A quartet of Fernandina Beach military veterans that completed a more than 3,000 mile 51-day row across the Atlantic Ocean to raise awareness and money for veteran suicides is gaining national attention for its extraordinary fund-raising effort.
The four — Billy Cimino (US Army), Cameron Hanson (US Air Force), Hupp Huppman (US Navy) and Paul Lore (US Marines) — finished their incredible journey from the Canary Islands to Antigua this past Tuesday, and appeared live on Fox News about 11 a.m. yesterday (Thursday, February 3). The 9 am – 11 am “America’s Newsroom” has been averaging 1.75 million viewers so far this year making it the top-rated morning news show in the country. They also appeared on other Fox News broadcasts nationally and on Jacksonville affiliates throughout the day.
An amazing aspect of this story is that this isn’t a group of young guys in their 20s or 30s. Those years are behind them. These four are in their late forties and early to late fifties. They are also four of the nicest and most easy-going fellows I’ve ever been fortunate enough to call friends.
The quartet has so far raised some $830,000, which will go toward helping veterans overcome PTSD and prevent the abnormally high number of veteran suicides.
Fox News wisely left the crew’s site Foarfromhome.com on the screen during the more than five-minute national news broadcast co-hosted by Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino each weekday morning. Hopefully that will generate more funds for the veteran cause.
The exhausted crew is expected back in Fernandina this weekend along with friends and family members who met them on the dock when they arrived in Antigua.
The next time you see any of the four guys around town give ‘em a hug or handshake. Better yet, give ‘em a few bucks for the vets. And ask Paul Lore if he rowed that boat across the ocean wearing his trademark vest and long-sleeve shirt.
I didn’t see a word about this amazing feat in the Friday, February 4 issue of the local News leader. I guess the folks that run that alleged newspaper consider the item as newsworthy as the nationally reported story about illegal aliens that the federal government is dumping by the thousands into our community, particularly our school system, that it also ignores.
For more information on the group and its veteran fund raising program go to: www.foarfromhome.com.
Wait! What? Seven years ago, Robert Allison, a shrewd local investor, who was pivotal in the construction of Fernandina Beach’s downtown marina, bought a chunk of Yulee acreage for $190,000. Seven years later he sold it to Jax Senior Living LLC for $1.7 million earning a tidy $1,510,000 profit.
Mr. Allison should have waited another year as he would have earned almost $2 million more in profit.
Despite the property being appraised at $1.41 million by the property appraiser as “open rural property” the Nassau County School District purchased it recently for $3.6 million.
That number seems excessive. Well, maybe the Nassau County School Board thinks because the money doesn’t belong to them, but to county tax payers, “what the heck!”
How do they explain paying $2 million more than the appraised value? Anybody?
No, Diversity Is Not Our Strength
By Ed Thompson
(This is the second in a series of commentaries by local resident Ed Thompson. The first ran January 21. To read it go to http://www.davescottblog.com/democrats-are-crying-uncle-as-they-face-massive-fallout-from-their-woke-agenda-failed-policies-angry-citizens/)
E Pluribus Unum – the traditional motto of the United States.
The traditional motto of the United States of America was approved to appear on the Great Seal of the United States by an Act of Congress in 17821. The Latin “E Pluribus Unum” translates as “Out of many, one,” and originally served as a reference to the 13 (many) colonies that had united as one nation: the United States of America.
As the United States grew and prospered, it welcomed many from around the world. New immigrants representing many nations, ethnicities, religions, and races added new experiences and richness to the fabric of American culture and society. The United States became The Melting Pot – a place where people of diverse backgrounds all contributed to a new, unique American culture. Assimilation was a two-way street as aspects of immigrant cultures were adopted, and as immigrants became immersed in American everyday life. Much like a good stew, the whole became greater than the sum of its parts. Americans, whether multi-generational or newly immigrant, had the opportunity to share in that continually evolving, yet common culture. The brilliance of The Melting Pot was readily apparent as symbols of American culture spread throughout the world – through movies, television, and music. Immigration to the United States has always flourished as people around the world have sought the opportunity to pursue The American Dream. E Pluribus Unum.
Beginning in the 1980s, a new focus began to emerge. That focus was on the diversity of the many groups that had made their home in the United States. In contrast to The Melting Pot where the focus was on how all contributed to one common culture, the focus shifted to the differences between groups. Rather than focusing on those things that Americans share in common, the emphasis become those things that are unique and differentiated. Rather than treating people the same, we were to treat people differently. Slowly, those things that had united us under a common culture were pulled apart, and a shift was made away from The Melting Pot, and toward Multiculturalism. Assimilation was subsequently cast as ethnocentric or racist, and Americans were told they should hold no expectation that immigrants could or should adapt to American cultural norms. The adoption of any aspects of other groups is cursed as the sin of “Cultural Appropriation.” Instead of “us” or “we” (first person), people became “they” and “them” (third person). Instead of being united, Americans are being divided by diversity. Indeed, “American culture” is now deemed to be a legacy of “Systemic Racism” and “White Supremacism.” Ex Uno, Multi.
Diversity is the wedge that has been used to drive the Balkanization of America. The American experiment has been successful largely because we had embraced The Melting Pot that built a common touchpoint for all Americans. We could share based on common ethics, morals, experiences, and expectations. We could all strive for better lives and a better country based on a shared foundation. Diversity and Multiculturalism seeks to destroy that common foundation. Its results can be seen in ethnic enclaves that fail to assimilate and see no advantage in doing so. It’s seen in radicalized politics where political parties find it necessary to appeal to fringe groups rather than “the middle” that it’s increasingly difficult to identify due to a lack of unifying culture. We can see the evidence all around us as the shift has been to the differences between people that define them rather than what we hold in common.
So no, diversity is NOT our strength. Our strength has been the ability to welcome diverse peoples and assimilate all within a common American culture. We need to let go of the deadly embrace of diversity and return to the true strength of The Melting Pot.
E Pluribus Unum.
1 In 1956, the US Congress adopted “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States.
(Editor’s note: Ed’s commentary will continue next week with “Equity is NOT the Same as Equality”)
(Ed Thompson earned his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems at Florida International University in Miami while also competing in men’s basketball. A true student/athlete, he completed his degree Magna Cum Laude. He completed his MBA at the University of North Carolina Greensboro while working in Information Technology at Sara Lee/Hanes Brands. He moved into Supply Chain Management Consulting with Price Waterhouse. Combining his IT and business experience, he helped lead the growth of i2 Technologies to become the leading Supply Chain software company in the early 2000s. In 2008, he founded his own consulting organization. In 2011 joined Logility as the Sr. Vice President of Global Services in 2011 Ed retired in 2020 and he and his wife Yohanna now split their time between homes in Fernandina Beach, Florida and Mijas, Spain.)
Paid Vacation: Is your company as generous as ABC, which suspended obnoxious gasbag, Whoopie Goldberg, with a two-week paid vacation for telling her audience on “The View” that the Holocaust was not about race?
Hail To The Whaaaat? It took two years and probably millions of dollars for the Washington D.C. NFL franchise to come up with a new name – The Commanders — for its football team after it caved to the cancel culture crowd and dropped the “Redskins” moniker. OK, here’s what’s next: Buccaneers = Bucs for short; Patriots =Pats for short; Vikings = Vikes for short; Commanders = Commies for short. And the team song? “Hail to the Commies?” Oh well, Bernie Sanders, AOC and their socialist pals will love it.
Rotten Reviews Sink Cruise Plans: If you’re thinking about taking a cruise do your due diligence. We didn’t and it cost us $1,500.
We impulsively booked an 11-day American Cruise Lines Cruise labeled “Grand New England” for this May.
Only after we booked and paid a deposit did we bother to look at American Cruise Line’s online reviews. Yikes! They were devastating. Based on many of the reviews you’d think the company’s guests were aboard a German U Boat at the height of World War II’s Atlantic campaign being besieged by depth charges.
Negative reviews ranged from crew members not showing up and unexplained itinerary changes to lousy food and dirty cabins. There were multiple complaints concerning failure to return deposits, unadvertised charges, and numerous rude or ignored calls and letters. Even more disturbing was former employees of the cruise line being among the complainants, verifying customer grievances.
Like us, many of the disgruntled reviewers hadn’t even boarded a cruise line vessel when they peppered the site with complaints. They were attempting to cancel their reservations and get their money back. After reading testimonials from dozens of unhappy and pissed-off reviewers I’ve concluded that the company makes more money off people who never step foot on one of their ships, but who plop down deposits and then never have a chance of seeing a dime of it reimbursed.
Some of the worst reviews were on the Better Business Bureau site. Here’s a small sampling:
- ” I, like so many others making comments here, will never deal with this company again, and I will do all I can to share this experience with other potential customers.”
- “My mother and I have taken many river cruises, and this was by far the worst ever. Don’t waste your time and energy with this company. I wish I could include pictures of the ship to prove my point.”
- My guess is they are in serious financial trouble and are willing to do or say anything to stay in business. I will not book with them again and would suggest others be careful.”
- ”DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS COMPANY! I had to write two emails and call three times to even get a response. And I was told that “The people who make these decisions don’t take phone calls.” How convenient.”
The following samples from TripAdvisor and Yelp were even worse:
- “We never got to take our cruise as it was cancelled the day before we were to check in. We were shocked to be told our refund would take up to 90 days to be credited to our credit card. We paid in full for the cruise months ago and now they will hold our money for 3 months.”
- ‘Please read all reviews before booking. We call this the dirty cruise. Filthy boat, poor service, awful food. And once on, what do you do? You can’t get off and fly home. It was just awful.”
- “We were supposed to go on an 8 day/7 night cruise. The ship came back to the port on day 6, so we would have to spend 2 nights stopped at the dock. When my husband and I realized we were back at the port we changed our flight to the very next day so we could end the nightmare that cruise was.”
- “DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY. I have been on several cruises; this was the worst. Doesn’t deserve a one star; 0 star.”
If you’re hesitating because there are some positive reviews beware as the following astute disgruntled passenger warns:
- “STAY AWAY!!! We have had a horrible experience with American Cruise Line.
SAIL CLEAR. As if that wasn’t bad enough, after finding all of these scathing 1 star YELP reviews. If you look closely to the 5-star reviews.. you’ll notice something interesting. EVERY 4 STAR REVIEW IS FROM CT WHERE THE COMPANY IS BASED. Imagine that.
If you’re wary of the critical reviews, then ask one of the dour looking American Cruise Line passengers wandering aimlessly down the streets of Fernandina Beach with name tags dangling around their necks, how they like their trip.
Based on the reviews we read the foarfromhome guys that rowed across the Atlantic had a more relaxing and enjoyable experience than the sullen American Cruise passengers.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: If you miss piano man John Springer since his weekly gigs at the now closed downtown Alley Cat are over, you will have a chance to hear and see the personable tuxedo-clad performer and his drummer sidekick, Rob Taylor, Saturday February 26. The duo will be performing at American Legion Post 54 on South 3rd Street from 5-9 p.m. It’s open to the public Italian night so you can also eat and drink for the most reasonable prices hereabouts.