Rudolph Giuliani is best known for being mayor of New York during the September 11, 2001 attack. In 2008, Jack Dennis had the opportunity to meet Giuliani in San Antonio, Texas.
The American leader expressed his thoughts on his personal change, compassion, hope and faith during the disaster.
“Most people are surprised to know that I changed more from having prostate cancer than from September 11,” Giuliani stated, backstage at the Alamodome, where he was to give a speech later. “Dealing with the cancer forced me to gain the wisdom about the importance of life and the lack of control we have over death.”
“I needed the confidence and character I gained from coping with the cancer to prepare me to deal with, and even survive, the trials of September 11,” the former mayor said.
Giuliani found himself surrounded by firefighters, police officers and emergency workers on that fateful day in 2001. The worst attack on American soil became the most successful rescue operation in our country’s history under his leadership.
That evening, as Giuliani prepared for bed, he found solace in the words of Winston Churchill and “realized that courage doesn’t simply materialize out of thin air.”
Giuliani attended hundreds of funerals and visited Ground Zero daily.
“I grew physically and emotionally exhausted,” he recalled. “When I saw the families of the victims, I was revived knowing if they can do this, I can do it.”
“Courage begins years before, sometimes in our early childhood, as we develop our character,” he spoke. “Every choice we make in life can strengthen or weaken our character.”
Here are highlights of Mr. Giuliani’s views.
“When I was in my teens, I seriously planned to become either a priest or a doctor as I have always been faithful and enthusiastic about my faith in God and helping others. Religion was a favorite topic I enjoyed talking with my teachers about. Prayer and faith in God provided me with the strength I could not acquire from any other source. When things are tough, it’s always a good idea to pray for the guidance and strength necessary to get us through.”
“Most of my time as mayor was spent under the maxim that it’s better to be respected than to be loved. September 11 unlocked compassion in me that I typically reserved for my family and very close friends. I discovered that revealing your love and compassion does not weaken leadership. It makes it stronger.”
“Allowing doubt, fear and worry to overtake us is an inevitable path to failure. I could not afford failure after September 11. It was very necessary to reach inside and push the doubts away, and even out, of my thinking.”
“I’ve spent much of my reading on learning about how great leaders that I admired grew up and forged the character each had to deal with different substantial challenges. Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt came to mind. ‘Then only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”
“Love can spark deep moments of profound goodness. When I saw the love of our heroes in New York who looked beyond their own safety or what was best for themselves and focus on the lives and safety of others, I learned that love can help us push aside differences to share our humanity and those things that we have in common.”
“I prayed with these brave men and women. I became very close and was able to learn from these firefighters, police officers and emergency responders, not to mention ordinary every day civilians. At the root of all of this, it was love, and not so much the sense of duty, that caused those firefighters to run into the flaming towers to save those he or she had never met. Love can so powerful it can help us be kind to even those who are cruel to us.”
“Where do you get your ideas for articles? How do you develop and retain dependable sources? How do you sell more? Increase business? Obtain information?”
These are common questions I have received over the years as a “Jack of All Trades” being an investigative reporter, insurance salesman, business executive, trade organization president, writer, detective and corporate facilities manager. The simple answer is to be a good networker.
After making any connection, I always tried to build on it. Sometimes it takes creativity and thoughtfulness, but those are wonderful traits for life anyway. At HEB Food/Drugs, my division had thousands of employees (Partners), service providers, vendors and other resources to keep our stores, offices, warehouses, manufacturing plants and other real estate safe, lawful and in welcoming conditions.
Early on, I would use Rolodex files (labeled: “Sources,” “Engineers,” “Partners,” “Designers,” Electricians,” and others) for individual information on people in each category.
For example, when I visited Austin, Houston, Dallas, the Rio Grande Valley, the Coastal Bend and other regions of Texas, the file for that area would include more than just names, phone numbers, and emails. It was critical to have personal notes to connect and care with individuals I may come in contact with. Examples might be:
Birthplace, Birthday, Anniversaries, Spouse, Children, Other Family, Connections, Hobbies, Interests, Education, and Accomplishments.
Others items to note might include Affiliations, Career and Work History, Goals, Prides, and other interests.
“Is Bobby, Jr. still playing baseball this year? How’s Nancy doing in track? Here’s an autograph of Tim Duncan for your brother. I know he’s big on Spurs basketball,” were some ways to build rapport.
The key was to capture the bits and pieces of hot, vital information about people I met. These appear as phrases such as “Texas State alum,” “loves to fish,” “never eats lunch,” and so on.
Many times I kept a pocket recorder to help remember for when I jotted it down in the hotel room or plane ride later. As technology developed, I kept computer files and spreadsheets instead of manual Rolodexes.
Note: Even today, I do not include confidential information and confidential names on a computer or internet file. My reputation and ability to gather data and news depends on sourcestrusting me.
Resources You Can Count On
It’s all a lot of work, but worth every minute of it. What does all this have to do with resolving an emergency, mitigating a problem, gathering resources, or closing the sale? Just about everything when it’s used at the moment it’s needed.
Who can you depend on for help when your dealing with a hurricane, a sales proposal or news article?
I don’t subscribe to the saying “Networking is a numbers game.” The success doesn’t come from how many people you can meet. What you actually need is to have a list of people and resources you can count on.
One of my greatest mentors was a senior vice president of Facility Alliance at H-E-B, Ralph G. Mehringer. I watched and learned. When he met someone for the first time–a food server, janitor, visitor, new partner, whoever— Ralph was consistent about making them feel like the most important person in the room.
When I lived in an apartment above the Majestic Theater in downtown San Antonio, a neighbor, Walter Stovell, known as the “Godfather of Houston Street,” totally made eye contact with others–and he kept it. He smiled. He listened.
During conversations, Walter made comments and asked questions that showed he was hearing and listening. One day the current and two ex-mayors of the Alamo City walked by and Walter amazed me with his abilities to engage each one opportunities to express themselves without interruption.
What If You Need a Large List to Increase Sales or Potential Sales?
A sales person may mention to someone for whom has been a good customer, “I was just going through my checks, and I realized I spent over $2000 with you last year. I guess we’re really getting to depend on each other more than I knew.”
A typical question I receive is “where do you get your articles and story ideas?” They are all over, if you network properly.
You can expand networking by simply trading networks with someone else. How big is your network? If you answered infinite, you’re right. You’re only limited by the number of people on earth. Your network is potentially the size of all your contacts, plus all your relatives’ contacts, your friends’ contacts, your business associates’ contacts, and so on.
Suppose you want to introduce a new service you offer. Are you going to limit the list to the names you’ve been able to scrape together? Of course not. You’ll ask me for my list, and if I like the offer I might even ask a few other people for their lists. Instead of a few hundred names, you now have a few thousand.
Always treat anyone’s contacts with the utmost respect. Like tightrope walking, this is a system based on trust. A fall from grace, like a fall from the high wire, can be very hard to recover from.
3 Tips on Selling
🔹 Be Knowledgeable. If you want people to listen to you, you need to be an expert about the product you’re selling, about the market it exists in, and about the way it addresses the needs of your customer.
🔹Establish Rapport. Your primary responsibility is to establish a connection between the needs of the customer and the solutions that your product/service provides. It’s about them, not you. If you’re not paying attention to the customers’ needs, how could you ever accomplish that? Listen to what they’re saying. Ask questions to gain deeper understanding. Seek to build and demonstrate empathy.
🔹Build Relationships. Many people will go to online reviews to learn about your product or service. It’s amazing how much stronger leads are that come from customer referrals. Cultivating customer relationships will give you more leads, and when you listen to compliments and complaints about your offering, it will help you improve for future customers.
One final thought is to use the forever faith 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your network likely provides 80 percent of the value. What have you done for them lately?
On this morning centuries ago, Jesus Christ would be crucified. The crucifixion was God’s ultimate sacrifice for our sins — though we are all guilty of sin and deserve wrath, Jesus paid that fine once and completely so that we may be righteous in the eyes of God.
For at least a half of a century, I have agonized and deeply reflected on Jesus’ suffering for us. Despite all of the reading, sermons and film I’ve watched on the subject, I still hurt…and love.
We, as the guilty, do not deserve the sacrifice of Jesus, who was completely innocent. It is entirely a gift that God gives to us by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We deserve wrath and God loves us enough to offer us a way out.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Today it appears that so many people, influenced by evil, are fast becoming so impressed with themselves that they can’t fathom why Jesus had to die for them at all.
When we look at the Scripture, we realize that Jesus, was on the cross suffering the eternal penalty we deserved because of the infinity of God’s holiness and the depths of our depravity.
No matter what we may think is known about execution on the cross, it simply does not mean the same thing for us as it did to those living in the first century.
The cross was itself the embodiment and emblem of the most hideous of human obscenities. The cross was a symbol of reproach, degradation, humiliation, and disgust. It was aesthetically repugnant. In a word, the cross was obscene.
The cross was far more than an instrument of capital punishment. It was a public symbol of indecency and social indignity. Crucifixion was designed to do more than merely kill a man. Its purpose was to humiliate him as well. The cross was intended not only to break a man’s body, but also to crush and defame his spirit.
What did Jesus say on that cross?
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34
“Today, you will be with me in Paradise” Luke 23:43
“Woman, behold your son,” John 19:26 – 27
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matt 27:46
For me, this was always the most jarring Scripture in the Bible. We see Jesus suffer many things. He is beaten, tortured, mocked, and spit on. The Savior is whipped, pierced with a crown of thorns, and then with nails in His hands and feet. At the height of His agony, what did Jesus say on the cross?
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matt 27:46
For years I agonized over God abandoning Jesus. Did He commit the sin of doubt in His final moments while on the cross? Over time I realized I was misinterpreting Jesus’s word. Through study, and I suppose, maturity and some hint of wisdom, I learned there is great evidence that this was not a cry of separation but actually a song of worship. Many believe that the most accurate interpretation of this saying of Jesus on the cross is that He was quoting straight out of the sacred hymns of the psalms.
Imagine that. In the midst of all His struggle, Jesus chose to praise. Imagine if we followed His lead in our own lives?
“I thirst” John 19:28
“It is finished” John 19:30
“Father, into Your Hands I commit my Spirit.” Luke 23:46
Ultimately, what Jesus said on the cross was,“I love you!” Millions have made the wonderful decision to follow Him, like the thief on the cross all we have to do is say “Jesus, You are Lord. Take me with you.”
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For a number of years I taught a class called “A Bias For Action” to literally thousands of employees in classrooms, meetings and one-on-one.
It was important to make certain we had “shared expectations” and “working definitions” immediately. Hard as it might be to admit it, we sometimes put off the tough stuff in our lives and especially our job.
Some leaders would avoid confronting a direct report who isn’t performing within the new work environment. Others had a tendency to postpone projects that would test their self-confidence, abilities, comfort zone or patience. But procrastination is a leadership pitfall. Causing stress and anxiety, it sticks with you like glue until you’ve addressed it. So tackle the tough stuff first, and you’ll immediately eliminate undue stress, build your abilities, raise your comfort level, and boost self-confidence, too.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
Procrastination is the enemy.
According to “Psychology Today,” 20% of people are chronic procrastinators. They avoid challenging tasks or addressing big issues, even seeking out opportunities for distraction.
So, what’s the big deal? Procrastination is negative and always has consequences — some direct, some indirect. These negative implications can be tangible, like a missed deadline, and intangible, such as irritability from losing sleep over an issue. It’s an enemy that affects you, your team and your company’s potential to succeed.
Addressing challenges is often easier than you think.
Taking the first step is the hardest part, but things often go smoother after that. The classic example is when you’ve needed to address a performance issue with a direct report and been a bit worried over doing so. Then when you go to talk about it, the person is surprisingly receptive, rather than reactive, and your anxiety melts away. You think, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?” You’ve freed up your emotional and mental currency, the problem is addressed, and now you’re able to get back to and really focus on your main job.
Dealing with “it” leads to greater productivity.
Some people claim that they work better under pressure and actually use that clichéd excuse to avoid a project, problem or person. But this mindset’s repercussions can prevent and destroy productivity.
For example, maybe you’ve put off fixing some software bug because it would test your patience and take too much time. Yet the crippled system slows the daily performance of your direct reports — and then stops altogether when it crashes one day. Everyone (most notably you) now suffers big consequences. You must do (in panic mode) what you previously put off, plus repair and pay for more serious damage that’s now been done. No doubt, fixing the problem in the first place could have lessened or prevented the blow, yet one common reason people procrastinate “dealing with it” is simply because they don’t know how or where to start.
Begin by putting some ideas down on paper and then build a specific, deadline-oriented plan for tackling that tough stuff…and there will be A LOT during this time. Doing so will help you create the accountability and steps necessary for your goal achievement. And it will also help prevent further procrastination, so you can drive, rather than dodge, that critical, ever-productive change.
6 Strategies ASAP To Keep Procrastination At Bay:
🔹Start on the day before day one. Your strategy to avoid workplace procrastination should start before your employee’s first day. Start with clear and accurate job description matched up to accurately qualified candidates, then analyze the next steps of your hiring process.
By recruiting and hiring employees that possess the right skills for the jobs at hand, you’ll get off to a good foundation in your quest to avoid procrastination pitfalls. Incorporate checkpoints in your interview questions, reference check process and in your interview testing process to look for signs that your potential new-hire has a procrastination track record.
Clarify goals and expectations. Now that you’ve done your best to hire the right employee for the right role, it’s quintessential that you set them up for success with a strong start. By communicating company-wide (as well as departmental) goals clearly and defining the expectations of the specific role, you’ll alleviate gray areas that could lead to workplace procrastination.
Make communication a two-way street. As business owners try to avoid workplace procrastination and correct it when it occurs, opening the communication lines with employees can be the greatest way to drill down on the causes. Create multiple communication vehicles to help employees communicate with management regarding issues that could lead to and improve upon workplace procrastination. This communication strategy can consist of surveys, anonymous comments boxes and push notifications via mobile app or intranet tools.
Train, train and retrain. Bake procrastination avoidance strategies into your training program for all employees. Be sure to train managers on ways to spot, address and avoid workplace procrastination issues among their teams.
Work on your company culture. A team of motivated, engaged employees feels connected to the company mission at a deeper level and less prone to procrastination. Company culture can be the edge your business operations needs to keep procrastination and all its repercussions at bay. Creating a strong culture may consist of employee recognition programs, career development opportunities as well as work life balance considerations.
🔹Trust but verify. It’s important to place trust in your team and trust your hunches regarding your business, but the importance of measurement can’t be discounted. By setting up systems to measure deadlines, productivity and detect dips before they have detrimental impacts, you will gain real visibility into your business operations. Using this data, you can avoid workplace procrastination as well as be able to quantifiably reward the positive efforts of your team.
Letting procrastination run rampant in your workplace can cost your business customers, impact your bottom line and create a negative culture. If you make smart hiring decisions, set your team up for success and measurement performance, however, you’ll be able to avoid the complications that workplace procrastination can bring.
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There’s little doubt about the fact that there is no immunity to tough circumstances. Everyone fails. And yet we tend to be our own worst critics.
While taking responsibility for our actions is a healthy practice, dwelling on our mistakes can be dysfunctional. It can hold us back from helping us achieve our full potential and unnecessarily negatively affect the body, mind and spirit. Rather than lying awake in bed, stewing all night about how you blew it, create a learning opportunity by searching for the lessons in your mistakes.
Cutting yourself some slack can be easier said than done. It takes willingness, self-discipline and the ability to “let go” of past transgressions.
Here are some best practice strategies:
1. Don’t do the blame game. One of the traps that’s easy to fall into is blaming others for our problems — and this is the exact opposite of being overly self-critical.
🔹When we do this, we risk earning a reputation for being someone who can’t admit our own mistakes.
🔹This trait puts our credibility at risk, while courageously admitting and taking ownership of wrongs builds respect.
As you toil to avoid being too self-critical, also avoid the common temptation to blame others.
2. Stop replaying the scene. After we’ve made a mistake or done something wrong, we often repeatedly replay the scene in our minds.
🔹While processing the event is healthy, obsessing over it is not. It creates undue stress, undermining mental and physical health.
🔹Consistently stay alert to when the mind’s negative movie projector starts rolling and find a positive distraction — quick!
🔹Shift your thoughts elsewhere: exercise, meditate, breathe deeply, call a friend, go get a glass of water — just do something to stop that brutal, cyclical thinking.
3. Forgive yourself. Create an affirmation around your natural goodness because this, too, will enable you to move on. Use the mantra, “I forgive myself for letting down the team. I am a capable leader.”
4. “Confess” to a confidant. If you’ve made a mistake or failed in some way, sometimes just discussing it with an unbiased confidant or mentor helps. Not only does sharing our humanity with others make problems easier to bare, but it also opens the doors to fresh feedback, insights, solace and even solutions.
5. Go a little easy on others. We all know the people who are hardest on themselves are often harsh on those surrounding them. Curb your critical tendencies toward others. Think before you speak, be a little kinder and quickly forgive others.
6. Lead by example. When you start taking a less critical approach — be it with yourself and the team that surrounds you — the impact on others will be infectious, and they’ll be less harsh on themselves, each other and even you, too.
7. Love the lesson. When it comes to being critical of yourself, remember, your weaknesses are opportunities for building strength and smarts. Every failure is a chance to learn a lesson. Make lemons into lemonade by discovering that lesson, taking corrective action, and then celebrating your victories and successes.
One of our faithful readers sent this to us recently:
“I was in Family Dollar store last night, and there was a lady and two kids behind me in the LONG line. One was a big kid, and the other one was a toddler. The bigger one had a pack of glow sticks, and the toddler was screaming for them.
The Mom opened the pack and gave him one which stopped his tears. He walked around with it smiling; but then the bigger boy took it, and the toddler started screaming again. Just as the mom was about to fuss, the older child bent the glow stick and handed it back to the toddler.
As we walked outside at the same time, the toddler noticed that the stick was now glowing; and his brother said, “I had to break it so that you could get the full effect from it.”
I almost ran, because l could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.”
That precious child was happy just swinging that “unbroken” glow stick around in the air, because he didn’t understand what it was created to do – which was “glow”.
There are some people who will be content just “being,” but some of us are chosen… we have to be “broken.” We have to get sick. We have to lose a job. We go through a divorce. We have to bury our spouse, parents, best friend, or our child…
In those moments of desperation, we were broken. But… when the breaking is done, then we will be able to see the reason for which we were created. So when you see us glowing, just know that we have been broken
Positive thinking is one of the most beneficial habits a person can adopt.
The Mayo Clinic explains that it is an effective form of stress management and can improve general health. It can also increase lifespan, lessen depression and stress, and help build better resistance against diseases.
In trying times, you should try to see things in an optimistic manner. Positive thinking isn’t about disregarding struggles; it’s about trying to look at a situation with a less abrasive perspective. This will help you live a happier and more fulfilling life. If you want to learn how to think more positively, there are many resources, like books, which can help you. Here are a few that will surely guide you to see things with a better mindset:
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck
First on this list is a book by Mark Manson.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is all about learning to accept the circumstances you encounter and taking things in stride. Problems are inevitable but instead of feeling negatively towards them, learn to let go and not take them too seriously.
Iconic singer Freddie Mercury has said “I’ve lived a full life and if I’m dead tomorrow, I don’t give a damn,” which is the mindset Manson wanted to impart in his book. Knowing yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses can help you understand which challenges you can overcome and how. This will help you find constant and genuine happiness. It will also aid you in how to think more positively and productively.
Don’t Overthink It
Thinking and reflecting aren’t necessarily bad things, but when you tend to overdo it, it can lead to more stress and anxiety.
Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel aims to teach readers to stop overthinking on a daily basis. Overthinking can oftentimes feel like a pattern that is difficult to break and one that we have no control over.
But Bogel explains that negative thoughts can be changed to positive ones, even when you’re overthinking, using the many actionable strategies she lists in her book. Included inside is a framework that readers can use in discerning both small and big decisions. Simply following it can bring more peace, joy, and love into your life. This will not only guide you to breaking the habit of negative thinking but it will also help you find energy for things that really matter to you.
Happiness Becomes You
Tina Turner is a legendary name in the music industry. In her book Happiness Becomes You, she lays down the knowledge she has amassed throughout her life and career that helped her think positively. She tackles the many hardships she has encountered in hopes of giving people motivation to keep going.
Turner also taps into her Buddhist faith as it has kept her grounded for decades. She talks about how she turned her dreams into a reality and how to make the impossible happen. It details the many adversities that the singer was able to overcome before she found the success she has today. This book radiates nothing but positivity, and those who read it will learn a thing or two about how a good mentality can be a great help to achieving their goals.
One of the major aspects of positive thinking is learning to be less harsh on yourself and others.
Deep Kindness by Houston Kraft highlights the many ways readers can practice imparting goodwill. The book also explains how these principles can help you get ahead in life.
Kraft gives many exercises and prompts to help readers develop their sense of kindness and why it is important in today’s world. Not only will it help create a positive environment, but it will also help build a positive mentality by helping readers live a better and more fulfilling life. Through constant practice, you will find yourself acting more kindly towards yourself and those around you, making your mindset more optimistic overall.
Learning how to lessen negative thoughts can be difficult, but positive thinking is something many people need. Through learning to accept life’s challenges, spending more time on things you love, and being kinder to yourself, positive thinking can become second nature.
America could use the wisdom of Ronald Reagan right now. I have lived long enough to remember twelve Presidents. A President sets the tone for the whole country. White House Resident Joe Biden is failing our country.
I can honestly say that America felt happier and better about itself when Ronald Reagan was President than at any other time in my life. President Donald J. Trump was getting us there, but the powers that be made certain it came to a halt…at least temporarily. President Reagan was a wise and righteous man.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…” (Proverbs 29:2).
The source of President Reagan’s strength lay in what he believed. Many news commentators called his beliefs corny and old-fashioned while he was in office. After his death, many grudgingly admitted that he was a great leader. But it was Reagan’s beliefs that made him great. What did President Reagan believe?
Dr. D. James Kennedy gave the following account of a conversation between himself and President Reagan in 1980:
“Governor,” Dr. Kennedy said, “I would like to ask you a very important spiritual question, and that is: If something were to happen to you and you were to die and stand before God, and God Almighty said to you, ‘Why should I let you into my Heaven?’ What would you say?”
He was silent for a long time. Finally after about 30 seconds he answered in somber tones that I shall never forget, “I don’t deserve to go to Heaven. The only thing I could say would be, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'” (John 3:16).
Now this great man has discovered the truth of those words of Christ. He has ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth,’ and now gazes in the face of God (Dr. D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Ministries News, June 8, 2004).
First day of class, the law professor walked in. The first thing he did was ask for the name of a student sitting in the front row:
“What’s your name?”
“My name is Nelson.”
“Get out of my class and never come back!,” the professor ordered him.
Nelson was confused. The teacher was heading towards him, he got up quickly, packed his stuff and left the classroom.
Everyone was scared and outraged but no one was talking.
“Very Good! Let’s get it started. What are laws for? asked the professor.
The students were still scared, but slowly they started answering the question.
🔹To have order in our society. – No! No!
🔹So that the wrong people pay for their actions. – No ! No ! Does anyone know the answer to this question?
🔹”For justice to be done,” spoke shyly a young girl. – Finally ! Justice! But what is justice?
Everyone was starting to get mad at the professor’s attitude. However, they kept answering.
🔹 To protect the rights of the people… – Okay. But still?
🔹 To differentiate good from evil, to reward those who do good. – Okay… so answer this question, did I act right when I kicked Nelson out of class?
Everyone was silent, no one responded.
– I want an unanimous answer!
🔹”NO!” They answered with one voice. – Could we say I did an injustice?
🔹Yes! – And why has nobody done anything about it ? Why do we want laws and rules if we don’t have the will to practice them? Each of you is obliged to speak up when you witness an injustice. All of them! All of them! Don’t ever keep quiet again! Go get Nelson. After all, he is the professor. I’m from another period. You know, when we don’t stand up for our rights, dignity is lost, and dignity can’t be negotiated. Laws are for what?
A Fierce Fighter For Civil Rights and American Justice
The Sunday, November 20, 2021 death of Luis Roberto Vera, Jr., 65, a prominent civil rights leader and Texas attorney, appropriately made national news this week.
I spent a few years interviewing over 200 people and researching (spending many hours side-by-side studying Luis) for a book, “Miracles of Justice.”
The common denominator in how most people described Luis, is the word “fighter.” That he fiercely was…especially in the case of Dominique Ramirez, who at 16, became the youngest Miss San Antonio in history.
During her tenure, Dominique was abruptly decrowned of her title by replaced leadership on the pageant board. Long story short, the beautiful Dominique’s plight made international news as she was unfairly kicked out by the board. After unsuccessful attempts to find an attorney, Dominique experienced her first miracle: enter Luis Vera, Jr.
This week, Vera was acknowledged by The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC, the nation’s oldest Hispanic civil rights organization, founded in 1929) as their national general counsel and worked with them for three decades.
LULAC’s National President Domingo Garcia issued a statement on the passing of Vera.
We have lost a friend, and our Nation’s Latino community has lost one of its greatest defenders. Luis was a man whose fight for justice often took him from the streets of our poorest barrios in San Antonio to the marbled hallways of our federal courts. Judges knew when Luis Vera walked into their courtroom…He was widely respected, even by those who presented opposing legal arguments in landmark cases…Luis followed in the footsteps of those before him who have helped build LULAC into one of America’s most respected civil rights organizations. Vaya con Dios Luis Vera.
“Ironically, Luis lives on through the recent lawsuits he helped file in federal court that will forever carry the imprint of his love for justice and the voice that shall never be silenced,” LULAC National CEO Sindy Benavides said in a statement.
My wife, Loralyn, and her southside San Antonio Kingsborough Elementary and Middle School classmates, meet for lunch at least once a year at Don Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant for a mini-reunion–all paid for and hosted by Luis. He cherished his lifelong friends. The biggest smiles I’ve ever seen beam off of Luis’ face were with his classmates.
In loving memory of Luis, here is Chapter 4 of “Miracles of Justice,” his introduction in the book.
(Note: Luis didn’t want to have the book published yet, because he indicated to Dominique and me that he was working on a potential movie deal–slowed by the pandemic–and didn’t want to intrude on that possibility.)
Miracles of Justice
Written by Jack Dennis, with collaboration from Dominique Ramirez-Wilson. Copyrighted by Jack Dennis
Chapter 4 Against the Odds
He’d been playing against the odds of death far too long. Politicians, CEOs, foreign and domestic governments, school district officials, and other organizational threats of courtroom confrontations didn’t faze him. Luis Vera emerged fiercer. If they spread lies to the media, it only strengthened his persistence. He didn’t flinch. When they decided to enter a game of chicken, they would play against a relentless, and very much alive, warrior beast!
Vera grew up having high expectations for himself. He attended San Antonio College, St. Mary’s University and the University of Texas at San Antonio simultaneously to finish his last two years of college in one year. He met his wife Rosie in 1988 when she worked as a file clerk at the State School on South Presa and S.W. Military Drive. Vera was a new unit manager supervisor. It was a “place to park while I waited for law school to begin,” he said.
“What I first remember about Luis is that he was undergoing training and he was already wanting to change everything,” Rosie laughs. “He was a bit crude. He would ask me out to lunch, but I said ‘I just don’t think so, or that I don’t want to go out. It’s not going to work.”
Persistently, Vera continued to ask.
“There’s something wrong with this guy,” Rosie deduced. “I thought he was too blunt and crude. He proceeded to try to talk to me. He asked me one day what was wrong with me so I told him ‘not everybody needs to stand up in the room when you enter.’ It was awkward, but he kept trying. So the first time we went to lunch we took another co-worker so there would be three of us there. I think it was uncomfortable for him.”
Rosie relented. Soon they had lunch together alone. Within a few months she became executive secretary for the Human Resources Director, while her new “boyfriend” continued to be the king of his domain on his unit. One of his personnel techs was a young man named Robert Cuellar, who would one day become president of the annual Fiesta Flambeau Night Parade in San Antonio.
“Church has always been very important to me,” explained Rosie. “Meeting Luis was a ‘God thing.’ I would ask people to go to church and they wouldn’t. He did. When I asked him about it, there was no hesitation. I found that his faith is very strong, but like everything, it’s in his own way. He started going with me every Saturday and Sunday to Living Way Christian Church in northeast San Antonio.”
Luis and Rosie became Mr. and Mrs. Vera within 11 months. Two weeks after their wedding, they moved to Massachusetts where he began law school.
“I enjoyed Massachusetts very much,” she remembered. “It was my first time out of Texas. It was a different life.”
Vera began working for prominent San Antonio attorney Oliver Heard after receiving his license to practice. One of his first cases was a lawsuit against the National Guard. Mexican-Americans were not being promoted even though some of them were career guardsmen.
“It was hard for some of the older ones to compete with rookie guardsmen, especially on the physical training exercises,” Vera recalled. “I went to Austin to meet with a large panel of National Guard leaders. There I was alone, just facing a group of distinguished men, or at least they thought they were distinguished wearing their ribbons and badges. I just thought to myself, ‘you guys don’t intimidate me. To me you are just cub scouts dressing up. Let’s get to the meat of the matter. Let’s talk about real justice.’”
The Vera’s had four children: Jerry, Michael, Anthony and Melanie. By 2017, with Rosie as a 6th grade teacher at Leal Middle School in south San Antonio, Luis continued to practice law. Their grandchildren included Girbrian, Olive, Vita, Maseo, and Anthony. Yaza, their first great-grandchild, was born in 2016.
“God uses Luis to help people out,” Rosie said. “People just see him at the trial, but his faith is what they don’t see. It is so strong. I’ve seen people come to him with nothing and no hope. One man, an African-American, had his children taken away from him illegally by their mother. He was from another state but knew they were in Texas. He kept coming back to San Antonio but there was no trace of them here.”
“His father, a minister, told his son that he had been praying for him and that he should return because he thinks he will find his children. When the father went before the judge in San Antonio, he told him he understood what he was saying, ‘But you need a lawyer to represent you in something this complex. There is one right there. You can use him.’”
“The judge pointed at Luis as he walked into his courtroom for other business. Luis listened to him and said ‘yeah, I’ll help you, but let me take care of this first.’ Luis was able to find the woman and secured the children to return legally back to their loving father. How did that happen? –that Luis happened to be coming through those doors at exactly the right moment to help this family?”
“Over the years, and during the big fights in court and with my health, I would be so exhausted, be sick with headaches,” Vera said. “People would see or hear about me and they’d say ‘he is not going to last or he won’t make it.’ I would force myself. Being sick made me better as a lawyer. I became more disciplined because now I was limited to so many hours in the day because of operations, doctor appointments, and all. Six to seven days a week, even if I traveled to San Diego, Tampa, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Tulsa, Miami, New York or Washington D.C., I would receive treatment.”
As his body aged toward 55, Vera became less afraid of exceeding his own expectations. He realized that the question of making meaning or purpose to our lives is constantly before all of us in a variety of ways. In the life of an attorney, stress, fear and loss is never very far. On any given day, Vera spoke with people whose lives were reshaped in an instant. In the morning he would speak to a man whose wife had left him after 22 years of marriage. Later, the parents of an ailing child came in to talk about medical malpractice because their daughter would never hear again. Towards the end of the work day, a man strolled in with a wheelchair, broken arm, and in a neck brace. While injured in a work-related accident, he wasn’t ‘officially’ an employee of the business.
What all these individuals had in common was the staggering presence of loss in their lives. But, with Vera, each one had a choice. The loss could be seen as a sign of meaninglessness, or an opportunity to create meaning. Not only was it his job as an attorney to help them through legal remedy, he was their protector. He perceived himself shield-like by offering choices that provided quality, dignity, and to some extent, a bit of joy.
The deepest losses of life may not be curable. However, the greater the loss the greater the need for calmness of soul. Sometimes the calmness comes from the realization that distress has to be allowed so we can learn to bear it. We may share in others’ sadness, but we cannot repair the pain. In the book of Job, his friend’s response to his series of tragedies was to sit with him and weep. Although commendable, later they were condemned when they attempted to explain to him why he experienced the sequences of tragedies. What loss cries for is not to be explained or repaired, but to be shared and hopefully, to find some meaning.
By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
“It is not even believable the dishonesty of the Fake News Media on the Arizona Audit results, which shows incomprehensible Fraud at an Election Changing level, many times more votes than is needed.”
“The Fake News Media refuses to write the facts, thereby being complicit in the Crime of the Century. They are so dishonest, but Patriots know the truth! Arizona must immediately decertify their 2020 Presidential Election Results.”
“Preliminary Audits of the Delaware 2020 elections are damning,” said Lauren Witzke, a 2020 Republican nominee for US Senate and Christian American Nationalist. “Only 10% of the votes have been audited and they’ve already found over 20k fraudulent ballots. Internal polling before the elections were EXTREMELY close.”
“They couldn’t let Joe Biden’s home state seem even remotely competitive while they were busy stealing the swing states,” she continued. It “would have raised a few eyebrows.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s looking like I pulled in at least 47% of the vote- I maybe even won,” Witzke continued. “Thank you to Seth Keshel’s Team for all of their hard work. More on this to come. Stay tuned!”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
“Last November, Florida held the smoothest, most successful election of any state in the country.”
“While we should celebrate this feat, we should not rest on our laurels…we are taking action to ensure that Florida remains a leader on key issues regarding our electoral process, such as ballot integrity, public access to election information, transparency of election reporting and more.”
“By strengthening these election integrity protections, we will ensure that our elections remain secure and transparent, and that Florida’s electoral process remains a blueprint for other states to follow.”
“ACORN, you may recall, is the left-wing activist group with longtime ties to community organizer-turned-President Barack Obama. (Forerunner of ANTIFA, Black Lives Matter and other George Soros or Mark Zuckerberg funded organizations).”
“The nonprofit, which now takes in 40 percent of its revenues from American taxpayers after four decades on the public teat, has a history of engaging in voter fraud, corporate shakedowns, partisan bullying and pro-illegal immigration lobbying.”
“The Democrats’ stimulus proposals could make the group – and its lesser known but even more radical ideological allies – eligible for upward of $5 billion in new public cash.”
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” – Plato
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision.”― Abraham Lincoln
“The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.”– Dwight D. Eisenhower
“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” ― Alan Moore
“The first duty of a man is to think for himself” ― Jose Marti
“Being adequately informed is a democratic duty, just as the vote is a democratic right. A misinformed electorate, voting without knowledge, is not a true democracy.” — Jay Griffiths