Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Life Ends

A week ago today I got a phone call that I'll remember forever. It was my brother calling to tell me our father had died. I stood on the street in the rain and tried to comprehend the news.

Here's the obituary we wrote for the local paper:

Wendell Harvey Jones, 70, of Ridgefield, husband of Barbara (Johnson) Jones died on Thursday evening, April 3, 2008 at his home.

Mr. Jones was born in LeSeuer, MN on July 21, 1937. He was the son of Harvey and Clara (Haas) Jones.

While attending the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, he met his wife, Barbara. They were married in January of 1960. After graduating from the University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1960, he served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1960 to 1963. In 1964, he obtained a Bachelor of Foreign Trade from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

In 1966 Mr. Jones joined the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. From 1967 through 1968 he served as Vice Counsel and Second Secretary at the American Embassy in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. After returning to the United States, Mr. Jones pursued a career in international finance in New York City, working as a banker until 2000. He later became a substitute teacher in the Ridgefield and Danbury School systems and was briefly director of the Ridgefield Discovery Center.

Mr. Jones was an avid outdoorsman, hiking many of the peaks of New England in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. He instilled this love of nature in his children, who accompanied him on many family camping expeditions, from California to Maine.

As a lifelong music fan, Mr. Jones was particularly fond of country and western and rock and roll. His favorite artists included Johnny Cash, Neil Young and the Rolling Stones. He was known to often have his nose in at least three books at once, preferring historical tomes over fiction. On the weekends, he liked to cook, often following recipes clipped from the New York Times.

An area resident since 1976, he had been a resident of Ridgefield for the past twenty-two years, coming from Redding. He was a member of the First Congregational Church of Ridgefield.

In addition to his wife Barbara of 48 years, he is survived by two sons; Barrett Wendell Jones and his wife Gabriela Schneider of Washington, DC and Brendan Ronald Jones and his wife Susannah of New York, NY, a brother, Ronald A. Jones and his wife Kay of Lake Jackson, TX as well as nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will take place at noon on April 9 at the First Congregational Church of Ridgefield.

The family will receive friends following the service in Lund Hall of the First Congregational Church.

Internment will take place in Mapleshade Cemetery, Ridgefield at the direction of the family.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks that any contributions be made to the Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108 (617-523-0655;

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library

I needed a book for a project and since I just needed a few pages, I decided to go to my public library. I checked online and found a copy available at the central library: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. I took the Metro to Gallery Place, crossed the street and entered the building. inside the door I put my bag through the x-ray machine and stepped through the metal detector, which I set off. the officer made me spread my arms out while he wanded me for guns, knives or whatever.

the central library of D.C. is not a pretty place. it may have been once, but now it's dark, grimy, and stale. after a few wrong turns I found the section I needed (Sociology). the doors were locked with a note explaining the section was closed until further notice due to maintenance. I went back downstairs and asked a librarian if a staff member could retrieve the book for me. the answer was no.

it's been forty years since James Earl Ray did what many feared and some hoped for. by 68, King had turned to economic justice for all people, black and white. he was in the midst of organizing the Poor People's Campaign, which he envisioned as the "second phase" of the civil rights movement.

the poverty rate in America has not changed since 1968. today 36.5 million Americans live in poverty (link). in the District of Columbia, 19% of the city's population live in poverty.

walking down G Street I thought about how the condition of the library reflects the condition of King's ideas of economic justice.
both have suffered from years of neglect.
the leaders who gather to pay tribute to King on the anniversary of his death have done nothing to lower the poverty rate in America. when we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. we should remember his unfulfilled dream of economic justice for all Americans.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Don't Let the Terrorists Win

Over the past few months I've become increasingly concerned for America's future. I don't know why exactly but I just feel that neither of the Democratic candidates have the necessary experience to be president. At this crucial time, America needs a strong, experienced leader. That's why I say John McCain is the man for the job.

McCain faced off against the Viet Cong and he stood up against the tax-and-spend Democrats in Congress. He's a maverick who follows his gut and his Christian faith. He's the son of admirals; his grandfather was an aviator, his father a submariner. You can't say that about any of the other candidates.

Don't let the terrorists win. Vote John McCain for President.