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Friday, June 17, 2016

God bless our fathers*

(Author's Note: Father's Day, this year, is observed/celebrated on Sunday, June 19, 2016. Father's Day dates back to June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. When Sonora Dodd was born, her mother died leaving her dad, Mr. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, to take care of his six children. Honoring her father's sacrifices, love, and dedication to raising his family alone, Dodd spearheaded the campaign to create the first Father's Day. Because of its popularity, Father's Day is officially celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June, with President Lyndon B. Johnson's proclamation in 1966. However, in 1977, President Nixon made the celebration a permanent part of our country's annual festivities to show the fathers and grandfathers how much they're appreciated for all they have done for their family.)

Happy Father's Day! I humbly dedicate this poem of mine to all fathers and grandfathers everywhere.

Today is a special day
To honor and pay tribute to you
Father---our role model,
Who sets a good example
For us to follow and emulate.

When we're down and troubled,
You're there to lend a hand.
You cheer us up and brighten our day,
You comfort us and give us company,
And inspire us with your life story.

You guide us and strengthen us,
Protect us from worries and anxieties,
Teach us life's wonders and mysteries,
Life's uncertainties, changes and challenges.

Father, we thank you
For the life and love, joy and patience
You share with us each and every day
And the support you provide us
Into our home, our family...

From Psalm 103:13, we read, "A father has compassion on his children..."

From church bulletin, I remember these lines: "A father loves his children, just as they are. He cares enough to give the very best---himself. When they're in trouble, he's there to help. When they need wisdom, he offers counsel. When they have successes, he rejoices with them. When they make mistakes, he forgives. He recognizes his strength comes not from human sources, but from Heaven's grace."

A father is God's representative. "God bless father," we pray. Why? Because if we want something, "Ask Father!" He is the source, the supplier, the giver (or refuser) of everything we ask of or expect from a father: to smooth our path, to raise for us a mountain from which to hurl our dreams, to build us a shelter against the harms of life.

We need encouragement and enrichment that only a father can give or provide. He is the channel of both the necessities and the fun things in life, like sports and games, travel, road trips and other activities that are a source of fun and enjoyment.

These enrichments and encouragements we seek from Dad or Papa with love. God bless our fathers and grandfathers!

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, June 17, 2016. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A tribute to the red, white and blue*

Today is Flag Day (in the United States of America). I wonder how many of us remembered it. I wonder how many of us pay attention to our flag each time we see it. How many of us are aware of the importance of this symbol?

Yet there seems to be a mix of feelings about its significance. I have seen news reports and videos on You Tube showing our flag being taken for granted or disrespected, both here and abroad.

Of course, we have freedom of speech, but shouldn't we safeguard our flag if it represents our country?

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the United States of America  replacing the British Grand Union flag. Eventually, this date became Flag Day on modern American calendars.

According to legend, Elizabeth "Betsy" Griscom Ross of Philadelphia designed and made the first U.S. flag in 1776 at the request of our first U.S. president, George Washington.

The official national flag consists of the 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white, and in the upper corner near the staff, a blue field containing 50 five-pointed white stars.

The stripes symbolize the 13 states that originally composed of the United States of America---New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The stars represent the 50 current states of the Union.

White signifies purity and innocence; red, hardiness and valor; and blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.

On Flag Day, I would like to pay tribute to this beautiful emblem that represents the virtues of liberty, independence, democracy, pride, power, strength, unity and ideals. Here's my humble, simple poem:

The Stars and Stripes

You're everywhere---
At home, in schools,
City halls and embassies,
On foreign shores;
In the White House,
In the U.S. Capitol,
Federal buildings and hospitals
Tall structures and historical landmarks,
National parks and museums,
At the United States headquarters...

In churches and cemeteries,
In counties, cities, and states;
Up in the air,
All over the seas,
On the Moon up above
You're everywhere.

Here and there,
Flying so free,
Feeling so proud,
Standing so firm,
The insignia of our country,
The emblem of democracy;
Stars and Stripes
In red, blue and white
A symbol of our pride,
A symbol of our freedom,
A symbol of our unity,
Power and beauty.

Because of you,
Thousands of lives were lost,
Hundreds of battles fought.
But, in the end
Our dream came true---
Our independence and liberty
Regained and enjoyed by all.

Today, we salute you,
We come together
To honor you,
To renew our pledge of allegiance
To only you,
The Stars and Stripes.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. For more information, visit

Friday, June 3, 2016

The end and the beginning*

Congratulations, Class of 2016! Best wishes to all of you, especially to my daughter, Christine, who just graduated (May 22) from The University of Virginia's Curry School of Education degree in counseling education. We're so proud of you.

For the Class of 2016, the time has finally come to don that cap and grown and receive their diplomas and congratulatory handshakes from school officials, while the solemn, classical "Pomp and Circumstance" is being played.

You finally made it, graduates. It's worth all the efforts, struggles and the sacrifices. You deserve recognition, because you have overcome the rigors of school life. You've succeeded in overcoming challenges and pressures and stresses in academics, athletics and other extracurricular activities.

Dear graduates, you have reason to relax now, take it easy and celebrate your achievements with your family, friends, teachers, and those who inspired and helped you through the years while in school.

Seize the moment for it will become a nostalgic, happy memory to cherish. Take souvenir pictures. Capture those moments spent with your classmates, dear teachers, guests and visitors. Cherish their hugs and kisses and their simple presence.

Enjoy your day. You deserve to celebrate your achievement.

I appreciate and thank the parents and educators of the Class of 2016 for being there with our students---loving and caring for them, teaching and guiding them. Likewise, my sincere thanks to our school administrators, staff-personnel, and volunteers who shared their time and talents.

After having successfully completed the requirements for their degrees, graduates are now ready to embark on another chapter in their life. It is a time to rejoice with and be grateful for all the factors involved in their success.

Likewise, Graduation Day is the beginning  of a more complex, challenging life, whether the student is graduating from elementary, secondary, collegiate or post-graduate education.

What now? What's next? Gainful employment? Military service? The next rung on the ladder of higher education? A sabbatical from schoolwork? A paid apprenticeship or internship in a private or public establishment?

Whatever goals or plans you have, continue to work for them. Keep it up and let the momentum help you realize your dreams. No one can stop you from pursuing your dreams.

Your confidence and determination can help you beat the odds. Be optimistic. Look at the brighter side of life. And smile! You can always make your life and others' better. Your future is in your hands, graduates, because life is what you make it.

Once again, congratulations and best wishes, Class of 2016! Have a safe and wonderful summer, too.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, June 3, 2016. For more information, visit