Poem For My Mom

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On February 22, 2014, my mom passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. I wrote this poem shortly after.

I wake up in the morning

ready to start the day

Then I remember

you’re gone

The tears silently flow

I dry my eyes, put on a smile and head to work

I turn on my radio

Singing out loud

I hear our song

You’re gone

The tears silently flow

I dry my eyes, put on a smile, and sing once more

I go to the store

buying something for dinner

walk by the floral department

Tulips!

There you are!

My smile silently grows

Sometimes it takes me all day to realize you never left me.

I love you forever, Momfrom phone 204

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Retired Marine Exemplifies Marine Corps Motto “Semper Fidelis”

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Last January, a friend posted a picture on her Facebook timeline. It was of someone’s yard, with coffee creamer bottles and tv dinner trays placed all around.
At first glance, it looked like the yard of a tweaker, someone who uses methamphetamines, therefore does really strange things that seem to make sense to only them.
Then another story came about. This was the yard of an ex-cook in the military and the tv dinner trays represented someone he knew who died in the line of duty. It was said that the man stood outside and saluted the trays.
Intrigued, I went to the man’s house one day and found out something much different. Something even more amazing.
Standing out on the lawn was an elderly black man. He was saluting and waving to cars driving by. I asked him if I could ask him a few questions about his yard.
The man took me to the side of his house where he had a makeshift museum of his impressive 31-year career in the United States Marine Corps. Retired Master Gunnery Sergeant M.C. Long was born April 21, 1928 in Bessemer, Alabama. He enlisted in the Marine Corps as a 16-year-old in 1944, two years after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established a directive to allow African-Americans to enlist in the military.
“I received basic training at Montford Point Camp at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. It was where they sent the Negroes during the years of segregation.” said Long.
Montford Point Camp was, indeed, a facility at Camp LeJeune where, according to the Montford Point Marine Association’s website, approximately 20,000 recruits received basic training during World War II, from 1942 until 1949, when President Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the Armed Forces. According to the same website, in July 1949, there were 1,525(1.6 percent of the corps) enlisted African-American men in the Marine Corps. Long was among these men.
Long’s Military Occupational Specialty was as a fighter pilot. He fought in three wars: World War II, Korean and Vietnam. In 1944, he fought in the month-long battle to liberate Guam from Japanese forces.
“We were taught to kill or be killed for the safety of the country,” said Long. “I was fortunate to have never been wounded.”
Perris Island, Bakersfield, Okinawa, San Diego and Korea are among places Long was stationed.
Long retired from the Marine Corps in 1975 as a Master Gunnery Sergeant, which is the highest enlisted rank available to Marines. Master Gunnery Sergeants serve as technical experts in their Military Occupational Specialty, and offer leadership in their field to other Marines.
Long’s son was also a Marine while his grandson was in the Army.
Long was married once in 1948 and was married to his second wife, Charlotte from 1958 until her death in 1995. They have four daughters who live in Northern California and his son from his first marriage lives in North Carolina.
Living in Bakersfield since before his retirement in 1975, Long was instrumental in the implementation of several programs for youth, including the Marine’s Toys for Tots, The Young Marines and the physical education programs at several area high schools.
Long receives hot lunches from Kern County Aging and Adult Services’ Senior Nutrition Program. He sets the trays outside in his yard to show his appreciation for the meals. Sometimes they give him rides to the doctor, since he can no longer drive.
Anyone driving down Belle Terrace in Bakersfield can catch Long standing in his yard saluting cars as they drive by. If you stop and ask, he will also take you on a tour of his makeshift museum. Long exemplifies the motto of the United States Marine Corps, “Semper Fidelis” a Latin phrase adopted by the Marine Corps in 1883 and meaning “always faithful.”
Thank you so much for your continued service Master Sergeant Long.

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Nine Year-Old Artist Creates Art Through Inspiration

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Lindsay J. Moser’s first completed watercolor painting.

Lindsay J. Moser’s favorite painting is one she did of two wolves for her grandfather. In October, at the Kern County Fair, that painting won the 9 year-old four awards.
Lindsay was awarded the Best of Show plaque for ages 7 to 9, The Bakersfield  Art Association Scholarship Award for Fine Arts, Peoples’ Choice award and first place. She also had a beach scene painting, which was awarded second place and Chairman’s Choice. Another piece of art created by Lindsay was a sketch of a wolf that also won first place in her age group.
Lindsay painted the wolves when she was 8. Her grandma  had cancer and was not expected to live much longer.Her grandpa, Larry Queen, 59, was very sad all of the time. Lindsay wanted to give him something special to cheer him up. She had already given her grandma, who was from The Netherlands, a painting of a windmill next to a creek.
According to her mother, Carolyn Moser, 40, Lindsay likes to surprise people in her family with her paintings.
“What makes her paintings so special is that she paints with people in mind. They are very personal,” said Moser. “It’s even more special because Lindsay’s grandma was still alive when she presented the painting to her grandpa.”
When Queen was asked what he thought of his granddaughter’s surprise painting, he said, “Very cool, very life-like. It was very special because Grandma was there with us.”
Moser said that her daughter began drawing “as soon as she could hold a pencil.” Her talent for painting was not realized until she started attending art classes at Schilling Art School in Rosedale, at the age of 8.
Her first painting on canvas entered in the Kern County Fair was of a black fluffy dog, for which she was awarded Chairman’s Choice. Lindsay chose the dog because it reminded her of her own dog, Lexi, and because she loves dogs. She recently surprised her aunt with a painting of a Boston Terrier, the same breed of dog her aunt owns.
Both Moser and Queen agree that the eyes in all of her animal paintings and sketches are expressive.
“Each new painting shows a new level of maturity,” says her mother. “Art school has helped her develop in many different styles and mediums. The teacher at the art school is going to start teaching her what they teach the adults.”
Lindsay welcomes the challenge.
Most recently, Lindsay completed her first watercolor painting of tulips with a windmill in the distance and surprised her great-uncle, also from The Netherlands, with it.
Last year, in her second-grade class at Stockdale Christian School, Lindsay’s teacher had her help the other students with art.
“They ask if they can have art lessons from me,” said Lindsay.
Her advice to other kids her age is to “Practice at home and go to art school.”

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Lindsay’s multi award-winning painting of wolves.

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The 9-year-old artist in front of another award-winning painting she created for her dad, Rob Moser.

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Lindsay J. Moser and her first place winning wolf sketch.

Life After Meth

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With so much negative news about the war on drugs, once in a while ,  it’s  nice to hear about someone who has won their battle with them.
David  Hamberlin, 48, of Quanah, Texas has been clean for nearly three years. That’s  no small feat since he has been addicted  to  meth since the age of 19.
Hamberlin  was introduced to meth by his best friend, who did not snort it or smoke it but shot it. His first time was in his arm. Hamberlin said that after that he never quit unless he was in jail. It is his opinion that people with emotional problems become addicted
“It helps with what they are running from, I think,” said Hamberlin.
Hamberlin was spending $60 to $100 a day on meth. He got money for this by stealing ATM machines, for which he was sentenced to prison three times, totalling 12 years.
When asked when he decided to quit and why, Hamberlin said “It just sort of happened. Using became monotonous. Failed relationships, jail, prison, friends ratting on eachother or dying. It just got to the point where the normal life didn’t look so bad.”
He had tried court-ordered rehabs, but they never worked. He quit by leaving the state and staying with friends who didn’t use. Then when he came back home, he moved away from everyone he knew and got into church.
“This really was a winning combination and key to my sobriety,” said Hamberlin. “The only real changes I made was moving to another state away from my ‘friends.’ I think that’s the single most important thing you can do to start and keep clean. But you can’t hide from drugs. They are everywhere, in every community. I meet druggies often, but I don’t befriend them. The catch is, if you are willing to move away from everyone you know, then you’re probablyat the point in your life where staying clean isn’t gonna be that hard. It’s taking that huge step alone that’s hard.”
Hamberlin thinks that most addicts are ashamed of their addiction, so they avoid family members.
“Except my dad, he was a biker and I was always up front with what I did,” he said. “He was the only one who stuck by me. The rest of my family I avoided except around Christmas time. I felt obligated to make a showing then.”
Hamberlin was also a pretty popular guy in high school but as he got into drugs, friends slowly fell away.
Asked about regrets, Hamberlin had this to say:
“I’m not the type of person to feel regret, really. You mess up all the time being an addict, so you learn to move on and forget it. But I guess BMX is my regret. Not once did I not place in the top three in every race. I always trophied. But I couldn’t be an addict and race. I loved riding so I got into riding ramps and pools. I dropped racing, but could still fulfill my love of riding and not be around crowds of people watching. But I could have went much further in my pro career had I not used.”
The biggest change in his life has been how other things are more important now.
“Before, scoring dope was everyday’s main focus. Now my main problems are like wondering if I should stand in line to get a TV on Black Friday or pay someone to stand there for me,” he said.
Asked what keeps him from using now that he is clean, Hamberlin said “It’s hard to say. I’ve pushed the memories of that lifestyle so far back that I don’t even think about that part of me. I just focus on work, hanging out with my dog and getting back into BMX riding”
Years of meth use have taken a toll on Hamberlin’s health.
“My heart is kind of worn out. Overworked. I take two different kinds of meds. I’ve lost three friends this year alone due to heart attacks. All who were ex-users in their late 30s, early 40s.”
Hamberlin also had this to say about giving advice to young people about drugs:
“I’m sorry to say that I don’t think there’s advice you can give. All kids know the risk of using drugs now. It’s taught in school now and on TV. So most kids that use now have an underlying issue that none of my advice is going to make any difference. But any attention is good attention, and I’ll always be there to help anyone who’s willing to listen.”
“In closing, I’ll tell you that drugs will only wreck any dreams you have. Your friends will be drug addicts, too, so not only do you have to worry about the cops getting you, you gotta worry about your friends getting you, too. It’s a dark world, where there is no light. You’re in that tunnel, but you will never find light at the end until you get clean. People Facebook me often for tips about a loved one on drugs, and I am always there in that area because I know what can happen when there’s not.”

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David Hamberlin in a mugshot(left) before becoming clean and after at work(right)

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Hamberlin in mid-air

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Hamberlin and his best friend Yogi.