What’s So Special About 3/26?

March 26, 1997 - THEE BRAWL
March 26, 1997 – THEE BRAWL

Let me begin by thanking everyone who took the time to text, send me an email, post something on Facebook, and just taking time out to remember my birthday today.  I’m starting my 41st trip around the Sun on this little blue marble of ours.  I can’t imagine anything that would be better than sharing these laps with all of my friends and family.

I’m really not worthy of you taking the time to remember me today … and I remain ever so grateful that you did.  God Bless You all for being in my life.

I started thinking about all of the other folks who share today’s date as a birthday.  I think of folks like Mike Reiland & Becca Hull (folks I met through my time in the Jaycees) and Melinda Gaukel (who I’m honored to work with at the Michigan Bankers Association).  Then I got my daily trivia email and it included a list of “famous people” who also share today as a birthday.  A few of these I already knew, but most caught me by surprise.  The list includes:

  • Actor Leonard Nimoy/Mr. Spock (LLAP)
  • Red Wing Goalie Jimmy Howard
  • Singer Steven Tyler
  • Actress Keira Knightly
  • Singer Dianna Ross
  • Comedian Martin Short
  • Actress Jennifer Grey
  • Writer Tennessee Williams
  • Poet Robert Frost
  •  U.S. Representative & Former U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
  • NBA Guard John Stockton
  • Singer Teddy Pendergrass
  • NFL Running Back Marcus Allen
  • US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
  • Actor Alan Arkin
  • Actor James Caan
  • Composer Alan Silvestri
  • TV Host Leeza Gibbons
  • Singer Kenny Chsney
  • Guitarist James Iha

And that’s just to name a few.

After reading that list, I got curious about what else has gone down on this day in history.  I discovered that in 1979, the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty was signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and US President Jimmy Carter.

But the thing that really made me smile is knowing that the Detroit Red Wings, in 1997, did their best to give me the greatest hockey birthday present a guy could ever ask for.  For it was on 3/26/97 that they faced off against the Colorado Avalanche (the scourge of the NHL at the time) and showed people like Claude LeMeuix, Patrick Roy, Adam Deadmarsh and others that YOU DO NOT MESS WITH MY RED WINGS!

Just take a look at this video, if you don’t believe me:

It may have been years ago that THEE BRAWL took place, but for me – I remember it to this day.

Thanks Red Wings for that present.  Thank you all for thinking of me for a 41st year.  May your next laps around the Sun be as bountiful and as wonderful and as special as you all have made mine.

2-22-15 MIJC Fellowship Breakfast Remarks

Rise Up - The theme of 90th MIJC President Jay Johnson
Rise Up – The theme of 90th MIJC President Jay Johnson

Yesterday, I was given the honor of speaking at the Michigan Jaycee Fellowship Breakfast (part of the February Year-End Conference/Convention/Thing).  Membership Steve Pickelmann is in charge of this event and he asked me to speak about the strength that the fellowship of our organization provides.  Considering I didn’t write my remarks until 4 or 5 AM, (I really can’t remember since the Saturday night party is a bit of a blur), I hope that what I said was clear enough and accomplished the mission that Pickel gave me.  Here it is:

This morning, Pickel wanted me to touch upon the subject of fellowship.  He wants to explore the idea and get to what the opportunities and the meaning of what fellowship means in our wonderful organization.  You know, that part of our Creed that says “the fellowship of man transcends the sovereignty of nations.”  Sounds like a good idea, especially after enjoying a great convention/conference/dance thing.

I’m proud to tell you that I’m 40 years old and in 31 days I’m gonna be 41 (God willing).  I’ve been a Jaycee for 14 years.  I can tell you stories upon stories about, in my hundreds of thousands of miles of travel in the car formerly known as Jetta Force One (may she rest in peace) throughout the Great Lakes State, times where I’ve been helped with flat tires and dead batteries.  How I’ve joined friends for a Bruce Springsteen concert, followed up by the wonderment that is a Wrestlemania Pay Per View at someone’s home in the Dirty.  I could try to tell you of friends who tried their best to hold my hair out of the way after a long night of shenanigans at a hotel in Boyne.

And in Midland

And in Bay City

And that one time in Lansing.

And Battle Creek

Yeah … I better stop there

But what really makes our fellowship the best, is that we use our fellowship to help one another … BE BETTER … and there’s not many people who can say they are a Jaycee who does that   Let me put it another way:

There are over 200,000 Jaycees throughout the world, 1,200 or so here in the state of Michigan which is a state of about 9 million people, in a country with just about 311 million people.

Of all those people, you all are unique.  No one else can say they were here to witness the two new additions to the class of Martin P. Luthy winners.  No one else can say they were here to witness the three new additions to the folks who call themselves 10th Degree Jaycees.  And for those of us who were fortunately to receive a Rise Up Presidential Medallion from President Jay, there’s only 50 of us who get to wear them for the last time today, unless you’re going to the National convention in March – then you get one more chance.

At any rate and in Melissa Grecko’s case … she gets to say that she’s the first Otto President the Grand Rapids Jaycees have had in the last 2 decades.

But none of these moments, none of those awards will be the greatest moment of our lives.

That’s yet to come and that’s what President Matt meant when he said last night that he wanted us to Be Better.  That’s what he means when he asked you the question “What’s Next?”

Let me put it another way … United States President John F. Kennedy once said:

“William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage. If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred”

Does anyone know what he said next?

He said, “We choose to go to the moon.  We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard!”

Go ahead, laugh like Beavis on that last part if you want.  Yeah, Kennedy said hard.

But he also knew where he wanted this nation to go.  He knew the answer to the question “What’s Next?

So … take a moment and share with each other what how you intend to “BE BETTER” as you move onto “What’s Next“.  While you do that, I’m going to continue a tradition of mine and play a song that may help you with that answer.  The song I’ll play is “Days Goes By” which was the song of a wonderful man and someone I know is looking down on us from Heaven today … a guy by the name of Bob Peacock, our 81st President who used this song to help us figure out where we go from here.  I think this song will help us figure it out as well.

I’m changing lanes
I’m talking on the phone
I’m drivin’ way to fast
And the interstate’s jammed with
Gunners like me afraid of coming in last
But somewhere in the race we run
We’re coming undone

(Chorus) Days go by
I can feel ’em flying
Like a hand out the window in the wind as the cars go by
It’s all we’ve been given
So you better start livin’ right now
‘Cause days go by

Out on the roof just the other night
I watched the world flash by
Headlights, taillights running through a river of neon signs
But somewhere in the rush I felt
We’re losing ourselves


We think about tomorrow then it slips away
We talk about forever but we’ve only got today

And the days go by
I can feel ’em flying
Like a hand out the window
As the cars go by

It’s all we’ve been given
So you better start livin’
You better start livin’
Better start livin’ right now

Cause days go by
I can feel like ’em flying
Like a hand out the window in the wind as the cars go by

It’s all we’ve been given
So you better start livin’ right now

Cause days go by
These days go by

So take ’em by the hand
They’re yours and mine
Take ’em by the hand
And live your life
Take ’em by the hand
Don’t let ’em all fly by

Come on, Come on now
Don’t you know the days go by


Ok … you’ve had some time to chat about how you’re going to Be Better … so tell the rest of us.

These are all good things. I look forward to hearing that you’ve accomplished all of this and more.  I look forward to hearing that you took the passion of our fellowship, the connection that we have to a select group of people who call themselves Jaycees, I look forward to hearing about the impact you made on your community, on the lives of the less fortunate, on the future of our organization, and I look forward to hearing you answer my question:

Michigan Jaycees … what do we do?

Now let’s wrap up today’s bacon fest with that tradition that has been handed down to us from Henry Giessenbier, from Martin P. Luthy, from Bill Otto, and let’s be led in that wonderful Creed by the 91st President of the Michigan Jaycees … Matt Sernau.

The Theme of 91st MIJC President Matt Sernau
What’s Next – The theme of 91st MIJC President Matt Sernau

Thank you Pickel, and President Jay, and President Matt for a very memorable weekend for this old Jaycee.

A Memo from Bishop Ira Combs

I haven’t posted much lately concerning the latest actions of Dave Agema.  Long story short, Agema reposted an article from a well-known White Supremacist organization that claimed black people were dangerous to both black and white people alike; that black people don’t speak or reason as well as other races and a number of other outlandish statements.

I’ve written about the problems with Agema before, most recently in my monthly column in Bridge Magazine (http://bridgemi.com/2015/01/hes-had-more-than-three-strikes-and-its-time-for-agema-to-go/).  Shortly before my article was posted, the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) Executive Committee passed a motion to censure Agema for what he continues to do.  There was no word if the full RNC adopted that motion.

Today, a very powerful voice within the African-American Republican community spoke up and called for Agema’s resignation.  Bishop Ira Combs, who lives in Jackson, MI put in a very logical way, the best response to Agema’s typical “But I just reposted what another black man had posted” defense by saying, “Finally, please cease trying to hide behind Allen West, for posting what Mr. West correctly identified as the most racist article he had ever seen. Allen West is a public figure who has no current official role in the Republican Party, but is more aptly considered a part of media. He can afford to take those risks. He has no official role; you, on the other hand, as National Committeeman do. That you decided to sacrifice our Party to seek attention is inexcusable.”

I’ll put the full memo below, but let me just say a big “THANK YOU” to Bishop Combs for pointing out the false defense that Agema and his followers/believers/cult members keep saying.  Yes, you have a right to say/post what you want thanks to the First Amendment.  But we also have a right to not associate ourselves with you under that same amendment, especially when you post racist thoughts with the term “Enlightening” and only afterwards try to hide from what you did.

Please, for the sake of the Party, Dave Agema resign and stop using the party to gain attention for yourself.
To: Dave Agema, MIGOP National Committeeman

From:  Bishop Ira C. Combs, Greater Bible Way Temple, RNC African American Council

January 22, 2015

Dear Mr. Agema:

I am a pastor of a majority African-American church based in Jackson, Michigan. I have been a pastor here for 35 years. During this same period of time, I have been a tireless advocate of limited government, free market principles, traditional family values, individual freedom and strong defense. One of the means in which I have advocated these constitutional principles is as an active member and leader in the Michigan Republican Party and Republican National Committee.

I served under President George Bush as head of the Faith-Based Initiatives here in Michigan for the entire eight years of Bush’s tenure as President. I currently sit on the Board of the RNC African American Council and am a member of the Directors for the Detroit, Michigan GOP African Engagement Initiative.

Out of love for our nation and concern for the Republican Party’s ability to win African American voters, I have concluded that your being in the position of MIGOP National Committeeman should not continue. In light of the fact I yet believe you share my love for this country and dedication to our Party platform, I am recommending your resignation as our Michigan National Committeeman.

I am personally proud of your numerous personal accomplishments during your time in the military and service to our country.  Moreover, I am eager to acknowledge, that as a State Representative, you were among the most conservative and dependable of election officials in our State. Under your leadership, the Michigan Republican Party has learned much about the legitimate threat of Jihadism to our way of life, as well as so many other critical truths you have addressed.  For the season that you served as an elected official, the MIGOP was strengthened by your contributions.

However, your tenure as RNC National Committeeman has been marked by recurrent and worsening alienation of African American and Arab alike. You have disparaged people who have been diligently committed to our party and have made it very difficult for us to carry out the task of winning people to this party who, for the past 70 years or more, have perceived the Republican Party as hostile to civil rights and social equality, even though we know the GOP was instrumental in the passing the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, respectively.

Yet, perception is reality. The perception you have created of the Republican Party by repeatedly posting racist and divisive commentaries, with no true reason or academic rationale, is beyond comprehension. That you have painted yourself as a victim, refusing to demonstrate any level of humility and empathy even towards your allies in the party who are mystified, demonstrates that you have become a political myopathy to the party and our nation, willing to sacrifice even your own significant contributions to the same.

Your acts have become impulsive and counter-productive to the party’s mission and the position you hold as National Committeeman. You have, beyond a shadow of a doubt, proven that, if nothing else, you are sickened with prejudice and cultural incompetence, void of common sense and civility toward people who do not share your ethnicity.

There is no place in our party for this kind of extremism. Truthfully, I pray for a day when this kind of extremism is eradicated from all political parties, that we might have a more civil national dialogue.

Finally, please cease trying to hide behind Allen West, for posting what Mr. West correctly identified as the most racist article he had ever seen. Allen West is a public figure who has no current official role in the Republican Party, but is more aptly considered a part of media. He can afford to take those risks. He has no official role; you, on the other hand, as National Committeeman do. That you decided to sacrifice our Party to seek attention is inexcusable.

Let us close this chapter of controversy with a final parcel of nobility which is your voluntary resignation.

Copies of this letter are being provided the RNC Chair, the MIGOP Chair, the Vice Chairs of the MIGOP, the Executive Committee of the MIGOP and to the press. I beg of you to resign in such a way that there shall be no permanent destruction upon your own career and no further damage to the Party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

With Regards,
Bishop Ira Combs, Jr.
Greater Bible Way Temple

Robin Williams – RIP

robin-williams-slice1A Legendary artist, actor, comedian – Robin Williams passed away yesterday.  I admired him because of his wit and his courage.  He didn’t shy away from publicly fighting the disease of depression and addiction.

To honor him, I say “Captain, My Captain!” and share this Walt Whitman poem(one that Robin shared with us in the movie Dead Poets Society) with you:

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck the Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up — for you the flag is flung — for you the bugle trills,
For you the bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths — for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning,
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


Latest from Brunch with Bridge – “A Toast to those with the courage to say ‘Vote for Me’.

Here’s my latest column that I wrote for the Brunch with Bridge website:

August in Michigan brings an election to our front door steps. The August primary is upon us and while many politicos see this as the warmup to the November general election shindig, many forget this week will be the end of a number of campaigns.

The end of the road is a tough thing to face when you’re a candidate. In some cases, it’s the completion of the “Green Mile” because you’re fighting against a well-funded incumbent and you’ve been walking uphill the entire way. In other cases, it’s a coronation and the completion of a campaign plan that worked perfectly.

Everyone who runs will be able share interesting stories about campaigning door-to-door – dogs barking, doors slamming, people showing up in just a towel, and other fun things. There’ll be stories about beautiful houses. There’ll be stories about never ending driveways with inclines that make the shins burn. Some will be humorous and some will be sad. But there will always be stories.

I have worked campaigns for people throughout the state. I can share stores about offers of Jack Daniels and lemonade; of a woman wishing to surprise her significant other on a hot summer day and how she turned beet-red when she realized I wasn’t him; stories of German shepherds finding my arm more tasty than a dog biscuit. I wonder, however, how many of the stories end with people who say to a candidate “Thank you for running.” I imagine there won’t be much of that.

Many of these legislative districts are drawn so that the election is determined on filing day. Many are determined by who wins in August. Sometimes, an incumbent may shrug their shoulders and curse the “annoyance” of having to even bother with the primary. Of the seven legislative districts that impact Kalamazoo county (U.S. House 6, Michigan Senate 20 and 26, Michigan House 60, 61, 63 and 66), there are contested primaries in five of them, involving 11 people.

There are two things that voters should remember when it comes to Aug. 5. First (and foremost), get out there to vote. Even if there’s only one person on the ballot, the opportunity to exercise our right to choose is one that we too easily take for granted. Second, these candidates have invested their time and energy to knock on your door, to meet you, to get to know you. We should be grateful for that.

By now most of our readers know the story of Abraham Lincoln. Here’s a guy who lost more elections than he won. Lincoln suffered from intense episodes of depression and yet, he is considered to be the greatest president of the United States. It’s a common story shared with those who we ask to try and try again. In my political career, I am 3 for 3 when it comes to the August primary. I am 0 for 3 for the general election. If I have to hear the story of Abraham Lincoln one more time…

But the words “Thank you for having the courage to run” do more for building a candidate’s perseverance than anything else. It recognizes the courage it takes to face the unknown, the courage to serve the public more so than oneself.

So, to Fred Upton, Jim Bussler, Margaret O’Brien, Ron Zuiderveen, Dave Buskirk, Pamela Brown Goodacre, Jon Hoadley, Brandt Iden, Phil Stinchcomb, Dave Maturen, Vic Potter, and all of the candidates who are facing a contested election this week, thank you very much for giving us a choice. No matter what happens Tuesday night, you will have much to be proud of.

Thoughts and other random things from a guy named Dave Worthams


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