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Columns

  • Looking back and realizing how much has changed

    About three-and-a-half weeks ago, I came home from work and found it sitting in the middle of my kitchen table. It was an envelope—a card-sized envelope with a fancy font in the corner announcing my 10-year reunion.

    Oh boy. What did I do now?

    I stared at the envelope for a long time before I opened it. I knew this event was coming—after all it has been 10 years since I graduated from Statesville High School.

  • Remembering the good that emerged out of darkness, evil

    On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I wandered away from my desk in the newsroom where I was working, likely looking for something to eat or caffeine to jump-start my day.

    On the way back, uneager to get the morning’s work started, I strolled through the front office and stopped to chat near the front door. Above the main desk, a television was showing live images of a smoking high-rise in New York.

    “A plane hit one of the towers,” the receptionist told me.

  • Smile—you too might be on YouTube

    I wasn’t about to forget O’Neal “Knot” Varnam’s annual birthday backflip dive into the Lockwood Folly River this year (see story page 18A of today’s Beacon).

    I couldn’t forget, because there it was on YouTube: “Dad’s 65th Birthday Flip in Varnamtown.”

    This was a video dating back to 2002 and posted by Varnam’s daughter—“The 65th Birthday Leap,” it was titled.

    People say you can find just about anything on YouTube these days. Well, it’s just about true.

  • Appropriate discipline can leave lasting impressions

    As kids, we learned discipline from our parents. Later in life, we apply principles of discipline to our personal and professional lives.

    A common thread of sensibility and consistency runs through each of my following true stories about discipline. Practical solutions encourage the application of proven principles to solve today’s behavior problems.

    At home during 1945

    “If you two don’t settle down out there, I’m coming with the belt!” Dad shouted at us through the open window from his and Mom’s bedroom.

  • Remembering N.C.'s most determined journalist

    A salute with a cramped, arthritis-ridden writing hand for the 150th anniversary of the first publication from the man the N.C. Press Association calls the state’s most determined journalist, John McLean Harrington.

    I stumbled upon the story of this remarkable writer, reporter, editor and publisher while perusing the association’s Web site and learned his unique story.

    According to a story Michael Ray Smith, Harrington (1839-1887) produced 299 newspapers in his lifetime, and get this—all by hand.

  • The Civil War years at Ocean Isle Beach (1860 to 1865)

    Ocean Isle Beach saw a good deal of Civil War naval action between blockade-runners of the Confederacy and gunboats of the Union Navy.

    Confederate solders were stationed along Ocean Isle Beach to protect blockade-runners using Tubbs Inlet or Shallotte Inlet. If a blockade-runner had to be beached to avoid capture, the ship’s crew would frantically unload cargo while the land soldiers held off Union gunboats.

    North Carolina provided more troops to the Confederacy than any other state, and many of these soldiers came from Brunswick County.

  • You got to have heart to find out what will make you a successful person

    In the 1960s, a leading sports commentator spoke these piercing words about the 26-mile marathon race.

    He said, “There are many things that can break the body, a tragic wreck, a prolonged illness, a natural disaster. But the marathon breaks the heart.”

    Courage is synonymous with the heart because the heart is the center of life. The Bible says it is from the heart that precedes all thoughts of envy and strife. Negative and positive thoughts originate in the heart.

  • Weighing the facts about the Republican vice-presidential candidate

    A woman? From Alaska? But who is she? What has she done? What about Mitt?

    These were the thoughts swirling around my head Friday when Sen. John McCain announced his running mate for his presidential bid, a woman, from Alaska, who was clearly not Mitt Romney.

    After my initial reaction, which wasn’t exactly elation, I took a deep breath and switched out of voter mode and dove back into reporter mode.

    It was time to find out who this woman from Alaska was and, more importantly, what she stands for. That’s what we do, after all.

  • Mentoring is an essential process for democratic nations

    Movie celebrities and sports champions come and go, but we long remember our teachers and mentors because they reached into our lives and made a lasting difference.

    Since 2000, I have been a mentor for police officers in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq—cultures much different than ours. I will share some important principles I have learned along the way.

    Setting the stage

    My work as an International Police Officer with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) began in the fall of 2001, just as Ramadan was under way for adults in the Albanian Muslim population.

  • Journalism integrity is worth its weight in gold

    Here it comes again.

    This time, I was eating lunch, minding my own business and trying to complete the word jumble when I couldn’t help but overhear a nearby group of lunch buddies utter the words that make most journalists’ skin crawl: “The media is just so negative about everything.”