Tag Archive: Poet Reporter

Recently, half the town and I attended a benefit for the Reverend Jim Gordon, to raise money for his treatment for Lewy Body Dementia. We gathered in the lower level of the big church to see Jim again, as many of us had only seen him sparingly since he and his wife Bonnie had been called to foreign shores for mission work. We gathered on this windy January night to donate and eat spaghetti dinner—though many I talked with had come straight from dinner and weren’t even hungry. They donated anyway. And the church still ran out of pasta noodles twice over. We gathered and stepped back to a time thick with memories, and felt the old familiar nostalgia. Even as we lived it, years ago, we felt a happy pining for the very moment we were in, and we longed to hold on to it forever.

Jim and Bonnie Gordon had been our Youth Group leaders, opening their home every Thursday–and probably every day knowing our unannounced-drop-in rabble–to half the teenage population in town. We showed up, wandered the grounds, ran in the house, ate, danced, laughed, cried, hugged, sang, and lived.

Thursday night Youth Group was the place to be. It was a place to explore. This was where I was first introduced to the Dutch [existential] philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, the social unrest of Bob Dylan, and the voice of Robert Frost.

The Gordon Bunch, Part III remember distinctly the time when Jim used The Road Not Taken in a sermon, asking us if we wanted him to read the poem or if we’d rather that Frost read it to us. I had no idea what he meant, but others behind me shouted out their vote for Frost. Jim then obliged with a record—oh, vinyl!–of Frost’s poetry that he put on the stereo. (I also remember another time when Frost showed up mid-skit, thanks to the wigs and makeup from the Gordon’s prop rooms.)

Youth Group lasted three hours, consisting of an hour of unstructured time, followed by a dinner hour, then by a singing and sermon hour. Unstructured time was filled with running about the house, meeting new people and joining a made-up game where the rules changed as you went along on one side of the living room, listening to music on the other side, an intense discussion about school or politics or super heroes in the dining room, sitting outside on the wooden fence, or joining in some sport in the yard, and it was all so carefree that you could join for a few minutes, then wander off and join the next thing. None of it was structured, and it was all sort-of us-oriented. Nothing was led by adults. There were plenty of adults around, joining us in what we were doing, but we got to take the lead on games, discussions, and whatever we wanted to do.

The dinner hour gathered all of us together from far and wide into the long dining room filled with wooden picnic tables. The tables were sometimes separate, sometimes set together into one long table. We’d choose our seats, a blessing was offered, and we’d line up to fill our plates from the potluck set out in a room at the base of the stairs before returning to our seats.

“Man, these mashed potatoes are so good, they’ll change your life!” a wild-haired man at the potluck table said to me on my first day. This place was full of characters, everywhere you looked. Beside me, my friend Danielle introduced me to the man, who was none other than Jim Gordon. I figured, it being my first day at youth group and all, and with the endless numbers of people there, that it would take weeks before I’d meet the famous Jim and Bonnie Gordon, and longer still before they’d ask my name or remember it. I also figured I’d spot Jim in the crowd sooner or later, as he’d be the one in the clergy collar. These pre-conceived notions of mine were all incorrect.

Jim and Bonnie didn’t see an overwhelming gaggle of teens converged in their dwelling. They saw us as the individuals we were. And Jim was a sight to behold: Untamed curly hair, tan, usually wearing jean shorts and a faded t-shirt, always smiling and laughing. This was not a preacher telling you how to live. This was a man with a joy for life, showing you how it’s done.

As for the catchphrase, I still use it. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t find something “so good, it’ll change your life.”

Part III, coming soon… ~

On Lewy Body Dementia
The scientist Frederich H. Lewy discovered the abnormal proteins in the brain (the Lewy Body proteins) back in the early 1900’s during his Parkinson’s research. These Lewy Body proteins can interrupt dopamine flow, resulting in Parkinson’s, or can spread throughout the brain, wreaking havoc in the form of Dementia with Lewy Bodies which causes impaired attention and visuospatial function and can manifest visual hallucinations. Unlike Alzheimer’s, in Dementia with Lewy Bodies, short-term memory is affected later. Treatment involves drawing together a team of doctors, each treating different symptoms according to their specialty and in conjunction with one another so as not to allay the team’s efforts. Research goes on, but as of now, there is no cure.

To donate to the research for Dementia with Lewy Bodies, see the Lewy Body Dementia Association website. To donate directly to Jim Gordon’s treatment, please send a check payable to Saxonburg Memorial Church, Attn: Carol Hines, P.O. Box 466, Saxonburg, PA 16056 and memo “Jim Gordon Benefit.”lines post

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.


gordon-bunch-1On Friday night I attended a benefit for the Reverend Jim Gordon, a spaghetti dinner that called to everyone far and wide to trek home for family time. When I was in high school, Jim (no one ever called him the Reverend Jim Gordon) was one of a team of preachers for one of the churches on Main Street (not mine), and the leader of what seemed to be the town youth group (that adopted me, and everyone else around).

Jim is now living with Dementia with Lewy Bodies, a disease with symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s and related somewhat to Parkinson’s. Details on this will come. But for now, we’ll travel back before all of this, to the early 1990’s and a time when the world was just becoming possible.

I think it was my friend Danielle who invited me to come to her youth group one fall Thursday night. She invited the lot of us, really, and soon, Heather, Carla, Jenny—though it was her Youth Group, too–and both Jackies were all meeting up on the hill at the parish house for three hours of music, dancing, camaraderie, potluck dinner, and a sermon that wove it all together. This was the home of Jim and Bonnie Gordon, and it was not your run-of-the-mill parish house.

The dining room, to me, was always the most striking. It ran the length of the house from the back to the front and was not filled with a stately table but rather a series of wooden picnic tables. The walls were stately, however, covered in old license plates from Pennsylvania and beyond. The living room, which paralleled the dining, was a large, open space with ramshackle couches and pillows strewn about, a stereo system on one side geared toward the playing of records, and posters of the Beatles splashed the walls. The small kitchen, that I remember being yellow/orange but it could have been any cheerful color, really, had a poster of a playground and words that I do remember, “It’ll be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.” It was right above the stove.

Upstairs, there was a hallway with various rooms jutting off, each so filled with costumes and props that, on any given night, you could put together a skit with cheerleaders, Moses, the T-Birds from Grease, John and Yoko, or all of them at once.

My memory is that it was so cold my second winter at Youth Group, and there were so many people in attendance every week, that the attic was opened up for additional space. It was vast, at the tippy top of the stairs, and contained at least one pool table and virtually no heat. The walls up there were unfinished, so we were given markers and told to add our autographs. This we did, along with poetry, questions, sketches, and the like. We were figuring out who we were, what really counted, what it all meant, and how to get all of it to fit together.

Part II, coming soon… ~

On Lewy Body Dementia
The scientist Frederich H. Lewy discovered the abnormal proteins in the brain (the Lewy Body proteins) back in the early 1900’s during his Parkinson’s research. These Lewy Body proteins can interrupt dopamine flow, resulting in Parkinson’s, or can spread throughout the brain, wreaking havoc in the form of Dementia with Lewy Bodies which causes impaired attention and visuospatial function and can manifest visual hallucinations. Unlike Alzheimer’s, in Dementia with Lewy Bodies, short-term memory is affected later. Treatment involves drawing together a team of doctors, each treating different symptoms according to their specialty and in conjunction with one another so as not to allay the team’s efforts. Research goes on, but as of now, there is no cure.JB

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

Learning to Bob

Learning to BobHenry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Into each life some rain must fall.” In Western Pennsylvania, and most of the Northeast quadrant of this country, we’ve seen our fair share of rain lately. Over the weekend, a tornado was even spotted in this area. I was up in town, setting up for the dinner shift at our historic restaurant–which is the glamorous life of a writer, by the way–when I heard a dozen cell phones go off with this newest weather alert. Thinking it was another oh-so-frequent flood warning, many dismissed it. (The weather alerts have become The Boy Who Cried Wolf, even though the boy, in this case, is usually not kidding. Isn’t is strange what we get used to?) I looked at my phone anyway, and said, “It’s not a flood. It’s a tornado this time, a warning, seven miles from here.”

Now, this town has been hit by a tornado, and many remember it clearly. I didn’t live here then, but I have my own tornado experience (and hurricane, and blizzard, and even the fearsome thundersnow), so we did what we do: We listened and heard birds chirping outside. It was an odd sound because, in all this rain lately, you don’t hear the birds so much anymore. The second thing we did was to look toward the front door where we saw the awning gently blowing in a slight breeze. These were signs that the tornado was not headed our way, or at least, not yet, so we all went back to what we were doing and didn’t waste our thoughts on it.

The tornado, which was quite real, did not hit where I was. Could it have? I suppose so. But there are times when life rocks your boat so much that you learn to bob, and panic is just a thing of the past. Does that make you brave? No. Does it make you smart? Hardly. But when Fate is at the door, we’ll simply go to meet her, face-to-merry-face, because we all have a job to do and there’s no guarantee that it’s as bad as we think.

So, I sit here typing today as the basement dries and thunder rolls again on the horizon, thinking about this tremendous month of ups and downs, from weather to writing to people coming and going from the center stage back to lurking in the fringes of my life. And I think about the light and the dark, because it is also said that without the darkness, there can be no light. So let’s undizzy ourselves and look straight ahead, unwavering, and remember that it is in the darkness that experience is born.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, available on Amazon. She’s currently penning her second novel, based on the life of a WWII veteran. For more on her writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.

IMG_0797I’ve never really had a Bucket List. But when I decided to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I called the trip a Bucket List adventure to anyone who raised eyebrows at me. No, I had no desire to bare all on the street for some beads. But I did have an intrigue about this tri-colored street party, enough to plan it out and go once and for all—or, as we say in the restaurant world when setting out for an after-shift drink, for “one and done.”

Mardi GrasI stayed at Le Pavillon, an historic grand hotel a few blocks from the noise of Bourbon Street. Le Pavillon is a hotel with a tradition of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches served for guests at 10 o’clock nightly. Mardi GrasWhat’s more, guests are invited to sit on the plush and ornate furniture of the beautiful lobby as if it’s our own personal living room. (I was to learn in the coming days that this is signature New Orleans style: a happy and open welcome.)

In the Battle of New Orleans in 1814, Andrew Jackson defended the city from the British—with the help of the privateer and pirate, Jean Lafitte. Lafitte and his men were instrumental in helping to defeat the British. A city defended by pirates? I was starting to like this town more and more.

Twenty minutes on Bourbon Street and I found myself with a drink in my hand, a glitter-painted mask on my head, and a feather boa around my neck. The good times were rolling.

Mardi GrasMid-street conversations with jovial strangers were the norm. Some revelers in the street asked me to trade masks with them. When asked which bar was making the giant hand grenade drinks, my friend and I comically pointed in opposite directions, but later found that we were both right: The Tropical Isle has three Bourbon Street locations. One day, I wore a Captain America t-shirt, and everyone referred to me as “Captain” everywhere I went. And later in the week, when asked directions to different points of interest, I’d spent so much time on foot in the French Quarter that I knew the right directions to give.

Mardi GrasBy day, you could traverse the Bourbon Street crowds easily, and there was music everywhere—especially live music on the side streets. At night, the movement was much slower, and thus, more chatty, especially in areas with balconies above Bourbon because partiers tossed (on Sunday) and threw (Monday’s Lundi Gras) and outright rained down cases (Tuesday’s Mardi Gras) of beads onto all of us in the street below. (There’s a misconception that the only way you get beads is to flash someone. Not true: Beads are freely given, thrown, and traded.) Each day and night, you literally skated on the beads that had fallen on Bourbon Street. (And Bourbon Street was cleaned every night.) Then on Tuesday, you waded around heaps of them so tall that you pushed the mounds to see make sure there weren’t people underneath them.

Mardi GrasThe things I saw: I saw a man in nothing but a thong who’d taken a black wig and stuffed it into the front of the thong. I saw women in nothing but body paint—beautifully ornate body paint. I saw a terrible cabaret show. I saw some definite (enhanced and real) body parts, but as my friend put it so perfectly: “The ones you see are not so much the ones you want to see.”

I saw the Bacchus parade on Sunday night, gorgeously lighted. I saw the Rex and the Zulu parades on Tuesday afternoon and I tried to catch an ellusive coconut as they were tossed from the floats. (In New Orleans, an organization that puts on a ball or parade for Carnival season is known as a Krewe, pronounced “crew.” Officially, the parades were called the Krewe of Bacchus, Krewe of Rex, etc.) I saw parade watchers on balconies attempt to throw beads across the four-lane street to the opposite balconies. I saw them succeed in the endeavor, too. I saw people on top of the parade floats, dressed in feathers that extended an easy six feet over their heads. I saw a parade marcher give a news interview as he drank a Bud Light. I saw float riders toss beads to the crowd with one hand while drinking from a jug in the other. I saw the absolute mess on Canal Street at noon on Tuesday as the parade passed through. I saw the city of New Orleans take to the cleanup effort as if it were no big deal at all.Mardi Gras

I saw the police march down Bourbon Street at 12:05 a.m. Wednesday morning, a happy phalanx clearing the street for a water truck to make its way through. The truck driver then bellowed, “Here comes the hose!” and I watched as an all-out surge of soapy water was pumped onto Bourbon. (You can’t be on the street after midnight. But you can be in the bars if you want, no problem.)

Mardi GrasQuietly walking the French Quarter daily, I learned of the history of French and then Spanish rule, the architecture that is mostly Spanish as two fires during Spanish occupation destroyed all but three buildings of the original French Quarter. I learned that the bend of the Mississippi River built up the French Quarter to now 11 feet above sea level, while the rest of New Orleans remains below sea level. I learned that that bend in the River created a crescent-shaped coastline along New Orleans, dubbing it the Crescent City. I learned that my hotel, Le Pavillon, sits in what was the American Quarter, which is separated from the French Quarter by Canal Street—known as neutral ground where different people and different ideas could come together safely. (Eventually, any central traffic median in New Orleans became known as “neutral ground.”) I learned that New Orleans has a history filled with the intermingling of different peoples and cultures, who, like their brilliant cuisine, find ways in common to celebrate life. I learned to slow down, raise a glass, and enjoy.

Mardi GrasI traveled to New Orleans for Mardi Gras as a way to put a check onto a Bucket List that I hadn’t actually made. And I still haven’t made one.

What I found is that Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, and New Orleans itself are not Bucket List adventures. The celebration, sharing, the community of strangers, and the downright enjoyment of life are like feeling the sun on your face after a long, cold winter. That’s not something suited for one and done. It warrants no check mark. It’s something to be lived–again and again.


“The value in living out your Bucket List is in changing your entire perspective on life, one brave step at a time.”
Jody Brown, blogger, poet, traveler, and author
                of Upside Down Kingdom

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh HourHistorically, Veterans Day began in America as Armistice Day, when, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Allied Nations and Germany declared a cessation of hostilities of WWI. But in 1954, after WWII, it was changed to Veterans Day to include all U.S. veterans. It was temporarily moved to a Monday in the early 1970s, before solidly moving to November 11 regardless of what day of the week the 11th fell upon, in 1975.

Today, 11-11, we honor all those who, in patriotism and courage, offer their very lives to fight for our way of life. While politics and agendas can make our country like one big family that doesn’t always get along, we are, at the end of the day, a family, one that enjoys life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a very good life.

Tremendous Thanks and Gratitude to:

My Father

My Grandfathers




and all of our Veterans

for their service and protection of our way of life

Jody Brown’s first book, of Upside Down Kingdom, is on Amazon.

Election Day Stories

Election DayHappy Election Day! I’ve put together some of my own Election Day stories, from what’s happened to me at the polls to how I got there:

  • In the mid 1990’s, when I waited tables at a truck stop Denny’s in Pennsylvania, we were the only Denny’s I’d ever heard of that served beer and wine. But on Election Day, we had to wait until the polls closed before we were permitted to serve alcohol to anyone. Over the years the law was interpreted in various ways, and depending on percentages of alcohol sales, some bars and businesses weren’t allowed to serve at all while others were allowed to serve after 9 p.m. The law has since been changed to allow alcohol sales all day long, although I did see an article dated as recently as 2012 that said South Carolina and Kentucky still operated under the restricted laws.
  • When I was in college, my parents would pick me up from school and drive me home so I could vote on Election Day. Then they’d promptly return me to school again.
  • Back when I was married, I went to the voting location according to where I lived, but they didn’t have me on the list. I’d updated my name, my license, and my address, but somehow, none of it updated my voter location. The volunteers at the polls told me I needed to prove my address, either with a bill that had my name on it (which I did not have) or I could have my husband come in and vouch for my address. I thanked them and went on my way—my way being straight to my previous voting location a few blocks in the other direction, the entire time muttering things like, “If my man will vouch for me, I can vote?? What is this, 1920*?”
    The voting location connected to my previous apartment address still had me listed with them, so I cast my ballot, collected my sticker, and felt good for circumventing the system—especially without needing help.
  • Twice, once in Minnesota and once today here in Pennsylvania, I checked in to vote and was met with, “Oh, of course. You wrote a book!”

Regardless of the outcomes today, I’m sure we all agree that we’re done with dinnertime election calls and candidate mud-slinging. Personally, I’m ready for the day when all political ads have to disclose where they got their mud-slinging information and how they computed their blanket statements—you know, the day where a non-attorney spokesperson has to read aloud the fine print on claims for prosperity and change similar to the way pharmaceuticals have to disclose the laundry list of side effects. “We’re selling a smart-inducing drug that causes headaches and temporary shrinkage of brain cells and some people may grow tails. We’re really overcharging for it, and we approved this message.” Now that’s entertainment.

I’m Jody Brown. I wrote a book. And I approved this message.

*Women were granted the right to vote in August 1920.

The Larger Game

Here’s to a fall Sunday afternoon, making chili and watching football, or in this case, penalty-ball. I must admit, I’m taken aback by the sheer number of penalties in the game.

Some penalties are clear cut and obvious. For instance, you can’t blatantly attempt to injure one another without getting in trouble for it. Yet other penalties are just plain silly: celebrating a great play can cost you 15 yards, getting your head slammed into the turf by your opponent after the whistle blows and you get up and chase after said opponent, that will cost you 15 yards. Yelling at the ref who threw the flag at you and not the turf-to-head-slamming opponent will also cost you 15 yards, or something like that.The Larger Game

In all this, I can’t help but remember my favorite episode of The Real Ghostbusters, the cartoon spinoff of the original Ghostbusters movie. In the episode, called Night Game written by Kathryn M. Drennan, the Ghostbusters find themselves watching a ghostly battle of baseball. Yes, we’re switching ball games, my apologies. This particular baseball game is between Good and Evil over Winston’s soul. (Incidentally, Winston’s playing shortstop.)

As the Ghostbusters watch, late in the game, Evil changes the speed of the pitch to make it easier to hit. They bring it to the umpire’s attention. The umpire, by the way, is a giant, muscle-bound version of a grim reaper. In his booming voice, the ump asks, “You want me to declare Evil the losers for cheating?”

Venkman, in his typical flippant way, says something like, “Yeah, that’s the basic idea.”

And the Ump says, “But Evil cheats. That’s its nature. It does whatever unscrupulous or immoral thing it has to, to win. That’s why we call them Evil. Only Good is not allowed to cheat. If Good adopts the ways of Evil, it becomes Evil. So if Good cheats, Evil automatically wins.”

Brilliant, yes?

Now, let’s clarify: I don’t think of the “us and them” of sports as Good and Evil. I do, however, think the idea of such a ballgame between Good and Evil is inspired, and I daresay, genius in its writing. I don’t know when this episode first aired, a good 25+ years ago? And yet I still think of this supernatural game, time and time again when I get bogged down by life’s imbalances and anytime I experience something set up to be unfair. I remember that if Good diverts to Evil’s tactics, Evil automatically wins. And I remind myself, the way I did today watching football, that true champions can have everything riding against them, yet still play with integrity. The larger game can yet be won.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

lead postWe all want guts and glory, don’t we? We all want to take a risk, gamble and win, stand out from the crowd. Is it instinct, to reach a certain age in life and want to break out on your own? Show your stuff? Show what you’re made of, and make your parents proud? We all know people who not only do this, but they want to lead the charge. Sitting on the sidelines hoping to get swept up by the movement is not their style. They’re the first to jump on a concept, an idea, a technological improvement that, two months later, the rest of us will first hear about.

But life is not so simple as run, run, run. On the other end of the spectrum are those who know what they have and refuse to risk it. To them, the grass is not greener. They look back at a solid heritage; at all they’ve gained and learned along the way. They know who they are. They appreciate not only how far they’ve come, but those who have helped them along the way.

I find comfort in the balance today. As Apple brings us its next-level technology to gorge on, Scotland renews its 307-year old connection with the United Kingdom.

In the words of Apple CEO Tim Cook, “iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the biggest advancements in iPhone history. The iPhone is the most loved smartphone in the world with the highest customer satisfaction in the industry and we are making it much better in every way… We think customers are going to love it.” Simultaneously, Scotland’s historic referendum vote to stay with the U.K. by a reported “comfortable” but I say narrow vote of 55% to 45%, is not a decision to stand still, but one that recognizes its strength. The vote gains Scotland the right to control its own taxes and spending while keeping U.K. security. One voter summed it up as, “We have a long and proud history. We’re strong. And we’re even stronger in a union.”

Taking the lead and standing together. For Apple and for Scotland, these are not mutually exclusive today. The future is bright, indeed. Today is full of promise. And we know just how we got here.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing




You know just why I shed a tear,
Impassioned by the sight
When fireworks light up the sky
All red and blue and white?
And they say Boom Boom Crackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Crackalacka

I never meant to stay that long
Then something in me spoke
That day, the plane, the Pentagon
When sleeping giants woke
And they said Boom Boom Jackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Jackalacka

I buy a ticket for a plane
To meet all that I can
I walk up high and walk down low
So I can learn the plan
My feet go Boom Boom Shackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Shackalacka

Some laugh at me, others with me
I start to like the jest
Together we find trust again
I travel on my quest
Laughter goes Boom Boom Hackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Hackalacka

Now decades after WWII
The questions still remain
The Concentration Camp is near
I hop a Dachau train
The train goes Boom Boom Trackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Trackalacka

Jerusalem, I hold my ground
As gunshots break the night
Below the Kidron Valley looms
I see and smell this fight
And it goes Boom Boom Ackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Ackalacka

Yet something in the soil here
Does get the soul to stir
Like drumbeats in the ground itself
That cause the lines to blur
The drum goes Boom Boom Rackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Rackalacka

I understand now what I sought
How heart and war reside
The passion rages like a storm
When hot and cold collide
The storm goes Boom Boom Crackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Crackalacka

Plane touches down, I’m home at last
I stop then on a dime
The world is calling me again
The trumpet says it’s time
Trumpet goes Boom Boom Brackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Brackalacka

It’s more than seeing everything
Until the die is cast
When I’ve felt all I need to feel
My heart will pound its last
The heart goes Boom Boom Sprackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Sprackalacka

Boom Boom Sprackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Sprackalacka


Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

We the People, on September 11

We the People, Sept 11In 1787, the Constitution was written. We became “We the People.”

And We the People have been fighting wars all ever since. School kids in America learn about possibly 10% of these wars, but U.S. history is comprised of dozens and dozens of wars, campaigns, and rebellions. When one ends, another begins.

We the People fight for land, liberty, equality, and fight against injustice of any kind.

We the People win, We the People lose, We the People withdraw. We the People typically live in relative peace, thanks to our own who fight these wars far from U.S. soil.

We the People attack. And We the People have been attacked.

We the People have always seen ourselves as different, perhaps touched, in a way, able to think for ourselves and willing to act on our own or another’s behalf. Right or wrong, it’s become the American Way. It makes us unpopular. But We the People don’t give up.

We’re a country, after all, that began with a rebellion.

In 1776, the 13 American colonies broke away from the British Empire, the colonists declared their independence, and sought the chance to rule themselves, the ability to make their own decisions, and the opportunity to build and thrive without the heavy burden of taxation without representation.

They wanted a say in their own lives, and they rebelled to get it. And whether you can trace your ancestry back to those founding fathers or you just arrived in America yesterday, you need to know about this spirit of rebellion and the fire that courses through our veins to lift up this land of the free and home of the brave.

Despite the atrocity and the infamy of today, September 11 also stands for hope, solidarity, and rebirth, because that’s what America is and always has been. Today we mourn our fallen, and we remember the outright courage of our own rebellious heroes who rushed into burning buildings and who downed their hijacked plane, these heroes who, to quote Lincoln, gave their lives that that nation might live.

It’s a powerful gift, this life. A gift we dare not forget.

~Jody Brown was working in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001. Her personal story of that day can be found in her debut novel, Upside Down Kingdom.

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