The Protesting Football Players are Not Disrespecting the Military

The Protesting Football Players are Not Disrespecting the Military

The silent protest that was begun last season by former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in which Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem before football games, exemplifies what freedom of speech and freedom of expression mean in our country.

Kaepernick, and his fellow players who have joined him this year, have been very clear from the outset that their sole motive behind their protest is to express their view that racism is alive and well in America at all levels of our society and that this problem needs to be addressed immediately.

Although no one can doubt the truth of that assertion, we realize there are many who believe that a football game is not the place for political protests and who are upset that the players are kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.

That’s their opinion and they, like Kapaernick, are entitled to express what they believe.

However, those (such as President Trump) who are attempting to discredit the protesters by asserting that the protesters are disrespecting those who have served in the military are off-base for two reasons.

First and foremost, the protesters never have made any negative statement about anybody in the military or that their protest is aimed at the military. Rather, it is clear that Trump and others are making this claim solely to discredit the protesters as a means of ignoring the serious issue of racism that the protest is all about.

Second however, the playing of the National Anthem before a game never has had anything to do with honoring the military. Rather, the tradition of playing the Anthem prior to the start of  a sporting event has been to show our unity as a nation — every single American — and not limited only to past and present members of the military.

The Anthem before a game makes us realize that although we may be cheering for rival teams on the playing field, at the end of the day, we still are one people, one nation.

Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem — which has resulted in his career being ended (at least for now) — truly was an act of courage and stands as a shining example to all Americans, especially our young people, of their right to protest peacefully in our country.

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CHS Volleyball Team Takes a Knee at National Anthem:Players say they Kneel for a Fair and Equal Society for All

CHS Volleyball Team Takes a Knee at National Anthem:Players say they Kneel for a Fair and Equal Society for All

By Seth Daniel

The Chelsea High Volleyball team takes a knee during the National Anthem on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 3, in a game at home against Notre Dame, who chose to stand and salute the flag. The girls, including (L-R) Arianna Pryor, Xiana Herasme, Masireh Ceesay and Guidairys Castro, plan to continue taking the knee all season to highlight inequities the lives of minority youth and immigrants. One school in Methuen has asked that they do not come and take a knee at their venue, choosing to forfeit the game instead.

The Chelsea High Volleyball team takes a knee during the National Anthem on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 3, in a game at home against Notre Dame, who chose to stand and salute the flag. The girls, including (L-R) Arianna Pryor, Xiana Herasme, Masireh Ceesay and Guidairys Castro, plan to continue taking the knee all season to highlight inequities the lives of minority youth and immigrants. One school in Methuen has asked that they do not come and take a knee at their venue, choosing to forfeit the game instead.

The Chelsea High School girls’ volleyball team – a team loaded with seven seniors – has been together for several years and so it is that they’ve developed a family-like bond and a chemistry that sometimes helps them to act in unison.

It’s almost telepathic, they say.

In fact, when they first decided to take a knee during the National Anthem to make a statement on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Whittier Tech, it was something they didn’t rehearse or plan in advance.

It just happened, and now it has happened two other times and – like other National Anthem protests – is sparking a robust conversation in Chelsea High, outside in Chelsea and even into the other cities and towns where they play.

All 11 players on the team are now taking the knee and did so as recently as this past Tuesday afternoon at Chelsea High.

“When it happened first, it wasn’t planned and it was just spontaneous and we all went down,” said Arianna Pryor, who pointed out that they took the knee before it became something much greater with the NFL protest on Sept. 24. “We gave each other the look and then it happened. It was just a natural thing. We had talked about it, but never planned on doing it. It was almost like mental telepathy.”

Leaders of the team say they are all taking the knee for several different reasons – whether it be for immigration issues, discrimination, economic opportunity, or better resources – but in general they seem to want to draw attention to the fact that they don’t see the country as being “free” or all of created “equal.”

“For me, a majority of us have immigrant parents and they came to the country to provide a better future for us,” said Rym El Mahid, a first-year player. “. What kind of American Dream is there if things are working against our parents all the time?”

Ruchellie Jimenez said she also takes the knee because she has seen how others are treated, how people treat her. She wants that to change, and this was one way to draw attention to her cause.

“I don’t think it’s fair how we have systematic forces against us and are always in the backseat of America,” she said. “We struggle and get the scraps of everyone else. My parents were immigrants and I see the way they are treated and the way I am treated. That’s why I take the knee. It isn’t fair.”

She added, as an example, that she recently wanted to improve her SAT score and went to a counselor outside Chelsea for help.

“I was sitting with the counselor and they looked at my score and said I was a minority and from a low-income area, so I was all set; there was not need for me to try to get better,” she said. “That’s not how I want to be treated. I just want to do better on my SAT.”

Pryor said others have been taking a knee to make a difference, and she saw that and brought it up to the rest of her team. They had talked about it, but made no plans. As time went on, she said she wanted to be one to make things known, to let people know that things are not right.

“I take a knee because I want to be there with the others that are trying to make a difference,” she said. “I take a knee because things need to change.”

All agreed that they don’t mean disrespect to any soldiers, and are grateful for the service of veterans – those who have died and who have returned injured. They said, however, they picked the National Anthem because it was a non-violent and because it was one of the few outlets they had as high school athletes.

“Our team is very ethnically diverse and culturally diverse,” said Capt. Jessica Martinez. “We feel strongly about how our country has been going, and we wanted to make our point in a way that wouldn’t seem violent or aggressive, but rather intelligent. We wanted to do something that showed we took a lot of time thinking out our actions.”

She added that if they had made their protest at City Hall or another public venue, it could have taken a violent course – which they didn’t want.

Added Jimenez, “We’re very grateful for what the veterans have done and they have given us freedom of speech to take the knee. I don’t think there is any other way for us to do this publicly. Everyone knows what taking a knee is.”

At school, it’s been a mixed reaction.

A lot of students don’t agree with it, they said, while others are wholeheartedly behind them.

Already, last Friday, the Chelsea High cheerleaders took a knee before the home football game.

Coach Serena Wadsworth said when it became obvious how her girls felt about taking the knee, and that they planned to do so the rest of the year, she sent out a letter to other schools. Most, she said, understood, but one school in Methuen preferred that the girls not come to their school and take a knee. The school indicated it didn’t feel it respected its school values. They were willing to forfeit the game, and also were willing to play at Chelsea.

Interestingly, the girls said their message isn’t really for those in Chelsea as much as it is for the other schools they play, many of which aren’t as diverse or understand the life that they lead.

“Our message isn’t really to be taken to only those who are doing the discrimination,” said El Mahid. “People who aren’t minority – the white and well off – don’t know the discrimination we face. It’s a way to get the discrimination out there.”

When the 2017  Chelsea High volleyball team is remembered, all of them agreed that it will probably be for their stand. They hope that it helps people think about what they did, and perhaps is something that’s continued.

“There are other teams and other seasons,” said Masireh Ceesay. “They will see what we did and see it as an example, I hope, and carry it on and find ways to go forward with our statement.”

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Trump Sends DACA to Congress, Hundreds in Chelsea Vulnerable

Trump Sends DACA to Congress, Hundreds in Chelsea Vulnerable

By Seth Daniel

Hundreds of young people and families in Chelsea were put on edge Tuesday when President Donald Trump announced he would end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – though with the caveat of keeping it intact for six months to allow Congress to attempt to enact a law.

The DACA program prevents the deportation of people brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were under the age of 16. When President Barack Obama initiated it in 2012 via executive order, it allowed young people to do things they had not been able to do previously, like getting student loans, working legally and qualify for other programs. Anyone with a criminal record, however, was barred from qualifying for the program.

Now, all of that is up in the air for many people.

Joana (whose last name is shielded) is a freshman at Northeast Voke and a resident of Chelsea who said she has family and friends who are now in flux due to the decision – as well as the uncertainty as to whether Congress will act in the next six months.

“I feel like it wasn’t a very thoughtful decision because most of the kids in Chelsea are from other countries,” she said, noting that she has family who are in the DACA program. “It feels scary because you don’t know what is going to happen to a loved one. It’s a wait and see situation and something bad could happen in seconds, minutes, hours, months or even years…I find it all very pointless because families are scared and they tried everything in their power to bring their children here and all the sudden that opportunity they found so hard for is going away. They have sacrificed everything to get kids here and now that opportunity could end.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was discouraged by the decision also, knowing that hundreds of Chelsea residents are enrolled in DACA and now find themselves in limbo as they wait to see if Congress will do anything.

“It is incredibly discouraging that our President is prepared to terminate a program that has been so beneficial and meaningful to childhood arrivals, many of whom have no knowledge of nor connection to their native land,” he said. “I’m hopeful that Congress will act quickly to remedy this unnecessary and heartless executive action.”

Supt. Mary Bourque said she has put out letters to parents and students, as well as guidance to staff and teachers about how to handle the anxiety around the decision, which affects so many Chelsea students and their families.

“Many of our students and their family members are DACA immigrants consistently contributing to our community and therefore our country,” she wrote. “We support our students and their dream for a future in the United States. I want to reaffirm to our Chelsea Schools community that the Chelsea Public Schools is committed to our mission statement, ‘We Welcome and Educate ALL Students and Families.’”

Bourque also affirmed to all parents that the schools are safe havens from immigration enforcement if, indeed, the program ends after six months.

“Our schools have been deemed by our Chelsea School Committee as Safe Havens for all students to learn and thrive,” she wrote. “It is through education that the doors of opportunity are opened for all our students. We, as the Chelsea School Community will continue to advocate for and support our students and their families as they embrace the American Dream through education. We will work on behalf of our students and families alongside our community based organizations and legislators in the coming weeks and months.”

Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger also reaffirmed a similar viewpoint in a letter signed by all of the state’s community college presidents.

“Those with DACA status attend and graduate from our K-12 schools and benefit from the ability to attend excellent post-secondary education in order to bring the skills and credentials needed in our workforce today,” read the letter. “Individuals with DACA status live in our communities, pay taxes, and are ready and willing to continue to positively contribute to our local economies and communities. Ending DACA and subjecting these individuals to deportation not only contradicts our shared values and the inherent principles in our educational missions, but also threatens the economic well being of our region, state, and country.

“We remain committed to meeting the needs of every person who walks through our doors looking to learn and achieve, regardless of their immigration status,” it continued. “We stand together to fight for the continued protection of all the young people with and eligible for DACA.”

The Trump decision did allow for anyone with a DACA permit expiring between now and March 5, 2018 to re-apply for another two-year renewal – giving protection through 2019. The application for renewal must be submitted by Oct. 5, 2017.

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Chelsea Collaborative Wins Constitutional Case On Voting Registration

Chelsea Collaborative Wins Constitutional Case On Voting Registration

By Seth Daniel

Last fall, when Chelsea’s Edma Ortiz began to get increasingly concerned about the presidential election and what was at stake for immigrants and the Latino community, she finally found the time to get to Chelsea City Hall to register to vote in the election.

However, an irregular work schedule that required her to work odd hours during weekdays, and the death of her mother that took her to Puerto Rico for nearly a month in October, delayed her trip to City Hall.

Getting on a plane Oct. 19 to go back to Boston, she remembered thinking that she needed to go register for the election.

On Oct. 20, she went to the Chelsea Collaborative to get the details on how to fill out the documents.

However, she found out she was one day late – the cutoff for registrations was on Oct. 19, many weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

With that news, the life-long U.S. Citizen was disqualified to cast her vote in what was one of the most important elections in modern history.

That and many other similar stories led the Collaborative to file a lawsuit last year challenging the voter registration cutoff – and this week the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in their favor.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled this week that the voter registration law in Massachusetts – which calls for a cutoff for voting registration several weeks before any election – infringes on the rights of voters and should be reconsidered.

The case was brought by the Chelsea Collaborative and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

“We are extremely happy with the outcome on this case,” said Gladys Vega of the Collaborative. “We strongly feel that this law has to change and we are not saying this should have anything to do with same-day voter registration. What it should have everything to do with is U.S. Citizens being able to have their vote.”

The ACLU said it was a victory for democracy in the state.

“This is a major victory for democracy in Massachusetts, as the court agreed that the arbitrary 20-day voter registration cutoff law is unconstitutional and disenfranchises thousands of potential voters throughout the Commonwealth every election,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU Massachusetts. “As the Trump administration is seeking to limit access to the ballot, Massachusetts should lead nationwide efforts to ensure that everyone has a right to vote. As champions for freedom, the ACLU of Massachusetts is committed to working together with other advocates and the Massachusetts Legislature to protect and expand access to the ballot.”

Vega said the cutoff limits force people to focus on the election in October and September – times when people aren’t paying as much attention.

However, she said when people really want to vote, they find that they no longer can do so.

“I’ve had people come down with the card to register well before the election and we had to turn them away,” she said. “It was too late. One man tore the card up in front of me and said, ‘Why do I even bother.’ That shouldn’t happen…We have to register voters at a time when no one cares about it rather that at a peak time when people start caring about voting and can no longer participate.”

She said one witness in their case before the SJC testified that more than 6,500 voters had been turned away after the cutoff.

She also said technology has come to a point where a cutoff so many days ahead of time is not needed.

“Enough was enough,” she said. “We felt that this was against the Constitutional right to vote. They don’t need the processing time and documentation time any more. Things are done so much quicker that shouldn’t be a problem now.”

The Court has instructed the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin, to craft a law that will be more accommodating.

It will then have to be passed by the State Legislature.

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The Finest on the Fourth:Artie Ells Hosts 40th Annual Independence Day Party

The Finest on the Fourth:Artie Ells Hosts 40th Annual Independence Day Party

By Cary Shuman

Party organizer Artie Ells, attired in his traditional red, white and blue costume, speaks to the many guests at the annual July Fourth celebration.

Party organizer Artie Ells, attired in his traditional red, white and blue costume, speaks to the many guests at the annual July Fourth celebration.

When it comes to Fourth of July parties in Chelsea, Artie Ells in a class by himself.

For the past 40 Independence Days, ever since the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976, Artie Ells has welcomed hundreds of friends and neighbors to his home on Palmer Street on the holiday.

This year City Manager Tom Ambrosino personally delivered a proclamation to Ells in recognition of his patriotism and lifelong contributions to Chelsea. Ambrosino joins a long list of dignitaries including U.S. Presidents Reagan, Bush (41 and 43), Clinton, and Trump who have honored Ells for his civic and patriotic endeavors with official letters of acknowledgement.

The party is officially known as “Artie’s July 4tH Celebration.” On that day (rain has only forced one postponement until July 5), Artie turns his backyard into a “Party with Artie” extravaganza, with guests young and old enjoying a barbecue of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, and steak to go along with musical entertainment, swimming in the Ells pool, and games for the kids.

A large, 24-by-30-foot American flag is on display to complement “God Bless America” signs and red, white, and blue bunting.

Artie, his wife, Tish, and their son, Matt, who is assistant director of athletic operations at Northeastern University, presented blue “Party With Artie” t-shirts to the many guests. Artie, who wears a red, white, and blue costume, personally led the gathering in the singing of “God Bless of America.”

What was the inspiration for launching 40 years of a special observance of America’s birthday?

Ells said he had received an American flag that was flown on July 4, 1976 at the U.S. Capitol Building. That flag has been displayed at the party each year.

“I wanted to hold a celebration to provide a nice day for people and honor our country and salute American patriotism,” said Ells. “I don’t want people to forget the great country we live in and what America stands for. It never hurts to be patriotic and believe in the country that you live in.”

The list of guests has included Major League Baseball players such as Wade Boggs, Danny Darwin, and John Henry Johnson. Former Mass. Governor Edward King attended one of the celebrations. Former state senator Francis Doris was a big supporter.

“It’s just a great event where a bunch of people can get together and have a good time and love each and show their patriotism,” said Frank Mahoney, who has known Ells since his childhood.

Artie grew up on Hancock Street and graduated from Chelsea High in 1963. He later played for the talented and colorful New Bridge Café softball team in the local fast pitch league. Ells joined softball legends Eddie McCarthy, Homer Norton, Danny Cronin, Bobby Gallo, Mike Kearney, Rollie DeSimone and others on the New Bridge team that would pack the old Carter Park on game nights.

He holds a lifelong love for the city and has a respectful knowledge of its history, noting the since demolished Pratt House on Washington Avenue where President George Washington once stayed during a visit.

Whether the “Party With Artie” tradition continues next year is a question being debated in the Ells household. The day takes considerable planning and preparation, not to mention the extensive cleanup afterwards.

But Artie Ells will always have a place of fondness in his heart for his friends, his city, and his country.

“I’ve been blessed with so many great friends and family,” said Artie. “To me, Chelsea is my home and it’s always been my home. And without a doubt we live in the greatest country in the world.”

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Chelsea Public Library Wins NASA@ My Library Grant

Chelsea Public Library Wins NASA@ My Library Grant

The Chelsea Public Library announced Tuesday that it has been awarded a grant from NASA and the American Library Association called NASA@ My Library.

Chelsea Public Library is one of 75 libraries that have been chosen from a total of 513 applicants to receive the NASA@ My Library grant, and is the only library in Massachusetts selected to participate in the initiative.

The NASA@ My Library project is led by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. Partners include the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, Pacific Science Center, Cornerstones of Science, and Education Development Center. NASA@ My Library is made possible through the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate as part of its STEM Activation program.

The Children’s Librarian Martha Boksenbaum said, “We are very excited to have won this grant, it will enable the library to bring more STEM programming to Chelsea, and build an environment of exploration, play and learning.”

The library will receive the following from this grant:

  • Two NASA STEM Facilitation Kits including STEM tools and programming materials including a green screen and solar eclipse viewing glasses
  • A $500 programming stipend
  • Travel reimbursement for the Children’s Librarian to travel to Denver, CO for training

In implementing this grant, the Chelsea Public Library will run at least three programs between May 2017 and October 2018.

  • A Solar Eclipse Viewing Party on August 21.
  • A series of workshops in which children and adults can explore the NASA Facilitation kits

materials and activities

  • An Earth Day Celebration in Spring 2018
  • Guest visits from Subject Matter Experts to engage with children and families

The Chelsea Public Library provides programming free of charge, and strives to create an environment of learning and exploration to the Chelsea community.

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Chelsea Couple Devoted to Healing,Bringing Change,With the Arts

By Seth Daniel

Chelsea residents Jay Paris and Anna Myer watch their art come to life in a recent performance of ‘Invisible: Imprints of Racism,’ at Ramsay Park in the South End near the Lenox Housing Development.

Chelsea residents Jay Paris and Anna Myer watch their art come to life in a recent performance of ‘Invisible: Imprints of Racism,’ at Ramsay Park in the South End near the Lenox Housing Development.

When audiences leave the most recent performance by the BeHeard.World dancers, they don’t usually leave with a smile on their faces, but rather, this summer, they typically leave thinking very hard about serious issues involving race.

Anna Myer and Jay Paris, who live in the Spencer Lofts in Chelsea, have been touring all over Boston this summer performing on lighted basketball courts their newest dance and poetry work called, ‘Invisible: Imprints of Racism,’ on basketball courts and next to gritty housing developments.

“It’s a challenging piece because no one wants to address it, it being race,” said Paris this week. “You find people leaving who are ashamed about it and some are angry about it. It comes down to confronting it and getting past the sense of being deprived or the sense of being privileged…As two middle-aged white people, Anna and I didn’t want to put this piece together alone.”

Added Myer, “The company is very mixed and we discussed this within the group for about a year. We all like each other a lot so it makes it a safe environment to talk about race…It’s really come full circle for me with this piece. I have always, always, always been interested in racial issues since I was a kid in Cambridge. It’s really come full circle in the sense that my work in the performing arts and social justice and equity have all come together.”

Paris and Myer moved to Chelsea about one year ago from Cambridge and continued their work in Boston, mostly at the housing developments in Franklin Field (Dorchester) and Lenox (South End). Most recently, last month, they performed the piece on the basketball court at Ramsay Park near the Lenox development, a park long in need of a makeover and, at times, quite dangerous for young people. It’s the kind of place they want to be, though.

“I’ve been working with the North American Family Institute for a number of years and I didn’t want to work with kids already in the court system, but rather to do prevention work with kids by developing programs for them before they get there,” Paris said. “Those programs were primarily in Franklin Field and Lenox. Prior to that, I had a career as a writer and photojournalist in the magazine world. I was always interested in the arts, though, and creating opportunities for kids in the arts. I kept hearing of this woman, Anna Myers, who had a renowned dance company. She had been going to the inner cities and getting rap and hip-hop performers and putting them into her company to perform. We finally met and began collaborating a lot. Then we fell in love and eventually got married.”

Myer has a dance and poetry company that performs the works like ‘Invisible,’ using nine dancers and four poets.

Meanwhile, Paris works another program that brings youth into the program and helps them to discover their voice in the arts. He has been filming that experience and expects to release a documentary on it in January. The film focuses on the first 19 kids that they took into the program and the changes that came about after they were immersed into the arts programming.

“It’s about using the arts to give these kids a voice so they can say what they want to say,” said Myers. “It’s very empowering. In 2014, we had 19 kids participating from the Lenox Housing Development and Jay filmed the whole program. The film is really about what art does for human beings and for kids. It changes them and gives them a voice. Those same kids were interviewed one year later and it’s incredible the changes that happened to them. Their confidence is up, they’re trying new things they wouldn’t have done like debate team. We need arts in the world.”

Myer came to meet Paris through a tragedy in her life that changed her direction totally.

After growing up trained as a ballet dancer and dancing at Boston Ballet and others for a time, she established several smaller and successful companies.

“I started everything over and part of that was choreography and I got into modern dance,” she said. “I had a company for a long time and I began including the inner city artists and dancers in my work. That opened up a whole new way of choreographing and working.”

That, of course, also led her to Paris, and the both of them to Chelsea one year ago this week.

“I feel like there’s great potential for arts here,” said Myers. “I love that it is it’s own city. It’s like stepping back in time and it’s diverse and has its own unique character.

Said Paris, “We love Chelsea and there is so much about it to love. We love the diversity of it. We know it’s challenging sometimes, but we like that. We love the interest in the arts here and the interest in community betterment. Ultimately, we’d like to bring BeHeard here with offices and studio space and keep going.”

The ‘going’ part could very well be sooner than later, as both said they feel the ‘Invisible’ piece could be something that tours the country on basketball courts and fields all over America – taking the temperature of the nation on race.

“We’d love to have an organization that gets people thinking and have a movement where change happens,” said Myer.

Added Paris, “Instead of putting out fires, we’d love to prevent the fires at some point.”

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Obama in Cuba

The decision by President Obama to open the diplomatic doors to Cuba and begin the process of bringing that nation into the modern world acknowledges something that has been a reality for decades: the Cold War is over.

Yes, the dictatorial regime of the Castro brothers is antithetical to the democratic values we espouse. But there are three points we wish to make:

First, we already deal with many similar countries all over the world. China, Saudi Arabia, and countless other nations do not even remotely resemble the sort of democratic ideal that we profess to believe in. Yet we consider some of these countries our strongest allies and some are our biggest trading partners.

Second, it is our firm belief that as Cuba becomes open to trade and tourism, Cuba will begin to undertake the democratic reforms that we all wish to see occur. The Castro brothers are old men who will not be around much longer. The lesson of history has been that when former Communist leaders pass into the sunset, the desire of the vast majority of their people for freedom will overwhelm those who wish to maintain the status quo. That will be especially true in Cuba, which is just a stone’s throw from our shores and which has so many historical ties to the U.S.

Finally, those in our country who lecture others about the values of freedom and democracy should not be so quick to judge, given that we ourselves hardly live up to the ideals espoused in our Declaration of Independence or our Constitution in countless ways.

As far as we can tell, the only drawback to the President’s Cuban initiatives is that it will not be long before the unspoiled Cuba — both in terms of its natural beauty and its architectural historicity — will be overwhelmed by the false promises and rapaciousness of American capitalism.

Hopefully, Cuba’s future leaders will not succumb to the glitter of American gold and will maintain the integrity of their nation.

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Happy Easter

It’s hard to believe that another Easter already is upon us. Not only does Easter come early this year, but Monday’s snowstorm hardly seemed Easter-like.

But regardless of what Mother Nature has in store for us, Good Friday and Easter Sunday will be here this week, and those of the Christian faith will begin the observance of the holiest days of their religion upon which the foundation of their faith is based.

However, no matter what religious beliefs one may (or may not) hold, Easter this year is a particularly fitting time to contemplate what it means for every American to have the right of religious freedom in our country.

The Founding Fathers believed so strongly that every American should be free to practice the religion of their choice that they embedded it in the first sentence of the First Amendment, before the freedoms of speech, the press, or to protest:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

We bring this up because for the first time in recent memory, religion — and not in a positive way — has entered the realm of Presidential politics. Yes, it was said by some that if John F. Kennedy (a Catholic) were to be elected President, he would “take his orders from the Pope.”

Kennedy himself felt obligated to address such open “whispers” by giving a speech in which he discussed this issue. Kennedy said in pertinent part:

“But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured — perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again — not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute –where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote –where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference — and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

“For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew — or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.”

In that spirit, we wish all of our readers of the Christian faith a joyous and Happy Easter.

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Hair Cuttery Holds Cut-A-Thon to Benefit Jordan Boys & Girls Club in Chelsea

Hair Cuttery at 1086 Revere Beach Parkway in Chelsea will host a cut-a-thon on Sunday, March 6th from 6:00 – 9:00pm to benefit the Jordan Boys and Girls Club. All haircuts will be $10.00 with 100% of the proceeds going to the club.

The Jordan Boys and Girls Club helps young people, especially those in need, build strong characters and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders. The cut-a-thon will benefit the Boys and Girls Club’s many programs which support the youth in the Chelsea community.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Jordan Boys and Girls Club to help raise funds for their clubhouse,” said Lydia Son, Hair Cuttery Salon Leader. “It’s so wonderful when we can come together as a community and support such a worthy organization.”

Hair Cuttery has an established history of charitable giving, supporting a range of local and national causes, including St. Baldrick’s Foundation, American Red Cross, The National Network to End Domestic Violence, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Girls on the Run.

About Hair Cuttery:

Hair Cuttery is the largest family-owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, with nearly 900 company-owned locations on the East Coast, New England and the Midwest. A full-service, value-priced salon, Hair Cuttery offers a full complement of cuts and styling, coloring, waxing and texturizing services with no appointment necessary, as well as a full line of professional hair care products. Hair Cuttery is committed to delivering a delightful client experience through WOW Service including a Smile Back Guarantee. Hair Cuttery is a division of Ratner Companies, based in Vienna, VA. www.haircuttery.com

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