Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Words do Matter

Like many of you, I have been following the back and forth antics in Washington between President Donald Trump and our leaders in Congress. The news media, Facebook, and Twitter are all inundated with pundits, politicians and sometimes “Friends” weighing in on who’s gone too far, who’s to blame, and just how wrong the other side is on the issue of the day.

amRegardless of what political party with which you may affiliate – you likely believe it’s the other political party and its leadership who could or would be leading this country in a direction which will surely spell doom for this and future generations.

I think both sides have gone way too far in this war of words and political theater. The President and Members of Congress may be playing to their political base, but it is not leadership and certainly not the example we need to send to our young people.

I am reminded of the adage – “Leadership is doing the right thing when no one is watching.”

As a kid growing up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, I still recall the taunts and jeers from other children who picked on me for being a small, thin, and somewhat puny little kid. Today, that’s called bullying and bullies are often harshly rebuked. Back then – it was toughen up or fight back.

Their harsh words stung and holding back the tears that welled up in my eyes, I countered the familiar refrain, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but your words will never hurt me!” But they did hurt… badly, and while time has faded the scars, the memories still linger.

Our nation’s history is filled with patriotism and prejudice. There is much to take pride in and much to give pause over. The indomitable spirit as Americans stormed the beaches at Normandy, led the breakthroughs in technology, medicine, and space exploration and emerged as the preeminent superpower and beacon of Democracy is the envy of much of the world. Conversely, the treatment of African Americans, Native Americans, and Japanese Americans are stains on a glorious landscape of unprecedented achievement.

Our political leadership toss around words like “racism” and “sexist” so cavalierly that it begins to lose its impact. If someone disagrees in a partisan or philosophical discussion, then they must simply be insensitive or just plain ignorant.Pic A National

This past August (August 6th) an event took taking place across this country.  No, it wasn’t a protest or Antifa demonstration. Instead, it was an opportunity for our local citizens, and in particular families, to participate in National Night Out. The community event is a night where local police and public safety officers, including our firefighters and EMT’s, come together each year with our community, as we work to create safer communities for our families and businesses.

While we may not be able to change the tone in Washington, together we can set an example at home with our children – the generation who will inherit this nation – and say Thank You to the Men and Women who bravely serve and protect us each and every day.  If you missed this year’s event – it will take place again the first Tuesday in August 2020.

President Ronald Reagan said, “It’s not enough to be equal in the eyes of God, we must be equal in the eyes of each other.” That message can begin one family and one community at a time, and it can start with us here at Lake Norman!

Words can hurt – or they can heal. Perhaps we all need to ask ourselves one thing when we prepare to lay our head on the pillow tonight – “What did our own words do today?”

Bill Russell

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics, Social Causes, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Promise to Keep

Bill on Dynamite

Bill Jr. on Dynamite with William E Russell Sr. – 1966

When I was just a young boy, I would ride my little pony from my Grandparent’s house to my Great-Grandfather’s home. The small white house sat perched high on a hill overlooking the lush pastureland where cattle grazed lazily on those warm summer days.

Great-Granddaddy Adkins would always give me with one piece of “Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum” for the pony ride over to see him. It hardly seems now that such a small token was incentive enough for a little boy, but at the time, it was a coveted treasure and well worth the ride. When he passed away in 1966, the old home which had served our family so well, stood vacant, a silent sentinel guarding the memories of lives lived well.

I found out some time later that the old farm house, which initially had been a log cabin held together by timber and mud, had gone back many generations. It had been deeded to my ancestors during the time of King George of England.

Unfortunately, after Granddaddy Adkin’s death, the proud old manor fell into disrepair and eventually time and mother nature took their toll. The roof sagged, its once sturdy walls collapsed, and a few decades ago it was torn down before the cattle, or worse, a family member or hunter, was hurt venturing into the failing structure.  A house which welcomed back Revolutionary and Civil War Veterans, providing a warm shelter and home for my family for generations, lost its battle against time.

Many Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Members may not know of the Chamber’s commitment to our historical and cultural past. In 1997, I was contacted by Reverend Jeff Lowrance about joining the Board of The Hugh Torance House and Store in Huntersville.  Rev. Lowrance knew of my passion for history and the store is the oldest standing attraction of such designation in North Carolina.  It also has special interest to me, given its historical place in regional commerce and trade in Mecklenburg County, and specifically Lake Norman.

I have served as President and chaired the Hugh Torance Board since 2007 and all 23 of the Chamber’s Leadership Lake Norman classes have toured the local treasure as has our Junior Leadership program. In addition, the Chamber’s Young Professionals organization recently conducted a very successful fundraiser for the repairs of the House & Store. The Huntersville Town Board has also generously supported efforts to preserve this precious piece of our history and a Grant submission is being reviewed by Lowes Company.

Leader resized

Bill Russell leads a tour of the Hugh Torance House and Store to Leadership Lake Norman participants.

Mark Twain once said, “We can’t know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been!” While our Chamber is not only committed to the economic well being of our community and region – we will continue to work to enhance our quality of life and protect the cultural and historical past which has made the Lake Norman region a great place to live, work, and visit!

I have watched a piece of my own family history return to the dust from which it came.  It is important that we do not let a true community treasure like the Hugh Torance House & Store meet the same fate. If we do not owe it to the people who settled here, then it is certainly a responsibility we have to the generation who will inherit our community and region next. A debt to our past and a promise to keep for our future!

Bill Russell

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Personal, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment