The Essence of Politics

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Eight Years Later

As I sit here and look back on 9/11, eight years later, I am amazed to see a nation that united on this day but in days prior and after it seems as if we lose our way. However now is the time for us as a nation to mourn and to renew our spirit of service to this great nation of ours? As cold rain mixed with tears as mourners collected under umbrellas and a dreary sky Friday to mark the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with old rituals and a new purpose — honoring the spirit of those who rushed forward to help. Skies were gray in New York City, at the Pentagon and at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in a Shanksville, Pa., field, where now-familiar ceremonies honored the nearly 3,000 people who were lost. Friday was also the first time the anniversary was observed as a national day of service, following an order signed this year by President Barack Obama.

"From this day forward, we will safeguard the memories of those who died by rekindling the spirit of service that lit our city with hope and helped keep us strong," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a ceremony in lower Manhattan. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence in honor of 9/11 victims outside the White House as a single bugler played taps. A Washington rain came to a stop as the observance began at 8:46 a.m., the moment the first jetliner struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Later, in the rain, he placed a wreath at the Pentagon.

The nation, Obama said, came together as one after the terrorist attacks, "united not only in our grief but in our resolve to stand up for the country we love." At a plaza adjacent to ground zero in New York City, families gathered, with umbrellas whipping inside out, while the names of the Trade Center victims were read, pausing for moments of silence at the minutes the jetliners crashed into the towers and the buildings fell. People involved in volunteer work across the nation joined relatives of victims to read the names of those lost in the twin towers.

One reader represented a group called New York Says Thank You, which sends volunteers from New York City each year on the attacks anniversary to help rebuild communities around the country affected by disasters as a way to send thanks for the help that came to New York City after Sept. 11. Other readers were from local soup kitchens, advocacy groups and well-known service organizations including the American Red Cross and the United Way. As has become tradition, relatives who read names called out greetings and messages of love to the lost.

"We miss you; life will never be the same without you. This is not the rain," said Vladimir Boyarsky, whose son, Gennady Boyarsky, was killed. "This is the tears." Philip Hayes Jr. noted how his father made the ultimate sacrifice when he responded to the site that morning, even though he had long been retired from the Fire Department. "We love you, Dad and we miss you," Hayes said.

In New York City, Vice President Joe Biden spoke during a pause in the reading of the names, telling the several hundred victims' relatives gathered that "there's a special fraternity for those of us who've lost spouses and children." Biden's daughter and first wife died in a 1972 automobile accident. Before he spoke, Biden joined families who were laying flowers in a reflecting pool on the site where the towers once stood. Relatives and friends of victims were allowed Friday to visit the plaza for the Sept. 11 memorial that is under construction. It is expected to be partially complete and open for the 10th anniversary.

Former President George W. Bush had no public appearances planned Friday, and a spokesman said he would be working in his office during the morning. In a brief statement, he said he and his wife, Laura, were thinking of the victims and their families.

"We honor those who volunteer to keep us safe and extend the reach of freedom — including members of the armed forces, law enforcement officers, and intelligence and homeland security professionals," the statement said. "Their courage, service, and sacrifice is a fitting tribute to all those who gave their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. On this day, let us renew our determination to prevent evil from returning to our shores."

Therefore 9/11 is a day to honor the dead by serving the living as President Obama proclaimed. The taxi is blowing down FDR Drive, heading south, Ground Zero a mile or so ahead. Jay Winuk is letting a humid breeze blow in through an open window as he considers his dead brother's legacy and the meaning of 9/11.

For eight years, he and fellow public-relations executive David Paine have worked to make the anniversary of the terrorist attacks a national moment of something other than sorrow, something other than the day, amid thousands of other tragedies, Winuk's brother Glenn died while trying to rescue people in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Now on the cusp of a huge success, with congressional and presidential approval officially recognizing Sept. 11 as a day for people to do a good deed -- any good deed -- Winuk is adamant about what he doesn't want this day to become. "We do not want this to become a federal holiday," he says in his soft voice. "Holidays tend to become three-day weekends, barbecues, going to the beach and white sales. We never use the word 'holiday' for this. It's not about taking a day off and doing something fun. It's a day for reflection and for action."

And: "It's an extraordinary moment we're at now." In April, President Obama signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which gave federal authorization to establish Sept. 11 as the National Day of Service and Remembrance. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at Friday night's official ceremony in New York. More than 200 organizations, working through Paine and Winuk's group, My Good Deed, and through ServiceNation, another volunteer-based group, are overseeing thousands of individual and corporate projects across the country, all designed to honor the memory of those who died on Sept. 11.

Winuk and Paine say they hope to re-create the spirit of the days and weeks that followed 9/11, when it was said all irony was lost, strangers reached out to help one another and, as President Abraham Lincoln once put it, "the better angels of our nature" appeared. "There was something different about the country in the days after the attacks," Paine says, standing with Winuk on Liberty Street, between the gaping hole of Ground Zero and the front entrance of FDNY's Ladder Company 10 and Engine Company 10, which lost so many firefighters that day. "It provided a glimpse of what the country could be, all those people coming down to help at Ground Zero, expecting nothing in return." He pauses. "It was a better place to live."

Now Glenn Winuk was a lawyer at Holland & Knight, working just across from the Trade Center. He was also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician in his home town of Jericho, out on Long Island. He had close-cropped brown hair, a friendly smile. A family photo shows Winuk in his dress uniform, beaming at the camera. When the planes crashed into the towers, he helped evacuate his building, then grabbed a medical kit and ran into the towers.

He was 40 years old, had no wife or children. He had lived for moments like this. "As a child, I can remember my uncle, also a firefighter, holding Glenn or myself and sliding down the fire pole in the station where he worked," Winuk says. "We asked my dad to put a pole from our bedroom down to the garage." Then the towers came down. For weeks, Winuk and his parents harbored hope. "Air pockets in the rubble, maybe he hit his head and was in a hospital somewhere." When Mayor Rudolph Giuliani finally announced that rescue effort had turned into a recovery operation, the family planned a funeral.

The Winuks, who are Jewish, took a cue from survivors of the Holocaust, who, when they had no body to bury, had put favored belongings of their dead in an otherwise empty coffin. In went Glenn's law books, a Jewish prayer book, a toy firetruck he'd had as a child. Then, the following March, Glenn's partial remains, along with those of several other firefighters, were discovered in what had been the lobby of the South Tower. Glenn's medical kit was at his side. The casket was dug up and his remains added. "It was a very hard [funeral] service," Winuk remembers.

That same spring, Paine, a native New Yorker who had moved to California, was still feeling haunted by the attacks, though he had lost no family members. Looking for a way to help, he learned that the New York Mets were each giving a day's pay to help 9/11 victims and their families. "That's it!" he remembers thinking. He rushed to buy domain names on the Internet:, .net, .org and so on. He thought the idea was catchy -- Americans donating salary or one day's effort to some sort of volunteer effort, in honor of Sept. 11 victims. On his Web sites, he invited people to "do a good deed" and post it on the site as a means of inspiring others to do the same.

"More than 50,000 people posted their deeds on the site," he says. "That was with no advertising, no anything. It was amazing." He had worked with Winuk at a public relations firm earlier in their careers, and they had remained friendly. Knowing Winuk had lost his brother, he approached him with the idea of trying to turn Sept. 11 into a day of volunteering. Winuk leapt at the chance. It was a slightly bewildering scene to wade into. More than two dozen Sept. 11 charities had sprung up. They had to establish a clear line of action that would not interfere with other projects. "It could be a little competitive back then," remembers Terry Sears, executive director of Tuesday's Children, a nonprofit organization that offers help to families of 9/11 victims.

"David and Jay had a very clear vision of what they wanted to do that was very forward-looking when most people were looking at the here and now," Sears says. "They wanted to make some good come out of 9/11. I would say they saw the rainbow before everyone else did." By the summer of 2004, they had changed their organization's name to My Good Deed and were ready to reach out to Congress. On July 4, they tracked down Washington lobbyist (and native New Yorker) Fred Dombo, who had been recommended to them. Dombo remembers he was "sitting in the attic at my mother-in-law's beach house in Rehoboth" when the pair called him, asking for advice in negotiating the mysteries of the Hill.

Dombo, working pro bono, reached out to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who immediately took to the idea of a day of service, Dombo recalls. For the next five years, Winuk and Paine made dozens of trips to Washington to build support on both sides of the political aisle, getting key backing from then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and her fellow New York Democrat, Sen. Charles E. Schumer. By this spring, it was attached to the Kennedy bill and sailed through both the House and Senate.

Meanwhile, their national outreach and good relations with Sept. 11 families had helped their volunteering idea catch on with any number of groups across the country. Earlier this week, while arranging volunteer events for this weekend, Paine was walking through the Tribute WTC Visitor Center. He bumped into Jennifer Adams, the chief executive of the center. He asked about an event scheduled for Friday that Adams was arranging, stuffing care packages for troops deployed overseas.

"We've got 300 volunteers coming!" she said, excited. "Which is good. It might rain." Across town, former New York Giants star George Martin, a client of Winuk's, was sitting at Foley's Pub and Restaurant. In front of him was a chicken sandwich named in his honor ("The Chicken Cordon Big Blue"), an effort to raise perhaps $1,000 for the continuing medical expenses of first responders to the Trade Center. It was the latest of his many efforts related to Sept. 11 volunteering, inspired by the friends he lost that day. In 2007, he walked across the country for the same cause, and to help with raising awareness for My Good Deed. He hoofed 20 miles per day, and raised $2.5 million.

"None of these are huge sums but if everyone did a little bit, the sum total would be tremendous," he said. Sitting across from him at the table was Winuk, manfully ignoring the heat in a wool pinstripe suit, quiet. He was smiling. It was unclear if this was in response to what Martin was saying, or if, perhaps, he was lost in memories of his brother, the little boy on Long Island who had once ridden down a fire pole in the arms of his uncle, grew up to save lives and would later serve as the inspiration for a day dedicated to helping others.

Still not all Americans are old enough to understand the memory of 9/11, yet alone the impact of it. So for some Americans 8 years after 9/11 is more of a lesson rather than a memory. Eight years later, the Sept. 11 attacks are pages in the history books to a generation that's too young to recall them. Some student in a high school in Vincennes, Indiana filed into their social studies class just after lunch and slumped into desks where they had learned about the Civil War, Lewis and Clark, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. On this day, teacher Michael Hutchison said, the class would feature "another of those huge moments in our history." He reminded the high school juniors and seniors that he would be grading their notes. Then he dimmed the lights and played a video on the classroom TV.

Some students set backpacks on their desks to use as pillows, and others pulled the hoods of their sweat shirts low over their eyes. "Nap time," one of them said. Meanwhile, on the screen at the front of the room, a skyscraper burned. A woman screamed. A tower crumbled. A mother sobbed as she recalled her son's final words.

"There was a fire," one student wrote in his notes.

"People died and went missing," scribbled another.

"It was an example of 'terrorism,' " wrote a third.

Eight years later, this is an example of what Sept. 11, 2001, has become for a generation that's too young to remember much, if anything, about that day: It is an educational DVD, a 167-page textbook, a black binder of class handouts titled "A National Interdisciplinary Curriculum." In Room C215 at Lincoln High School, images of the collapsing Manhattan skyline are now a classroom "warm-up exercise." "Militant," "imploding" and "rubble" are boldfaced vocabulary words for students to memorize. Homework assignments and essay questions ensure that Sept. 11 will indeed be remembered by millions of schoolchildren, if with a new sense of detachment.

From the personal to the preserved -- this is the uncomfortable transition that time requires of all great tragedies. Anthony Gardner, whose brother died on the 83rd floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower, conceived of a Sept. 11 curriculum as a tribute to the victims. He partnered with two professors in Manhattan, who partnered with an education company in San Francisco, which partnered with a cadre of researchers and copy editors, who sent the final product to a handful of test schools nationwide last week.

One copy was mailed to Hutchison, 53, a longtime history teacher in Vincennes who has never visited New York City. A former Indiana Teacher of the Year, Hutchison had been chosen to help roll out the curriculum because of his reputation for bringing multimedia history lessons to a school edged by cornfields near the Illinois border. On Wednesday, he stared out at 22 students who have lived about half of their lives since the 2001 attacks. What they remember of that day is now scattered snapshots. One remembered his third-grade teacher saying that a plane had crashed. One remembered an administrator locking the front door to the elementary school. Parents hurried into town to stock up on gas. Neighbors hung American flags. A brother talked about being drafted to war.

"You might have been too young to realize it," Hutchison said, "but I knew that we were seeing history made as I was watching on TV." He distributed a handout that had come with the curriculum, and the students counted the pages in each packet -- "Seven, eight, nine! Seriously?" -- and let out a collective groan. The first two pages contained flight-path diagrams for the four planes that crashed on Sept. 11, followed by a 30-year history of U.S. relations with Afghanistan. Hutchison asked the students to form groups of four and create their own Sept. 11 timelines

"This is going to take us forever," complained a boy in the back.

"Just try to focus until the bell rings," Hutchison said.

Over the next several weeks, if Hutchison continued to follow the curriculum, his students would eventually build their own Sept. 11 memorials, create maps of terrorist activity and debate the cleanup of Ground Zero as members of a fictitious town council. But at the end of their first day studying the attacks, Hutchison assigned a more basic task for homework: to interview somebody older about Sept. 11 and write an article based on their recollections.

"I'm going to select the two best, and those students will receive some major extra credit," Hutchison said. "So take this seriously, because it could be huge for your grade." In the second row, a senior named JaLeah Hedrick looked up from her notes.

"Wait," she said. "Extra credit?"

"Yes," Hutchison said. "Interview a few people. It can be uncles, parents, grandparents -- anybody you want. Then write down whatever they can remember."

Anthony Gardner, who has never been to Vincennes, needed to remember everything. Long before he created the curriculum destined for Hutchison's classroom, Gardner, 33, taught himself to retain every detail of the terrorist attacks that changed his life.

On Sept. 11, 2001, he was a recent college graduate listening to Howard Stern's radio show while walking to work in New York. Stern interrupted one of his gags to announce that the World Trade Center had been attacked. Gardner immediately thought of his brother, Harvey, who worked on the 83rd floor of the North Tower. He called Harvey's cell phone but received a busy signal. He dialed again, and again, but never got through.

Gardner walked seven miles through Manhattan and took a ferry home to New Jersey. He searched for pictures of his brother and hung one in every room of the house. He found a video recorded at his wedding four months earlier and watched footage of Harvey laughing so hard that it jiggled the boutonniere pinned to his chest. "I had this unbelievable urge to see him," Gardner said.

Weeks passed, then months, then years, and still Harvey's body was never recovered. Craving a tangible connection to his brother, Gardner collected rocks from the rubble of the World Trade Center and filled a water bottle with wet soil from Ground Zero. He printed transcripts of news conferences, saved newspaper articles and spent six years working as the director of a nonprofit organization representing Sept. 11 victims. "My family told me that it was unhealthy and obsessive," Gardner said. "Some things about 9/11 are still more clear in my mind than whatever happened this morning."

There was the moment a few months before the attacks, when the two brothers met for a quick lunch near the World Trade Center and idled at the base of the North Tower. Harvey mentioned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. "Look at this thing," he said, gazing up the shimmering face of the tower. "They'll never take these buildings down." Or the moment a few days after the attacks, when Gardner sat at his computer and created a missing-person flier. Name: Harvey J. Gardner III. Age: 35. Hair color: black. At the bottom of the sheet, under a photograph, he typed a physical description -- "Hairline receding" -- and then imagined how furious Harvey would be if he ever read it.

Or the moment later that first week, hope fading now, when Gardner stopped by his brother's house and sifted through toiletries, collecting a razorblade and a toothbrush to provide rescue workers a sample of Harvey's DNA.

Eight years? Could it really be that long? In that time, Gardner began a marriage, struggled to have children, celebrated the birth of a first baby, then a second, then a third. He changed careers three times and returned to school for two new degrees. And yet still he suffered from nightmares and wondered if he had post-traumatic stress disorder.

A few years ago, Gardner's oldest daughter asked him about Sept. 11, and he realized how vague the event must have seemed to her. She needed to remember, he decided. Everyone needed to remember. He helped form the Sept. 11 Education Trust, which conducted 100 hours of video interviews with survivors, firefighters, politicians and relatives of the victims. The videos formed the backbone for a curriculum intended to "remind everyone that 9/11 was a collective experience, affecting everyone, everywhere," Gardner said.

With the help of history professors at the Taft Institute for Government at Queens College, Gardner developed a seven-lesson curriculum intended for sixth through 12th grades. He spoke at a news conference in New York on Tuesday to mark the release of the curriculum, recalling eight anniversaries of the attacks. First it was mourned, then memorialized, then made into history for future generations and shipped to a high school in Indiana.

Now JaLeah Hedrick, 18, had never learned about Sept. 11 in school until she entered Hutchison's class this week, but consequences of that day surrounded her as she began her pursuit of extra credit. For Hedrick, Sept. 11 was the pledge of allegiance that Vincennes area schools had begun playing over loudspeakers every morning since late 2001. It was the "Threat Level Orange" that she heard each time she visited the Indianapolis airport. It was the way her grandfather, a World War II veteran, grimaced when he spoke of "those Muslims." It was the USA T-shirt her dad wore when he picked her up from school in an aging Pontiac with a red-white-and-blue license plate inscribed with the phrase "In God We Trust."

And now, it was homework -- due to Hutchison by 1 p.m. Friday. Hedrick wanted to interview her grandfather Ed Hedrick, because he is a veteran and, she said, "an American hero." Other classmates were planning to interview fathers serving in Iraq or distant relatives who had worked at the Pentagon, but Ed Hedrick, 83, was the only person his granddaughter knew whose recollections of Sept. 11 might have the gravitas worthy of extra credit. She rode a mile across town and sat across from her grandfather on his front porch. She pulled a blue notebook and a pink pen from her backpack and then looked at a class handout that provided a list of possible interview questions. "I have to ask you some of these for homework," she told her grandfather, her eyes still fixed on the sheet. "Where were you when you first heard about the attack?" "I was sitting in that red chair over there in the living room," he said.

She nodded and then read the next question. "Did you continue to listen to the radio or watch TV?"

"Yes," her grandfather said. "I barely moved all week. I couldn't stop watching."

"How did it affect you?" she asked.

"Severe anger, for days," he said.

"What action did you want the government to take?" she asked.

"Well, I guess I wanted them to load up three or four of those H-bombs and send them over there. That's how I felt at the time."

"How has it affected your daily life since?"

"Not much. I don't think about it. They teach you not to think about ugly things when you fight in a war."

Hedrick had a full page of pink notes now, enough for a good start on the assignment. She thanked her grandfather and patted him on the knee. He stood up with her, a distant look in his eyes. "I was born into a war, I fought in a war, and now here's another war," he said. "You might not know it to look at me now, but when I was 18 they made me walk 25 miles with 70 pounds on my back." "I know, Grandpa," Hedrick said. "I know." He looked ready to tell her more, but his granddaughter was already heading into the house, the door swinging behind her. She had heard this story before. She remembered it. It was history. So she walked off the porch, carrying the class handouts on Sept. 11, and returned home to finish her assignment.

Therefore 8 years after 9/11 it seems that for some it is a day of mourning, for others it is a day of service and for a select few of young Americans, it is a lesson. No matter how anyone looks at 9/11 it is a day for our nation to mourn but it is also a day to help the living which is why we must serve our nation to the best of our abilities. 9/11 is a day to teach of how a country came together to uplift one another, to encourage one another and most of all to motivate one another to love this nation regardless of its flaws because there are people who have dead for this great nation of ours to give us many of the freedoms and liberties that we have. 9/11 is more than just a day of mourning, it is more than just a day of service and it is more than just a lesson plan in the history books but it is a day to renew our love for nation and for its people. 9/11 is a day for us to realize that political bickering should not prevent us from working together to conquer the greater good of our nation.

9/11 symbolizes that and so much more. 8 years after 9/11 and we are at a moment when we can teach other Americans why we mourn, why we serve and why we love America so much all on this day when all Americans realized that our nation was not as safe as we thought it was. Eight years later, we as a nation continue to be divided by old political ideologies and by extremists within our own nation who would rather see us divided as Americans not united. America, this 9/11 anniversary is not just about serving others or mourning those we lost but it is about us realizing that together we can accomplish so much more than divided. This 9/11 is about us helping each other live and prosper. This 9/11 is about producing a new generation of Americans who are willing to serve the least of us, the elderly, the sick and the most vulnerable. This 9/11 should be about Americans finally putting aside hate of any kind in order to preach and work for equality for all. This 9/11 should be about us as a nation rallying around the American flag to show that we will not stand for injustices of any kind and we will not stand for racism or race-baiting of any kind. This 9/11 should be about us as a nation fighting to end discrimination of any kind so that we all have the same opportunities to succeed as everyone else. This 9/11 should be about us as a nation finally judging people not on the color of their skin but only on their character, skills, talents and values.

9/11, 8 years later is still a day to remember for all Americans both young and old. 9/11 will forever be remembered as a day to mourn, a day to serve and a day to learn. Therefore don’t let this day go by without understanding what it is really about and why it is important to our “Great” nation.

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Jay-Z - History

(Jay-Z - History)Jay-Z - History with Lyrics

LYRICS : [Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
(Gimme a lighter)
Victory (Lighters up) is finally ours
(Lighters up)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 1: Jay-Z]
In search of victory, she keeps eluding me
If only we could be together momentarily
We can make love and make history
Why won't you visit me? until she visit me
I'll be stuck with her sister, her name is defeat
She gives me agony, so much agony
She brings me so much pain, so much misery
Like missing your last shot and falling to your knees
As the crowd screams for the other team
I practice so hard for this moment, victory don't leave
I know what this means, I'm stuck in this routine
Whole new different day, same old thing
All I got is dreams, nobody else can see
Nobody else believes, nobody else but me
Where are you victory? I need you desperately
Not just for the moment, to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History (yeah), so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 2: Jay-Z]
So now I'm flirting with death, hustling like a G
While victory wasn't watching took chances repeatedly
As a teenage boy before acne, before I got proactiv I couldn't face she
I just threw on my hoodie and headed to the street
That's where I met success, we'd live together shortly
Now success is like lust, she's good to the touch
She's good for the moment but she's never enough
Everybody's had her, she's nothing like V
But success is all I got unfortunately
But I'm burning down the block hoppin' in and out of V
But something tells me that there's much more to see
Before I get killed because I can't get robbed
So before me success and death ménage
I gotta get lost, I gotta find V
We gotta be together to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters. Up.)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighter. Up.)
Victory is finally ours
(Lighters. Up.)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
Now victory is mine, it tastes so sweet
She's my trophy wife, you're coming with me
We'll have a baby who stutters repeatedly
We'll name him history, he'll repeat after me
He's my legacy, son of my hard work
Future of my past, he'll explain who I be
Rank me amongst the greats, either 1, 2, or 3
If I ain't number one then I failed you victory
Ain't in it for the fame that dies within weeks
Ain't in it for the money, can't take it when you leave
I wanna be remembered long after you grieve
Long after I'm gone, long after I breathe
I leave all I am in the hands of history
That's my last will and testimony
This is much more than a song, it's a baby shower
I've been waiting for this hour, history you ours

[Chorus: Cee-lo (2x)]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

Man in the Mirror--By Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

I'm gonna make a change,
for once im my life
It's gonna feel real good,
gonna make a diference
Gonna make it right...

As I, turn up the collar on
my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the streets,
with not enought to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer disregard,a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
(Washed-out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me
(Starting with me!)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Change his ways - ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that..
(Take a look at yourself and then make that..)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror - Oh yeah!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
(If you wanna make the world a better place)

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cook

It's been a long time coming but a change is surely going to come in America and the World! I am the Future of America and the World and that is the message that each of us must carry with us each and every day that we wake up on Earth! I am the Future! You are the Future! We are the Future of America and the World! That is way every election is important--primaries, special elections and general! So vote every year and hold our politicians accountable. Hold our political officials accountable by writing them, calling them and making sure they attend meetings that we the people have. "The Time for Change is not Now but Right Now!"

"EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary" should be our anthem and should be our creed as we make the positive differences in America and the world that so many people beg for and hungry for year after year! A Change is Gonna Come, A Change is Gonna Come, that's what we must say as we say "God grants us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courge to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference" each morning before we go about the task of making a positive change in America and the world a reality.

Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen

“When will people realize that we are Americans first and foremost, not Democrats or Liberals, not Republicans or Conservatives, not Independents or moderates. We are Americans. Stop putting a political party above America and stop putting any politican above America. America succeeds because of us the people holding our government responsible no matter the political party because the main two political parties are to blame for the condition America is in."—Hodari P.T. Brown

America with its flaws and all is a country I am proud to have been born in. America is not perfect but my love for it is perfect. That’s why all Americans must realize that we are all Americans. In fact we are Americans first and foremost. We are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans.

We are not Muslims, Christians or Jews. We are Americans. Too many times we recognize our differences with others rather than appreciating our similarities which are, we are Americans. We are Americans first and foremost, no matter if we were born here or moved here legally. We are all Americans, here in this country to make not only our lives better but the lives of other Americans better so future Americans can enjoy the rights and freedoms that make us all Americans.

We are all Americans. We are one party united under God. We are Americans and this is the only political party that matters. We are Americans and this is our country so let’s make sure that we make America better than how we found it so future Americans can live prosperous and joyous lives. We are Americans and must not ever forget that.

America will prosper as long we make sure we are doing our part to make it prosper and that means we can’t put any political party or politician above America. Long live America forever and long live America’s service to the world. Together, America and the world will prosper for future generations to enjoy America and the world we live in.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

This video of the ' Negro National Anthem' was originally screened at the historic African-American Church Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2009. Many of the esteemed individuals featured in this video in attendance and we presented with the ' Keepers of the Flame' award for the monumental contributions to social justice.

This version of the song was performed by the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir, conducted by Derrick James. The video was produced and donated by Ascender Communications, LLC ( at the request of The Balm In Gilead, Inc.

If I Was President--Wyclef Jean

If I was President that is the people's anthem. We all have ideas of what we can do as President and through this website, we will fulfill our deam as a people!

Somethings Gotta Give--Big Boi ft Mary J Blige

Somethings Gotta Give people and it begins today for all us to make sure that something is us. We the people are sick and tired of suffering. Where is our piece of the Dream that so many people dead for so that we all could see today. This is our time people to change America and the world so that the Next Generation has a better future than the past we inherited.

This is our call to service. This isn't about one political candidate or one political figure. This is about us as people coming together to finally leave up to our potential and achieving the great feats that those before us have achieved. This is our moment to lead our nation and our world to greater heights.

Somethings gotta give people and it starts with us the people making it happen. We have to improve our education system in America. We have to rid the world of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have to go to the streets and lift a hand to another in order to decrease poverty in this world. We have to take a stand today and make sure that the future of America and the world is brighter than it has ever been.

Somethings Gotta Give and that is why we must "Remember Each One, Reach One and Teach One so America's future and the World's future continues to prosper."

John Legend - "If You're Out There"

If you're out there than you need to get started in helping to change America and the world. The world and America won't change until you get involved in making the changes you want to see in this world. If you're out there, than you must know that tomorrow started now and today started yesterday so you are behind in helping to the change. If you are tired of hatred, racism, poverty, war, and violence than the time to change it is now. If you want universal health care, world peace, democracy for every nation, equal rights, and happiness for all than you must get involved now to help the save world.

You must believe in the change that you want to see and you must act on making that change a reality. If you're out there than say it aloud and show the rest of America and the world that you're out here to make a real positive change in the communities we stay in. If you're out there than get involved now. I'm calling every women and men to join me as we take back our country right here, right now. If you're out there than the future started yersterday and we are already late so we have lots of work to do but I know we can do it together as one.


Yes We Can accomplish anything that we set out to do! We don't need charismatic or inspirational leaders to believe in ourselves and to take responsiblity for our own faith, we just need each other. Yes We Can build a new America and a new world if each of us would take action now to make the changes that we want to see in the world. Yes We Can control government by holding our political officials accountable for their actions by calling them out when they don't pass legislation that supports the common good of all man and by voting in every election to ensure that we have people representing the people locally, state wide, nationally and in the world.

Yes We Can be great! Yes We Can be what we want to be! Yes We Can be glorious in not only America but the world! Yes We can put action behind our worlds and change the world starting right here, right now! Yes We Can as Republicans, Democrats and Independents become one as we freely think about our fellow men and women and make decisions that will be in the best interest of all people and not one single group.

Yes We Can be the change that we want to see in the world! Yes We Can show the world that the youth are ready to lead! Yes We Can put our egos, our social economic statuses, our religions, our educational statuses and our skin color to the side for the better good of the world! Yes We Can be Greater than we have ever been and help others be Greater than they have ever be!

YES WE CAN and YES WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS IN ALL THAT WE DO! YES WE CAN, no matter what others may say, we will be glorious! YES WE WILL and YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN is what will be sung from every mountaintop, every riverbank, every household, every school yard, every factory, every sporting event, every college campus and even every place you can imagine in the world is where YES WE CAN, will be said and heard!


Keep On Pushing - Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions

Wake Up People! No matter who is elected to any public office, we have to “Keep On Pushing” as a people to make sure they don’t leave us in a worst state than what they inherited. We as a people have to “Keep On Pushing” to make a difference in the lives of others. We have to have an “EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary” attitude as we continue to push our agenda that we the people deserve and want better. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change in a positive way that will benefit all Americans no matter their age, their religion or skin color. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will improve our education system, improve our military, improve our national security, improve our healthcare system and improve our economy. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will leave America’s future in a better than how we found it and that will leave the world’s future in a better state than we imagined we could live it. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to make life better for our neighborhoods, our families and even our quote on quote enemies. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to inspire, to uplift and to guide those who need help spiritually, physically and mentally. We have to “Keep On Pushing ” so that our lives, our future generation’s lives and the lives of those who came before us does not die in vein.

“Keep on Pushing”

A War For Your Soul

A War For Your Soul-regular version from Erisai Films on Vimeo.

The moment has come for us as a nation of people to finally wake up and realize that our destiny and fate in society has rests on our shoulders. We cannot allow the forces of evil and darkness to drain us out. We have to continue to overcome all odds in order to make the future of our nation better and the future of future generations of Americans better. We have to continue to pray to our Lord and we have to continue to uplift each other in prayer as well as take action against those things that are trying to destroy us. We have to stand up once and for all and be the future that we want to be. Now is our time and we shall do together by any means necessary.

This video was created to inspire young African-Americans not to fall prey to some of the problems they face in society. The use of the voice "Master of Darkness" represents evil, which is where the blame of all problems should be placed, and not on any one group of people. This video should not to be used to divide people (Black & White), there are images of heroes that are white in this video, and there are images of Black & White coming together with the words of Dr. King in the background. Some of the images from the past can be unsettling, but they are used to show all Americans how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. This film is being strategically placed in school systems, churches and youth orgs around the country, in hope of helping a lost generation of kids that we as Americans have forgotten. As fellow Americans we must continue to love each other, and take that love and spread it to the rest of the world. **THIS VIDEO IS NOT FOR SALE & I AM NOT ACCEPTING DONATIONS FOR THE FILM, I ONLY WANT THE MESSAGE TO REACH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT ANY HIDDEN POLITICAL OR FINANCIAL AGENDA.

Sitting On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

"The time for sitting is over! The time for action is now! The time for hope without action is hopeless! The time for change without a positive attitude is a change that we can't believe in! We need change that is positive of helping all people! Our time for action is now, our time for hope is now, our time for change is now and our time to believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to is not now but right now!"


The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just.
And this be our motto— "In God is our trust; "
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Black President

Our Time is not now but Right Now! Our Time has finally come to change the world not now but Right Now! If you don't believe that we can change the world than watch as we do it by changing your mind into believing in us and what we can do! This is OUR TIME RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!


We got to FIGHT THE POWER! We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch injustices take place. We can no longer sit by and allow our right to vote to become unexercised. We must FIGHT THE POWER for our past, present and future! We can no longer allow our rights to be oppressed and our voice to become drained by the powers at be. We must FIGHT THE POWER and show that we have a lot to say that needs to be heard by the mainstream media. We must FIGHT THE POWER and live up to our potential as dynamic, unbelievable and phenomenal people.

We must not believe the hype but we must become the hype. We are not Harriett Tubman, Marcus Garvey, MLK, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, the Black Panther Party, SNCC, or any other activists but we are the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunties, and relatives of those who came before us to pave the way for us to FIGHT THE POWER! We are not next Generation of leaders who will not be honored and praised until they die but that’s the fight we accept. We are not fighting the power for glory or fame but we are fighting the power for just causes that most men and women will not understand until years or decades later.

We are fighting for our sisters and brothers in Darfur, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, China and Mexico. We are speaking for those who are poor and have no food or water. We are fighting for those who are sick and dying. We are fighting for universal healthcare across the world and human rights for all people. We are fighting for rich and poor! We must FIGHT THE POWER no matter how hard and tough the road may be. We must FIGHT THE POWER for a better today and an even greater tomorrow!



“People Get Ready” our time is coming! We have come too far to turn back now. Our train is coming and it is coming in waves. “People Get Ready”, we don’t need a ticket but we need faith and the Lord will help guide us as we take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” our moment is now and we are ready to see the change we want in America and the world. All we got to do is have faith, hope and prosperity. “People Get Ready” to face your fears. “People Get Ready” to face your demons and the challenges of yesterday because today and tomorrow we will conquer & be victorious. “People Get Ready” a change is coming and our actions will make sure that change is a real positive change that lasts forever.

“People Get Ready” because we have had enough of just talking but now is our time to show action. “People Get Ready” to take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” to take back our communities and to make our streets safer and schools better. “People Get Ready” to make all our dreams come true. “People Get Ready” to see a better present for everyone and a better future for future generations. “People Get Ready” to live up to your potential and to help others live up to their own potential. “People Get Ready” to move past hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the dreams of those who came before us and those who will come after us.

“People Get Ready” as we make our actions speak louder than our words. “People Get Ready” to make words mean something again as we put action to back up our rhetoric. “People Get Ready” as we embark on a new journey that will re-write America’s history as well as the world’s history. “People Get Ready” as we make the lives of others better and the lives of future generations better. “People Get Ready” because all we need is faith, hope and action to make this world a better place. “People Get Ready” to make a difference. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the American dream. “People Get Ready" to live out the American Dream as our founding fathers wanted us to live it. “People Get Ready” because our time is now, our moment is now and our moment in time to change America & the world is not now but right now. “People Get Ready” because a change is coming!

(Let me tell you now)
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord

People get ready, for a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most

There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all man kind just to save his own (believe me now)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there's no hiding place against the kingdoms throne

[Alicia & Lyfe]
So people get ready there's a train coming
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming,
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord


God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood

Lee Greenwood-god bless the U.S.A