News

The John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation

February 13th, 2017

America at Its Best: The John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Work and live to serve others, to leave the world a little better than you found it and garner for yourself as much peace of mind as you can. This is happiness. David Sarnoff

Actions, Attitudes and Words Matter

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.Maya Angelou

In 2010, my wife and I began our Face of America project. In phase one, we traveled the length and breadth of the continental United States searching for examples of the Face of America on its best day. We drove more than 30,000 miles. We recorded more than 110 hours of video footage. We took 57,000 digital pictures, and we interviewed 400 people all in the span of about 100 days. During the years that followed, we continued our search for examples of America At Its Best.

In our opinion, the Face of America belongs to people who give service to others by doing acts of kindness that give people hope and a belief that tomorrow can and will be better than today. 

The face of America belongs to people who want to give something of themselves to their country, their community and their world, people who never let adversity define who they are.

As we approach the seventh anniversary of our final project, we found a classic example of America At Its Best at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation just 11 miles from our home.

This word cloud is our attempt to capture the spirit of this very special place and the people who work there.

Thoughtfulness

The classic definition of thoughtfulness is showing consideration for the needs of others.

Thoughtfulness is the hallmark of every person who works at the John Heinz Institute in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Every day, the therapists and members of the staff work with people who are experiencing great challenges. They become a bridge of hope for the patients they serve, their caregivers and family members. That bridge is deeply rooted in thoughtfulness.

An Irish proverb best describes the thoughtfulness one discovers at the John Heinz Institute:

It is in the shelter of each other that people live.

Caring

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. Margaret Mead

My wife and I have been in the medical system for several years. We have experienced the challenges that come with a diagnosis heart disease and breast cancer. Recently, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. All three of these health problems have reinforced a basic fact of life. Before you can completely heal the patient, your actions and words must convince them that you care about them and their situation.

An adaptation of the words of the celebrated author and teacher Leo Buscaglia will accurately put this quality in focus:

At the John Heinz Institute they never underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, because they know all of these qualities have the potential to turn a life around.

Competence

There is no substitute for competence. Ayn Rand

Competence is the ability to do something well.

Mark Twain added an important refinement when he wrote these famous words about competence in his Notebook:

Obscurity and a competence-that is the life that is best worth living.

These thirteen words written by an American genius were designed to highlight two important points. It’s not about fame. It’s about doing your best.

The people who offer their services at the John Heinz Institute are not interested in acclaim. They are interested in positive outcomes for their patients.

Thank you, Flo Kohar for conducting the Video Swallow Test in a competent and caring way.

Compassion

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. Albert Schweitzer

Researchers at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley define compassion as “suffering together.” Compassionate people identify with the suffering of others. They actually feel the pain of the person who is struggling with a medical challenge.

During his tenure, the Chief Executive Officer of the Stony Brook University Hospital in New York, Dr. Steven L. Strongwater, made it very clear that compassionate care is integral to the art of healing.

Toward this end:

Patients and family members are treated with respect;

Healthcare providers communicate and share complete and unbiased information with patients and families in ways that support them and are useful;

Patients and families are encouraged and supported in participating in care and decision-making at the level they choose;

Collaboration among patients, family members, and providers occurs in policy and program development and professional education, as well as the delivery of care.

When it comes to sensitive, warm, loving care, the therapists at the John Heinz Institute meet the Strongwater standard as described by Thomas Merton:

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.     

Accommodating

…accommodation is a gratifying choice.  Sylvia Boorstein

Accommodating people are eager to help someone with a problem. They do it in a friendly way.

Salvador Minuchin is a respected family therapist. He called accommodation one of the silent songs of life without which life is impossible. Sylvia Boorstein teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. She believes that accommodation is a gratifying choice.

According to Dr. Minuchin, the the road to accommodation is paved with tolerance, support, and flexibility. These are fundamental family values. It should come as no surprise that all the members of the John Heinz family go out of their way to accommodate the patients, family members and caregivers who depend upon the services and programs offered at the center.

Thank You, Theresa Yaron for all that you do to accommodate the needs of patients.

Encouraging

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Author Unknown

When I think about encouragement, the image that always comes to mind is the iconic World War II image of Rosie the Riveter flexing her muscles under the slogan “We can do it.” It’s all there.

Epictetus, an ancient philosopher and author of The Art of Living, gave us the essence of encouragement in one sentence:

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.

He provided an accurate description of the encouraging people who work at the Heinz Institute when he advised his readers with this profound statement:

Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.

Life-Changing

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. C.G. Jung

The founder of analytical psychology also gave us this insight:

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

Just being in the Heinz Rehabilitation Center is a transformational experience. In my two months of rehab, I have met more heroines and heroes than I have seen in a lifetime. They are young and old, rich and poor. They represent a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common. They have hope that they can improve their circumstance.

Working with their therapist, they are determined to give their best effort to overcome the challenges they face. They want to walk again, speak again, and work again. They want to have a normal life again.

There is genuine sense of community in this life-changing place.

Humble

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. C.S. Lewis

On September 20, 2013, my wife and I attended a Town Hall Forum at the Medal of Honor Convention in Gettysburg. We were there to produce a documentary about the convention. Approximately 300 attended the Town Hall Forum, and one of the most memorable moments happened when Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta was asked why he did what he did and what was going through his mind when he did it.

Giunta surprised everyone in the room with his answer.

I did what I did because everyone else was doing the same thing. There’s no room or time to think about you, because you don’t matter. We matter, and it has nothing to do with you as an individual. I never once led. I always stood side by side to my brothers. My first thought was to my boys….

I will never forget that moment and those words. In my mind, they constitute one of the best definitions of selfless humility and service I have ever heard.

Fast forward three years and two months, and I am watching Sal Giunta’s words play out in a totally different setting. There are no video production crews or journalists. There is room filled with therapists and their patients. Every one of them was doing the same thing. They were standing side by side with their patients, offering encouragement and hope. Their first thought and all the thoughts that followed were about helping their patients.

In the 19th century, Robert Louis Stevenson, gave an excellent insight into the importance of humility:

There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people…

If you want to find powerful examples of goodness and humility visit the John Heinz Rehabilitation Center. There are no cold, proud people there.

Heartfelt

The heart is happiest when it beats for others. Author Unknown

A heartfelt person is a sincere person.

John O’Donohue believes that a loving heart awakens the spirit to possibilities and engagement with others.

That’s the spirit I experience every time I enter the John Heinz Institute. To be honest, I try to arrive 15 minutes early for my appointment so I can sit in the waiting area and experience the heartfelt engagement between the patients and their therapists. It is polite, earnest and professional.

Positive

The optimists…tend to believe that defeat is just a temporary setback or a challenge, that its causes are just confined to this one case. Dr. Martin Seligman

Dr. Martin Seligman is the father of Positive Psychology He believes that a pleasant manner is the first step on the road to success. He is founder of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. His research uncovered five elements for a happy life: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment /Achievement.

I can honestly say that I experience all of the elements of Dr. Seligman’s PERMA model at the John Heinz Rehabilitation Center.

An adaptation of Dr. Seligman’s words applies to all the therapists at the Heinz Institute and in particular my speech therapist, Joanne Orlando:

They use their strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than who they are.

Welcoming

Great men show politeness in a particular way; a smile suffices to assure you that you are welcome…as if you were a member of the family. John James Audubon

Thank you, Mark Miller for making the effort to welcome in a polite and friendly way every patient and family member who visits the John Heinz Institute in Wilkes-Barre. Your kind words and actions make the rehabilitation center something that I look forward to every week.

Kindness

Kind actions begin with kind thoughts. Author Unknown

Kindness is a human value that is action-oriented. A kind person wants to help people who are suffering.

Dr. Stephen G. Post is a professor of Preventative Medicine at Stony Brook University. He is the director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics. He is the author of Why Good Things Happen To Good People and The Hidden Gifts of Helping.

When he was asked to provide characteristics that are central to America on its best day, Dr. Post was quick to respond with six qualities: gratitude, hope, joy, compassion, generosity and loving kindness, a concept that is deeply rooted in the Mussar tradition.

I believe the spirit of kindness permeates everything that happens at the Heinz Institute. All of the members of the staff want to help the patients they encounter.

My speech therapist, Joanne Orlando, is always looking for ways to resolve my problem. She reflects the light and the spirit of kindness.

When Mark Twain wrote these words, he provided a great insight into this life-changing value:

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Pleasant

Garner up pleasant thoughts in your mind, for pleasant thoughts make pleasant lives. John Wilkins, 17th century English clergyman

Thank you, Nicole Pelosi for your warm and friendly greetings when you pass me in the waiting area. Your engaging smile lifts my spirits every time you ask, “How are you doing today?”

If I were an artist painting a portrait of the people who staff the John Heinz Rehabilitation Institute, their faces would radiate vivid images of hope, love, joy, faith, courage, creativity, community, and nobility of purpose.

Thank You

Mark Miller

Theresa Yaron

Joanne Orlando

Flo Kohar

Nicole Pelosi

Thank you to all the men and women who work at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation.

You are America at its very best.

The picture of Rosie the Riveter is part
of the collection at the National Museum
of American History in Washington, D.C.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com

The Most Beautiful Lady in America

January 29th, 2017

The Most Beautiful Lady in America

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

The main objects of all science, the freedom and happiness of man. . . . [are] the sole objects of all legitimate government.Thomas Jefferson

A Year of Change and Challenge

The news of this contentious day got me thinking about a life-changing experience I had as a teenager many years ago.

The year was 1957. General Dwight David Eisenhower was the 34th president of the United States. He had a larger-than-life persona, an infectious and friendly smile and he was a person of character who appreciated the virtue of humility.

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends. Dwight David Eisenhower

During his first campaign in 1952, I proudly wore my “I like Ike” button.

On the international stage, 1957 was the year the space age began. The USSR launched Sputnik and the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

It was also the year of the Eisenhower Doctrine. The foreign policy pronouncement offered economic and military assistance to any country that was being threatened by armed aggression from another state.

Eisenhower relied on patience and humility. Eisenhower didn’t storm around and demand that everything be done his way. He knew he had to work within a system and lead from within it.Samuel B. Bacharach

Here at home, the Little Rock Nine integrated a high school in Arkansas. A ground breaking television program, Leave it to Beaver, premiered on CBS, and Elvis Presley made a controversial appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Virtually every teenager in America who had access to a television set watched Elvis sing Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, Heartbreak Hotel, Don’t Be Cruel, Too Much, When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again and Peace In the Valley.

I was one of those enthusiastic fans.

At the same time Elvis was alarming parents, a group of talented actors made West Side Story. It was the talk of Broadway.

The editors of Time Magazine selected Nikita Khrushchev as their “Man of The Year” for his "de-Stalinization" policies.

A Priceless Symbol of Democracy

Speaking of New York, while all this was happening, the Symbol of Liberty Enlightening the World stood majestically in New York Harbor.

For some unknown reason, one my teachers, Sr. Mary Felician, R.S.M., encouraged me to enter the Voice of Democracy speech competition. I respected her, and I decide to write a speech about the Statue of Liberty. Little did I know it at the time, but this would be a transformational experience. I discovered something about an important symbol of democracy, and I discovered something about myself. I enjoyed research, writing and public speaking.

The Essence of America

For me, the Statue of Liberty represents everything that is good, decent, wholesome and caring about the land of my birth.

When President George H.W. Bush wrote these words, he captured the essence this national treasure:

Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans-liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal-the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history. Across the Pacific, across the Atlantic, they came from every point on the compass-many passing beneath the Statue of Liberty-with fear and vision, with sorrow and adventure, fleeing tyranny or terror, seeking haven, and all seeking hope…Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future. George H. W. Bush

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke with insight when she shared her thoughts about Lady Liberty:

America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores. All kinds of people. The image of the Statue of Liberty with Emma Lazarus’ famous poem. She lifts her lamp and welcomes people to the golden shore, where they will not experience prejudice because of the color of their skin, the religious faith that they follow. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Poem That Says It All

In 1883 Emma Lazarus wrote a poem to help raise money to subsidize the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus wanted the poem to help people understand the plight of immigrants. The poem ended with these immortal words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

This is the entire sonnet.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Most Beautiful Lady in America

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross knows something suffering. In 1969, she wrote the seminal book On Death and Dying:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

The most beautiful Lady in America, our Statue of Liberty, symbolizes compassion, gentleness, hope, freedom, friendship and a deep loving concern for the suffering of others. That’s the essence of America at its best.

Picture Credits:
The Library of Congress,

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com


Words of Wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15th, 2017

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Voice is not just the sound that comes from your throat, but the feelings that come from your words. Jennifer Donnelly  

I was watching a cable news show when I saw my first Word Cloud.  It was a graphic representation of the words used by a very_Word Cloud MLK_FFC_FC prominent politician. To be honest, I had never seen anything like this. I took notes on the image, and then I went straight to my room where I work to do some research on the term Word Cloud.  Then I decided to design my first Word Cloud or Word Text image.

I had been doing research for an article about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the graphic illustration you see on the right is the final version of that image.  The 20 words are representative of Dr. King’s vision for America.

Below you will find the appropriate quotes that give life and meaning to these words.

God & Faith

Dr. King was a Baptist minister. Every word he spoke and MLK 2everything he did was deeply rooted in his practice of religion.

Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

 Brotherhood & Together

On August 28, 1963, I was a recent college graduate. I borrowed a reel-to-reel tape recorder so I could make a personal copy of Dr.MLK 15 King’s transformational “I Have a Dream” speech.

Three times during that speech he made reference to the importance of brotherhood.

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood..

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

Three times in one sentence he mentioned the importance of working together:

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

In another part of the speech used a powerful 3-word sentence to remind the 250,000 people who had assembled on the Mall in Washington, D.C.to work together:   
We cannot walk alone.

Hope, Justice & Love

I don’t know this with certainty, but I think it is fair MLK 11to assume that whenever Dr. King had an opportunity to speak, he used it to teach the basic principles of Hope, Justice and Love. These are a few examples of his marvelous ability to share his thoughts in tightly constructed and memorable admonitions:

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Change, Nonviolence & Peace

In my opinion, these three words form the foundation for Dr.MLK 7 King’s vision of America. That is why he was so inspirational to my generation. He was resolute, but caring. He was determined but peaceful and he was realistic, thoughtful  and kind.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

Peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.

Character, Consensus & Excellence

Dr. King had very high standards for himself, his family, and MLK 16everyone he was trying to lead. These words of wisdom underline that standard:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Forgiveness, Overcome & Light

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived the lessons he learned in the Bible. He understood the humanness of our nature:
MLK 14

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.

We must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

Dignity, Service & Quality

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. personified the meaning of Dignity, MLK 1Service and Quality. He never misled his followers. He did not believe in violence, and made no exceptions for it. He celebrated service to others, and he was a high-quality leader.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating for whites only.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.

Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.

The quality, not the longevity, of one’s live is what is important.

Dream

Dr. King had a dream, and he reached out to all Americans to share that dream with them:
MLK 3

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

No person has the right to rain on your dreams.

I can think of no better way to end this blog than to share the words Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. These eloquent and powerful words inspired thousands of young students from my generation, and they continue to inspire us to this day:

I believe that what self-centered men have torn down MLK 5men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that We Shall Overcome!

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.

God Bless Dr. Martin Luther King and his family.

God bless America

This article is dedicated to Congressman John Lewis and all the courageous men and women who have worked tirelessly to guarantee the promise of American equality to everyone.

Picture Credits:
The Library of Congress, The National Archives, The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com


A Survival Kit for 2017

January 1st, 2017

A Survival Kit for 2017

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. Morrie Schwartz

“As we begin the New Year, none of us has to be reminded about the alarming state of affairs in our nation and our world. Those of usall-or-nothing_gmt_fc who are blessed with children and grandchildren worry about their future, their safety and the contentiousness that has become a way of life for so many people who are alienated, frightened and alone.” Those words were written in our blog on January 1, 2016. I think most people would agree that not much has changed in 365 days.

Rather than provide a litany of the negative obstacles we will face in the New Year, Kitch and I decided to focus our attention on some of the positive things we can do to make life more enjoyable. What follows here is a number of insights from people we think will enhance our lives and bring us peace and joy.

Resolve to Be Happy

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. Helen Keller

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in its publication picture_aa_5_3_smGulls and Man documents the fact that seagulls are resourceful, inquisitive and intelligent. Seagulls symbolize friendship, freedom, community, cooperation and effective communication.

In his celebrated book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach wrote these insightful words:

We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.

Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.

If your happiness depends on what someone else does, I guess you do have a problem.

Anton Chekhov gave us this advice in his book The Seagull:

I understand that in our work – doesn’t matter whether it’s acting or writing – what’s important isn’t fame or glamour, none of the things I used to dream about, it’s the ability to endure.

Change Your Habits

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. Albert Einstein,

These three words provide a roadmap for success. They were applied with great effectiveness by Nick Pokoluk, the author of nick_6340-300x241Scourge of the Ages: Glycation, and Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s and Aging.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1.68 million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year.

The majority of all cancers are not inherited. Two out of every three cancers are lifestyle related. We need to spend more time examining and talking about lifestyle and environmental causes of cancer.

According to Nick, the three pillars of health and longevity are: diet, physical activity and mind body attitudes.

If we learn these fundamental principles, and we pay close attention to what we eat, how we exercise and what we put in our mind, we can live a longer, healthier, happier life.

Og Mandino knew a great deal about breaking bad habits. He was a successful speaker and author who was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame.

Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure.

Mind Over Matter

When I was a youngster, I often heard these three words. Recently I found a poem that captures the essence of the gift my mother wanted her three children to have:

May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
speakam_6691-300x194
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.

May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.

D. Simone

Think Positive

The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ellen Goodman helped us to better understand how we can approach the New Year with a positive attitude.

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.

William Arthur Ward is recognized as one of America’s most inspirational authors. I like to think of him as the father of positive thinking.a-friend-in-need His advice is captured is a special way in this poem:

Another fresh new year is here . . .
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!

Make Good Choices

In the end, life is about the choices. No one makes it through life with without scars. In 2017, Kitch and I will follow the advice contained in these pearls of wisdom:

Celebrate what you want to see moresky_0428 of. Tom Peters

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this — To rise above the little things. John Burroughs

I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday. Stephen R. Covey,

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. Benjamin Franklin

Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…
Alfred Tennyson

Peace and Unconditional Love

In 1955, Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller wrote a song that became an American classic, Let There Be Peace on Earth. During an interview, Jill Jackson Miller said she wrote the song after she discovered the “the life-saving joy of God’s peace and unconditional love.”

The lyrics of the beautiful song capture those priceless treasures, and they teach us how “to give out love, and to let it come in”:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
winnie-_0219_a
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

(child)
Let there be peace on earth
happy-new-year_0011_sm
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.

We hope 2017 will be a year peace, happiness, love and good health for you and the people you love.

Happy New Year and God Bless America.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com

A Christmas Story About Caring, Comfort and Hope

December 23rd, 2016

Experiencing the Essence of Christmas at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. Charles M. Schulz

This picture of the Nativity was taken after a recent visit to the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
044_st

My journey to this facility began in January while I was recovering from cataract surgery when I was diagnosed with a stomach virus. The virus persisted for many weeks. It was accompanied by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

In June, I was diagnosed with dehydration. One month later, my cardiologist found two blocked arteries in my heart.  

In September, I experienced difficulty speaking. In October, my primary care physician was concerned about the problem I was having with slurred speech. He recommended an MRI, and as my speaking problem worsened, he made arrangements for me to see a neurologist and a speech therapist. Shortly after that, my neurologist determined that I had early signs of Parkinson’s disease. I was having great difficulty speaking, and there were other physiological abnormalities.  

In November, I made my first visit to the Heinz Center.

From the moment Kitch and I entered the rehabilitation center, we _-geo-bailey-locgot the feeling that this was a very special place.

As we were about to enter the room, a gentleman stepped backward so we could walk into the room. He greeted us with a pleasant smile and kind words. We did not know it at the time, but he was a therapist named Mark. He is one of about 20 therapists who serve patients every day. He is welcoming, kind and courteous. To this day, whenever we meet Mark, he treats us as if were family.

In my opinion, Mark personifies the advice George Bailey’s father gave to his son in It’s A Wonderful Life:

All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.

Shortly after our defining moment with Mark, we met Theresa Yaron. She coordinates all of the appointments for patients who visit the045_st center. Her office is a crossroads of sorts for patients, their relatives, therapists, and other professionals who work in this facility. Theresa is the perfect person for the job.  She is pleasant, courteous, and kind. She goes out of her way to accommodate the needs of the patient. She is an excellent conversationalist, and a delightful person to be with.

She has empathy for the patient, because she knows in a very real ways what they are experiencing. At the moment, she is caring for her mother who has a serious heart condition and her mother-in-law who had total knee replacement surgery.

Theresa reflects the light of two of my favorite Christmas quotations:

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  Charles Dickens

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?  Bob Hope

Joanne Orlando is my speech therapist. She has been serving patient needs for 34 years. She is a woman of dignity and class. She creates a welcoming atmosphere for the patient and the caregiver. She cares about her patients, and she attends to all of the little things that make a patient feel comfortable. She is engaging. She explains the procedures in language that is clear and simple. She designs exercises that are realistic, and she helps and encourages the patient in all the ways that matter.

During my second session, she asked me to record ten statements that would be used in our sessions. I decided to list a few aphorisms that have encouraged me throughout my life:  

Whether the job be big or small do it well or not at all (John Ferko);

What this world needs is a new kind of army-the army of the kind (Cleveland Amory);

Hope is stronger than death (A sign at the Shanksville Temporary Memorial);

Impossible is just a degree of difficulty (Coach Herb Brooks);

People fail forward to success (Mary Kay Ash).    

When Joanne read the list, she offered only positive feedback.

Joanne Orlando loves what she does, and it shows in the way she treats people. In thought, deed and action, she reflects the light of these comforting observations:

Whoever has a heart filled with love always has something to give. Pope John XXIII

Christmas is…a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. Charles Dickens

If there is one constant that underlies all of the work that is being done at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation in Wilkes-Barre, PA. it is recorded in these five words:

Miracles in rehab, performed daily.

That happens at this very special place, because the men and women who work here manage to cultivate the essence of Christmas as beautifully expressed by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow every day of the year:

God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!

Thank You, Mark, Theresa and Joanne.

Thank you to all the men and women who work at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation.

May your Christmas be blessed with joy and your New Year be blessed with peace.

You are America at its very best.

“God bless us, everyone.”

Please provide feedback to:

tony.mussari@gmail.com

 

To Kill A Mockingbird: A Treasury of American Values

December 7th, 2016

7 Characteristics of America at its Best

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s
conscience.
Harper Lee

Defining What America Is At Its Best

While looking for a quotation that would encourage and inspire a teenager who is going through some rough times, I found these words of wisdom:

You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat.

Those words of advice were written by Harper Lee, the author of the American classic To Kill A Mockingbird. Not only did they satisfy my need, they motivated me to look deeper into the treasury of Harper Lee’s work.

To Kill A Mockingbird is a celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning book about justice, friendship,mockingbird-graphic3a_fc_perseverance innocence, love, tolerance and transformation. The story takes place in a small Alabama town in the 1930’s. It features a well known attorney Atticus Finch, his two children Scout and her brother Jem, their housekeeper Calpurnia, their neighbor Miss Maudie Atkinson, a recluse Boo Radley and a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of raping a poor white girl Mayella Ewell. Atticus accepts the appointment to represent Mr. Robinson, and he uses this opportunity to teach his children and the community the importance equal treatment under the law and compassion for people who are suffering.

In this article we use Harper Lee’s words to identify and explain some of the characteristics of America its best. The words were written more than 56 years ago, and they are as powerful and practical today as they were then.

Courage

courage_sm-_nc

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Atticus Finch

Integrity

“Atticus, you must be wrong."

“How’s that?”integrity_sm_nc

“Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong. . .”

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” Atticus Finch

Love

love_sm_nc

I do my best to love everybody…I’m hard put, sometimes- baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. Atticus Finch

Modesty

People in their right minds never take pride in their talents. (Miss Maudie Atkinson a neighbor of the Finches)
modesty_sm-nc

As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. Rich or poor, you then can look anyone in the eye and say, I’m probably no better than you, but I’m certainly your equal. (Harper Lee 6/7/06 handwritten note to a fan)

Perseverance

perseverance_sm_new_fc

Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason
for us not to try to win…

Atticus Finch

Respect

First of all," he said, "if you can learn a respect_sm_nc
simple trick,Scout, you’ll get
along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. Atticus Finch

Wisdom

wisdom_sm_nc

It’s not necessary to tell all you know. It’s not ladylike — in the second place, folks don’t like to have someone around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates them. Your not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.(Calpurnia, the Finches’ housekeeper and a trusted member of the family. She acts as a mother figure to Atticus’ children Jem and Scout)

We are publishing this article on the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor as a tribute to the america-at-its-best_3-men_ffc_smmen who died on that tragic day. We must never forget their service and sacrifice. They gave their lives to preserve the values Harper Lee personified in the characters in her wonderful book.

God Bless the soldiers and sailors who gave their lives for America and American values on December 7, 1941, and God Bless America.

Please provide feedback to:

tony.mussari@gmail.com

 

Celebrating Our National Gratitude Day

November 24th, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD  

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. Johannes A. Gaertner

Gratitude

While doing research for a speech to the Back Mountain Men’s Ecumenical Club, I came across a PowerPoint presentation Kitch and I flower-typefcdesigned about gratitude. It began with a beautiful picture from our garden. It ended with summary of George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation:

Acknowledge His Providence…

Be grateful for his benefits…

Establish a Day of Thanksgiving
and prayer…

Show our grateful hearts for His
favors and our government.

In 1863, 74 years later, President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. He ended his proclamation with these words:

I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings… they do also fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

On this, our national day of gratitude, we thought it would be appropriate to share some the highlights from this presentation. We are doing this to offer encouragement and hope during these challenging times.

Gratitude Defined

angels-book

Those in the know define gratitude with one word, Thankfulness.

Angeles Arrien, the author of Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, believed that blessings, learnings, mercies, and protections are the four portals to a grateful heart.

She shared this important point with her readers:

The practice of gratitude bestows many benefits, anger, arrogance, and jealousy melt in its embrace. Fear and defensiveness dissolve. Gratitude diminishes barriers to love and evokes happiness.

Gratitude Examples

So what is this emancipating virtue called gratitude? These are some examples.
emma-art-2001

It could be a drawing like the one that came straight from the heart of an elementary school student.

This particular expression of gratitude was tacked on a bulletin board in a classroom in a school just a few blocks from the site of the 911 attack on New York city.

The words and the image speak to gratitude and its power of healing.

Thank you to the policemen and the firemen for trying to rescue the people. Thank you to the rescue dogs. Love Emma.

song_fc

This may surprise you, but gratitude may be a song.

Affectionate Gratitude was written by a Sister of Charity in 1881.

It is preserved in the Library of Congress collection Music for the Nation.

Equally surprising, gratitude can be a boxcar. Yes, you read it correctly.

In 1949, the French government sent a very special gift to the peoplegratitude-boxcar of the United States. It was called the Merci (Gratitude) Train.

It is a unique symbol of gratitude for the $40 million in relief supplies Americans gave to war-torn France and Italy in 1947. The supplies were carried in a 700-car train appropriately named the Friendship Food Train.

Recently, Kitch and I had the opportunity to see one of those Gratitude box cars at Fort Indiantown Gap.

What a moment!

The Virtues of Gratitude

gratitude-quotes

Gratitude is an attitude that is deeply rooted in kindness.

Gratitude permeates every aspect one’s life. One never misses an opportunity be kind and say thank you. Our friend Helene Bigiarelli clearly defined the connection between gratitude and kindness:

To receive kindness and understanding from my neighbors and friends, I have to be kind and understanding to them.

There is a mystical connection between gratitude and joy.

amanda-quote

Amanda Gore, a popular motivational speaker and author, explained that connection with this beautiful thought:

Gratitude is the foundation for joy. That’s the secret! Until you find and live with gratitude and appreciation, you will never find joy.

Gratitude makes us more mindful and it helps to control the most divisive modern-day disease of “Mefulness.”

The celebrated author of Our Town, explained this important insight when he wrote these profound words:

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. Thornton Wilder

Gratitude is speaking kindly about someone who is angry with you. When your day revolves around being grateful, it is impossible to be depressed.

Expressing Gratitude

Sometimes the best way to express gratitude is in an old-fashioned, handwritten note to a friend or a loved one.

I was blessed to receive a priceless note this morning:

On this Thanksgiving, we’re facing a big medical challenge, but as with all the others, we hold hands and move through it. The sun will be shining on the other side. I’m by your side, and I thank you on this special day for all your love, kindness, and understanding.
I love you dearly,

Kitch

I can think of no better way to end this article about Thanksgiving than to share a quote from William Arthur Ward:

thank-you-sign

God gave you a gift of 84,600 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say thank you?

We hope your Thanksgiving Day was blessed with peace, love and the joy of community with family and friends. May we all renew the Thanksgiving plea of our greatest American President Abraham Lincoln that our county is blessed with peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

God bless you for taking the time to read this article, and God bless America.

Please provide feedback to: tony.mussari@gmail.com


Messages of Hope During Difficult Times

November 13th, 2016

Thoughts About Hope That Will Lift Your Spirits

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD  

We have to remain hopeful. Dr. Judith Gardner

What is Hope?

As we approach the end of this tumultuous year, we need messengers with messages of hope.hope-3-aspects-hope

The authors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary tell us there are four aspects of hope:

It’s a feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen … a feeling that something good will happen or be true;

It’s the chance that something good will happen;

It’s someone or something that may be able to provide help … someone or something that gives you a reason for hoping.

This is our humble attempt to identify a few of the symbols and words of hope.

Symbols of Hope

The Peace Dove

Wednesday, July 13, was a very difficult day for Kitch and me. We traveled tohope-quote-6-a-fc-color CMC in Scranton for my cardiac catheterization. The results of the test were not good. The cardiologist discovered two blocked arteries in my heart. To make matters worse, in order to fix them, they would have to go through the original graphs from my open heart surgery. The cardiologist told us it was too dangerous to do that. He would try to treat the blockages with medications.

After eight hours in the hospital, we made our way home. Shortly after we arrived, I noticed a beautiful peace dove perched on the railing outside the room where I work. The peace dove is universally recognized as a symbol of hope. The peace dove represents life, hope, renewal and peace.

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote these insightful words about peace:

If there is to be peace in the world,peace-dove-sm
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

The peace dove reminds us there can be no peace without hope.

The Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch butterfly is called the "Symbol of Hope.” It also represents change, endurance and life.
butterfly_9911
On Saturday, July 16, Kitch and I saw the first Monarch butterfly of the season. Ironically, it was fluttering around a recently planted butterfly bush in the Garden of Life. I was mesmerized by this scene.

The words of Maya Angelou and an Irish blessing came to mind:

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

There can be no luck, happiness and success without hope.

During the difficult moments of change, inconvenience and failure, hope provides a pathway to success.

The Innocence of a Child

On a beautiful August afternoon Kitch and I received a telephone call fromimg_0066-rachel our neighbor Marge Janosik. Her granddaughter was visiting and she wanted to come to the garden to feed the fish. What a pleasant surprise. We obliged, and Rachel’s visit turned out to be one the most memorable moments in the garden.

Rachel is full of life. She has a very pleasant disposition, and she is a good conversationalist. She fed the fish in the Angel Garden, and then she walked along the path to the Garden of Life. Her grandmother joined us, and we took some pictures.

Little did I realize when I snapped this shot of Rachel, the fish in the pond are symbols of hope in the Christian tradition.

Rachel is also a symbol of hope of what our future can be. Eric Hoffer said it another way:

Children are the keys of paradise.

Walt Disney amplified that thought:

Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.

The Beauty of a Rose

While walking in the garden in October, I saw the proverbial last rose ofrose_6149_sm summer. You may be asking yourself how this applies to the symbolism for hope.

The answer is simple and direct.

According to Avia Venefica, in Tarot, the rose is considered a symbol of balance. The beauty of this flower expresses promise, hope, and new beginnings. It is contrasted by thorns symbolizing defense, loss, and thoughtlessness.

When I look at a rose, I am reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s famous observation:

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

Another famous thought about hope comes to mind:

Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, Wait and Hope. Alexandre Dumas

A Classic Example of Hope

Shorty before the end of October, we received a very special gift form our deardenise-with-grandson friend Denise Williams. It was a picture of Denise with her grandson Ryder. The picture lifted our spirits and gave us hope. It reminded me of something the author, psychologist and family counselor Eda J. LeShan wrote:

A new baby is like the beginning of all things wonder, hope a dream of possibilities.

It also reminded me of Cicero’s famous five-word sentence:
While there’s life, there’s hope.

This incredible symbol of hope, a grandmother with her new born grandson in her arms, reaffirms this adaptation of the ancient Persian saying:

Children are the bridge to heaven, because they give us hope and happiness.

A Classic Comment about Hope

Some things leave a lasting impression on your mind and in your heart. They become the fibrous tissue that gets you through the most difficult experiences in life.

During one of our visits to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, we came upon one of those unforgettable images. It was a simple sketch drawn by a student on a ceramic tile. It had two puffy clouds, a golden cross and five priceless words:sganksville-aphorism_0103

Hope is stronger than death.

These words came straight from a child’s heart. They were designed to ease the pain of everyone who visited the temporary memorial to the heroes of Flight 93.

During the years that followed this discovery, this profound aphorism encouraged us during medical emergencies like cancer and heart disease, failures, disappointments and many other bumps on the road of life.

This saying gives testimony to healing power of hope.

A Final Thought

On Tuesday, November 8, Kitch and I stood in a long line at our polling place the Fellowship Church. For almost two years, Americans had been waiting for this day.hope-romans_color

Although we had to wait in line for more than an hour, it was a very pleasant experience. We had conversations with neighbors, friends and former students.

On the way into the polling place, I saw a mural that captured my attention. It summarized hope in a very special way. It reminded me that whatever the outcome of the election, this was the perfect thought for this day and every day that followed:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.

Saint Mother Teresa amplified this thought from Romans with her humble and insightful words:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

Let us all walk forward into the uncharted waters of the future with hope, love, respect and an understanding that we belong to each other.

God bless you for taking the time to read this article, and God bless America.

Please provide feedback to: tony.mussari@gmail.com

 

 

Remembering A World War II Veteran and Hero

November 11th, 2016

Andy Sokol: The Best America Has To Offer

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD  

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. Joseph Campbell

Several years ago, Kitch and I produced a Windsor Park story about a veteran who made a permanent mark on our souls. In honor of thisuncle-andy_sm_0347 Veterans Day, we would like to share that story with you.

Andy Sokol was one-of-a-kind, and his kind was pure gold.

This humble, unassuming man was a genuine hero at Normandy and Bastogne where he earned the Bronze Star and seven other medals for courage and valor. Yet Andy did not consider himself to be a hero.

The heroes, according to Andy, were the people who did not come home.

Andy Sokol is representative of the best in every person who ever wore, or will wear, an Army uniform. By honoring Andy, we honor his brothers and sisters who quietly serve our country with courage and honor.

Andy was not rich or famous. He was genuine. He was a humbleuncle-andynot-rich-fc_0347 man. He was an honest man who spoke his mind. He was a thoughtful man who defined friendship in beautiful and meaningful ways.

We first met Andy on a fall afternoon in Windsor Park. He came here to supervise his nephew, Jeff Yedloski, who was helping us clean up the gardens and get the park ready for winter.

We liked him from the first hello. He was happy and smiling when he introduced us to his faithful companion, Bunny.

Bunny came bounding out of the yard to be with his master and you couldn’t help but love him, too.

We learned later that Uncle Andy, as we affectionately called him, had gone back to school at 69 and was the oldest graduate in his class at the Luzerne County Community College.

On a beautiful afternoon, Uncle Andy and his wife, Aunt Faye, came to dinner at the greenhouse with the Yedloski family, and it was then we started to learn about his success as a gardener. He talked about starting his tomatoes from seed and the flowers in his garden.

So it was a no brainer that for the Gardens That Work segment of The New Windsor Park Stories, Andy was the perfect man for the job. He became the Greenhouse Gardener at Windsor Park, and we learned more from our sessions with him than we could from reading a library full of gardening books.

Uncle Andy had the proverbial green thumb but he was also auncle-andya-show-you_sm_0347 teacher extraordinaire. He knew how to show you what to do in a way that gave you the confidence to try it yourself. He demonstrated how to get cuttings from geraniums, root forsythia branches, plant tomato seeds, choose the right potting soil and water correctly.

It was fun to be with him and learn about gardening, philosophy, values, history and a thousand other things.

Andy was a World War II veteran who hadn’t forgotten his days in the service and proudly showed us the contents of his box of memorabilia from those years.

uncle-andy-a-happy-man_sm_0347

He talked with great warmth about his career as a mail carrier in the Back Mountain and his love for the people on his route. He said he would trace the old paths on days when he felt nostalgic.

In 2006, he became ill while working in his garden, and he never recovered from the surgery he had to undergo. During the last four months he tried his best to get better and get back to his real life, but God had other plans for him. We have to accept that, but we can’t help but feel sad that we didn’t have more time with him.

He met the Angel of Resurrection in the shadow of Veterans Day, and he is very much missed…not only him, but his spirit, his enthusiasm, his love of life, his curiosity to learn, his kindness, his loyalty and his honesty.

At least we can say that we knew him, we laughed with him, we learned from him, we admired him and we will never forget him, because his spirit is now a part of our lives.

When Abraham Lincoln wrote these words he was describing Andy Sokol:

uncle-andythank-you_0347

"Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause."

On this special day we express our gratitude to the 20 million veterans who, like Andy Sokol, represent America at its best. Thank you for your service to America.

Please provide feedback to: tony.mussari@gmail.com


A Unique Experience at an Express Pros Webinar

November 6th, 2016

A Unique Experience of Belonging and Learning at an Express Pros Webinar

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. Max de Pree

Destination: Johnson College

Johnson College is one of the premier institutions of learning in northeastern Pennsylvania. It has been serving the need of students since 1912. On this fall morning, Kitch and I drove to thishealth-sience-tech-johnson-college beautiful campus to attend a special “Lunch & Learn” event featuring Atty. Julie Donahue, a member of the Philadelphia law firm Olgetree and Deakins and motivational speaker and author Eric Chester.

This unique learning experience was organized by Amy Clegg and her staff at the Express Pros office in Scranton.

A Roadmap for Change

Attorney Julie Donahue is a soft-spoken, analytical person. She received her undergraduate degree jad_0109from Loyola College in Maryland and her lawdegree with honors from Temple University Beasley School of Law.

According to her colleagues at the Philadelphia law firm Olgetree and Deakins, “she represents employers in a broad spectrum of employment-related matters including matters involving Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, as well as many other federal and state employment discrimination laws.”

She also handles matters relating to wrongful discharge, breach of contract and grievance arbitrations.

On this November morning, she informed her audience about the new Department of Labor overtime regulations that will go into effect in December. According to Atty. Donahue, the Department ofad-handout-1 Labor has been broadening the legal rights and protections afforded to workers through its power to administer several statutes.

To help people better understand the complexities of these changes, she provided everyone in the room with a printed copy of her 34 page PowerPoint presentation.

Her presentation was well organized, and she took the time to answer questions and clarify how employers could get prepared for these changes without alienating anyone.

She shared an invaluable a 10 page, 17 point handout that defined all of the new regulations including:

A new Minimum Salary Threshold of $47,476;ad-handout-2
Inclusion of Bonuses and Incentive Pay when
Calculating Salary;
Indexing Every Three Years Starting January 1, 2020;
Total Compensation Requirement for HCE Exemption
Increases to $134,004;
No Changes to Duties Test;
Increasing Salaries to Meet the New Threshold;
Overtime as a Reward;
Updating and Revising Job Descriptions and Job Titles;
Changes in Pay Structures for Employees Converted to Nonexempt;
Job Titles that Now Will Include Both Exempt and
Nonexempt Employees;
Reporting Payroll Errors;
Limitations on Hours Worked;
Adjusting the Worksheet;
Timing;
Who Should Communicate This Information to
Employees;
Individual and Group Communications;
Communications Regarding Timekeeping.

She distributed another 10 page handout entitled “The New Overtime Exemption Regulations Facts and Flowcharts.” It outlined the following:ad-handout-3

Executive Employee Test;
Administrative Employee Test;
Learned Professional Employee Test;
Creative Professional Employee Test;
Computer Professional Employee Test
Highly Compensated Employee Test;
Outside Sales Employee Test.

The handout also included two pages of Definitions and Examples.

Her topic was complicated, but she found a way to make sure everyone in attendance had a better understanding of the many nuances of the new overtime regulations, but she did not stop there. In her thoughtful way, she made sure that everyone had printed materials that would help clarify the issues long after the conference ended.

When John Ruskin wrote these words, he was describing Atty. Julie Donahue:

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.

How to Attract and Retain the Best and The Brightest

“Everyone should ask themselves everyday… “What am I doing today, to make my craft better?” – Eric Chester.

ec-on-fire_0214Eric Chester started his professional career as a teacher and coach. Today he is a celebrated motivational speaker and writer. To help leaders end entitlement and restore pride in the emerging workforce, he founded The Work Ethic Development Center. The centerpiece of this popular work ethic training curriculum is a training and certification program entitled Bring Your A-Game to Work. It is used in schools, universities and workforce centers.

These are a few of the books Eric Chester has written:

Reviving Work Ethic – A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Workforce

Employing Generation Why: Understanding, Managing, and Motivating Your New Workforce

Getting Them to Give a Damn: How to Get Your Front Line to Care about Your Bottom Line

On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People without Burning Them Out.

On this day, he called upon all of these sources to craft a presentation which he titled From Rookie to Superstar. The foundation for his presentation can be found in these three sentences:

Work has degenerated to little more than a four letter word; a necessary evil. It’s no longer viewed as something to be proud of, but rather something to disdain, to shortcut, or to elude all together…It’s time to revive work ethic. – Eric Chester.

Setting the Tone

To set the tone for his remarks and to help people better understand his central thesis, he told a story about Bob Knops a Korean War veteran who worked at Twin City Wire Company for 59 years. Mr.img_0118 Knops never missed a day of work.

Mr. Knops’ accomplishment grew out of his work ethic. He was positive and enthusiastic. He showed up for work on time. He was dressed and prepared properly. He did more than was required of him. He was honest, and he played by the rules. He was pleasant and he gave friendly service.

Several times during his remarks Eric Chester highlighted the seven elements that comprise a positive and productive work ethic:

Being Positive;work-ethic-slide_all_fc

Being Reliable;

Being Professional;

Taking the Initiative;

Showing Respect;

Having Integrity;

Expressing Gratitude.

Instilling those seven attributes into the hearts and minds of the emerging workforce is the key to keeping our companies, and our country, stable and prosperous.

For America’s young employees, work ethic is the key to success, whether they are flipping burgers, roofing houses, checking a patient’s blood pressure, or piloting spacecraft or NASA. -Eric Chester

The Importance of Values in the Workplace

For Eric Chester, the essentials of work ethic are core values not skills, “Therefore we can say that knowing the right thing to do, and then doing it.”

Using a special graphic, he explained how important values are in the workplace.

When employees know what to dovalued_0141
and they don’t do anything, they
are idle and not of much value to
anyone.

When employees don’t know what
to do but they take a chance and do
something that happens to be of
value, they are lucky
.

When an employee knows what to
do and they don’t do it or worse
they do the opposite, they are
cheating.

When an employee knows what to
do and they do it, they have value
to their employer.

Great leaders know how to move their employees up and over to the value quadrant. They show their employees how to end entitlement and how to restore pride in the workforce. Eric Chester

Practical Matters

Eric Chester introduced a very important issue with this question:

What do you expect out of your job?

He used an effective slide to answer the question. It had seven elements:

Atmosphere;special-slide_0145

Compensation;

Career Growth;

Learn More;

Autonomy;

Open Communication;

Acknowledgement.

Then he effectively related these objectives to the seven elements of the work ethic. According to Chester, when both sides’ needs are met, it is called engagement.

He transitioned to another important matter with these questions:

How do your employees evaluate you and how does your company compare against your competitors? These questions reveal one of Eric Chester’s most strongly held beliefs:

The best way to recruit is to offer an unbeatable culture.

best-cultures_0151With that fundamental truth in mind, he shared information he obtained by interviewing the executives of companies who repeatedly earn the designation of the best companies to work for in America. Some of his examples were:

The Container Store, a company that believes that one great employee is worth three mediocre employees;

The Mars Company where everyone including executives clock in every day, and you are rewarded if you clock in early rather than disciplined for being late;

Wegman’s is considered to be one of the best places to work in America. Everyone in the company has an employee growth path to get to the next level;

The Apple Store is one of Eric Chester’s favorite examples. It hires “geniuses” not sales clerks, and its culture is deeply rooted in acknowledgement.

Chester posed another important question: “How do you find the best people?”

At first glance, his suggestion was somewhat unorthodox: “Stop fishing and start hunting;” “Know what you want for each and every position, and what it takes to succeed;” Identify your bestaphorism_0190 employees and hunt their friends;” “Establish relationships with schools that are in your vicinity, and hunt these schools for their best prospects;” “Hunt the military. There are 20 million veterans in the US;” ” Hunt the competition.”

He pulls no punches. He is quick to admit that it takes time and money to get good employees, but you only get out what you put in.

The words of Dale Carnegie best describe Eric Chester and his presentation:

Live an active life among people who are doing worthwhile things, keep eyes and ears and mind and heart open to absorb truth, and then tell of the things you know, as if you know them. The world will listen, for the world loves nothing so much as real life.

Eric Chester relates to people of all ages because he is genuine.

One can best describe the atmosphere of this Express Employment Professionals Webinar event by paraphrasing the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The beauty and meaningfulness of this event is found in the reality that your needs are universal needs. You are not isolated from anyone. You belong.

On this special day we experienced America at its very best, and for this wonderful learning experience we want to thank:

Amy Clegg; Owner, Express Pros, Scranton; amy-team_0221

Nikki Schake, Director of Community Engagement, Express Pros, Scranton;

Brittany Pagnotti, Business Developer, Express Pros, Scranton;

Roseann Martinetti- Career Services, Johnson College;

Jocelyn Irizarry- Director of Recruitment, Express Pros, Scranton;

Kate Fajardo- Staffing Consultant, Express Pros, Scranton;

Lee Yeomans- Director of Operations Express Pros Scranton;

Tracey Pratt- Advancement Specialist, Johnson College;

Jessie- Johnson College photographer;

Richard Jalil- Parking Lot Attendant, Express Pros, Scranton; Associate;

Atty. Julie Donahue;

Eric Chester.

You are the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com

Celebrating the Spirit of America on Labor Day

September 5th, 2016

Labor Day 2016
Written by, Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by, Kathleen Loftus-Mussari
Producers
The Face of America Project
www.faceofamericawps.com 

There is no substitute for hard work. Thomas Edison

On this the first Monday in September, we take time to celebrate 8b04027r_A_S American workers. We have been doing it in America since 1882. In 1884, it became a federal holiday.

On this special day, Kitch and I thought it might be a good idea to share some positive thoughts about the day and the men and women it is designed to honor. To do this we will include some priceless pictures we found in the collection of the Library of Congress.

The poetry of Edgar Guest reflects the American spirit and work ethic that made America great! His optimism is something we all need to hear during these difficult times.

IT COULDN’T BE DONE
Edgar Guest

Somebody said it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing and he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;8d08520r_A_S
At least no one has ever done it";
But he took off his coat and he took of his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing and he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a girn,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you’ll do it.

Theodore Roosevelt captured the spirit of Edward Guest’s advice with these words:

It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage that we move on to better things.

CAN’T
Edgar Guest

Can’t is the worst word that’s written or spoken;8d08516r_A_S
Doing more harm here than slander and lies;
On it is many a strong spirit broken,
And with it many a good purpose dies.
It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning
And robs us of courage we need through the day:
It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning
And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.

Can’t is the father of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror and half-hearted work;
It weakens the efforts of artisans clever,
And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.
It poisons the soul of the man with a vision,
It stifles in infancy many a plan;
It greets honest toiling with open derision
And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.

Can’t is a word none should speak without blushing;17611r_A_S
To utter it should be a symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
It blights a man’s purpose and shortens his aim.
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.

Can’t is the word that is foe to ambition,
An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
Its prey is forever the man with a mission
And bows but to courage and patience and skill.
Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed ’twill break any man
Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: "I can."

Christian D. Larson, author of The Optimist Creed, summarized Edward Guest’s “Can’t” when he wrote these words:

What you will imagine, you will think, and what you think you will become.

When I was a teenager, I met a man who defined the dignity of work with8a29455r_A_S these aphorisms:

Whether the job be big or small, do it well or not at all.

Once a job is first begun, never leave it until it’s done.

Thank you, Johnny Ferko for this wise advice.

Happy Labor Day!

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com

 


Learning about Leadership and Community

August 16th, 2016

Learning about Leadership and Community at an Express Pros Webinar

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be. —Rosalynn Carter

Destination: Dickson City

On a beautiful August morning, our Face of America journey took us to the McCann School of Business in Dickson City, PA. We went there to participate in a webinar featuring JackMcCannSBDC Smalley, the director of HR Learning and Development for Express Employment Professionals.

The event was organized by Amy Clegg and her staff at the Express Pros office in Scranton.

When we arrived, Brittany Pagnotti, Rameika Jones and Nikki Schake were attending to all the little details that would make the event a success.

In our opinion, the venue was perfect. The atmosphere was welcoming. The food was delicious, and the sense of community was genuine.

At the appointed hour, Evan Miller, the Campus Director of the McCann School of Business, welcomed everyone with these gracious words; “We are happy you are here.”

A Very Special Moment

It has always been our pleasure to celebrate the accomplishments of Amy Clegg and her Alexis Shotwellteam, but this time she turned the tables on us with an announcement that took us by surprise.

By nature, Amy is a giving person. She likes to help others get ahead. On this special occasion, she introduced Alexis Shotwell to the audience. Alexis is a student at the McCann School of Business. She wants to specialize in early childhood education.

When Alexis came to the front of the room, Amy told the audience that Alexis would receive the first annual Dr. Tony and Mrs. Kitch Mussari Leadership Scholarship. The moment belonged to Alexis. The surprise belonged to Kitch and me. No words can accurately describe the expression of delight on Alexis’s face, and the feeling of gratitude in our hearts for this honor.

Priceless Thoughts from Patricia L. Camayd

Being a good listener is central to employee engagement, retention and productivity.

Patricia L. Camayd is the Business Manager for Oliver Price & Rhodes Attorneys at Law. When she was a child she overcame shyness, and she became a good listener. Today shePatricia fully appreciates the importance of being a good listener. It is central to employee engagement, retention and productivity.

What is not said is often more important that what is said.

At the same time, she understands the importance of effective communications with employees. It is more than texts or e-mails. Effective communications is deeply rooted in the art of listening which requires these important elements: the elimination of distractions; the ability to read between the lines; eye contact; the ability to ask the right questions; showing respect; avoiding commentary or interjection; and matching the employee with the proper training and educational programs.

It is important to recognize and express gratitude to employees.

To move forward with employee engagement and aligned goals, it is important to think win win. Celebrate your joint and continued success. Say thank you as many ways as you can imagine is always a good idea.

Employees cherish personal letters that recognize their accomplishments.

Patricia Communication

These are a few of the things Patricia does to build effective employee relationships.

Establish mentorship programs.

Hold regular individual meetings for professional development.

Establish recognition programs, wellness programs, health and relaxation techniques.

Conduct team building exercises.

Encourage employees to write attributes about others which contribute to the organization to be read publically.

She ended her presentation with an excerpt from the poem Desiderata:

With all its sham drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. Max Ehrmann

Jack Smalley’s Sage Advice

We are defined by who we are after we make a mistake.

Jack Smalley is the Director of HR Learning and Development for ExpressJack Poster Employment Professionals. For more than a generation Jack has been doing all he can to improve the workplace environment. He is best described by this observation from Brian Tracy:

Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
On this day, Jack addressed The Top 5 Leadership Mistakes.

Mistake 1

Do not assume that your best employees do not need recognition. According to Jack, your best employees need and deserve recognition. Employees and supervisors should be given credit where credit is due.

Mistake 2

Don’t accept mediocre performance from C employees. Lowering the bar for the C employees who make up about 50% of the workforce will not move the organization forward. Overloading the A performers who make up 20% of the workforce is not the answer. There is no such thing as a good employee with a bad attitude.

Mistake 3

Dictator Decision Makers will not improve the work environment.

Referencing a famous quote by Sir Francis Bacon, Knowledge is power, Jack made the case for embracing people who think differently. He believes that great leaders know the value of maverick thinkers. Great leaders enable people to be different.

Mistake 4

Great leaders know how to communicate effectively.

Jack Smalley

Employees need to know what is going on. An employee deserves honesty. When it comes to leadership, everything is on the table.

The messenger is as important as the message especially when the message is bad news.

The top communication mistake is not telling the truth.

Mistake 5

The failure to mentor employees is a critical mistake.

In a compelling way, Jack used his own experience to demonstrate the importance of mentoring. His grandfather advised him to find something in life you enjoy. His father was his best friend. As a fire chief, he lived by these words: Don’t ask people to do things you are not willing to do yourself.

When Jack was 12 years old, he admired the quarterback of the high school football team. Every Saturday, he would meet with Sammy Dugger who mentored Jack. This was a priceless experience. It enabled Jack to become a successful football player in his own right, and it documented virtually all of the characteristics of successful mentoring.

Relationships matter. There is not a leader on earth who can succeed without employees_1 sharing information. You must surround yourself with good people, and you must be credible. Avoid anonymity. At all cost, take a personal interest in people.

Jack’s greatest mentor is his wife. She taught him the greatest lesson. Live family first.

When Jack mentioned David Cottrell’s book I thought about a famous quote from Monday Morning Leadership. It is a perfect description of Jack Smalley’s leadership philosophy:

Leadership can’t be claimed like luggage at the airport. Leadership can’t be inherited, even though you may inherit a leadership position. And leadership can’t be given as a gift – even if you’ve been blessed with an abundance of leadership skills to share with someone else. Leadership must be earned by mastering a defined set of skills and by working with others to achieve common goals. David Cottrell

The Express Employment Professionals Webinar event was an excellent example of what Jean Vainer wrote about community:

One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.

On this special day we experienced America at its very best, and for this wonderful learning experience we want to thank:

Amy Clegg;
Amy Staff

Nikki Schake:

Brittany Pagnotti;

Rameika Jones;

Evan Miller;

Patricia L. Camayd:

Jack Smalley.

You are the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail,com

 

 

 


Sound Advice from Four Men on the Mountain

July 4th, 2016

Happy Birthday America

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

America is a passionate idea or it is nothing. America is a human brotherhood or it is chaos. Max Lerner

Mount Rushmore

Six years ago this month, Kitch and I visited Mount Rushmore.Rushmore Affectionately known as the shrine of our democracy, it is an inspirational statement about America at its best.

Conceptualized and designed by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and finished under the supervision of his son, Lincoln Borglum, the project was 14 years in the making, 1927- 1941. It is a testimony to creativity, courage, dreams, enterprise, industry, hard work and perseverance.

The actual construction began in 1935. Those in the know tell us that 400 men worked on the project. Some unskilled workers earned 50 cents an hour while other workers earned 65 cents an hour. Skilled drillers earned $1.25 an hour. The total cost of the project was 1 million dollars.

Workers Rushmore

Without the support of President Calvin Coolidge, the project would have never been completed. After his vacation visit to Mt. Rushmore, President Coolidge used his influence to get public funding through congress to finance the project.

In 1936 when the project was half finished, President Franklin Roosevelt visited Mount Rushmore. Looking at the images of Washington and Jefferson, he said the work was an example of cooperating with nature not fighting with nature.

When the project was completed, 450,000 tons of granite rock had been dynamited and replaced with the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Of the 400 men who worked on the project, only two men sustained minor injuries.

According to records of the National Park Service, 3 million people visit Mount Rushmore every year.

In October of this year, the monument will be 75 years old.

On this the 240th birthday of America, we thought it might be a good idea to share a few of the most encouraging thoughts authored by the four men who are enshrined on Mount Rushmore.

George Washington

The father of our country shared these insightful comments about how to live a productive life:Bust of George Washington in the U.S. Capitol.

We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

It is better to be alone than in bad company.

Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.

Thomas Jefferson

The author of our Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States offered these priceless words of advice:
Presidential_portrait_Thomas_Jefferson

Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.

Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.

Never spend your money before you have it.

Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.

When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.

Teddy Roosevelt

The first President to win a Nobel Peace Prize offered these pearls of wisdom:
TR 2

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

Abraham Lincoln

Many historians believe that Abraham Lincoln was our greatest President. During his lifetime, he was one of the most vilified men to ever hold the highest office in the land. Nevertheless, he soldiered on because he was determined to save our union and emancipate the slaves. These are a few of his most insightful thoughts about criticism:A Lincoln_2

Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion.

I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it.

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.

Happy Birthday America

(Archival pictures are part of the Library of Congress collection.)

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com

 


Fathers Day 2016

June 19th, 2016

Thoughts About Our Fathers
 
Written By Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project
www.faceofamericawps.com

On this special day, Kitch and I would like pay tribute to our fathers by sharing some of the important things they taught us.

Dads

One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters. George Herbert

They taught us to work hard for the things we wanted.

The quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams and aspirations he sets not only for himself, but for his family. Reed Markham

They encouraged us to dream big dreams.

The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature. Abbe Prevost

They valued human connections.

We never get over our fathers, and we’re not required to. (Irish Proverb)

They made indelible marks on our souls.

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. Jim Valvano

They were always there for us in all the ways that mattered.

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong. Charles Wadsworth

We both remember their words of wisdom…someday you will understand.

My father didn’t teach me how to live; he lived and he let me watch
him do it.
Clarence B. Kelland

We learned important lessons by watching how they dealt with problems.

A good father believes that he does wisely to encourage enterprise, productive skill, prudent self-denial, and judicious expenditure on the part of his son. William Graham Sumner

They taught us that sweat equity was the secret to success.

A father is the one friend upon whom we can always rely. In the hour of need, when all else fails, we remember him upon whose knees we sat when children, and who soothed our sorrows; and even though he may be unable to assist us, his mere presence serves to comfort and strengthen us. Emile Gaboriau

We will never forget their words, "This will hurt me more than it hurts you."

A father acts on behalf of his children by working, providing, intervening, struggling, and suffering for them. In so doing, he really stands in their place. He is not an isolated individual, but incorporates the selves of several people in his own self. Every attempt to live as if he were alone is a denial of the fact that he is actually responsible. He cannot escape the responsibility, which is his because he is a father. This reality refutes the fictitious notion that the isolated individual is the agent of all ethical behavior. It is not the isolated individual but the responsible person who is the proper agent to be considered in ethical reflection. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

They taught us how to be responsible.
 
One of the greatest gifts we received from our fathers can best be expressed by paraphrasing the words of Charles Dickens:

Thank you for teaching us how to focus upon our present blessings, of which we have plenty; not on our past misfortunes of which the both of us have some.

Our fathers were men of discipline, example, industry, hope, responsibility, sacrifice and love.

We thank them for these priceless gifts.

Happy Father’s Day.

We love you dad.

Please provide feedback to: tony.mussari@gmail.com


Thinking About America on Memorial Day

May 30th, 2016

Thinking About America on Memorial Day

Anthony J. Mussari, Sr.
Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Producers
The Face of America Project
Copyright 2016

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. The Wonder Years

Memorial Day is much more than a 3-day weekend or the unofficial start of summer. It is a very important memory day.DSC02635 It is a day when we step back and remember that the price of freedom is not free. It is a day when we demonstrate our gratitude for the men and women who gave their lives to guarantee that all Americans can hold on to the things they love, the things they are and the things we never want to lose.

During our Face of America journey, we had many magic moments that caused us to think about the essence of America and the contributions of genuine heroes.
This is our attempt to summarize in words and images what Memorial Day means to us.

A Place of National Gratitude

anc

When President Harry Truman spoke these words, he was describing the significance of Arlington National Cemetery:

Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. President Harry S. Truman

There are 230,000 grave markers at Arlington. More than 400,000 people from the United States and 11 other countries are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. More than 4,000,000 people visit the cemetery every year, and 30 people are buried in the cemetery every day.

A Wall of Heroes

The old Irish saying Death leaves a heartache noMarseilles, Illinois one can heal, love creates a memory no one can steal is a perfect description of the picture we received from Anthony Cutrano, the cofounder of the Middle East Conflict Wall Memorial in Marseilles, Illinois. It is a powerful image that needs no explanation.

Built with voluntary contributions of money and labor, this memorial is unique in that it was built to honor the fallen before the conflict ended.

The Crosses of Lafayette

Emily-Lafayette

Maya Angelou’s thoughtful comment How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! prompted us to include the name of one of our heroes, 2d Lt. Emily Perez, at the “Crosses of Lafayette” memorial in California.

Emily Perez was the first member of West Point’s “Class of 9-11” to die in combat. She was 23-years-old when she lost her life while leading a convoy in Iraq.

Jeff Heaton the founder of the “Crosses of Lafayette” describes this sacred place as “a tidal wave of grief.” Kitch and I found it to be that and so much more. It is a genuine, from the heart celebration of the courage and service of our heroes and she-roes

What is a Hero?

Joseph Campbell gave us a beautiful definition of a heroPeoples Memorial 2005 when he penned these 16 words. A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

Campbell didn’t know it at the time, but he was articulating what thousands of people experienced when they visited the People’s Memorial to the heroes of Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA.

For 10 years, Shanksville was like a second home to us. The temporary memorial as it was known then was an inspirational place, a peaceful place and a memorable place.
A young student described it perfectly with these unforgettable words. It is a place where Hope is stronger than death.  

40 Angels and 5 Veterans

AG_9860_fc

A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about. Woodrow Wilson

To help visitors better understand what September 11th and Flight 93 was all about Eric Pierson designed the Angels of Freedom. On this Memorial Day, we would like to remember and thank five of those angels who were veterans: William Joseph Cashman, Patrick Joseph Driscoll, Andrew Sonny Garcia, First Officer LeRoy Homer and John Talignani.

America at Its Best

Sometime the perspective of others best defines who we are.Liberty We think that was the case when Nicolas Sarkozy, the 23rd President of the French Republic, shared his definition of America:

What made America great was her ability to transform her own dream into hope for all mankind. America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who — with their hands, their intelligence and their heart — built the greatest nation in the world: ‘Come, and everything will be given to you.’ She said: Come, and the only limits to what you’ll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent.

What is America?

Many years ago, Harold Ickes, a Pennsylvania native and Secretary of the Interior, asked himself a simple but profound question. What constitutes an American?
His answer reminds us of the essence of America:

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Not color nor race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Not his social status nor his bank account. Not his trade nor his profession. An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor. An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security in order that he and his children may retain the rights of free men. An American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortal second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

On this very special day, Kitch and I will be thinking about the men and women who were willing to give life to these words with their service and their sacrifice for America. We will never forget you.

On this Memorial Day, the poetic words of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper summarize the things we love, the things we are, the things we never want to lose:

God bless our native land,
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Land of the newly free,
Oh may she ever stand
For truth and liberty.

God bless our native land,
Where sleep our kindred dead,
Let peace at thy command
Above their graves be shed.

God help our native land,
Bring surcease to her strife,
And shower from thy hand
A more abundant life.

God bless our native land,
Her homes and children bless,
Oh may she ever stand,
For truth and righteousness.

(The picture of Arlington National Cemetery is part of the Library of Congress Collection.)

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