Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
When 1st Lt. James Brown returned home from the battlefields of World War II, he jumped back into civilian life. He married his wife Emma, and they started a family. He worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs and later became vice president of Southwestern Life Insurance Company. And somehow as the years flew by, the accolades and honors he earned fighting for his country failed to materialize.
During the Irving City Council meeting on Feb. 7, 68 years after he retired from the U.S. Army, a 95-year-old James Brown was honored by a grateful nation and a grateful community.
U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant presented Brown with the Purple Heart Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge-1st Award, Expert Badge with Carbine Bar, and Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII.
After the presentation was complete, Marchant explained how his staff member, John Hayes, had discovered information in Brown’s military records that indicated he also was entitled to the Bronze Star Medal. Hayes made another inquiry to the Department of the Army. Upon review, the Army confirmed that Brown’s records entitled him to a Bronze Star Medal.
Brown earned the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement during active ground combat against the enemy on Dec. 11, 1944. On that day, Brown was wounded in an artillery barrage on the banks of the Saar River on the border of France and Germany, resulting in amputation of his left arm.
The Bronze Star Medal awarded to Brown on Nov. 12, 2012, 67 years after he sacrificed so much for his country. This final honor was kept secret from Mr. Brown until its formal presentation during the meeting.
“I think it is very nice of Mr. Marchant to get all the medals together for me,” Brown said. “I am delighted he has done that, because when you come back, you don’t really check all the medals that you might be eligible for.
“One of the main things I’ve been remembering from World War II was the night I was wounded. I lost my left arm and two fingers off my right hand. I made up my mind at that time that this had happened and it was done; I needed to make the best of it and go on with my life. That is the philosophy I have followed all the way through just doing the best I can. There are a few things you just can’t do, but you’d be surprised how much you can do even though you only have one arm.
“I appreciate the medals. It was my privilege and honor to serve my country in World War II.”
Emma stood beside her husband throughout the presentation ceremony.
“I think the presentation of these medals is a wonderful thing,” Emma said. “He deserves it. I am very proud of him.
“We are very fortunate, because he is still here to enjoy all of this. It means a lot to both of us. I think all the World War II guys need it. They are going so fast, and it is going to get away from us.”
A visit to the district office of U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant initiated the process of Brown receiving his military honors. Last October, Brown participated in the Veterans’ History Project, a program established by the Library of Congress to collect video recordings of veterans sharing their memories of their military service. While at the office, Brown also filled out the paperwork to inquire about his entitlements to military awards and decorations.
If you are a veteran or if you know a veteran who might benefit from these programs, please contact John Hayes with Rep. Kenny Marchant’s office by calling 972-556-0162.
Contains information provided by the City of Irving.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:59
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Elaine Paniszczyn
Before sunrise on a chilly, windy Monday morning in early February, 11 pilgrims from Flower Mound, Highland Village and Lewisville met at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to begin a journey to Haiti via American Airlines. Previous pilgrims said the trip would change their lives. These new pilgrims were unsure they wanted their lives to change, but said they felt a calling to visit the Haitians on that tiny island in the Caribbean Haiti shares with Dominican Republic.
In their checked luggage, they carried toothbrushes and toothpaste for over 1,000 children, new dresses for little girls, baby blankets, Beanie Babies and medical supplies.
All had tetanus and other shots updated before the trip, and most took medications to prevent malaria.
Two of the travelers were best friends, and two were a married couple, but other than that, all were virtual strangers who met briefly at meetings before the trip.
The group’s first stop was Fort Lauderdale where they met representatives of Food for the Poor (FFP), who sponsored them in Haiti. Administrators at FFP headquarters prepared the pilgrims for what they would encounter and armed them with knowledge to keep them and those they met safe. Rule Number One: Only drink bottled water; if you accidentally rinse your toothbrush with tap water, throw it away and get a new one. Rule Two: Only eat cooked food.
Haitian women are modest. Most wear long skirts and shirts with sleeves. Pilgrims were instructed ahead of time to wear closed-toe shoes, no tank tops or shorts, and modest jewelry only.
Tuesday morning, the group landed at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, their home for the next four days.
About 85 percent of Haitians are unemployed; 70 percent of those who work earn $1 or less each day.
“If you hit rock bottom (in the United States), you have food stamps, free schools, clean running water, free or reduced lunch, and Medicaid,” said LeAnn Chong with FFP.
She said Haitians pay for uniforms, shoes and books for school. Siblings often take turns going to school because they have to share shoes. Often, they eat on alternate days.
“In Haiti, one out of four children die before age six,” Chong said. “Some get washed away in heavy rains.”
On their way to FFP’s compound, the pilgrims got their first glimpse of Haiti –miles of poverty…tap-taps (Haitian buses)...armed guards outside a grocery store…people huddled under make-shift shelters…women stripped to the waist attempting to bathe on the street. None had running water, plumbing or electricity. Recovery from the earthquake of 2010 and Hurricane Sandy last year is slow. Children were left without families and families without roofs over their heads. Government offices were pancaked in the earthquake, and land records were lost.
Haitian children learn to carry heavy burdens on their heads. Every day they walk to public wells, pump water into buckets, and carry water back to their families.
At the entrance to Food for the Poor, an armed guard holding a shotgun with a pistol grip handle greeted the pilgrims. There, the group had their first meal in Haiti before going to the public side of the compound to help feed families gathered in a courtyard. The masses carried buckets for rations being handed out. Some had walked for miles and stood in line for hours for five or six ladles of food.
The pilgrims left their comfort zones.
During their four days in Haiti, the travelers met the lucky Haitians – those being helped by FFP which spends over 95 percent of the monies donated to help those in need. They join cooperating organizations to build houses and to open schools and orphanages.
The pilgrims did not meet the masses they saw from their bus windows – those stranded in the streets, alleyways, and dumps of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area.
The pilgrims visited schools, an elder home where they helped bathe the frail and danced with those still able, an orphanage where they planted 200 trees and helped arrange the library, a housing development where they gave out food and clothing, a hospital, a home for cognitively challenged children where the group spoon-fed some and blew bubbles for all, and a FFP farm. A security guard with a walkie-talkie traveled on the bus with them. Following directly behind was a black SUV with a driver and a 6’7” armed guard – just in case.
On the last day, many left clothes at the hotel for people who cleaned their rooms to wear or to trade for things they or their families needed.
The pilgrims returned to DFW with suitcases mostly empty except for a few souvenirs, mainly Haitian rum, coffee, and artwork.
They also had 10 new forever-friends.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:46
Written by Phil Cerroni
Thirty-eight students have been named spring 2013 scholars for the Dallas County Community College District's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Institute by the DCCCD Foundation. The program focuses on retaining and encouraging top students among the seven colleges of DCCCD who are pursuing STEM-related majors; it also helps them to transfer seamlessly to four-year undergraduate degree programs in their fields.
Established as a pilot program in 2009, the program involves a total of 80 students who are participating in the DCCCD STEM Institute during the 2012-13 academic year. The institute provides students with a cash stipend, personalized faculty mentoring, help with negotiating their transfer to a four-year institution plus extracurricular research and internship opportunities. Students participate in industry- and career-related seminars throughout the year, as well as an annual STEM summit that has featured internationally renowned speakers such as ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau and astronaut Dr. Mary Ellen Weber.
The program’s numbers exceed state and national averages for student success and completion: a combined 89 percent of last year’s STEM scholars graduated with an associate degree, transferred to a four-year institution or are still enrolled in one of the system's individually accredited colleges.
“The greatest driver of economic development in our community will be the quality and education of our workforce,” Hunter L. Hunt, who chairs the STEM Initiative for DCCCD’s Campaign for Excellence said. “With more than 700,000 jobs in STEM industries forecast for Texas by 2018, these STEM scholars hold the key to the future success of our region.”
The 2012 spring semester’s STEM Institute scholars from North Lake College, their intended majors and hometowns are:
Madhu Gautam, mathematics, Irving
Osaid Jaffery, mechanical engineering, Irving
Uyen Ngo, mathematics, Irving
Armin Riazlan, electrical engineering, Irving
Christian Smith, electrical engineering, Irving
Landon Swalberg, mathematics, Waxahachie
Source: Dallas County Community College District
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:45
Written by Phil Cerroni
North Lake College faculty and staff opened the college’s new iRead Lab on Feb. 26. The reading tutorial lab is part of a college-wide effort to improve the success rates of students enrolled in Developmental Reading.
Source: North Lake College
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:42
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Downtown businesses will invite visitors to their doors with a scavenger hunt during the March 23 Irving Community Fest.
Community Fest attendees will be given a Corporate Scavenger Hunt score card that lists participating businesses. Attendees will then have to visit each business for a validation stamp. After attendees receive 12 store validations, they will be eligible to submit their score card for a grand prize drawing.
Some business will also have door prizes for visitors.
In a letter to Irving Merchants, Jacqueline Madden, special events supervisor for the City, stated the event will help bring in customers who wouldn’t normally visit the downtown shops.
“The goal of the Corporate Scavenger Hunt score card that is to increase store traffic and to assist merchants with securing names and email address in order to stay in touch with current and future customers,” she said.
At 2 p.m. during the Community Fest, participating merchants will each talk for 30 seconds about their business. They will also announce door prize winners and the grand prize winner will also be named.
Community Fest will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 23 at Senter Park Recreation Center, 901 S. Senter.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:40
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