16 years ago today, on October 2, 2006, my grandad lost an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. My brother and I affectionately referred to him as “Big Ken,” due to his 6’4” frame. That name fit him in more ways than just his physical stature. To the two of us, he was larger than life itself.
He loved sports, the outdoors, his family and so much more but most importantly, he loved the Lord. His hair was as white as a cotton field, his clothes were always starched, not a wrinkle in sight, his car was spotless. His favorite candy was Circus Peanuts with a glass-bottled Coke, the type that leaves divet imprints in your hand if you don’t use a bottle opener.
Although you can hardly find glass-bottle cokes anywhere these days, I like to think that he is the reason that I love Circus Peanuts. He took great pride in everything he did in his 68 years.
Now, by the time my brother and I came along in 1997, he was “real tired,” as my brother once said, which is what he thought the word “retired,” meant. Big Ken loved spending time with us. He would sit patiently outside his Spanish Fort, Alabama home while I pretended to take his “order” as a young boy. He played baseball with us in the backyard for hours on end without complaining one bit. Again, he loved his family.
In the early 2000’s circa 2002, he built my brother and I a bridge in front of his home. A bridge that still stands some 20 years after it was built.
We spent time with him on picnics at Fort Toulouse in my hometown of Wetumpka, Alabama when he and my grandmother would come to visit and I can’t remember a time when the trunk of his Crown Victoria wasn’t slammed full with toys for us both.
Until we meet again, Big Ken. Hold it down with the Lord and rest assured, your memory will remain alive until I take my last earthly breath and join you in the greatest Kingdom known to man. You took what you had, did what you could, provided us with memories that we’ll never forget, and for that we’ll always be thankful. I love you.
It was 21 years ago today, that not only this nation, but the world as a whole, was changed forever. Thousands of lives were lost as a result of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
It all began at 5:45 a.m., when hijackers passed through security screenings in Portland, Maine. 19 terrorists hijacked four California-bound commercial planes just after their departures from airports in Boston, Massachusetts, Newark, New Jersey, and the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area.
Two of the intended hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari boarded a commuter flight to Boston Logan International Airport, where they board American Airlines Flight 11.
At 7:59 a.m., Flight 11 took off from Boston and heads for Los Angeles, California. At takeoff, there were 76 passengers, 11 crew members, and 5 hijackers aboard.
Then, at 8:15 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston heading to Los Angeles. There were 51 passengers, 9 crew members, and 5 hijackers on the plane at the time the aircraft left the runway.
At 8:19 a.m., Betty Ann Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, warned the ground crew that a hijacking was taking place and the cockpit in inaccessible.
Meanwhile, at 8:20 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 took off from Dulles, just outside of the Nation’s Capital and headed for Los Angeles, at the time there were 53 passengers, 6 crew members, and 5 hijackers on the aircraft.
At 8:24 a.m., hijacker Mohamed Atta, aboard Flight 11 unintentionally lets air controllers in Boston know of the attack.
Fast forward to 8:42 a.m., and United Flight 93 took off from Newark, New Jersey, after a delay. It headed to San Francisco, California. At the time of takeoff, there were 33 passengers, 7 crew members, and 4 hijackers on the flight.
At 8:46 a.m., Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower and all passengers were instantly killed while employees of the World Trade Center were trapped above the 91st floor.
At 9:03 a.m., Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower all passengers were killed including an unknown number of people in the tower.
At 9:28 a.m., hijackers attack on Flight 93. While Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m.
By 10:30 a.m., both towers had become nothing but rubble and at 5:30 p.m. Building 7 at the World Trade Center came crashing down.
It was on this day 21 years ago, that 2,977 lives were lost and families changed. Our homeland was under fire and our people were blown away and some went down heroes in that Shanksville, Pennsylvania field.
The deadliest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 changed the way we live our daily lives. It changed the way we see our freedoms. It brought to light the frailness of life and just how quickly a completely innocent life can be taken.
May we never forget what was the day the nation stood still, September 11, 2001. God Bless.
If you’re familiar with the sport of rodeo at all, whether it be as a fan, a participant, a stock contractor, an announcer, a music director or anything in between, you’ve heard of and are familiar with the name Lane Frost.
It was on this day 33 years ago, that the cowboy who hung his hat in La Junta, Otero County, Colorado, went to the big arena in the sky. Now, at the time of Lane’s birth, his parents were residing in Lapoint, Utah. But according to sources, Lane’s father Clyde was rodeoing at the time and his mother Elsie, went to stay with her parents in Kim, Colorado, not from the hospital in La Junta, where Lane was born.
He has an older sister, Robin and a younger brother, Cody. At a young age, young Lane took a liking to the sport of bull riding and when he was old enough to ride on his own, Lane’s mom Elsie made his first pair of chaps for him. Being a typical mom, when their does things they aren’t fond of, or don’t feel it’s safe for them do, Elsie was hoping that perhaps one day, Lane would grow out of this bull riding phase that entered his spirit at such a young age.
In his later years, Lane would win a number of titles in the rodeo world, one of those being the 1981 Bull Riding Championship in the National High School Finals Rodeo Association, which was held in Douglas, Wyoming, when he was a high school junior.
He graduated from Atoka High School in Atoka, Oklahoma in 1982. In 1983, he received a full membership in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association of more commonly referred to as simply the “PRCA” at age 19. He would finish 16th in the World Standings and the top 15 in each event advance to the National Finals Rodeo each year.
His traveling partner at the time, Jacky Gibbs, occupied the 15th spot in the standings that year. Frost was named 1983 runner-up for the “Rookie of the Year” that year also. He competed in the 1983 “Super Bull” competition in Del Rio, Texas. It was at this event that he received the “Tough Luck Award,” for his gritty effort.
Fast forward to 1989, in July of that year Lane and his wife, Kellie were going to try their hands at stunt doubles in the movie “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”, which was about a bull rider that comes home to Oklahoma.
Lane was scheduled to have a small speaking role in the film. But first, Lane, not letting the stunt double opportunity get in the way of his love for rodeo and bull riding, took time to go to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to participate in the world-renowned “Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo” which is held in Cheyenne, Wyoming every July. Lane let Kellie stay behind to work on the movie.
After Lane made the right second requirement on his second bull of the rodeo, sportscaster George Michael, whom often interviewed the cowboy from Colorado and a friend of his, spoke with Frost, in what would unfortunately become Frost’s last interview.
George said to Lane, “But you just had to give the crowd a thrill with that dismount!” Lane had somersaulted over the tail of the bull at the end of his ride. Four days later, on July 30, 1989, Lane drew a bull named “Takin’ Care of Business,” after getting him ridden, Frost dismounted but was hit by the bull breaking ribs and severing a main artery and the Lane Clyde Frost died moments later at the age of 25 on the dirt of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
If you get a chance today, watch the Cheyenne Frontier Days and tip your hat to the man that died doing what he loved. I wasn’t alive in ‘89, but the way Lane lived and loved is evident with every rodeo I watch. He may not be here on Earth, but his legacy will never die. Rest In Peace, Cowboy! Good ride, good ride.
246 years ago today, this nation that we call home was born the moment our Founding Fathers signed their names on that document historic document that we know as the Declaration of Independence.
For 246 incredible years, the flag that we call Old Glory has stood for everything that an American should embody. The morals, the values, and the ideas upon which this country was founded.
The colors on that blanket of freedom each have their own meanings. When I look at the red, I’m reminded of the blood of those patriots that has been shed over the centuries to protect the freedoms that she represents.
The white reminds me of the purity and honesty that was the idea for this great land. Then I look at the blue, and I am immediately reminded of the courage that it takes to see that the freedoms of this land never get taken away.
You see, Old Glory has flown high and proud above so many foreign lands and has stood starched in the paths of enemies over the to years. She’s been from Korea to Vietnam, Afghanistan, to the Islands of Iwo Jima. She almost fell at the Alamo, she got cut at Chancellorsville and Shiloh Hill, she turned red in World War II.
But you see, back here in her own land, she’s been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused. To the point where they’ve almost quit waving her back home.
She’s been through the fire before. She might be getting thread bare and wearing thin, but she’s in pretty good shape for the things that she has seen. As for us back home, we raise her up right, we take her down every night, we don’t letter touch the ground, and we fold her up right.
It seems these days, that the media only wants to tell us what’s wrong with our homeland. The media only wants to talk about the bad happening here at home. Turn off the news. Here lately it seems that the media wants to try to divide us as a nation and turn us as a nation away from God. A nation whose motto is, “In God We Trust and United We Stand.” Happy Independence Day!
This afternoon at about 12:15 p.m., I got the notification that I thought I would never have to get. The Atlanta Braves public address announcer, Casey Motter, passed away early Thursday morning in his sleep.
Casey Motter got his start in broadcasting announcing youth football and baseball games in nearby Peachtree City, Georgia, where he would often bring his own sound system and music.
His big break came on one November night in 2006, when the Braves assistant general manager, Frank Wren was blown away by the talent that Casey possessed. Frank videoed the youth football game that Casey was announcing and turned it into an invitation to try out for the Braves PA spot.
Casey, a Smyrna, Georgia native and avid Braves fan, made the most of the opportunity, ultimately winning the job over a dozen other finalists with professional experience.
The voice of Casey Motter, is one that will always hold a special place in my heart. The way he delivered himself during games. The enthusiasm he showed for his Braves will now and forever remain unmatched. I looked forward to one day being able to work alongside Casey in the Braves booth. In fact, he’s the one whom I model my deliverance after. There won’t ever be another Casey Motter.
My heart goes out to the entire Motter family at this time. Rest In Peace, my friend, save me a seat in the greatest booth of them all!
It all began 70 years ago in southeastern Texas town of Poteet, Texas, when George Harvey Strait Sr., was born to John Byron Strait and Doris Couser Strait.
He didn’t listen to much country music at all growing up in Pearsall, Texas, which is southwest of San Antonio, and his parents divorced while he was still in school, and George and his older brother Buddy were raised by their father, a junior high math teacher.
During high school, Strait was left speechless by seemingly matchless beauty of Norma Voss, with whom he would elope shortly after graduation, before signing for a stint in the United States Army.
He discovered his love for country music while stationed on the islands of Hawaii in 1971 and broke into the country scene a decade later in 1981. He wrote the song “Check Yes or No,” for his wife Norma. In the song he recalls the first time he laid eyes on her on the playground in third grade.
Over the course of his storied and highly-touted country music career, the Texas native has more than 60 number one hits. Those hits include “Amarillo By Morning,” “How Bout Them Cowgirls,” “The Fireman,” “Cowboys Like Us,” “The Cowboy Rides Away,” and “Write This Down”. Happy 70th Birthday, George. We love you brother.
I think it’s pretty safe to say, that Cody Daniel Johnson of Huntsville, Texas, is the future of country music. Not only is he the future of the genre, but he’s the reason there is still hope for real country music. I’m not talking about the kind of “country” that uses hip-hop beats or electronic drums.
I’m talking about the blue-collar country music. The kind that Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash,Willie Nelson and so many others have sang about over the years.
I’m not talking about the kind where people claim to be “cowboys” that seems to be the trend these days, I’m talking about an ex-bull rider turned country musician. The kind that misses songs, not because his voice cracked, but because his cows got out on his Texas ranch, so he’s backstage telling his wife how to get them back. The kind of country where people lived the lives the sang about.
I’m not talking about the politics of country music that pushes people to feel a certain way, I’m talking about the kind of country music that still believes in God, Country, and Family. The kind that will stop at nothing to give the glory to God in front of 10 thousand people.
That’s the kind of country that Cody Johnson is. He’s pure, blue-collared, down-home country. He doesn’t pretend he’s perfect. I’m fact, he’ll stand onstage and tell you he’s the most imperfect Christian in the venue.
He’s seemingly the only hope that real country has. Get a good look folks, this man is one of a kind.
Yesterday seemed like a normal day, little did I know several hours later, I would have the distinct honor and privilege of meeting and calling the home run for one of the most inspirational kids that I’ve ever met.
Meet Landon McGregor, Landon has Down syndrome and is the bat boy for Alex City Middle School’s baseball team. He has an infectious personality with a smile that will undoubtedly light up a room.
Prior to the first game of the doubleheader, our head coach came up to me and explained the situation to me. He told me to play it up, which I gladly agreed to do under the circumstances.
To lead off the doubleheader, Landon happily walked up to the plate bat in hand. It wasn’t long before Landon hit the ball and was rounding the bases with a huge smile on his face. His trip around the bases was ended with a slide at home plate and kids surrounding him congratulating him on his big hit.
Little did Landon know, his big moment taught me one important thing, the little things in life are really all that matters.
Dear Freddie Freeman, for 15 years, 11 of those spent in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves, you gave all of Braves Country more than we could ever repay you for.
You’ve been our shoulder to cry on during the down years, you’ve celebrated with us in the high years. Despite the ebbs and flows of the years in between your first year here in Atlanta and your last, you stuck it out.
You said you were blessed to be a part of organization, when in fact, we were blessed to have you and your amazing family at our side through the rollercoaster that you ride alongside us for 11 years of big league service, 15 counting your time in the minors.
Thank you for providing us with so many memories, from the home run hugs, to the last out of the 2021 World Series. You did it all.
To Chelsea, thank you for sacrificing so much time with your husband for the betterment of this organization. Freddie is a sensational man who has left an incredible impact on the lives of those of us who are fortunate enough to call ourselves Braves fans. He’s been with for a decade and a half and you have been right there with him.
To Charlie, Brandon, and Maximus Freeman, thank you for sharing your dad with us. Thank you, Charlie for the unconditional love that you’ve shown us the past few years. To Brandon and Maximus, your story impacted us all and brought us all to tears.
Freddie, again, my brother, thank you for sharing your family, your athletic ability, and your story with us all for 15 years. You my friend, are the epitome of what it means to be an Atlanta Brave.
Thanks for everything, until our paths cross again, so long my friend, I wish you and your family nothing but the best.
We’ve all got that one friend, or even multiple friends, that we feel are immortal. The kind of friends that have been with us through all heartbreak and the joys of life. The highs, lows, and everything included in this rollercoaster ride called life.
I’ve got several friends of that variety, but the one that’s been with me the longest is now at the Right Hand of God.
In fact, eight years ago today, she was called to her eternal home by God. On February 2, 2014, the one that I still consider to be the sister that I never had took her last breath and began that Heavenly journey that she has been on for eight years.
I can only imagine what she has seen over the last eight years in Heaven. I was so blessed to have been able to share 16 years of my life, her entire life, with her.
Although the time we shared together was far too short, we shared a lifetime worth of memories that I’m forever grateful for. Happy memories, sad memories, and everything in between.
By now, you’re probably thinking we had a perfect friendship. But believe me, there were multiple times in those 16 years that we got on each other’s last nerve.
But we never left each other’s side. She got on my nerves some, but I know that I got on her nerves far more than she got on mine.
How do I know that I got on her nerves? Well, if you knew Jody, you know about that side-eyed straight-faced look she’d give. Every time she gave me that look I’d playfully say “What is it Jody? What’s wrong?”
All while continuing to do what got on her nerves, not because I enjoyed getting the side-eyed, straight-faced treatment, but because I knew that it would only be a matter of seconds before she busted out laughing saying “You’re so stupid. You know that gets on my last nerve.” To which I’d pause and say “Yeah, I know. You want me to do it again?” And she’d playfully say, “No, you idiot.”
I’m forever grateful for the lifetime worth of memories that the two of us shared. From the trips to Mardi Gras in Mobile, to spending the summers at the city baseball fields, and everything in between.
On February 2, 2014, I was in the back of the house on the computer at about 4:30 p.m., when mom came running into the room and headed for her closet.
I wondered what she was doing so I asked “What are you doing?” She replied hurriedly “It’s Jody!” I was so confused at this point.
What has she done now? Was it something great, was she in trouble? What was going on? I was completely lost as to what was happening. The next minute my brother comes into the room and takes my phone.
After about two hours, the house phone rings and it’s mom. I pick it up, completely unprepared for what was about to be said on the other end. “Hello?” I said expecting just a normal answer to what was occurring.
I could hear people crying on the other end. Mom replied “Jody’s gone.” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. It had to be a prank right?? This just wasn’t possible. I slowly hung the phone up after mom said that she’d be home in a little while.
February 5, 2014 rolls around, the day of the visitation, or viewing as some people refer to it and by this time I had already accepted the role as pallbearer. A role that I wasn’t too sure about taking on, but I knew that she wouldn’t want it any other way.
After all, I’d been with her for her whole life, why not carry her one last time? I wasn’t sure about taking on this responsibility, but I would be doing it the next day at the funeral.
But now, it was time to face my worst nightmare. I entered Thelma Baptist Church, which is about a mile from my house, through the back side door, where I was met by her entire family.
I didn’t know if I had the strength to face what I was going to have to face whether I wanted or not, so her mom and dad escorted me to the sanctuary where the casket was located and her brother and sister walked behind me.
I entered the sanctuary and made a right turn. There it was. There she was. My best friend’s lifeless body laying in a casket. I broke down. I walked up to the casket, leaned down and whispered “You’re safe with me.”
I got there early and sat about mid-ways down the isle. Before long what seemed like a thousand people were showing up in droves to pay their final earthly respects to not only my best friend, but also my very first friend.
The next morning, the funeral was supposed to start at 9 a.m., so I got there around 8 a.m, went inside the sanctuary, sat right in front of the casket and prayed for the strength to get through the day. I can confidently say that I had never heard of an entire school shutting down for a funeral, that is until this one of course.
Afterwards, I looked up and point to the sky and was met with hundreds of hugs from mutual friends that the two of us share. During the funeral the preacher said “Sixteen years…too short some might say, but if it’s a life that was lived and loved, was it really too short?” Those words will always stick close to my heart
That girl loved life. She loved her family and friends, but most importantly, she loved God. She loved hard. You never left her company with the question of “Does Jody love me?” Because she was going to make sure you knew the answer to that question. But if you messed up, or she didn’t like what you did, or how you did it, she was going to give you an earful about it.
She also was a fighter. She fought for those she loved and in turn those of us whom she loved are left here to defend her name and to keep her memory alive.
She stood up for what and who she believed in and you never had to question her loyalty. It was evident as soon as you met her.
As the funeral ended, the funeral director asked the congregation to rise and prepared the casket to be carried out. I stood up, pulled my sunglasses down, even though it was a cloudy day, took a deep breath and grabbed the casket with my right arm.
Once we were out of the church, we loaded the casket into the back of the hearse and I leaned down saying in between tears “This isn’t the end.”
Afterwards I was met with more hugs and words of encouragement to get me through this rough time. At the graveside, I lifted my sunglasses and wiped my eyes with a tissue. Then I was met by more mutual friends that needed a shoulder to cry on, but little did they know, I needed that shoulder to cry on also.
Tell your family and friends you love them, you never know when you’ll see them for the last time. I’d give the world to be able to spend five more minutes with my best friend. Rest In Peace, angel. You are loved and missed more than you will ever know.
Happy eight years, angel. I love you and I’ll see you again one day soon. Until we pick up where we left off, do me a favor and give Heaven some hell.