Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veterans Day - Remember To Honor and Give Support To America's Veterans


"For their service and sacrifice, warm words of thanks from a grateful nation are more than warranted, but they aren't nearly enough. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned. We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. It's a commitment that begins at enlistment, and it must never end. But we know that for too long, we've fallen short of meeting that commitment. Too many wounded warriors go without the care that they need. Too many veterans don't receive the support that they've earned. Too many who once wore our nation's uniform now sleep in our nation's streets."

-President Obama, March 19, 2009


Veterans Day

Veterans Day is an opportunity to publicly commemorate the contributions of living veterans. Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar congressional action.

If World War I had been "the war to end all wars," November 11 might be still called Armistice Day. Realizing that peace was equally preserved by veterans of World War II and Korea, Congress decided to make the day an occasion to honor all those who have served America. In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day. (Historically, the first Veterans Day parade was held in 1953 in Emporia, Kansas.)

A law passed in 1968 changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.

Reprinted from the website of the Veterans Of Foreign Wars of the United States

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 30, 2009

- - - - - - -


We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. From the Minutemen who stood watch over Lexington and Concord to the service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, American veterans deserve our deepest appreciation and respect. Our Nation's servicemen and women are our best and brightest, enlisting in times of peace and war, serving with honor under the most difficult circumstances, and making sacrifices that many of us cannot begin to imagine. Today, we reflect upon the invaluable contributions of our country's veterans and reaffirm our commitment to provide them and their families with the essential support they were promised and have earned.

Caring for our veterans is more than a way of thanking them for their service. It is an obligation to our fellow citizens who have risked their lives to defend our freedom. This selflessness binds our fates with theirs, and recognizing those who were willing to give their last full measure of devotion for us is a debt of honor for every American.

We also pay tribute to all who have worn the uniform and continue to serve their country as civilians. Many veterans act as coaches, teachers, and mentors in their communities, selflessly volunteering their time and expertise. They visit schools to tell our Nation's students of their experiences and help counsel our troops returning from the theater of war. These men and women possess an unwavering belief in the idea of America: no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who your parents are, this is a place where anything is possible. Our veterans continue to stand up for those timeless American ideals of liberty, self-determination, and equal opportunity.

On Veterans Day, we honor the heroes we have lost, and we rededicate ourselves to the next generation of veterans by supporting our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen as they return home from duty. Our grateful Nation must keep our solemn promises to these brave men and women and their families. They have given their unwavering devotion to the American people, and we must keep our covenant with them.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our servicemen and women have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation's veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2009, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Saturday, October 17, 2009


America's public schools are in crisis and need your help. I urge everyone to go see Bob Bowden's film documentary, "The Cartel" to learn more about the education establishment's monopolistic grip on America's schools.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Artificial Turf: A Field of Dreams or a Deathtrap?

Watch this thought-provoking youtube video and ask yourself, should we be putting our children at risk?

Friday, September 18, 2009


Today we observe National POW/MIA Recognition Day so that we may honor the courageous members of our nation's Armed Forces who were captured as prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action. It's a time to remember and reflect on the cost of freedom. We must never forget the untold sacrifices made by valiant soldiers who went to war and suffered cruel imprisonment by the enemies or still remain missing with their fates unknown.

Over 40 years ago, members of Catholic War Veteran Post 870 in Woodside, Queens spearheaded a nationwide petition drive calling for the release of the 82 man crew of the USS Pueblo taken prisoner by the North Koreans. Their demand for the crew's freedom never ceased throughout the arduous eleven months they were held in captive in prison of war camps. This drive was led by my dad, Joseph S. Petrula, a WW II Army veteran and then Commander of CWV Post 870. As a young girl I learned through my dad's example and that of his comrades that Americans must always support and give recognition to the men and women who served our country so well and this lesson needs to be passed on from one generation to the next. American citizens must make a solemn pledge to never forget the sacrifices of all the brave men and women who defended our country and are defending it still today so that we may enjoy the freedoms of our great nation.

Let us take the time today to honor the valor of America’s POWs and MIAs and give continuing support to their families and loves ones.


As you entered the dining area, you may have noticed a table at the front, raised to call your attention to its purpose -- it is reserved to honor our missing loved ones [or missing comrades in arms, for veterans].

Set for six, the empty places represent Americans still [our men] missing from each of the five services -- Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard - and civilians. This Honors Ceremony symbolizes that they are with us, here in spirit.

Some [here] in this room were very young when they were sent into combat; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation's call [to serve] and served the cause of freedom in a special way.

I would like to ask you to stand, and remain standing for a moment of silent prayer, as the Honor Guard places the five service covers and a civilian cap on each empty plate.

Honor Guard:

(In silence or with dignified, quiet music as background, the Honor Guard moves into position around the table and simultaneously places the covers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, and a civilian hat, on the dinner plate at each table setting. The Honor Guard then departs.)


Please be seated ....... I would like to explain the meaning of the items on this special table.

The table is round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.

The tablecloth is white -- symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.

The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the[ir] loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.

The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.

A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The glass is inverted -- to symbolize their inability to share this evening's [morning's/day's] toast.

The chairs are empty -- they are missing.

Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America's POW/MIAs and to the success of our efforts to account for them.

Courtesy of:



Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 17, 2009

- - - - - - -


Our Nation maintains a solemn commitment to leave no service member behind. Our men and women in uniform uphold this pledge every day, and our country further upholds it as we honor every man and woman who serves, particularly those taken as prisoners of war or missing in action. We will never cease in our mission to bring America's missing service members home; we will never forget the sacrifices they made to keep this Nation free; and we will forever honor their memory. On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we pay tribute to the American men and women who have not returned from the battlefield, and we express profound gratitude to those who returned only after facing unimaginable hardship on our behalf. Today, we also remember the families of our prisoners of war and those missing in action and honor the sacrifices they have made.

Every day, Americans are working around the world to identify and recover the remains of our fallen heroes. It is a promise made, and a promise that will be kept. Although their location may be unknown, we will not waver in our commitment to see they are reunited with the land they so valiantly defended.

For those veterans who returned home after being declared Missing in Action or having been imprisoned by the enemy, we honor their service, their sacrifice, and their courage. In distant lands, and under wretched and torturous conditions, these men and women endured. Faced with such tremendous adversity, they embody the power of the human spirit -- sustaining themselves with hope and faith.

On September 18, 2009, the stark black and white banner symbolizing America's Missing in Action and Prisoners of War will be flown over the White House, the Capitol, the Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, the Selective Service System Headquarters, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, United States post offices, national cemeteries, and other locations across our country. It is a powerful reminder that our Nation will never cease in our commitment to honor those who have paid so high a price in its service.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 18, 2009, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and I urge all Americans to observe this day of honor and remembrance with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Friday, September 11, 2009


We stand united as family, friends, neighbors, and as compassionate American citizens dedicated to the democratic ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We light candles to honor the memories of the 9/11 victims, give support to the victim’s families and loved ones, and to remember and give thanks to the firefighters, law enforcement, rescue personnel, and members of our military services for their heroic efforts on that tragic day and in it’s aftermath.

Most oftentimes, we use the anniversary of important events in our lives as a time of reflection....a time of looking back and a time of looking forward. As we look back to Sept. 11, 2001, the immense loss of life and devastating destruction at the hands of a dark, evil force is forever seared into the hearts and minds of each and every American and has enveloped our lives with untold grief and anguish. But through the tears, we also remember the extraordinary goodness, compassion, and heroic acts of courage by ordinary people throughout America’s darkest hours and in the days following reminding us that America’s strength is in it’s people and the ideals they live by.

Throughout America’s history, it's been the resilience and resolve of the American people’s spirit that has always united us and helped us go forward from the pain to the hope and the glory.

“I Hear America Singing”, a poem by American poet, Walt Whitman, pays homage to the working class of America and to our nation’s idealistic vision of achieving a shared, constructive goal through hard work and productivity.

Let us all vow to honor and perpetuate the memories of 9/11 victims and give support to their families and loved ones by continuing to go forward singing our work songs loud and clear. Let us work together to help America rise up from the pain and build a nation of hope and glory for many generations to come.


I Hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics-each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat-the deck hand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench-the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood--cutter’s song--the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother--or of the young wife at work--or of the girl sewing or washing--Each singing what belongs to her, and to no one else;
The day what belongs to the day--At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Roxbury Voters Show Their Elected Representatives Who's The Boss!

This letter was published in the Sept. 9, 2009 issue of the Roxbury Register:

To The Editor:

It's very difficult for the average Joe and Jane to find the time to go to school board and town council meetings because they're so busy working, paying the bills, and taking care of their families. Most are lucky to have any time left over for a little bit of rest and relaxation never mind trying to be government watchdogs. This is exactly what many in power count on and what allows for so much abuse of power and corruption on every level of government including school boards.

There are just far too many in the education establishment destroying public education because their lust for power and lining their own pockets takes priority over what is best for our children and the greater good. Sometimes you wonder how bad things have to get before we start addressing the right concerns that will benefit all and not just a few.

So what can people do to change things for the better? The single most important power we have as citizens is our right to vote.

Each of us needs to vote in every election and vote out public officials who are not representing the will of the people. That's exactly what the Roxbury voters did in the last school election. The largest number of them agreed with the campaign we ran and demonstrated their confidence in us by tossing out two long time incumbents, electing us into office, and voting down an irresponsible school budget. Although it's unfortunate both the majority of the school board and town council ignored the voters wishes and didn't make the budget cuts that would have given our community members much needed tax relief, we truly believe the tide has turned.

All elected officials in this town have been put on notice by the citizens of Roxbury who are fed up and will not forget just who is and who is not working on their behalf. People may not be able to make school or township meetings to protest bloated administrative costs, excessive union demands, and ever escalating property taxes, but they'll have their say come election time. We're absolutely confident the good people of Roxbury will once again make their voices heard through the voting process and outnumber the special interests groups in this town that have had a stranglehold on our schools and our lives for far too long.

Change does not come easy...it comes little by little and takes perseverance, but it can and will happen if the people want it enough.

Meanwhile, we're not only committed to doing our best under the constraints of the law to keep the public informed about our positions on the issues in Roxbury's school system, we will continue our fight to free dollars from bureaucratic overhead, stop wasteful spending, and make sure tax dollars go for the betterment of our children's education.

Maureen Castriotta and Chris Rogers
Roxbury Township School Board Members

chjrogers@roxbury.org; 973.975.8383

Please note: We are speaking on our own behalf and not that of the Roxbury Township Board of Education. The opinions expressed are our own and do not represent those of the board, individual board members, or district employees.

Monday, September 7, 2009

President Obama's Back-to-School Message To Our Nation's Students

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Everyday, "we the people", lose a little bit more of our liberties at every level of government. The recent approval of the Roxbury High School Township School Student Code of Conduct by the majority of the Roxbury School Board proved to be no exception. This Student Code of Conduct states the following: "The Code of Conduct is in effect beginning on July 1 preceding a student's freshman year and concluding with the pupil's graduation from Roxbury High School. It is in effect for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year including periods when school is in recess or is not in session".

We strongly opposed this Student Code of Conduct because we felt it wrongly crosses the line into parental authority. Parents, not the school district's, should have the sole responsibility for their children's behavior when school is not in session.

The Morris County Daily Record is conducting a survey about your thoughts on Student Codes of Conduct in public schools. We urge you to take the time to fill out this survey:


Thank you.

Maureen Castriotta and Chris Rogers
Roxbury Township School Board Members

Please note: We are speaking on our own behalf and not that of the Roxbury Township Board of Education. The opinions expressed are our own and do not represent those of the board, individual board members, or district employees.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


"If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning".....Carl Rogers

It's not easy as a school board member to say I don’t support our budget, but the choice is made clear when it’s a budget that shortchanges our students and places too much of a financial burden on the taxpayers which I feel is the case with this budget.

Approximately 85% of our budget is made up of employee salaries and benefits. We are now paying for an egregious teacher contract settlement of more than 18% over 4 years. We are also paying for an additional assistant superintendent that cost us an additional $110,000 in salary and added dollars in benefits. Approximately $600,000 that should have gone towards our educational programs will be shelled out for pension payback. If the largest piece of the budget is salaries and entitlements, what's left for our students? Scraps as far I'm concerned. And where does it leave the taxpayers? With another property tax increase they can ill afford.

How, then, can our Superintendent and Board continue to defend the hiring of an additional central office administrator? How can they defend the recent teacher contract settlement as fair to all parties? In my opinion, to defend these expenditures and claim the outcome of these actions do not compromise the education of our students and the financial well-being of our taxpayers is disingenuous to say the least.

I’ve no doubt in my mind our administrators, our board members, and everyone in the school district and community all want the same thing for our students - to provide them with the greatest opportunity for an excellent education. But I feel there's an unwillingness by the school board and central office administration to take responsibility for our budget and a resistance to change the way we do business.

I understand there are variables and issues that make our job difficult, but we can’t keep pointing the finger of blame elsewhere and complaining about the cards we’ve been dealt with. This is our budget and we have to start taking responsibility for it. The public is tired of hearing a litany of excuses and who can blame them? If we're going to gain public support, we certainly can’t keep placing our bureaucratic and governmental missteps and blunders on the backs of the taxpayers - they’re tapped out.

The school board and administration have to let go of conventional practices and start thinking out of the box. Dire situations call for bold measures. We can’t expect our vision of a 21st century education to become a reality by using 20th century financial planning.

The school board also needs to be proactive by reaching out to our local municipal governing body, state legislators, other school districts, and the community and work together to find solutions because we're in this together. Everyone working in the school system has to start asking themselves what they can do, what part they can play, to work towards the common goal of balancing our educational mission at a cost the taxpayers can afford. But it starts at the top. There can be no more excuses. We need to take responsibility and a course of action that will make the needed changes happen.

In his recent letter to the editor in the Daily Record, Mr. Bednarcik stated his reasons why the children of Roxbury need us to vote "yes" on the school budget. He asserted that education is a town's "major industry" and "a budget rejection is neither the positive example needed for youth, nor in the best interests of the community".

What we need to recognize is these are not normal times and even those running the major industry of education have the obligation to analyze their resources and rethink how to best spend their time and money. By conducting business as usual and asking voters to approve a budget with a tax levy increase of over 6% during a very difficult economic crisis is just plain irresponsible. In my opinion, it's the Roxbury school board who should be looked upon as failing in it's obligation to set a positive example for our students and keeping the best interests of the community in mind.

As a nation of people we are, by and large, highly educated and hard-working, yet here we are left in an economic mess that’s compromised our country’s solvency, it’s ideals and values, and in turn, our children’s future. Why? We read and hear the answer to that question every day - far too many have chosen a path of greed and self-interest instead of working for the greater good. This begs the questions: have we learned from our mistakes and are we doing all we should be doing to turn things around? It’s evident in the Roxbury school district the answer to both those questions is NO.

Though undoubtedly our teachers have continually done an excellent job producing literate, confident, capable students, are our children learning to do the right thing as the leaders of tomorrow? It's imperative they are taught to avoid the mistakes we’ve made and understand that, as capable citizens, they have a responsibility to their fellow man. This means making sacrifices during hard times and working together for a common purpose.

The children of Roxbury are watching and learning from us - the adults. Right now they do not need a "yes" vote on a bloated school budget that will only cause their families and community an additional financial burden. What they need is an invaluable lesson from the role models in their life about the honor and rewards that come from selflessness, sacrifice, and looking out for one another while persevering through tough times.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


The following editorial endorsement and candidate profiles were published in the April 9th edition of the Roxbury Register:

"Castriotta is the most controversial of all of the board members, and we’re pretty sure she would be the first to admit that. She’s frequently at odds with her fellow board members, but that’s ok.At the very least, dialogue and discussion is encouraged as a result. And, she was also the only one who voted against what many felt- including us- was an excessive teacher’s raise this year, given the dire financial climate. She’s a lone voice often, but she also has been a supportive voice for the taxpayers, and nowhere was that more evident than on the teacher’s contract vote. That was particuarly important this year, and we know she expressed the sentiments of many with her "no" vote."

Maureen Castriotta

Castriotta, a resident of Landing for 20 years, was elected to the Roxbury Board of Education in April 2006.

“During my tenure on the board, I have faithfully and tirelessly worked to ensure all Roxbury students are provided with the best education possible at a cost the taxpayers can afford,” she said.

She said she has been an outspoken advocate for open government, parental and student rights, and school spending reform. She has kept up-to-date with the changing social, political, and legal issues challenging public education by completing the state mandated school board training and attending numerous education information sessions and state legislative forums covering diversified topics such as: student achievement, school finance, negotiations, core curriculum standards, the state’s high school redesign initiative, strategies for special education, school law, the superintendent search process, and shared services partnerships.

“For the last three years, I’ve served as a Roxbury school member committed to representing the interests of the community on public education issues. I’ve never been afraid to speak out and fight for the interests of the public, even when it’s unpopular with the bureaucrats. I believe now, more than ever, people are sick and tired of platitudes and empty rhetoric and are looking for straight talk from their leaders,” she said.

“I don’t have to tell you we’re living through extremely tough economic times. It has created circumstances that simply do not allow for business as usual in our school district. It’s definitely not the time to add unnecessary and non-essential payroll. As it is, the board has allowed our school district to turn into a job protection system with more focus on the employment of adults rather then the education of our children,” she said.

“What we need are board members with common sense and the backbone to make the hard choices. The board not only needs to be smart and put our money where it will do the most for the students, we need to make every effort to reign in spending to lighten the taxpayer’s load. I can tell you, as a board member, I’ve worked to that end,” she said.

“Unlike my co-board members, I stood up to excessive spending and didn’t hand over a blank check to our Superintendent,” she said.

“I was the only board member to vote against the hiring of two assistant superintendents to replace one at an added cost of $110,000 to the district. I was also the only board member who tried to hold the line on spending by voting against the teacher’s settlement of nearly a 20 percent increase over the length of a four year contract,” she said.

“It was an egregious settlement that I believe resulted in compromising the school budget and in turn, the educational experience of our students and the financial welfare of Roxbury residents,” she said.

“Needless to say, I do not support the proposed budget. Quite frankly, it’s plain irresponsible and shameful to ask Roxbury residents to approve a budget with a tax levy increase of more than six percent during a time we’re all struggling to survive a perilous economic crisis,” she said.

“Roxbury’s taxpayers should be getting the most bang for their education buck. There can be no more excuses on that,” she said.

Castriotta is the board’s liaison to the Roxbury Township Council and chairman of both the Facilities and Shared Services committees.

Castriotta has also served on the board’s Education, Finance, and Negotiations Committees as well as the Special Services Director Selection Committee, the Final Strategic Plan Sub-Committee, the 2008 Superintendent Search Planning Committee, and the Board Annual Calendar Committee.

Castriotta describes herself as a “longtime community, civic, and political activist, who volunteers her time and skills to various school and township committees and organizations including the school district’s PTAs, the high school’s athletic and performing arts programs, the Board of Education Key Communicators Committee, Project Graduation, the Roxbury Municipal Alliance Committee (ROMAC), Roxbury Township’s Economic Development Committee, and the township’s “Neighbors Helping Neighbor” program.

In addition, she is a founding member of the Roxbury Township Memorial Day Parade Committee established in 2003 and is a member of VFW Post 2833 Ladies Auxiliary.

A New York City native, Castriotta attended Hunter College as a Liberal Arts undergraduate student and in later years took course work in the honors program at the County College of Morris.

Castriotta and her husband Ralph, have been married for 33 years and have two daughters, Kelly, an attorney at a private law firm in New York City, and Courtney, a sales and marketing retail administrator and part-time dance teacher.

Chris Rogers

Originally from Mount Olive Township, Rogers has been a resident of Roxbury for nine years.

For the last five of those years, he has been employed by a local financial services company, holding positions in areas such as operations, sales and most recently, government compliance.

He and his wife, Loretta, have two children, one currently about to graduate from Roxbury High School, and one who is currently attending college.

He is a member of the Roxbury Municipal Alliance Committee, otherwise known as ROMAC, as the group’s volunteer webmaster.

Rogers has been an active critic of the Roxbury School Board for several years.

This is his third attempt to gain a seat on the school board.

“As a member of the public, over the last three years I have attended almost all of the scheduled school board meetings. I have been a vocal participant in most of those meetings, questioning spending items as they are about to be voted on. I have again decided to participate in this year’s school board election to continue my goal of bringing fiscal responsibility, greater administrative accountability and a much needed focus on educational excellence in our schools,” Rogers said.

“I know that it is possible for the Roxbury school district to spend less, while providing our kids with the tools they need to achieve more.”

“Year after year, many of us continue to send a message to the Roxbury school board that we will not tolerate excessive spending within our school budgets. Unfortunately, year after year, the majority of the school board members continue to put forth a larger and larger proposed budget, layering on additional administrators and giving huge pay increases to unionized employees, while continuing to take away the programs that impact our kids the most.”

When asked why he has not been successful in prior school board elections, Rogers said, “I have always felt my first priority was not winning an elected position. Instead, my first priority has been to bring attention to why our school district continues to experience a financial crisis,” he said.

“When you speak honestly about the financial problems within our school district, you cannot avoid mentioning the fact that union contracts are crippling the educational system. Some voters consider me to be negative to point this out. I do understand my comments might lose some voters who have a financial interest in how the district spends money.”

When asked to share his view on taxes, Rogers said, “I am not against taxes, as some of my opponents would have you believe. I am however, against wasteful spending. I understand that everyone in the community needs to pay their fair share of taxes to allow the community to operate. I insist that there should be much more involvement on the school board’s part to see that the district spends your money more wisely, especially on the 85 percent of the school budget that is considered fixed salaries and benefits,” he said.

“More people need to come forward and acknowledge that the teacher’s union contract is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. If the current school board cannot even recognize what their biggest problem is, our kids and their education will continue to be held hostage.”

“This year our superintendent and school board, while asking for a six percent increase over last year’s tax levy in the amount of 2.8 million dollars, continue to claim that the school district does not have enough money for core educational programs. However, this year alone the school district has layered on additional administrative staff and has provided a four year, 20 percent pay increase to Roxbury’s largest labor union,” he said.

“The claim of not having enough money does not seem to match the spending habits of this district.”

“A ‘no’ vote on this year’s budget is not anti-child. A no vote on this year’s budget is a vote for fiscal accountability. A defeated budget will then be reviewed by our town council, which will cut waste as they have done in previous years,” he said.

“Regardless of the school budget passing or failing, we will almost certainly still see greater than a four percent increase over last year’s budget. I will be voting no on this year’s school budget,” he added.

Rogers also shared his views on the recent creation of a new assistant superintendent position.

“During a time when most school districts are cutting costs in the area of administration, Roxbury is proposing to increase spending. How much more out of touch can our superintendent be? It is interesting to note that Superintendent (Michael) Rossi’s home town of Hackettstown, and former employer Lopatcong, are both currently reducing their school budget increases to provide taxpayer relief.”

“Under Dr. Rossi’s leadership, Roxbury will look for a 2.8 million dollar increase over last year’s budget.”

“I also believe that our district’s hiring practices should be based only on the qualifications of the applicants. The fact that one of our newly hired assistant superintendents was an elected school board member at the school district Dr. Rossi used to work for should outrage members of our community. All hiring should be based on what the applicant knows, not who they know.”

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Here's another excellent editorial about the Roxbury Teacher Contract settlement...this one's from the Star-Ledger. It's followed by a one of the comments posted in response which I think represents how the vast majority of people view the teaching profession in the 21st century.

Roxbury is out step with teacher pay hike
Posted by The Star-Ledger Editorial Board January 30, 2009 5:30AM

Guess the recession hasn't hit Roxbury yet.

On Monday, in one of the state's first teacher contract agreements of the year, the township's board of education handed the district's teachers a four-year pact with raises of 4.3 percent (retroactive to last year) and 4.7 percent for each of the next three years.

That's a 19.7 percent raise over the length of the contract.

And that's irresponsible.

On the same day more than 50,000 jobs cuts were announced nationally, with the country and state in the grip of a recession, the Roxbury school board handed out increases that most taxpayers who work in the private sector certainly won't see this year or next -- if they can even keep their jobs.

If this is where New Jersey teacher contracts are headed this year, jittery and cash-strapped taxpayers had better send a message to their school boards now: Hold the line.

School boards, of course, want to do what's best for the kids. And most board members don't have the stomach to head down the bumpy road of a protracted contract battle, with added legal fees, fact-finding and a possible strike. So they settle.

But school boards also have to serve the taxpayers, who right now are seeing their earning power and property values going down. Some school board, somewhere, has to draw the line. Who will step up? Not Roxbury.

"Roxbury will no longer have one of the lowest starting salaries in Morris County," board member Pat Miller crowed proudly while approving the deal.

Hey, Miller, you've been duped.

You see, that's the New Jersey Education Association's game. The union scares the lower-paying districts into believing they won't attract good teachers unless they agree to oversize raises. Then, the NJEA moves on to the next lower-paying district with the same argument. It becomes a game of leap-frog as every district tries to be above average.

Gov. Jon Corzine has already warned that aid to schools may have to be cut to balance the state budget. Roxbury gets only one-fifth of its budget covered by the state, and can't expect any more help there. So where will the money come from for the teachers' raises if not higher local taxes? Or will some student programs have to be sacrificed?

This is not about whether teachers are overpaid or underpaid. That's endlessly debatable, but it all comes down to the public's ability to pay. And right now that's being squeezed.

One more thing: With all the layoffs in other industries, more workers are looking to enter the teaching ranks. Many would have jumped at $39,500 (with benefits and summers off) -- the former starting salary in Roxbury.

But the starting salary -- the smallest salary earned by the smallest number of teachers -- is a smoke screen used to make any contract more palatable. The median salary for Roxbury teachers in 2007-08 was $57,895. That number is more relevant. And by the end of the contact, it will be $69,305.

How many taxpayers expect to be making almost $12,000 more in three years?

We applaud Maureen Castriotta, the only dissenter in the 8-1 vote. She realized those raises in this economy are just plain silly.

"Did we spend wisely? No," she said. "Did we improve student achievement? No. We're in an economic crisis, but you'd never know it from this contract. People have to wake up."

Posted by thr3putt on 02/01/09 at 9:06AM

First of all, the correct way to calculate the salary increases would be to multiply the original salary by .043, then add that amount to the original salary. Then multiply that new total amount by .047 and add that, and do that two more times. The numbers are correct.

Next, the point of the editorial, if I understand the message, isn't whether teachers are underpaid, it's the ability of the public to pay at this moment. When the taxpayers, who foot the bill, are losing jobs and homes, don't the teachers have an obligation to take less? (Of course not, it's a powerful union, right? They don't care what is happening around them. They want as much as they can get.) When times are good, teachers get raises that are better than average in private industry (and don't use Wall Street as an example to prove me wrong, please; go back and look at some of the 8 and 9 percent raies awarded to teachers); and when times are bad, teachers, as we see, do far better than average.

And then there's the T-word. Yup, I said it. Who else has tenure? What is that worth? What is it value of never having to take a pay cut? Each year, a teacher's salary grows. Who among us can say they have never had to take a step back in their careers when it comes to earnings? What is that job security worth? Like health benefits, there's a monetary value to tenure, and it's considerable. What is it? Tack that onto the salary and benefits to get a real dollar amount. But teachers don't want to talk about that.

One poster commented about the "pressure" and "scrutiny" of being a teacher. But that's just it. With tenure, there is no real pressure or scrutiny. If you're not in danger of losing your job for poor performance, what real scrutiny are you talking about? The rest of us, in the real world, can be fired at any time, for almost any reason, especially job performance. That can't happen to a teacher, basically short of a sexual felony.

That same poster challenged the writer to come up with a one-day lesson and teach it, on which the editorial writer would be graded. Silly, isn't it? Since that's not his/her profession. It's a good thing the editorial writer didn't target brain surgeons.

While studies show that most workers' days/weeks are growing in the numbers of hours worked, teachers time in the classroom is dwindling. And, with several friends who are teachers, I can tell you, it's less than 6.5 hours per day, as the poster commented. And many teachers use sick days as paid holidays.

Yes, I wrote this. Yes, it's in sentences, so I thank all my English teachers. But to say that they deserve exorbitant raises in a recession because of it is silly. And what about the people who were in the same classes who can't write a sentence or spell or use correct grammar now? Should we dock teachers for them? My belief is there are far more of those than there are of me. So that argument fails, too.

If teachers don't like their jobs, here's a solution -- get a new one. Just quit whining about the pay. If they think it will be more rewarding, they should go be a plumber. They selected this profession. The reason there are so many teachers is not because there are tens of thousands of generous souls who are willing to sacrifice for the good of mankind. That's naive. It's because teaching is not a bad way to make a living.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SPEAKING ON YOUR BEHALF: The Roxbury Teacher Contract

"The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself".

....Archibald Macleish 1892-1982 American Poet

The Roxbury Board of Education approved a 4 year teacher contract by an 8-1 vote during this past Monday's Board of Education meeting. I was the only school board member to cast a vote against this egregious settlement. The Daily Record characterized me as "the lone dissenter" but judging from the great number of public comments posted on the Daily Record and Star-Ledger's websites about this settlement, I am far from alone.

Click on the links to read full articles with comments.



New 4-year deal raises Roxbury teacher pay a total of about 20%
District to see savings on benefits in contract

By Matt Manochio • Daily Record • January 28, 2009
Read Comments

ROXBURY-- Teachers in Roxbury will see their salaries rise by close to 20 percent over the next few years under a contract approved this week by the school board.

The four-year contract calls for a retroactive 4.3 percent raise for the last school year, 4.7 percent for the current school year and 4.7 percent in each of the next two school years.
School board members approved the contract Monday with an 8-1 vote.

Board member Maureen Castriotta was the lone dissenter, saying she felt the deal wouldn't improve student achievement, and that it wasn't fiscally responsible to the taxpayers given the downturn to the economy.

Board Vice President John Moschella on Tuesday said the 4.7 percent figure isn't per teacher, rather it's an overall figure percentage of dollars. Actual percent raises vary depending on where a teacher falls on the 17-step salary guide.

"We gave a 4.7 overall, but we took money from the top steps of the guide and earmarked it from the bottom," he said.
He said the district was able to settle upon the percentages because the Roxbury Education Association agreed to enroll in a cheaper "Direct Access Plan" benefits program operated by the state.

Moschella said the district stands to save $300,000 over a 12-month period during the first two school years in the contract.
He said the health coverage in the new plan resembles what teachers had in their former one. As it stands teachers don't pay into their health benefits, but have co-pays for doctor visits.
The previous contract with the Roxbury Education Association expired in June 2007. This new contract covers four school years, beginning retroactively in July 1, 2007, and concluding on June 30, 2011.

The association represents about 450 school employees, including teachers, secretaries and paraprofessionals.
The new base salary for teachers is $40,417, which is a $917 boost from the former base of $39,500.
The salary guide for all employees gets a retroactive 4.3 percent increase for the 2007-08 school year. Raises of 4.7 percent began on July 1, 2008, and will increase by the same percentage on July 1 of both 2009 and 2010.

"Roxbury will no longer have one of the lowest starting salaries in Morris County," board member Pat Miller told the audience of more than 100 people, most of them teachers, at Monday night's meeting.

The board also unanimously approved a three-year contract for cafeteria workers, which runs from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2011. New hire hourly rates are $10.65 for general workers, $17.25 for elementary school cooks/managers, $18.25 for middle school cook/managers, and $19.25 for high school cook/managers.

Cafeteria salaries see a 4.25 percent increase this school year, a 4 percent increase next year, and a 3.75 percent increase during the final school year of the contract.

and the following by Fred Snowflack from the Daily Record opinion page:

Teacher wage increases recession-proof
January 28, 2009
Read Comments

On Monday, Pfizer said it would buy Wyeth for $68 billion, a transaction that could result in cutting 20,000 jobs worldwide. That same day, such well-known firms as Caterpillar and Home Depot also announced plans to layoff thousands.

On Monday night, the Roxbury school board approved a contract that would give teachers 4.7 percent raises annually in each of the next three years. The teachers also will get a retroactive 4.3 percent increase for the 2007-08 school year. No matter what happens in the real world, nothing changes in the insular world of teacher contracts in New Jersey.

The contract was approved with one dissenting vote.
That came from Maureen Castriotta, a member of the negotiations committee.
She said the board had blown a great chance to truly serve the community by trying to bring about smaller increases in these troubled times. She said many of her constituents were upset with the contract.

In response, board member Greg Somjen said there always will be critics and that the board is in the business of education. Then, Somjen suggested that those who disagree with the board's approach can try to find another place to live.

That was a pretty snotty line, but it did raise a point Somjen may not have known he was raising. And that is, unless you move to perhaps Kansas, you're not going to avoid these salary increases.

You see, there is nothing unique in New Jersey about teachers getting raises of more than 4 percent a year. That is the problem. And it's one that can't be solved by moving somewhere else in New Jersey.

What is needed is an overhaul of how teacher negotiations are conducted.
As of now, teachers are bound to get the county's average salary increase. That average in Morris County is about 4.5 percent a year.
Say, a school district offers an increase of 2 percent a year. The teachers' union would say "no way," and if there is no movement, one moves to "fact-finding." In the end, the increase is going to be at, or around, the county average.

Change can only come about if a district is courageous enough to challenge the system. Let a district refuse to budge from its 2 percent offer and let the negotiating process in all its steps be carried out. And when the district inevitably loses, let it go to court and challenge the system.

That's the only way to bring about a negotiating session that considers such external factors as the general economy and the state's high property taxes.
Some school district officials understand this, but they lack the will, or the vision, or is it guts, to take a stand. That's a shame.

The alternative is the status quo.

Some may wonder if the state Legislature could change the system. Of course it can.
But that's unlikely. The clout of the New Jersey Education Association is substantial. Its pattern is to support virtually every incumbent legislator regardless of party. It's funny, unions are thought to be liberal, but the NJEA is anything but that. It loves the status quo.

And so would you if you were getting raises approaching 5 percent a year in what has been called the worst economic times since the Depression.
Fred Snowflack is editorial page editor of the Daily Record.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


And to my dear fellow Americans, stand proud! You have once more demonstrated, as you have time and time again throughout our noble and glorious nation's history, an unshakable collective faith in our country's truths and ideals.

'...why abandon a belief
Merely because it ceases to be true.
Cling to it long enough, and not a doubt
It will turn true again...
Most of the change we think we see in life
Is due to truths being in and out of favour.'
...Robert Frost, "The Black Cottage"

by Robert Frost

She had her own idea of things, the old lady.
And she liked talk. She had seen Garrison
And Whittier, and had her story of them.
One wasn't long in learning that she thought
Whatever else the Civil War was for
It wasn't just to keep the States together,
Nor just to free the slaves, though it did both.
She wouldn't have believed those ends enough
To have given outright for them all she gave.
Her giving somehow touched the principle
That all men are created free and equal.
And to hear her quaint phrases--so removed
From the world's view to-day of all those things.
That's a hard mystery of Jefferson's.
What did he mean? Of course the easy way
Is to decide it simply isn't true.
It may not be. I heard a fellow say so.
But never mind, the Welshman got it planted
Where it will trouble us a thousand years.
Each age will have to reconsider it.
You couldn't tell her what the West was saying,
And what the South to her serene belief.
She had some art of hearing and yet not
Hearing the latter wisdom of the world.
White was the only race she ever knew.
Black she had scarcely seen, and yellow never.
But how could they be made so very unlike
By the same hand working in the same stuff?
She had supposed the war decided that.
What are you going to do with such a person?
Strange how such innocence gets its own way.
I shouldn't be surprised if in this world
It were the force that would at last prevail.
Do you know but for her there was a time
When to please younger members of the church,
Or rather say non-members in the church,
Whom we all have to think of nowadays,
I would have changed the Creed a very little?
Not that she ever had to ask me not to;
It never got so far as that; but the bare thought
Of her old tremulous bonnet in the pew,
And of her half asleep was too much for me.
Why, I might wake her up and startle her.
It was the words 'descended into Hades'
That seemed too pagan to our liberal youth.
You know they suffered from a general onslaught.
And well, if they weren't true why keep right on
Saying them like the heathen? We could drop them.
Only--there was the bonnet in the pew.
Such a phrase couldn't have meant much to her.
But suppose she had missed it from the Creed
As a child misses the unsaid Good-night,
And falls asleep with heartache--how should I feel?
I'm just as glad she made me keep hands off,
For, dear me, why abandon a belief
Merely because it ceases to be true.
Cling to it long enough, and not a doubt
It will turn true again, for so it goes.
Most of the change we think we see in life
Is due to truths being in and out of favour.
As I sit here, and oftentimes, I wish
I could be monarch of a desert land
I could devote and dedicate forever
To the truths we keep coming back and back to.