20 years ago tomorrow, the world was shaken by the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC and a field out in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a hijacked plane went down in a blaze. When 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group known as al Qaeda hijacked four aircrafts and carried out the gruesome events of that day. Two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers, a third hit the Pentagon, and a fourth went down in that Pennsylvania field.
These events we will never forget. These events are forever burned into the memory of millions of Americans. That day, almost 3,000 American heroes were killed tragically in the events of September 11, 2001.
On September 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m., what seemed to be just an ordinary Tuesday morning, turned into anything but ordinary when an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. A blazing, gaping hole was left smoldering near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly claiming hundreds of lives and leaving hundreds more in danger. 18 minutes later, a second 767 Boeing— United Airlines Flight 175 — sliced its way into the south tower.
Out in Washington, DC American Airlines Flight 77 circled over Washington, DC before crashing into the west side of the Pentagon military base at 9:45 a.m. Fuel from the Boeing 757 caused an awful fire that led to a structural collapse at the Department of Defense.
125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with 64 people aboard the airliner. At 10:30 a.m. the north tower collapsed 2,763 died at the World Trade Center including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City Police Officers and 37 Port Authority police officers. 2,996 lives were claimed that fateful day.
I was only 3 years old in 2001 but I miss the way things were on September 12, 2001. Not because of what happened, but because of the way people treated each other. The way the human race came together and mourned as one. The way for just a moment, America truly was suffering from the same thing.
If you lost a loved one on that fateful day or know someone who did, please assure them that their loved one went out a hero. If you survived the attacks, thank you for standing face to face with terror and doing what you could to save those around you.
Back a few days ago, I posted a picture on social media of the American Flag and what it meant to me. I posted some of what the Stars and Stripes mean to me.
You see, 245 years ago this country we live in was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was founded and formed as one nation under God and God willing that will never change.
As Americans, there are a lot of freedoms and liberties bestowed upon each and every one of us to uphold the principles upon which this nation was founded. Along the way we have done a good job of that.
But it seems to me, that in recent months and years, we’ve forgotten what the 50 stars and 13 stripes mean to not only us as individuals, but also to this country. We’ve forgotten what it means to be patriotic.
We’ve always been taught and used those rights and freedoms that are available to us whenever we may choose to use them.
We sleep so comfortably free under Old Glory. You see she’s 13 stripes and 50 stars all gathered on the three most beautiful colors ever assembled.
Here recently, she’s been trampled, set ablaze and cursed here in her own land. She’s seen the Battle at the Alamo take place below her. She got powder burn the night that Frances Scott Key sat writing the Star Spangled Banner.
It got a bad rip at New Orleans with Packingham and Jackson tugging at its seams. She almost fell in San Antone, beside the Texas flag, she waved on though.
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville and she got cut again at Shiloh Hill. She may weathered and worn, tattered and torn, but that doesn’t take away from her meaning.
She’s hung limp and low a time or two. She’s been to every corner of the world. She’s been to Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. She’s gone where Lady Liberty demanded, but she’s always found her way back to the mainland. In her own good land here she’s been abused.
She’s getting thread-bare and she’s wearing thin, but she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in. She’s been through war before and she still flying high.
Where I’m from, we raise her up each morning, take her down each night, we don’t let her touch the ground and we fold her right.
She’s more than a flag, she’s our symbol of hope and our beacon of freedom.
We’ve all got a best friend, or a lifelong friend who has been or was with us through it all. For me, Jody Sanford was that friend.
For 16 years, we were and still are thick as thieves, constantly getting on our siblings last nerve. In fact, we knew just when to ease up on them.
I like to think of our relationship with each other as sort of a modern day Bonnie and Clyde-type relationship, no we never killed anybody, nor did we ever run from the law, but we always had each other’s backs no matter the circumstances.
We never hurt anybody, but you knew where we stood. If you saw one of us, more than likely you saw both of us, because the other wasn’t far behind.
I’ve had my share of ups and downs over the past seven years, happy moments when I seemed to escape everything and then I’ve had moments where I’ve cried myself to sleep.
To know Jody was to love her, I can’t think of a single person who didn’t love Jody. When she loved she loved hard, but Lord help you if you got on her bad side.
She was never one to sugarcoat anything just to make somebody feel better about themselves. She would tell anybody exactly how she felt about them and it could be anywhere.
I know I got on her nerves more than once and I’m not going to lie, she got on mine too. But we never let that create a void in our friendship.
I clearly remember the day God called her home, I was sitting in the back of the house on the computer, mom was in the kitchen cooking green beans, and my brother was in his room.
It was about 4:30 at this point, and mom came running to the back and said “Jody, Jody!” I was wondering ‘What trouble has she gotten into now?’ Because the two of us were notorious for constantly being in trouble and never getting out of it.
I didn’t think much more of it, because I had just seen her the day before at Bazemore Field, I figured she had just gone off on somebody and everything was going like it normally did.
But then, before I knew it, my brother came into the room and took my phone, which made me mad because nobody really told me what was going on.
At about 6:30 p.m., the house phone rang, I picked it up, it was mom I couldn’t even get the word ‘hello’ out of my mouth good before she said “Jody’s gone,” my world felt like it was closing in on me.
Mom said “I can’t talk right now, I’ll call you back in five minutes.” At 6:35 p.m., the phone rang again, and that’s when she explained what happened and then I fell apart because I had just lost not only my best friend, but my very first friend.
The friend that went off on me constantly, who took me home from school on multiple occasions, the one who literally made me do my school work by saying “Don’t make me tell Mrs. Ellen.” I knew she would do it in a heartbeat, so I just rolled my eyes and did my work.
The one who I played with when we were both in diapers, I spent many nights at her house during the summers, had multiple inside jokes with her, etc. I could go on and on for hours about what she meant to me.
A few days passed by, and I was at lunch and they called me to the counselor’s office, I was confused why was I being called to the counselor’s office? I didn’t need a counselor.
When I entered the office, I headed to the back into a meeting room where several more of my friends, including my brother were sitting.
It wasn’t long until her brother walked in and asked us to be pallbearers at her funeral. I wasn’t sure I was mentally capable of doing it, but I knew it’s what she would’ve wanted. So, I hugged her brother and fell apart, he said “Don’t cry, she’s in a better place, she’s with God at His right hand waiting on you.”
The night of the visitation, I entered the church, which is just about a mile from my house and was met by her entire immediate family.
There, her dad, with a frame that stands well above six feet, hugged me tightly as he fought back tears and said “That girl was crazy over you buddy.” He and her mom escorted me into the sanctuary, where Jody’s body was, I broke down when I reached the casket.
I couldn’t believe this was actually happening, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. We had talked about going to college together but that wasn’t going to happen.
The next day at her funeral, I was sitting in the front left pew with all of the pallbearers, when it was time to carry the casket to the hearse, I stood up, took a deep breath and grabbed the handle of the casket with my right hand.
I walked down the steps of the church toward the hearse and loaded the casket into the hearse, I was wearing sunglasses and I lifted them up as soon as I loaded her in the back of the hearse and patted the casket.
I was met with multiple hugs and then headed to the cemetery, when we arrived at the cemetery behind the hearse, I felt my throat get a lump in it. I approached the hearse and loaded the casket onto the lowering table. Then was met with more hugs.
Jody, thank you for always being here for me. Thank you for the memories, thank you for the arguments, the random times we rode around town together, the ice cream dates, and so much more.
I think the one thing that we can all agree on is the fact that 2020 was everything that you see in a horror movie and then some. But now, it’s a new year.
This year will be a year of prosperity for all of us. Sure there will be moments where we think the weight of the world is on our shoulders, but that’s when you go further than you’ve ever gone before.
This year some of us will dream new dreams, set new goals, and if we have what it takes, we will follow through with those dreams and goals and achieve them and so much more.
Be prepared to wait, success has never happened overnight. Hank Aaron didn’t hit 755 home runs over night, Jackie Robinson didn’t break baseball’s color barrier overnight, each of them went through trials and tribulations, times of hardship, and times where they felt like giving in.
But then, something inside them told them to keep to pushing forward. You see, we will all fail from time to time, we’ll all fall at times but if we fall forward we’ve still made progress.
If we learn from the failures of life, we haven’t really failed. If you can fail and learn from it you’ve succeeded in the end. You don’t really fail until you give up.
2020 may have brought us all unforeseen circumstances, but that did nothing but set us up for a greater comeback story in 2021, you can dwell on the past or you can embrace the present and work for the future.
You can start writing your comeback story now or you can procrastinate until you have no choice but to get busy writing. Life doesn’t wait for us, why wait for it?
It’s all up to you, do you want to write your comeback story or have life write it for you?
It’s been 28 years since the disappearance of the Springfield Three, two teenagers that had recently graduated high school and spent the evening partying following their high school graduation and one of the teenager’s mothers. More times than not, these cases are solved. But for these three things turned dark quickly. Sure, over the almost three-decade long investigation into the case, new leads have been developed, but nothing has been uncovered when it comes to the remains of the three missing women.
The date was June 7, 1992, in the city of Springfield, Missouri, not far from the bustling city of St. Louis, Missouri. After celebrating their high school graduation, 19-year-old, Suzie Streeter, and her 18-year-old friend, Stacy McCall decided to spend the night at Suzie’s house, alongside Suzie’s 47-year-old mother Sherrill Levitt.
Later that morning, Suzie, Stacy, and Sherrill, also known as the Springfield Three are all discovered to be missing from the residence. The scene of the disappearance contained some interesting clues, including a broken globe from the porch light and an odd answering machine message, which was unintentionally erased, but no hard evidence of what might have happened to the women.
Over the years, a number of leads have been brought to authorities such as a convicted criminal who claimed to know what happened to the victims. But no trace of the Springfield Three has ever been found.
This case is considered to be one of the most unfathomable and haunting missing persons cases of the modern era, as there were no signs of any struggle or any evidence that an intruder had been inside the house, so if these three women were abducted, how did the perpetrator or perpetrators manage to pull it off?
On June 6, 1992, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall graduated from Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Missouri. They then went out for a night of celebration in honor of this huge accomplishment. The plan was to stop by several house parties and spend the night at their friend Janelle Kirby’s home.
But when they arrived at Janelle’s house around 2:00 a.m., it was too overcrowded. And then, without knowing, they altered their fates permanently. They decided to go back to Suzie’s house and sleep there. This would be the last time anybody ever saw them alive, to this day, not a single person has seen them.
On the following morning, June 7, Janelle Kirby and her boyfriend waited for Suzie and Stacy. They had all planned to go together to the local water park in the southern Missouri town of Branson, Missouri. They arrived at Suzie’s house at around 8:00 a.m.
Three vehicles were parked outside: belonging to Suzie, Stacy, and Suzie’s mother, Sherrill. The glass lamp on the porch was broken and the door was unlocked. Janelle and her boyfriend proceeded inside the home.
They noticed that the three women’s purses were lined up on the living room floor, at the foot of the stairs leading up to Suzie’s bedroom. The dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Cinnamon, was locked in the bathroom. But Sherrill, Suzie, and Stacy were nowhere to be seen.
While inside the home, the phone rang and Janelle proceeded to answer. A strange male was on the other end, she hung up. Soon, the phone rang again. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, innocently cleaned up the broken glass on the porch. The couple then left the residence.
Several hours later, Janis, who had been getting increasingly worried, stopped by the house herself. She hadn’t been able to reach Stacy by phone and knew she had decided to spend the night at Suzie’s. She went inside and also noticed all three purses on the living room floor. She also around the house, worriedly peeking in the other rooms.
She recognized her daughter’s clothes, neatly folded on her sandals by Suzie’s waterbed. She also noticed that Sherrill and Suzie – both chain-smokers – had left their cigarettes in the house. Janis knew something wasn’t right, she knew this wasn’t like Stacy. Normally, Stacy was pretty good about letting her mother know of her whereabouts.
She then called authorities in a panic. When she hung up, she noticed a light blinking on the answering machine. Someone had left a message. She played the message and later described it “strange.” She couldn’t remember more and the answering machine had automatically erased the message after it was played once.
Police were dumbfounded by what had taken place. What had happened to the three women in the wee hours of June 7, 1992? There was an untouched graduation cake left chilling in the fridge and nothing that gave any hint of forced entry.
The officers collected evidence and then began the interviewing process, they had begun the investigation too late– by that time, it had been nearly 16 hours since the three women vanished. Worried friends and family began stopping by the house to take in the scene and hopefully find clues that might lead to an arrest or closure of some type.
The last person to hear from Sherrill was a friend. Sherrill had called her at 11:15 p.m., and told her that she was painting a chest of drawers, but gave no indication that anything was wrong.
Even though many small tips and leads have been leaked in the nearly three decades since that fateful June night in 1992, nothing has surfaced that certainly may have belonged to the women, and the case is still cold.
Will the City of Springfield, the State of Missouri, or the United States ever get any sort of closure? Will we ever uncover a suspect? Is the suspect still at large or has the suspect passed on and gotten away with murder? What happened on June 7, 1992?
Where are the Springfield Three? Are their remains still waiting patiently to be discovered? We may never know.
On the afternoon of December 12, 1997, at 1:50 p.m. I saw this world for the very first time, and some thought I wouldn’t live to see life outside of the four cold walls of that dark hospital.
The first few months and years of my life were spent with trips to and from hospitals. I spent most of my early childhood traveling anywhere from Montgomery, Alabama, to Birmingham, Alabama, all the way to Greenville, South Carolina.
At six weeks old, I was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. Not long afterwards, my small intestines ruptured, I was diagnosed with gangrene, and had suffered a stroke.
Seeing everything that I had been through having just been born, the medical staff basically said I wouldn’t live much longer.
I knew that if I wanted to see the light of day outside of the four walls of that Birmingham, Alabama hospital, I had to put up a fight.
I knew that my life was at stake. I knew I had to prove the medical staff wrong. I just knew I had to fight. Nobody in that hospital had given me even the slightest chance to make it, so it was all up to me.
Thankfully, God had greater plans for my life and saw me through those early horrors. Throughout the nearly 23 years of my life, I’ve survived multiple surgeries.
Through the years, I’ve seen my fair share of tragedy and triumph. At age 16, I lost four of my friends in the same year. With one of them being my lifelong best friend.
Even though I have faced many trials and tribulations in my short time, the one thing that has remained constant is the great and power mercy of God.
He has seen me on my best and worst days and has always remained at my side. Even though I will face much more adversity in the coming years of my life, I have no doubt that God, along with my guardian angels will see that I make it through the hard times safely.
I share my testimony not as a pity on me, but in hopes that my story will touch the hearts and lives of its readers. May it serve as a source of hope and inspiration.
Ever since this pandemic started several months ago, I haven’t watched the news, I’ve avoided watching tv as much as possible.
Every night before drifting off to sleep, I try to read the Bible. Recently, I read Isiah 41:10 and it got me thinking, you know, we may act like sports need to hurry up and resume, but they can wait.
Just yesterday, a friend of mine posted on Snapchat a picture that read “Sometimes, you are delayed because God knows that there is a storm headed right in your direction.” I can’t think of a more fitting picture to post during times like these.
There is light at the end of this pitch black tunnel that we are all in right now. Someday, we will be giving hugs again to the ones that we love and shaking hands with friends.
There will be a day when we don’t have to be six feet apart. There will be a day when we go back to work.
Concerts will return, sports will return, and everything will return to normal, but it won’t happen on our timing, it will happen on God’s timing. Be patient and trust Him.
It’s always tough losing a loved one, especially pets. Even though there may be times when we sin, those God-sent four-legged animals love us as though we have never committed a sin in our life.
Sunday night, I lost my pet. I didn’t just lose my pet, I lost my friend, my four-legged brother, my companion.
As he crossed the bridge from temporary life into eternal life, I was broken inside. I didn’t know why he had to go but I knew exactly where he was going.
My four-legged brother, friend and companion was heading straight to Heaven. As much as it hurt to see him go, I was at peace knowing that he was no longer in pain,
For he was heading to be in The House of the Lord. He was heading for eternal life. In his final hours, I saw him in pain and desperation. As I looked into his yellow eyes during those heart-wrenching hours, I saw little tears being shed from the struggle that he was going through.
He hadn’t wagged his tail all day, but when St. Peter opened the pearly gates and my four-legged brother took the first of many steps on the streets of gold, he began to finally wag his tail, as if he was telling us he was in The House of God. He was finally at peace with one paw in the Hand of God.
Pets are often thought of as God’s sinless creatures, which is the absolute truth. If you have a dog, or any pet for that matter, hug them, feed them the table scraps, feed them half of everything you eat.
Do unto God’s creatures as you would hope they would do unto you,
Yesterday around 6:30 a.m., I woke up and got ready for opening day of the 2020 baseball season for Wetumpka High School.
I arrived at Bazemore Field around 8:45 a.m., with ‘sleep’ still in my eyes, I knew that it would be a great day. After all, it’s not the first time that I have arrived at the field with sleep in my eyes.
I made my way into the press box for the first time in 2020 and I immediately felt like I had never left. All that was on my mind was taking care of business behind the microphone.
About 9:45, a.m., with loud music playing behind me, I walked over to the right corner of the press box, removed my hat and prayed, as I have done for seven years now.
When I finished praying I looked up and pointed to the sky, as I have done for the six years. Then I proceeded to grab the microphone and test it out for the first time this year.
As I spoke into it, I felt chills run down my spine because I knew that I had been waiting on this day since the last game of the previous season was played back in April.
The day progressed and my voice never seemed to waiver. Wetumpka lost the first game of the 11 a.m and 5p.m., doubleheader, which turned out to be an 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. doubleheader.
The sun began to set just beyond the wall in centerfield. By this time I knew that we would bounce back from defeat in game one, and we did just that, to the tune of a 13-3 win over Munford High School.
Now, most people might say “14 hours worth of baseball, that’s a lot, weren’t you tired?!?” The tiredness never hit me during the games, but when I got home at 10:45 p.m., and went to bed, there was no waking me up.
I’ve always heard, “Finish what you start and sleep once it’s done.” And I did just that.
If you want something bad enough, you have to sacrifice something, even if that means sacrificing sleep.
Tomorrow afternoon, I will be back at Bazemore Field for a 4 p.m. first pitch against the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies.