life, Michigan

It was the worst school massacre in history.

Classes began as usual at 8:30 a.m. at the Bath Consolidated School.

At 8:45 a.m. an explosion tore through half the school.

First-grade teacher Bernice Sterling described the explosion as being like an earthquake: “It seemed as though the floor went up several feet”, she said. “… the air seemed to be full of children and flying desks and books. Children were tossed high in the air; some were catapulted out of the building.”

The north wing of the school collapsed. Parts of the walls crumbled, and the edge of the roof fell to the ground.

A rescue worker recounted: There was a pile of children of about five or six under the roof and some of them had arms sticking out, some had legs, and some just their heads sticking out. They were unrecognizable because they were covered with dust, plaster, and blood. There were not enough of us to move the roof.

It was the worst school massacre in history.

The Bath School massacre was a series of violent attacks perpetrated by Andrew Kehoe on May 18, 1927, in Bath Township, Michigan, which killed 38 elementary schoolchildren and six adults and injured at least 58 others. Kehoe killed his wife and firebombed his farm, then detonated an explosion in the Bath Consolidated School before committing suicide by detonating a final device in his truck.

The 55-year-old school board treasurer was angered by increased taxes and his defeat in the Spring 1926 election for township clerk. He was thought to have planned his “murderous revenge” after that public defeat.

An eyewitness described the aftermath of the explosion: Mother after mother came running into the school yard, and demanded information about her child and, on seeing the lifeless form lying on the lawn, sobbed and swooned…In no time more than 100 men were at work tearing away the debris of the school, and nearly as many women were frantically pawing over the timber and broken bricks for traces of their children.

Another witness painted a portrait of personal despair: A mother, Mrs. Eugene Hart, sat on the bank a short distance from the school with a dead little daughter on each side of her. She was holding her little boy, Percy, who died a short time after they got him to the hospital. As she sat there in despair, waiting for help for her son, Kehoe blew his truck up, severely wounding Perry, her oldest child. How does a mother survive that?

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As you can see, several parents lost multiple children that May day.

Hundreds of people worked in the wreckage of the north wing all day and into the night in an effort to find and rescue any children pinned underneath.

During the search, rescuers found an additional 500 pounds of dynamite and an alarm clock timed to go off at 8:45 a.m. in the south wing. He had intended to blow up the whole school.  Investigators speculated that the initial explosion may have caused a short circuit in the second set of bombs, preventing them from detonating.

 

What set off the man who set off the bombs?

The Wikipedia article, from which I took this information, listed the motives as revenge for defeat in a local election and personal and financial stress.

Lots of people lose elections and lots of people undergo personal and financial stress without killing anyone.

But Kehoe did.

He methodically planned his revenge – which is not even the right word because revenge is “the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.”

Kehoe didn’t suffer injury or wrong at the hands of the 38 children and 6 adults he killed or at the hands of the 58 he wounded.

The children didn’t have a vote in his lost election.

But he killed them anyway.

Misguided revenge may have been the motive, but it wasn’t the reason.

He was mad because things weren’t going his way – property taxes, elections.

Investigators found a wooden sign wired to the farm’s fence with Kehoe’s last message stenciled on it: “Criminals are made, not born.”

Back when I was a social worker, I attended a foster care event.  The keynote speaker was a man named Glenn Hester, who had written a book entitled, Child of Rage. I read the book and learned that Mr. Hester had grown up in the foster care system.  A childhood full of abuse gave him ample reason for rage, rage which landed him in correctional institutions and  psychiatric hospitals. His rage was about to explode in a massacre when God intervened. At the time I heard Glenn speak he was working in a Christian program helping urban teenagers and educating foster care workers like me about what it’s like to be a kid in the system.

Glenn was a criminal who was made, but Kehoe was a criminal who was born.

He killed a neighbor’s dog for wandering onto his property barking. He beat his horse to death because it wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do.  It was suspected that he caused the gas stove explosion that killed his stepmother.

Killer’s gonna’ kill.

I’m not for guns and I’m not against guns and perhaps that’s how we’re all going to have to be if we want to stop this epidemic of school violence.

I’m not against guns because the worst school massacre in history was carried out without them.

I’m not against guns because guns don’t kill people, a murderous belief that one has been wronged, whether or not it’s true, kills people.

I’m not against guns because the right to bear arms protects us from would-be fascist dictators.

I’m not against guns because those who are hell bent on destroying life are going to destroy life – guns or no guns, legally obtained or illegally obtained.

I’m not for guns when they are automatic weapons in the hands of a 19 year old.

No civilian 19 year old should ever be sold an automatic weapon, but gun control would not have saved the 38 children and 6 adults in Michigan in 1927.

Banning the sale of automatic weapons to civilians might have saved the 14 children and 3 adults who were killed in Florida in 2018.

Murder as old as Cain and Abel.

Cain felt wronged because God accepted his brother’s sacrifice but not his.

No matter that his brother gave God his best and Cain gave God whatever.

Cain pouted and plotted because he thought God liked Abel better.

But He didn’t.

God found Cain pouting and plotting and intervened.

“Don’t do this thing you’re plotting,” God warned, “do the right thing, let go of your anger.”

But Cain went and killed his brother anyway.

I wonder whether God urged Andrew Kehoe to do the right thing.  I wonder whether he pointed out to Andrew that he hadn’t actually been wronged, that it was wrong of him to kill the dog, beat the horse, murder his stepmother.  I wonder whether He tried more than once. A year is a long time to maintain rage.

I wonder whether God urged Nikolas Cruz to put down his anger, to do what is right, to think straight.

Perhaps He did, but like Cain, he didn’t.

I saw a post on Facebook this morning saying that the solution is to let God back into the schools.

Yes, let’s let Him in – not so we can shove Him down anyone’s throat or make anyone feel bad about having differing beliefs – let’s let Him in to be available; to give rest to those who are weary, downtrodden, angry and hopeless.

What else might help?

It would help if people spoke up when they saw somewhat unusual behavior – like carrying things into a school at night – and blatant behavior like describing oneself on Facebook as a school shooter.

It would certainly help if “see something, say something” was followed up by the FBI with “do something.”

It would help if both staunch and stubborn gun camps would admit that the other side has some good points.

It would help if we would admit that it’s less about guns and more about the enraged hearts, souls and twisted minds of those who murderously wield them.

The Lord bless you and keep you, dear families and loved ones of Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup and Peter Wang. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. Deep and abiding peace.

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Michigan

Clever Planet

The clever chef at Small Batch in Harbor Springs dropped tiny Peruvian peppers onto my flash fried kale and made it look like Christmas.  Delicious.

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A considerate shop owner in Boyne City placed pillows on a sofa of straw.  Rest for the weary.

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A creative bookseller in Traverse City provides water and age-appropriate reading material for the four-legged passersby. Delightful.

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Creative planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Food, Michigan

Fully Caffeinated

Friday morning we headed out on our annual Mother/Daughter Road Trip. If you recall from years past, you know they are all about coffee, food and beaches.

This year it was more coffee, food and shopping, with a little bit of beach.

First stop:  Saugatuck

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Why have I never thought to turn a rusty old propane tank into a jack-o-lantern?

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After perusing many a posted menu, we decided on Grow for lunch.

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The waiter was attentive, the food and the vibe were just right.

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Tasty little potatoes, Michigan made sausage, a delightful dipping sauce and carrot pancakes.  Oh, and fresh lavender lemonade.

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Most of the patrons were dining al fresco, but we liked the calm inside. You don’t get much complete silence these days and I loved it, though my daughter would have preferred a bit of mellow folk music.  Are you listening Grow?

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Lunch, shopping and then a really fun, really fast dune ride.

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Those aren’t trees, they’re the very tops of trees.  Cottonwoods – the only tree that can survive being buried in 100 feet of sand.

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Singapore, Michigan – a fledgling resort town –  is completely buried under the dunes.  There’s a school, a church, a hotel under there.  In the 70’s the very top of a 3 story building was still visible.  Not anymore.

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The buggy driver said the area was a vast pine forest until the trees were harvested to help rebuild Chicago after The Great Fire in 1871. With the trees gone, there was no root system to hold the top soil in place.  Sand from Lake Michigan blew in and buried everything.  Only the cottonwoods survived.

A 1959 Michigan State University project to plant grass in order to stabilize the dunes is gradually bringing top soil back.  The aim is to restore the land to forest.

And that concludes your dune education. Unless you want to read about the Sand Dune that Swallowed a Boy.

After the thrill ride we drove thirty minutes up the coast to Holland.

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Dinner was at Butch’s Dry Dock, as seen while shopping across the street.

Neither of us snapped a picture of our ultra flavorful Campanelle with basil cream, zucchini, summer squash, tomato and goat feta paired with a glass of Terra Di Briganti Falanghina, Campania, IT 2015 because the lighting wasn’t suitable, but take my word for it, it was beautiful. And delicious. We were very happy.

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In the morning we grabbed a miel to go and walked several blocks to the Farmers Market.

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It was a perfect Farmers Market morning – crisp, sunny, 46-degrees-but-with-a-hot-cup-of-coffee-in-hand.

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And the colors were beautiful.

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When I was in Holland last January, there was only one downtown coffee shop, now there are two hip newcomers.

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Look at how cute this place is.

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Of all the coffee joints in all the towns in all the world, The 205 is our new favorite.  Definitely the winner of the trip.

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Kombucha and sparkling cascara on tap.

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And complimentary honey cookies.

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They even have a cool floral mural.

After a morning of farmers market strolling, shopping and coffee bar hopping, we headed further north to Grand Haven.

I’ve taken you there before.

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It’s still a very tasty sandwich.

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And it’s still a beautiful [board] walk to the beach.  My phone tells me we walked over 8 miles that day. I believe it.

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The aged, crumbling pier is being restored, so no walk out to the lighthouse this time.

We took a nap upon checking into our hotel in Grand Rapids and then immediately started researching places for dinner.

One of the highlights of staying in downtown GR is walking across the blue bridge to dinner.

But our feet were tired so, even though it was only 1.2 miles away, we drove to the trendy new Downtown Market for pizza. It has greenhouses on the roof.

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For dessert we were going to have a pour over for two and creme brulee at a fancy restaurant near the hotel, but then we noticed the flavor choices at Love’s.

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I chose a half scoop of cardamom orange blossom and a half scoop of chocolate coconut curry. Individually they were very good. Combined they became a delightful couple.  My daughter chose a half scoop of basil and a half scoop of roasted strawberry balsamic. The basil was really good alone (she let me taste it) but the strawberry/balsamic wasn’t quite right. Combining the strawberry with the basil, my daughter assured me, made it much better. Really good.

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We love Loves.

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Feet somewhat recovered, we took the beloved walk across the beloved bridge to listen to a bit of street music. Two young women on a street corner killing Riptide by Vance Joy.

A homeless man asked me if I smoked dope.

Do I look like I smoke dope?

I laughed.

“Look into my eyes,” he said, as he stared into mine.

“You don’t believe me?”

I wanted to tell him how old I am.  But I suppose old people smoke dope.

First order of business Sunday morning was Madcap for another miel.

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As I drank my heart began to transform into a Michigan Mitten.

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My daughter staging a photo of her pour over. She hates everything about this pic but it’s my blog.

From Madcap we walked back across the river to try the brand spanking new Rower’s Club.

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Love the table.

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Miel to go.

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Last stop: Wolfgang’s. Of course.

Reflecting back we decided we’ll spend more time in Holland next year, where there is food and coffee yet to be tried.

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We ❤ Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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life

Rookies

Remember Remember the Titans? I love that movie.

Remember when Coach Boone said, “You’re overcooking my grits?”  Cracked me up. Being a northerner, I had never heard that expression.

But now I utter it sometimes.

Like I did on Saturday evening when the hub and I went to the lake for a little after dinner fishing/reading.

Sitting in his SUV waiting for our turn to launch we witnessed all manner of buffoonery.

There was the guy who had his jet ski tied to the dock while he was off doing who knows what.

When he finally returned it took him forever to load it onto his trailer.

After he finally pulled it out of the water he stopped broadside across 3 of the four launching lanes to do who knows what.

Are you kidding me!?

I got out of the truck.

“Excuse me, the tie down is ahead.”

Blank stare.

“You can’t block the launch lanes. You have to pull up and tie down there.”

Two docks were taken up an awfully long time by guys who don’t know how to load a boat unto a trailer.

One guy finally got his boat out and then stopped broadside across three lanes.

I got out of the truck.

“Sir,” I tried to say nicely, recognizing that he was probably stressed by now, “the tie down is ahead.”

Blank stare.

“You have to pull ahead to tie down so you don’t block the launch lanes.”

Blank stare.

The guy in the truck pulled ahead the WRONG WAY while his buddy followed on foot behind him.

“Sir! You’re going the wrong way. Look at the arrows on the pavement.”

Like I said, buffoonery.

The guy at the other dock left his boat and returned with a battery.

That’s when I said it.

“He’s going to tie up a dock while he does boat repairs? He’s overcooking my grits.”

“Why doesn’t he beach his boat to change the battery?,” I asked, kinda’ LOUDLY, with the window rolled down, hoping he’d hear me.

Once a lane finally opened up the hub, a seasoned professional, had his boat launched in less than 2 minutes.  I pulled ahead and parked the trailer while he beached the boat and waited for me.  He’s a good boating citizen.

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As we pulled away from the docks I remarked, “The downside of the upswing in the economy is that the launch is now flooded with first-time boat owners.”

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“So you should retire and hang out at the boat launch all day.  You could make a boatload of money launching newbies in the morning and pulling them out in the evening.  You could fish in between.”

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He liked that idea.

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Who can stay annoyed when the late evening sun is glistening?

“Or at least teach them basic boat launching techniques and etiquette.”

“The problem,” he said, “is they tie the boat to the dock and then try to back the trailer in under it.  And it doesn’t work well that way.”

Did you hear that rookies?

  1. Beach your boat next to the launch (proper etiquette so others can launch while you go get your trailer).
  2. Back your trailer into the water.
  3. Drive your boat up onto the trailer (this technique makes it so much easier and quicker to get your boat on straight.
  4. Now pull your boat the rest of the way forward with the winch.
  5. Get in your truck, drive it out of the water PAST THE LAUNCHING LANES, to the designated tie down area.

Before I have to get out of my truck.

Deep breath.

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The hub had fishing to do.

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While I was serenaded by the bells of St. Mary’s Seminary (see it behind the trees?)

Please, for the love of God and my grits, float this sage advice to the boaters and jet-skiers in your life.

Especially if they live around here.

 

 

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family, Food

Plymouth

The old Wilcox house was built in 1903 by William Markham, inventor of the BB Gun and co-founder of the Daisy Air Rifle Company.

In 1911, George and Harriet Wilcox purchased the Victorian house, which sits proudly and elegantly downtown, right across from Kellogg Park.

Somewhere along the way it was converted into four separate apartments – two upper and two lower. If I remember correctly.

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My dad moved into the apartment in the front, street level, after he and my mom divorced.

It suited him because he was elegant, too.

The furnishings were simple – bought on a newly divorced budget – but pleasingly graceful and stylish.

I loved visiting him there. I loved sitting on a bench in the park across the street discussing philosophy and the deep things of life, the giant fountain bubbling next to us.

We both liked to walk, and it was on one of those walking days that I had my first caper.

We left his apartment and paused on the porch while he locked his door.

“I didn’t used to lock my door,” he said, “until I came home one afternoon and found a stoned and scruffy young man sleeping on my sofa.”

It happened during one of the town’s annual events – the Fall Festival or Art in the Park.

Door locked we headed out into the beautiful morning. We walked all through town and around town and landed at a Steak and Seafood Restaurant in time for a late lunch.

It was the first fancy restaurant I had been to with my dad. Just the two of us. I felt grown up.

He was having the Whitefish so I ordered it too.

Whitefish with a white wine and caper sauce.

“Watch out for all the little pin bones,” He warned.

It was my first whitefish and my first taste of capers.

And it was delicious.

I always think about that apartment, that porch, that story of the young man sleeping on my dad’s sofa and that special meal whenever I open a jar of those little pickled flower buds to make a sauce of my own.

 

 

 

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church nonsense

The Drip, Drip, Drip of Dogmatism

I’ve been too knackered to read or write anything these past two weeks.  I won’t go into the details but it has to do with my mom falling and injuring her hip (CT scan next week), both of my dogs having a nasty bout of diarrhea (clean-up in aisle 2), and me working just about ’round the clock to prepare for a presentation.

Profound exhaustion.

But then last night I went to the newly renovated Strand Theater in the newly rejuvenated Pontiac to see Phillip Phillips. Just Phillip, Dave Eggars, a guitar, a cello and a voice. In an intimate setting.

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It was outstanding.

Brian Vander Ark opened with skills of his own.

So today I had enough rejuvenation of my own to read a little something and I read this:

“Here’s the thing: Christianity is not about a personal relationship with Jesus. The phrase is never found in the Bible. And the whole biblical witness runs contrary to it.”

I was only three paragraphs into the article and I was exhausted again.

Because I’m tired of statements like that one.

Untrue overstatements to support a point.

Correct, the phrase “personal relationship” is not found in the Bible (lots of phrases to which Christians adhere are not found in the Bible), but that doesn’t mean the whole Biblical witness runs contrary to it.

When God rebuked Aaron and Miriam in Numbers 12 He said, “When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face…”

In Exodus 33, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Isaiah wrote, “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend...” and in another place, he wrote “look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.” [emphasis added]

God said of David: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

John referred to himself as, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  When Peter, learning how he would die, looked at John and asked, “What about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

And there was Job who, after a long personal discourse with God said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

A quick survey of the whole biblical witness (and these are just the first few that come to mind)  reveals that God had many unique, personal relationships.

Oh, oh, oh I just thought of more: Jesus revealing Himself personally to Mary at the tomb and then to the disciples minus Thomas and then to Thomas personally with a personalized revelation tailored to his specific need to believe…

We know from Scripture that He made promises to individuals as well as to nations.

He still does.  He still has unique, personal relationships with individuals AND He has corporate relationships with nations and with the church at large.

Things are rarely one or the other when it comes to the way we practice religion.  They’re almost always a little bit of both.

Which is why dogma wears me out.

#knackered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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love, Michigan

Wes Leonard

Wes Leonard scored the final basket in the final game of the regular season and then he died.

The score was tied going into overtime. The Fennville Blackhawks had won 19 out of 19 games. A perfect season hung in the balance, and then Wes scored 4 points for the win.

That was in 2011.

This past Friday afternoon the hub and I drove to Hope College in Holland, Michigan to attend the 6th Annual Wes Leonard Heart Team Never Forgotten Game:  Fennville vs. Saugatuck.

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At halftime Wes’ former teammates lined up mid-court.

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And presented a portable AED machine to representatives from 20 High Schools.

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The hub, blurry in my haste to snap a pic before he sat down, was one of them.

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Before the game we were taught how to use the device and instructed in the importance of maintaining fresh batteries.  Wes’ school had a device the night he died but the battery was dead.

At the end of the game the fans from both schools – rivals – chanted Wes-ley Leo-nard, just as they have at the end of every game these past six years.

I love this family and this community – who have come together to get life saving information, legislation and devices into every Michigan school.

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Since Holland is about a 3 hour drive, we spent the night.

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In the morning, as we walked into town in search of the perfect cafe miel – and it was perfect – we came upon this sculpture.  Which is another reason I love this town.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

If you didn’t watch the video, scroll back up and watch it.  With a hanky.

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