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Up-and-Coming Star on Disney Channel Fri. AM, 09/12

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 9:45 pm - September 11, 2008.
Filed under: LA Stories,Movies/Film & TV,Strong Women

Ever since I met Tracy Martin shortly after moving to LA, I knew she’d make it big.

Or maybe I just believed she’d make it big because she’s one of those actors who came out here & can actually act.  Tracy has a great sense of timing which serves her well in comedy.  She made me laugh when doing a staged reading of spec scripts for various sitcoms.

Not just that, she’s got great vocal talents as well, able to do a variety of different voices and numerous inflections in each one.

You don’t have to come to Hollywood to see this talented actress on stage.  You just need turn on the Disney Channel on Friday, September 12.  She’ll be guest starring in Imagination Movers on at 7 or 10 AM (depending on your time zone).

You’ll get to see a future Hollywood star (and all around good person) with a true gift for physical comedy, just like her idol.

McCain Mentions Mark Bingham in 9/11 Statement

Earlier today, Republican presidential nominee John McCain in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, mentioned openly gay 9/11 hero Mark Bingham in his statement commemorating the day

No American living then should ever forget the heroism that occurred in the skies above this field on September 11, 2001. It is believed that the terrorists on United Flight 93 may have intended to crash the airplane into the United States Capitol. Hundreds if not thousands of people would have been at work in that building when that fateful moment occurred, and been destroyed along with a beautiful symbol of our freedom. They and, very possibly I, owe our lives to the passengers who summoned the courage and love necessary to deny our depraved and hateful enemies their terrible triumph.

I have witnessed great courage and sacrifice for America’s sake, but none greater than the sacrifice of those good people who grasped the gravity of the moment, understood the threat, and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives.

I spoke at the memorial service for one of them, Mark Bingham. I acknowledged that few of us could say we loved our country as well as he and all the heroes of September 11 had. The only means we possess to thank them is to try to be as good an American as they were. We might fall well short of their standard, but there is honor in the effort.

In the Gospel of John it is written, ‘Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ Such was their love; a love so sublime that only God’s love surpasses it. I am in awe of it as much as I am in debt to it. May God bless their souls.

9/11/2008: Remembering James Joe Ferguson, Always

Today, seven years after the terror attacks on America, I once again dedicate this space to my lost friend, James Joe Ferguson, who was killed aboard American Airlines Flight 77 when that plane was used as a weapon and crashed into the Pentagon.  This posting goes up at the exact time that plane was flown into the Pentagon seven years ago this morning.

We miss you, Joe.
-Bruce and John

********************

The last time we had dinner, Joe told my partner John and I about how much he was looking forward to being a part of the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Typically, I found myself jealous of him. In his role as Director of Geographic Education at the National Geographic Society, Joe had one of the most unique and rewarding jobs I can ever imagine having.

He traveled around the world, bringing American school children face-to-face with the natural wonders of our Earth.  He was not only a teacher but also provided a critical turning point for these kids, many of whom had never before left their own neighborhoods.  Joe provided the path for these students to experience things that many of us never will in our entire lives.  

In addition, he got to travel to the four corners of the globe. How rewarding that must have been. How do I sign up for that job?

I got an email from Joe on Thursday, September 6, 2001.  “Hi cutie” it started — typical opening line for Joe to any of his friends.  He had just returned from Alaska and wanted to tell show me all the pictures, but the following week he said he was headed to California for another work trip.  I printed out and kept that email for many months in my briefcase as a way to keep Joe alive.

As dawn broke on September 11, 2001, Joe called his Mom in Mississippi to give her a wake up call as he always did when he traveled.  He said to her, “I’ll call you when I get to California. Have a good day.”  He was that kind of person.  The kind of person, who, no matter where he was and how busy he was, dropped a postcard to his friends so we could share a part of his experiences throughout the world.

At Dulles International Airport, Joe stood with his group traveling to California and took some last minute photos.  He and another colleague were scheduled passengers on American Airlines Flight 77, accompanying three D.C. public school teachers and three students on a National Geographic-sponsored field trip to the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara, Calif. After the photos were taken, they bid farewell to the children’s parents and proceeded to their gate.

At 9:37AM, Joe lost his life at the young age of thirty-nine when terrorists slammed the plane into the side of the Pentagon at 500 mph.  A teacher and positive role model to young Americans was taken from the world in an act of sheer violence and viciousness.

As I was dealing with the many emotions of the events of September 11, a thought crossed my mind the next day. Gosh, I thought, Joe had said he was traveling and now he’s stuck somewhere until the airlines are allowed to fly again.  So I called his work number in DC and left a message.  After I heard his voice for the last time, I said “Give me a call if you are checking messages.”  “I hope you make it home soon,” I concluded.  When I called that day, I had no idea.

It wasn’t until Friday, September 14 that I found out that one of my dearest friends had become a casualty of the attacks on America.  Suddenly, this war was personal — it had hit home.  I wasn’t expecting to have to go to two memorial services and walk around in a state of numbness for many weeks.

At Joe’s memorial service, there were lots of tears and lots of laughs as well.  One of Joe’s friends told the gathering that Joe had this way of making you feel as if you were his best friend in the world. I knew exactly what he meant.  I saw Joe every once in a while.  We would have lunch, or more likely trade emails or phone calls.  But every time we talked, I felt like Joe’s best friend.  Joe still has a lot of best friends all around the world.

Perhaps Joe’s death hit me so hard because it was the first death of someone close to me that I had experienced as an adult.  I am still surprised by the impact that his death has had, and in many ways continues to have, on my life.  

In fact, I did a lot of personal reflecting in the months following 9/11.  I questioned how important my job and even my life were in a time of war where terrorists could invade your workplace or your school and slaughter you with no remorse.  I questioned what value and worth my own career had in comparison with a man who had chosen to teach and change the lives of young people.  I felt trapped in a good job that was giving me no personal satisfaction.

All I could remember was how happy Joe always was and how that cheer was infectious to all of his friends and colleagues.  I would miss that cheerful influence on me.  Joe had made the choice to live life to the fullest extent possible.  He was the model of an optimistic American who knows no frontiers and no bounds. He was doing more than his fair share of contributing to a better society.

My partner John and I took a trip to the American West in the summer of 2003 and followed some of the Lewis & Clark Trail.  I know Joe would have loved the scenery and spirit of America that lives and breathes in the land of Montana and Wyoming.  The IMAX film about the “Corps of Discovery” produced by the National Geographic Society — Lewis & Clark: The Great Journey West — was dedicated to the memory of Joe Ferguson.  It is available on DVD and I strongly recommend watching it.

One day in early 2002, I heard a song on the radio that I don’t remember hearing before 9/11/2001.  I didn’t even know it was LeeAnn Womack voice, because the words are the soul and essence of Joe Ferguson.  The words are an expression of his personal passion and love of life.  And the words are also an inspiration for all of us to get through the many trying days of our post-9/11 world.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.
Get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger.
May you never take one single breath for granted.
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance.
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance.
Never settle for the path of least resistance.
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin.
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but its worth makin.
Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter.
When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider.
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance.
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance.

Never Forget