When the Brain Lags the Heart (Michael Byron Smith)

What happens when our need to love and be loved clouds what we KNOW to be true? Michael Byron Smith, author of The Power of Dadhood, offers some personal insight with this piece entitled, “When the Brain Lags the Heart.”

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Michael Byron Smith, The Power of DadhoodThe heart is very loyal. It is faithful to which it loves even when all evidence appears to  indicate it is useless to remain so. This allows us to have hope and patience for the people we hold dear. It also gives those we love time to turn themselves around when they may have been failing us.

A Personal Story

This is a personal story which I am sharing only to help families that may be in a similar situation. Most who read this will hopefully not relate directly, but perhaps you can share it with someone who does.

I loved my dad. He was so interesting and mysterious. He did things I wanted to do. He had been to places I wanted to see. Stories of his travels had me breathlessly spellbound. I longed for his attention and waited for him to come home – sometimes for hours, sometimes for months, even years.

He was a contradiction in himself. My dad was slight in build but had very strong hands. He was a real gentleman, charismatic, very intelligent, and well-liked by most people. There was just one huge problem: My dad was a raging alcoholic.

Some dads are ‘stealthy’ alcoholics that can still function in a somewhat reasonable manner. Not my dad. When he drank, he became an entirely different person from the gentleman I just described. His language became crude and his actions were awkward, then catatonic. His charming persona became slovenly and indecent, a dreadful person to be around. These are difficult things to say about my father, but they are true. With all that, I still rooted for him whenever I could!

An Unearned Title

when the brain lags the heartWhen I think of “Speedo” (his nickname), I think of him as “Dad,” but he never earned that title. He was our biological father, but an appalling example of a husband or caretaker. A lone wolf by nature, he would often disappear for months, going to sea as an able-bodied seaman. (That’s him at sea in the photograph.)

He once told me that, while at sea, he never drank. But as soon as he got to a port, he could not pass up the first bar. He did this knowing he had six children in far-away Missouri that could use his love and support.

He once told my mom, as he walked out of the house going to who knows where, “You take care of them; you’re better at it than me.” “Them” were my three brothers, two sisters, and me! He was irresponsible and unapologetic. Our family could never count on him for anything. The funny thing is, on the occasions when he did provide for us, we were thankful to him. I guess it was because it was so unexpected and rare.

My Chance to Be Supportive

When I was in my early teens, there was a conflict between my mom and dad; they were divorced by this time. Of course, this wasn’t unusual and the circumstances aren’t important. What was unusual is that I saw this incident as a chance to support my father. He was not drinking during this time and could win anyone over with his sober charm. I wanted him to be the virtuous one for once. Never was I against my mother, just longing to support my dad. However, I felt very guilty for rooting for my dad over my mom, who had always been there for us.

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithWhat I did was not so unusual. In supporting my dad, despite all the wrong he had done, I was putting my heart before my brain. It happens to all of us at one time or another. I see nothing wrong with it until it starts hurting you and/or others. That’s when your brain must catch up. My dad was never able to beat his alcoholism nor do right by his family, but I gave him every chance.

I’m glad I did because it might have worked. I stopped, however, when I became a man with my own responsibilities. I then confessed (to myself) what I really already knew: He would never change. I couldn’t let him affect my life or my own family’s lives any longer.

He passed away in 1996 of liver disease. Ironically, I was on the Pacific Ocean at the time, on the stern of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on a dark night, looking at a million stars and thinking about my dad.  A seaman walked up to me and said I had a message in the radio room. This only happens at sea when something bad happens. When I got to the radio room, my wife was on the phone. She told me he had passed away. I became very emotional; I had just lost my father, but it could have been my wife or one of my kids. Sadness and relief came at the same time!

When the Brain Lags the Heart

If you have a spouse or a parent that is failing your family, don’t let your brain get too far behind your heart. You will have to let them know that you need their love and support. Let them know how important they are to you and ask them to change their ways. It might be  a long shot, but it’s well worth a try.

If you are a father (or mother) who is failing his family in some manner, yet you still are adored by your children, don’t think your inattentiveness or failures won’t come back to you somehow, someway. I know my dad suffered from great guilt; he told me so. But that only gave him another excuse to drink.

Get professional help, if you need it, before you lose the closeness, love, or support of your family. Take advantage of the time your loved ones’ hearts are giving you, and turn yourself around. If you don’t, their brains will catch up some day, and then it will be too late. ###

Speakers Group MemberMichael Byron Smith is the author of The Power of Dadhood [website] He also hosts the “Helping Fathers to be Dads” blog

 

Compassion Fatigue: Caring for the Caregiver (Loren Gelberg-Goff)

BTRadioIntThis program, taken from our archives, addresses a concern among all types of caregivers. Dr. Sutton, host of The Changing Behavior Network, interviews Loren Gelberg-Goff on this very important topic of compassion fatigue.

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A Good Quality, But …

Compassion is a good quality for any person to have. But too much compassion for too long can cause one to become dejected and weary. It can even make folks sick as it takes a toll on persons of high purpose and intent.

Compassion Fatigue

Loren Gelberg-Goff, Compassion FatigueWhen a person is a caregiver of others, either as a family member or as a profession, there will always be a risk for compassion fatigue. It’s a condition affecting good people, and, when children and grandchildren are in the home, how we deal with it is on display. How do we recognize the symptoms of compassion fatigue, and how is it managed and treated, or, if possible, avoided? Our guest on this program, author and psychotherapist Loren Gelberg-Goff, will help us with answers to these very important questions and concerns.

Loren Gelberg-Goff, LCSW

Being Well Within, Loren Gelberg-GoffAs a licensed clinical socialworker, Loren operates a thriving private practice in which she supports and encourages individuals to live their lives authentically empowered and fulfilled. She also provides training and keynotes on related topics of work and family balance, managing anger, dealing with stress, and expressing forgiveness, just to list a few. Loren is the co-author of the book, Being Well Within: From Distressed to De-Stressed. (The other co-author is Carmel-Ann Mania, also a health service professional.) (26:47)

http://www.beingwellwithin.com

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Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Survivor Speaks Out, Part 2 (Guest: Shenandoah Chefalo)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75This podcast concludes Dr. Sutton’s interview with Shenandoah
Chefalo, author of Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Memoir. It’s an insightful and inspiring story of one girl’s will to survive and achieve in the face of unbelievable difficulty.

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Shenandoah Chefalo, Garbage Bag Suitcaseunfortunate, but true

There are those youngsters that struggle in school, but not because they cannot do their work. They struggle because of the meals they have missed. They struggle because of their concern for the care of younger siblings still at home, or they worry intensely that, when school is out and they go home, they will be on the street because of unpaid rent.

And then there are those youngsters that are victims of outright child abuse.

These things should not happen, and they certainly should not happen in the United States of America. But they do.

garbage bag suitcase, Shenandoah ChefaloGarbage Bag Suitcase

In this frank and candid two-part interview, guest author, Shenandoah Chefalo, explains why she broke 20 years of silence to share her story of abuse and neglect as a child. She tells how, much too often, her only true friend was a stuffed, cloth bunny and how, with only a five-minute notice, she learned to put all her belongings into a plastic garbage bag as her family left town, again.

400,000+ Foster Kids

Shen shares how going into foster care was not the solution she had hoped for, and how her experiences in the foster care system gave her insight into the changes that need to be made for the sake of over 400,000 boys and girls in foster care on any given day in the United States. Shen knows of what she speaks, and she speaks it very, very well.

Shenandoah Chefalo

Shen is one of only 1% of foster care kids to ever earn a college degree. She and her husband, Gerry, own and operate a successful law practice in Michigan, where she also works with local youth organizations. Life today seems pretty normal for Shen, Gerry and their daughter, Sophia. But, as a survivor, Shen is quick to point out that some hurts don’t go away easily. (27:216)

http://www.garbagebagsuitcase.com

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BONUS: Shen has offered to provide a FREE Skype call for any group (workplaces, book clubs, organizations, church groups, service organizations, etc), sharing her interest in encouraging and supporting young people, especially those in foster care and adoption. Contact her through her website and mention this podcast. [website]

Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Survivor Speaks Out, Part 1 (Guest: Shenandoah Chefalo)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75In this radio-style podcast, Dr. Sutton interviews Shenandoah Chefalo about her life and her book, Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Memoir. It’s an insightful and inspiring story of one girl’s will to survive and achieve in the face of unbelievable difficulty.

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Shenandoah Chefalo, Garbage Bag Suitcaseunfortunate, but true

There are those youngsters that struggle in school, but not because they cannot do their work. They struggle because of the meals they have missed. They struggle because of their concern for the care of younger siblings still at home, or they worry intensely that, when school is out and they go home, they will be on the street because of unpaid rent.

And then there are those youngsters that are victims of outright child abuse.

These things should not happen, and they certainly should not happen in the United States of America. But they do.

garbage bag suitcase, Shenandoah ChefaloGarbage Bag Suitcase

In this frank and candid two-part interview, guest author, Shenandoah Chefalo, explains why she broke 20 years of silence to share her story of abuse and neglect as a child. She tells how, much too often, her only true friend was a stuffed, cloth bunny and how, with only a five-minute notice, she learned to put all her belongings into a plastic garbage bag as her family left town, again.

400,000+ Foster Kids

Shen shares how going into foster care was not the solution she had hoped for, and how her experiences in the foster care system gave her insight into the changes that need to be made for the sake of over 400,000 boys and girls in foster care on any given day in the United States. Shen knows of what she speaks, and she speaks it very, very well.

Shenandoah Chefalo

Shen is one of only 1% of foster care kids to ever earn a college degree. She and her husband, Gerry, own and operate a successful law practice in Michigan, where she also works with local youth organizations. Life today seems pretty normal for Shen, Gerry and their daughter, Sophia. But, as a survivor, Shen is quick to point out that some hurts don’t go away easily. (27:25)

http://www.garbagebagsuitcase.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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BONUS: Shen has offered to provide a FREE Skype call for any group (workplaces, book clubs, organizations, church groups, service organizations, etc), sharing her interest in encouraging and supporting young people, especially those in foster care and adoption. Contact her through her website and mention this podcast. [website]

Having “The Talk” About Drugs (Dr. Richard Horowitz)

How does a parent talk to their son or daughter about drugs? Dr. Richard Horowitz, The Family Centered Parenting Coach, offers some excellent guidance in this article entitled, “Having ‘The Talk’ About Drugs.”

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Dr. H: Recently I have seen a number of TV commercials urging parents to speak to their children about drugs. My son is 12 years old. How do I start the conversation?

 

Dr. Richard HorowitzParents often feel uncomfortable about discussing the “hot topics,” namely drugs/alcohol and sex with their children. Waiting for the so-called right time often means starting the discussion when the issue arises as a problem. Unfortunately, this is often too late. Therefore, it is important to establish a comfort zone within the family for discussing a wide variety of topics.

A Family Meeting Approach

I recommend holding family meetings on a regular basis to resolve family issues, set rules, and plan for the future. When these occur, bringing up the tougher stuff fits in naturally as just another subject for conversation. In other words, the process of dialogue is already established, making all issues easier to talk about.

Specifically, in your situation, after several meetings have been held and all members of the family are more at ease with the process, you can open the discussion about drugs. I would start with a hypothetical question that is relevant to your child’s life. For example, I might ask, “What would you do if one of your friends offered you a drag on a marijuana cigarette when you were hanging out at his house?” In addition to practicing specific coping strategies in advance of a potential situation, the door is open to talk about drugs in general.

Family Centered Parenting, Dr. Richard C. HorowitzDo Your Homework

A note of caution: Be prepared for the discussion by acquiring accurate information. Children, especially adolescents, turn you off if what you are saying is either exaggerated or not consistent with what they have learned both at school and on the street. So do your homework by researching available databases and publications for information that can be passed on to your child as factual. In addition, make sure the adults in the family are clear about what message they want to send about experimenting with drugs. The youngster will sense any ambiguity you might be experiencing.

Handling Their Questions

If you experimented with drugs while you were in high school or college, be ready with an answer when you child asks you if you ever tried drugs. There is no right answer for this. Some parents try to deflect by saying that the question is not relevant to their children’s decisions. Although probably accurate, children usually hear this as a tacit admission that their parent used drugs.

The other approach is to say that, precisely because you as their parent might have made mistakes when you were younger, the children can learn from those mistakes. To reinforce this argument, a parent can point to factual information that proves that the marijuana smoked 25 years ago was much weaker that what is out there today. Furthermore, reputable studies are demonstrating that drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents can affect brain development in the prefrontal cortex, a later maturing area of the brain that helps control impulses, regulate moods and helps us to better organize our lives. ###

 

Dr. Richard Horowitz is better known as “Dr. H,” The Family Centered Parenting Coach. His book is entitled, Family Centered Parenting: Your Guide for Growing Great Families. [website]

 

 

Bullycide: When Cyberbullying Turns Fatal (Guest: Judge Tom Jacobs)

The Changing Behavior NetworkIn this radio-style podcast taken from our archives, Dr. James Sutton interviews Judge Tom Jacobs, a former Arizona juvenile court judge, on the topic of bullycide, youth suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

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Cyber Bullycide

As effective tools of communication and commerce, the internet and cyberspace have changed the way we live. For all the good and benefits they bring, there is a downside. This program addresses loss of life as a result of cyber abuse: Bullycide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe suicide of young people as a result of cyberbullying is a serious issue that is growing in its impact. Our guest on this program, Judge Tom Jacobs, studies cyber bullycide and the circumstances and events that affect the lives and welfare of our young people. Judge Tom will guide us through the issues of bullycide and how it happens, and he will share his research on legal implications and what we can all do to best protect our children and grandchildren from such a grave threat.

Ask the Judge

Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info, a teen-law website for and about teen, tweens and the laws that affect them. His daughter, Natalie, assists him in making AsktheJudge.info a go-to resource. It’s also a valuable website for parents and educators who want to stay current with issues that affect the safety and welfare of our young people.

AskTheJudge.info, bullycide, judge tom jacobs

Judge Tom Jacobs

Judge Tom is a retired juvenile judge from Arizona, having spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges, as well as for teens and parents, including the book that covers our topic in this program: Teen Cyberbullying Investigated. (28:04)

http://www.AsktheJudge.info

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The Spirit of Forgiveness (Dr. James Sutton)

Dr. James SuttonAnger is the proverbial two-edged sword. When we are emotionally vulnerable, one edge stands ready to protect us from additional hurt and harm, but the other edge can rob us of our joy and, over time, steal our health and vitality as well. The Spirit of Forgiveness offers us one way to deal with long-term anger.

Like a Suit of Armor

Like a knight’s suite of armor, anger does a good job of protecting us from additional hurt. It covers our delicate emotional flesh, but, if worn too long, the armor itself can hurt us. If we choose never to remove the armor, others will see us as strange and even difficult. And when the summer sun does its number on the armor, we will have a new problem: heat stroke.

suit of armor, Kroejsanka Mediteranka, the spirit of forgivenessAt some point, the armor needs to come off, right?

Forgiveness, A Delicate Issue

Authentic forgiveness requires a vulnerability, an emotional risk … without armor. One of the things that makes forgiveness difficult is the fact that, in order to truly forgive, one must make contact with what they are forgiving. That can be difficult, often causing forgiveness to stop before it even begins.

(This is precisely who insisting a child, teen or adult forgive someone is so ineffective, even harmful. We cannot mandate matters of the heart, especially when the heart is packed in armor!)

Waiting to Forgive

Even when one is willing to forgive, what happens if it is never sought? Is one stuck at that point, just waiting to forgive? What happens if they can’t or won’t wait?

For ten years I was the consulting psychologist for a residential treatment facility for children and teens. They had been removed from their homes because of ongoing abuse and the emotional damage it created. These kids inspired me in their growth and in their willingness, over time, to step out of their armor. In the process, however, some of them attempted to forgive family members when that forgiveness had not been sought. For the most part, the results were quite predictable: Disaster.

The Spirit of Forgiveness

There is a way to help a youngster or an adult to get to the point of forgiveness even if it is never sought. I call it The Spirit of Forgiveness. It involves a “What if …” that can lead very closely to the same sort healing if a person is ready for it.

The Spirit of Forgiveness starts with a question:

You are right; it seems very unlikely that person will ever seek your forgiveness. But what if they DID ask you to forgive them, and you were absolutely convinced they were 100% sincere is doing so. Would you consider forgiving them then?

 

The Changing Behavior Book, James SuttonAlmost to the youngster, the kids I worked with in treatment initially would respond with something like, “I wouldn’t believe them!” “That would never happen!” or “They would never ask that!” At that point, my aim would be to coax them toward a “Yes” or “No.”

I understand. But what if someone you trust a lot, someone like your grandmother, were to tell you they were sincere in seeking your forgiveness, what would you do?

 

If the youngster elected to stay with their previous response or say they would NOT forgive that person, I would stop right there. They were not ready; they still needed their armor. They were neither right nor wrong; they just were not ready.

If, on the other hand, they were to say they would forgive that person under those circumstances, I would explain to them how very, very close that is to actual face-to-face forgiveness. The results often would be obvious in their eating and sleeping habits, behavior, relationships and school performance. I was privileged to observe youngsters use The Spirit of Forgiveness, a predetermined answer to a question that might never be asked, to make significant progress in their recovery.

Acceptance: An Alternative

I have communicated with adults that felt even The Spirit of Forgiveness was too difficult for them to conceptualize in terms of their own experiences. In one way or another they all shared that they moved past the pain and hurt by reaching a point of acceptance and moving on from there.###

Dr. James Sutton is a former teacher, a child and adolescent psychologist and the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. His website is DocSpeak.com

 

How to Be A Great Parent (Guest: Dr. Nancy Buck)

Dr. Nancy Buck, Peaceful ParentingThere is plenty of evidence to show that the brain processes negative factors quicker, longer and with more gusto than it processes the positive. We tend not to reflect on things that are going well, but just look at what we do when events and circumstances cause us concern.

What does this mean regarding how we communicate with our children and students? Answer: Just about EVERYTHING. Welcome to “How to Be a Great Parent.”

A Clash of Priorities

According to our guest on this program, developmental psychologist Dr. Nancy Buck, we want our kids to be SAFE. Our children, however, want to have FUN. These distinctly different priorities can clash into conflict. (It happens often, doesn’t it?) Nancy will show us how our typical responses in these situations can take a toll. In the process of unintended difficulty, relationships suffer.

How to Be a Great Parent, Nancy Buck

Understanding Wants and Needs

In this fast-paced and stimulating program, Nancy provides the research and rationale for better understanding a child’s wants and needs, as well as methods for redirecting youngsters in ways that are more successful and more pleasant. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth it.

Dr. Nancy Buck

Dr. Nancy Buck is the founder of Peaceful Parenting, Inc. She blogs regularly for Psychology Today, and she’s an in-demand speaker and presenter on the topic of effective parenting. Nancy is the author of the acclaimed book, Peaceful Parenting, as well as a just-released work, How to be a Great Parent: Understanding Your Child’s Wants and Needs. (29:17)

htpp://www.peacefulparenting.com

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Handling Criticism (Zig Ziglar)

I was fortunate enough on several occasions to spend a bit of time with the late Zig Ziglar. If anyone ever had a corner on the market for humility and common sense, plus the gift for bringing out those qualities in others, it was Zig. This piece, written earlier and entitled “Handling Criticism“, was included in the Ziglar company eNewsletter dated June 16, 2015. –JDS

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Zig Ziglar, Americas MotivatorThe late comedian, Groucho Marx, said that “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” My dictionary says that criticism is “the art of judging with propriety of the beauties and faults of a performance; remark on beauties and faults; critical observation, verbal or written.”

“… With the Canal”

Col. George Washington Goethels, the man who completed the Panama Canal, handled criticism effectively. During the construction he had numerous problems with the geography, climate and mosquitoes. Like all mammoth projects, he had his critics back home who constantly harped on what he was doing and predicted that he would never complete the project. However, he stuck to the task and said nothing.

One day an associate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer the critics?”

“Yes,” Goethels responded.

“How?” he was asked.

“With the Canal,” Goethels replied.

Though that approach didn’t bring instant satisfaction, the canal itself brought long term vindication.

The Meaning of Criticism

Aristotle said criticism was meant as a standard of judging will. Addison said it was ridiculous for any man to criticize the works of another if he has not distinguished himself by his own performance. It has also been said that no one so thoroughly appreciates the value of constructive criticism as the one who is giving it.

The world is hard on critics but on occasion they have real value. Ask yourself this question: “What interest does this person (critic) have in me?” A parent, teacher, employer or coach has a vested interest in your performance.

Unfortunately, many of them do not know how to effectively build a person up while giving suggestions that can make a difference. The key is to criticize the performance and not the performer.

“You’re NOT Most Boys”

My mother once criticized my performance by saying, “For most boys this would be all right. But you’re not most boys – you’re my son and my son can do better than that.” She had “criticized the performance,” because it needed improvement, but she had praised the performer because he needed the praise. So follow this procedure and I’ll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!###

Zig Ziglar is known as America’s Motivator. He authored 33 books and produced numerous training programs. He will be remembered as a man who lived out his faith daily. [website]

56 Courageous Men: When Freedom Isn’t Free

BTLifesMomentsThis story by Clyde E. Nichols was in a weekly publication sent to me by my Austin, Texas friend, Jim Gentil. It’s a powerful reminder of the sort of dedication and courage it took to create this country and the freedom it represents. More than that, it continues to be a lesson to us all that freedom isn’t free, and that we must be willing to protect and defend what has been purchased in blood. I hope you will share with others this piece entitled, “56 Courageous Men: When Freedom Isn’t Free.” –JDS

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56 Courageous Men: When Freedom Isn't Free, 4th of July, Independence DayOn July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, 56 delegates to the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence declaring independence from Great Britain and giving birth to the United States of America.

When Freedom Isn’t Free

Have you ever wondered what happened to those men? Here are a few examples:

Carter Broxton was a wealthy trader who saw his ships sunk by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.

Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised two million dollars by mortgaging his property to supply the French allies. He was never reimbursed by the struggling new government and lost everything he owned.

Thomas McKeam’s possessions were taken from him by the British and poverty was his reward. Vandals and enemy soldiers looted the properties of Josiah Bartlett, William Ellery, George Clymer, Lyman Hall, Button Gwinnet, George Walton, Thomas Heward, Jr., Edward Rutledge and Arthur Middleton; the latter four were captured and imprisoned.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. A Tory betrayed Richard Stockton, his home was burned, his possessions destroyed and he and his family were forced to live on charity.

John Hart returned home to find his wife dead and his 13 children vanished. Weeks later he died of exhaustion and a broken heart. Lewis Morris and Philip Livingston suffered fates similar to Hart’s. John Hancock, one of the wealthiest men in New England, lost his fortune during the war having given over $100,000 to the cause of freedom.

Five of the fifty-six were captured by the British and tortured. Twelve had their homes ransacked, looted, confiscated by the enemy, or burned to the ground. Seventeen lost their fortunes.

Two lost their sons in the army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six lost their lives in the war from wounds or hardships inflicted by the enemy. Despite their hardships, not a single one of them defected or failed to honor his pledge. They paid a terrible price for our freedom.

240th Anniversary

Monday, July 4th, 2016, marks the 240th anniversary of the birth of our nation. Along with the fifty-six who signed for each of us, let us all “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” ###