Today marks the beginning of my 64th trip around the sun. During this time I have been involved in journalism for over 45 years, but I’ve never penned a birthday column. Of course, we’ve never seen times like these we’re experiencing at this moment in history.
Experiences that a mere year ago, I would have never imagined. But, yet, here we are.
I am fortunate to share my birthday with two individuals whom I greatly admired. The first is the greatest commander I ever knew or worked for, a wonderful patriot. Air Force General Robert E. “Dutch” Huyser was the Commander-in-Chief of the then Military Airlift Command when I knew him.
General Huyser instilled a deep manner of patriotism in the command during his time at Scott Air Force Base. He had earlier, while Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe been tapped to be President Jimmy Carter’s secret envoy to Tehran during the fall of the Shah of Iran. He wrote about these experiences in his book, “Mission to Tehran.”
The second is Pat Summitt, the iconic Lady Vols basketball coach. Pat set a record of wins second to no other coach – man or woman. Pat’s contributions to her sport pushed it to heights no one would have ever imagined.
Summitt’s contributions continue today as you look around the sport and see the number of coaches she personally mentored. Her commitment was to not only winning games, but making her players the best they could be in life. And, every one with a college degree in hand as they left campus.
I wish these two were still around. The world is a poorer place without them.
As I blow out the virtual forest fire on my birthday cake, let me take a big breath and make a few more wishes.
My beautiful mom is still here today to celebrate my (our) day together. I wish for several more together.
I wish my entire family could celebrate with us, but the circumstances say otherwise. My wish is for a quick recovery and a vaccine for COVID-19.
I wish my Grandmother Clark were still here to bake my favorite birthday cake, German chocolate.
I wish we could go back and recover the dances, proms, ballgames, graduation and other events the Class of 2020 missed out on. As it is, I just wish them Godspeed as they go on with their lives. I hope this experience has only made them stronger and more resilient.
I wish professional athletes would realize we don’t really need them to survive, that they are one of life’s nice little extras and act accordingly.
I wish we could swap salaries so that those who really matter in life, like teachers, police officers, nurses and first responders made the millions that pro sports figures make.
Right now, our nation is severely divided, more so than at any other time in most of our lives. I wish we could come to a common understanding that every precious person that God breathes life into is important and matters.
I wish safety for all my police officer friends and those they come in contact with.
I wish we could all realize that you can grieve the unconceivable death of a man at the hands of a “bad apple” but still understand that the entire barrel is not rotten.
I wish when we read God’s words that tell us to love one another as we love ourselves, we would.
I wish many more years of getting around on his bionic leg to my friend and mentor, Roy Exum.
My wish is that my friend and boss, John Wilson, enjoys many more years of success with The Chattanoogan.com.
I wish for a return to days of playing safely in our neighborhoods and catching lightning bugs in jars for our children.
And lastly, I wish for better days for your grandchildren and mine. God bless America.
(Email Assistant Sports Editor Dennis Norwood at email@example.com)