sacrifice means a lot to us, and we honor you in the best way we can.

They aren’t doing that anymore.

You can make up your own minds….as I have already done… but I hope that you think about this the next time you have a choice between Home Depot and your local hardware store, ACE, LOWESor Sears….and vote with your dollars. Let them know what you think about it, click here to contact them. Let your friends, family and neighbors know about this, and if you are military how the decision affects you.

I would encourage Home Depot to rethink their newly changed policy and remember that the military customers they have,  are most likely there because they chose to Support ourstill deployed…still sacrificing for our country…still fighting for their right to be in business…still fighting for my right to speak freely….TROOPS.

Home Depot isn’t doing that anymore.

Till the last one is home… Semper Fidelis

 

 

By their flair…ye shall know them May 13, 2008

My husband and I were at a fundraiser recently. It is one of the blue ribbon events in our community… if you are somebody, then you are there.

We are not “somebodies”.

My friend happens to be the director of the institute, and needed warm bodies for a few open seats that were left. Always striving to be appropriate, we dudded up in our finest and drove our domestic to one of the swanky wineries in town. We did not valet.

All the way there we shared a grin… we are such posers.

I scanned the silent auction items, proudly writing my bid number down on the interesting looking ones… we were there so early, we got to take the opening bid slots. My husband warns me, if they all hit,  we are eating mac and cheese for a month.

I laugh, we will for certain be beat out… I mean the opening bids were $20. Don’t you know that a charity auction is not for bargain hunters, it is to raise money for their cause…. so, no worries, we will be outbid. This is the upper crust of our fair city’s citizens.

… most that were there…posers. Fortunately for my food budget, we only won two. Unfortunately for the charity, they came in a huge amount under their goal.

So how do we know by looking at people if they are genuine or not. In this day and age of labels…Gucci and Prada… and posers… leased prestige BMWs, no interest loans on mansions, 40 year college loans on ivy league… how do we wade through them and find truth about people…who they really are and what they stand for? I mean, act your wage. Isn’t that a huge contributing factor to the economy going down the drain? People are posing.

This is why I appreciate the military system. By their flair, ye shall know them. I was struck by this on base recently. Simply by looking at the Marines around me, I could tell upwards of ten significant things about them. No words required. Depending on the uniform they are wearing:

1. I know how to address them

2. what their job is

3. the places in the world they have been

4. what kind of education they have

5. how much they really earn

6. where they live (base stationed at)

7. their Job performance

8. How crazy they are (All the services wear different cammies and uniforms from each other, you can spot a Marine a mile away)

9. Merit, heroism, bravery….

10. All the obvious things like rank, last name, unit, schools they’ve gone to, how great of a shot they are (rifle and pistols), how many times they have deployed…and to where….if they fly, what they fly and how long they have been… among others.

You truly can get a whole snapshot of who they are the moment you are observing them. Those are not silly things, like what kind of phone they use or car they drive…they are significant things about who they are as people.

These are just observations. I am not advocating everyone start wearing little emblems of themselves everywhere…although if you think about it, we already do…. there is just no governing body to regulate and police proper, honest display of them.  It would be an interesting social experiment though… wearing patches and medals to tell the story of who you really are….

1. Spent all my food money on this Prada Bag and am living on top raman now.

2. This BMW is really leased….or better yet, my other car is a enterprise rent-a-car

3. Living on my parent’s couch once my no-interest loan comes due on my gated 6bdrm.

or perhaps…

1. I just got back from refuge relief in Tanzania

2. I just helped build houses for Habitat.

3. I love my children.

My husband is laughing at me as I write this. I am the girl who won’t even wear the nametag at church…I like to force people to say hi and ask my name. I like to force myself to remember theirs. (Plus I get creeped out by people looking at my boobs all the time…squinting to read the nametag)

I can’t help thinking how differently we would look at the people we meet if this was the case? Would we get to know people better or ostracize them more…if they wore their truth on sleeves and collars. What would yours say… let me know?

 

 

 

 

 

Another Sandbox Tour April 26, 2008

 

 The Marines have called again.

 My husband has answered, again.

He is off to serve our country in Iraq, again (Tour #4).

We affectionately call this tour, “The Sandbox”. Out of our 9 years of marriage, this will be our 6th deployment… 5th combat tour.

This one will be the longest he has ever gone. He will miss: my son’s preschool graduation, end of school parties, his brother’s ordination, our summer vacation, my daughters birthday, his birthday, the first day of third grade and kindergarten, my son’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. When my husband leaves, my daughter will be 7 and son 5. When he returns my daughter will be 8 and son 6. Those are just the big events. He will miss field trips, loose teeth, new teeth, skinned knees, 2 wheel bike victories…..  The downside of deployment.

But you see…attitude is everything. After my little pity party here, we will pick up and keep going.

In fact, let’s try to find a silver lining now…

Top 10 upsides to deployment: (Amie’s guide to Delightful Deployments)

1. We have a rule, no TV’s in bedrooms… I however, love to watch tv and fall asleep… so, the day he leaves, the extra TV packed away in the garage comes out and onto the dresser. My kids and I look forward to movie night, snuggled together under the blankets.

2. get to change your hairstyle (I cut it off the day after he leaves), change colors… whatever…it’s hair… dye washes and hair grows a lot in 8 months.

3. Retail Therapy… the just opened a new pottery barn outlet! Spend that tax free money.  (but I do recommend taking it easy… it’s a lot harder to pay it off in the back-end.)

4. Paint, wallpaper… re-tile, re-carpet, redecorate… re-whatever, the lamps are all yours….

5. ….so is the remote control. Also, ther is more room on the DVR for Men In Trees and chick shows, without having Battlestar Galactic, Future Weapons… well,  generally any sci-fi, military or history channel shows taking up your valuable DVR space.

6. Travel… to wherever, go and see YOUR parents… Seattle, here I come… who cares if it rains on July 4th!

7. Shopping List… paper plates, paper towels, paper cups, plastic silverware… 8 months of no dishes, priceless!… oh, and I highly recommend Take-out chef’s.

8. stay up until 2 am writing, blogging, scrap-booking, painting…. any ing’s you want. Just crash in one of your kids beds when you run out of steam… because they are inevitably in yours.

9. Less laundry

and #10… put out as many candles, throw pillows, plants… chick movies, romance novels, flannel pj’s and bon-bons as you like 🙂

 of course, I would gladly give them up for my husband to share the next 8 months with us.

I love you honey, and will miss you.

So, if you think of it, drop a prayer for us….and check back on this blog often to follow the adventure our next 8 months will be.

 

 

 

 
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