Truth is Truth

‼️💥 Inspiring, huh? Here are more quotes attributed to Marian Wright Edelman: We have found that great people are able to make the connection between great philosophy and tangible action in the real world and the lives of real people every day. We simply aspire to that as a goal too. ~ Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”

“Children must have at least one person who believes in them. It could be a counselor, a teacher, a preacher, a friend. It could be you. You never know when a little love, a little support will plant a small seed of hope.”

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

“The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.”

“You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable and transform even the biggest nation.”

“Be real. Try to do what you say, say what you mean, and be what you seem.”

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

“Character, self-discipline, determination, attitude and service are the substance of life.”

“It is so important not to let ourselves off the hook or to become apathetic or cynical by telling ourselves that nothing works or makes a difference. Every day, light your small candle…. The inaction and actions of many human beings over a long time contributed to the crises our children face, and it is the action and struggle of many human beings over time that will solve them with God’s help. So every day, light your small candle.”

“Be a good ancestor. Stand for something bigger than yourself. Add value to the Earth during your sojourn.”

“You can achieve much in life if you don’t mind doing the work and giving someone else the credit.”

“It’s time for greatness – not for greed. It’s a time for idealism – not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.”

“A nation that does not stand for its children does not stand for anything and will not stand tall in the future.”

“The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people’s children.”

“Investing in [children] is not a national luxury or a national choice. It’s a national necessity. If the foundation of your house is crumbling, you don’t say you can’t afford to fix it while you’re building astronomically expensive fences to protect it from outside enemies. The issue is not are we going to pay – it’s are we going to pay now, upfront, or are we going to pay a whole lot more later on.”

“Learn to be quiet enough to hear the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in others.”

“Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.”

“You didn’t have a choice about the parents you inherited, but you do have a choice about the kind of parent you will be.”

“If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.”

“No time is ever wasted if you have a book along as a companion.”

“It is utterly exhausting being Black in America – physically, mentally, and emotionally. While many minority groups and women feel similar stress, there is no respite or escape from your badge of color.”

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”

“A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back – but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.”

“Don’t just dream about grandiose acts of doing good. Every day do small ones, that add up over time to positive patterns.”

“Never let us confuse what is legal with what is right. Everything Hitler did in Nazi Germany was legal, but it was not right.”

“Failure is just another way to learn how to do something right.”

“What’s wrong with our children? Adults telling children to be honest while lying and cheating. Adults telling children to not be violent while marketing and glorifying violence… I believe that adult hypocrisy is the biggest problem children face in America.”

“When Jesus Christ asked little children to come to him, he didn’t say only rich children, or White children, or children with two-parent families, or children who didn’t have a mental or physical handicap. He said, Let all children come unto me.”

“It really takes a community to raise children, no matter how much money one has. Nobody can do it well alone. And it’s the bedrock security of community that we and our children need.”

“Dr. King used to say, ‘I was sitting in the back of the bus, but my mind was always upfront.’ Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. You aim high and you work very hard and now I think it’s clear that you can be anything you want to.”

“We’re spending, on average, three times more for prison than for public-school pupils. That’s the dumbest investment policy. It doesn’t make us safer.”

“You’d better stay determined because that’s how our ancestors got us where we are.”

“If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.”

“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”

“We are not going to deal with the violence in our communities, our homes, and our nation, until we learn to deal with the basic ethic of how we resolve our disputes and to place an emphasis on peace in the way we relate to one another.”

“This act will leave a moral blot on his presidency”

“There are levels of outrage, and there’s a point at which you can’t be trespassed upon anymore.”

“If we think we have ours and don’t owe any time or money or effort to help those left behind, then we are a part of the problem rather than the solution to the fraying social fabric that threatens all Americans and the very dream that is America.”

“Understand and be confident that each of us can make a difference by caring and acting in small as well as big ways.”

“It is the responsibility of every adult… to make sure that children hear what we have learned from the lessons of life and to hear over and over that we love them and that they are not alone.”

“We do not have a money problem in America. We have a values and priorities problem.”

“You are in charge of your own attitude whatever others do or circumstances you face. The only person you can control is yourself… worry more about your attitude than your aptitude or lineage.”

“The outside world told black kids when I was growing up that we weren’t worth anything. But our parents said it wasn’t so, and our churches and our schoolteachers said it wasn’t so. They believed in us, and we, therefore, believed in ourselves.”

“I was taught that the world had a lot of problems; that I could struggle and change them; that intellectual and material gifts brought the privilege and responsibility of sharing with others less fortunate; and that service is the rent each of us pays for living – the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time or after you have reached your personal goals.”

“I feel very lucky to have grown up having interaction with adults who were making change but who were far from perfect beings. That feeling of not being paralyzed by your incredible inadequacy as a human being, which I feel every day, is a part of the legacy that I’ve gotten from so many of the adult elders.”

“Don’t assume a door is closed; push on it. Don’t assume if it was closed yesterday that it is closed today. Don’t ever stop learning and improving your mind. If you do, you’re going to be left behind.”

“Education is a precondition to survival in America today.”

“You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.”

“There should not be one new dime in tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires as long as millions of children in America are poor, hungry, uneducated and without health coverage.”

“You were born God’s original. Try not to become someone’s copy.”

“Be grateful for good breaks and kind favors but don’t count on them.”

“Why are guns the only unregulated consumer products in America? We regulate toy guns and teddy bears, but we do not regulate a product that kills 4,600 children a year.”

“Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.”

“In every seed of good there is always a piece of bad.”

“Education remains one of the black community’s most enduring values. It is sustained by the belief that freedom and education go hand in hand, that learning and training are essential to economic quality and independence.”

“The legacy I want to leave is a child-care system that says that no kid is going to be left alone or left unsafe.”

“There are so many noises and pulls and competing demands in our lives that many of us never find out who we are. Learn to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in other people.”

“Each American must remember and help America remember that the fellowship of human beings is more important than the fellowship of race and class and gender in a democratic society.”

“You really can change the world if you care enough.”

“It is [children] who are God’s presence, promise and hope for mankind.”

“Parents have become so convinced that educators know what is best for their children that they forget that they themselves are really the experts.”

“Service is the rent we pay for living.”

“Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?”

“The civil-rights movement was completely impossible to achieve. But look at what ordinary people were able to do because they were willing to sacrifice their lives to stay with it. They didn’t expect a political process to respond to them. They made the political process respond to them. To say “It’s so bad I won’t bother” is to give up on your children and give up on your future.”

“No one, Eleanor Roosevelt said, can make you feel inferior without your consent. Never give it.”

ABOUT Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights activist and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, has dedicated her life to those who cannot always lift themselves up. Edelman obtained a law degree at Yale and worked in Mississippi, becoming the first Black woman to be admitted to that state’s bar.

As a leader with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Edelman helped coordinate the Poor People’s Campaign after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. She founded the Children’s Defense Fund in the 1970s, to apply pressure on the federal government to help poor children and to coordinate nationwide activities to help children.

Considered the nation’s most powerful children’s lobby, CDF secured the 1990 Act for Better Child Care, bringing more than $3 billion into daycare facilities and other programs. Many consider this law the first federal government acknowledgment that children matter.

With millions of American children living in poverty, Edelman continues her advocacy, focusing on expanding Head Start, health care and support for homeless children. In l993 Edelman published her book, The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Biography courtesy of The National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Family and Friends: both can be both

Many people have come in and out of our life together as The Burnett Family, est. 1979.

Including our parents, siblings, children, and extended family members such as aunts, uncles, and cousins – the number of family members T and I are connected with biologically is legitimately still a very large one. We love them all despite how close we may or may not be on a day to day basis at any given moment.

Likewise is the number of true friends we’ve made over these years a very large group of individuals. There are many paradoxical sayings about the life family you are born with and the life family you grow into along the journey, (with variations ad infinitum) … These friends are indeed our family too.

We’ve come to conclude at this point in our life continuum that both can be both. That’s been lots of work learning this lesson and finally arriving here is definitely cool.

DIFFERENT TRIBES

Our living blood relatives have come in and out of our lives over the years for whatever the reasons. We have come to understand that this is a natural order in life. Relationships with siblings and children naturally change dynamically with individual growth and interests. Lifestyle choices and personal belief systems impact familial relationships and closeness.

18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”  20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

— Luke 15:18-20 (American Standard Bible)

We’ve learned there is no such thing as the static “perfect or dysfunctional” families that are too often depicted in popular media as cultural “norms.” All families are simultaneously dysfunctional and perfect. That’s cool too. We’ve also learned that in our desire to love our family as parents and grandparents of adult progeny that we must also care for our selves and our own empty nest family too. However, these are the types of lessons that most of us can’t truly learn until we actually reach this age.

MUSICIANS AND ARTIST CLASS

We have many lifelong and true friends made through the common bond of music. And many of those friendships have grown to be family-like in mutual commitment, being tested in strength over time, and genuine brotherly love for one another.

Musicians are our natural life community among fellow humans. Particularly those who play the types of instruments we do and the types of music we do were typically the “not cool” kids growing up. We’ve found that doesn’t change. That “not coolness” remains in adulthood, but we’ve been fortunate to find our “tribe” of like minds.

Military veterans are also our community to the extent of our mutual respect for voluntary service to the United States of America. We inherently share a common ethos and motivation to serve others. Considering how long we have been living autonomously, we’ve also found out that it’s “okay” if the people you share genetics and blood with, don’t like hanging out with you and doing the things you like to do.

We don’t always like what blood relatives like. We’ve often experienced this and it was uncomfortable to admit to ourselves at first. But, that doesn’t change the genuine love for them. Nor does it negate any love they may genuinely have for us as well. It’s life.

FAMILY + LIFE’S WORK

The Professional Musicians’ and Teaching Artists’ life is one of constant study, research, and growth that’s validated through public presentations and is preserved as permenant documents like printed publications and audio recordings. It’s a lifelong pursuit and lots of fun too. We have validated our long belief that professional musicians and teaching artists can engage family life in concert with being among the creative class. We continue to serve as living proof of this validated synergy at each stage of our journey.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

— 1 Corinthians 13:11 (King James Bible)

We started with a plan as a family and despite inherent challenges, have not varied too far from our original promise and commitment to each other as husband and wife when we formed The Burnett Family, est. 1979. Our parents are all gone now and it is only our generation and those who follow who remain. Just as our elders have become better understood, more wise, and insightful to us over the years, so will we to our progeny. Only time validates us.

YOUR LIFE: IT’S BIGGER THAN YOU

Only fools live for themselves and the single day. We have met and known many fools over the years. We were among the foolish at various stages of our lives. Such is life.

We have found it essential for us personally to live a life that is mostly of service to others and to our various communities. This life of service is based upon our own developed personal beliefs and Christian principles from our childhood upbringing.

Serving others makes you better. Serving others completes your own goals to levels that you alone could not imagine or achieve.

We have lived to see the tangible validation of this philosophy and credo over two professional music careers (serving with military bands for 22+ years and currently serving the at-large music industry for 26+ years and counting).

BURNETT MUSIC FOUNDATION

Burnett Music Foundation purposely began in phases by creating four Jazz music centered businesses as its core programs over the last 15 years. At the heart of all BMF programming is the inherent synergy of building community, building educational opportunity, and building arts infrastructure in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

See our work:

o Artists Recording Collective – ARC Recording Label (https://ArtistsRecordingCollective.biz)

o Bird Boot Camp (https://BirdBootCamp.org)

o Jazz Artistry Now (https://JazzArtistryNow.com)

o Kansas City Area Youth Jazz (https://YouthJazz.us)

Tax Deductible Contributions: We are a Tax Exempt Organization under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501 (c) (3). Donors can deduct contributions they make to us under IRC Section 170. We’re also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522.

Get involved! 

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Visit BurnettMusic.biz for more information.

Culminations mark endings and also new beginnings

Armed Forces School of Music Faculty Lab Band

My absolutely favorite military music assignment from my entire career was at the US Army Element, School of Music as a member of the staff and faculty where I also performed with the Armed Forces School of Music Faculty Lab Band jazz ensemble under the direction of Maurice Williams, Jr.

This was the “tightest” jazz ensemble big band I have ever played with – still to date.

We rehearsed every day during noon hour, a tradition that I remembered during each of my times as a student attending one of the courses there.

I recall skipping lunch with friends and going to listen to the Faculty Lab Band rehearsals instead of eating lunch at the mess hall.

It was cool that I eventually became a member of that band.

And our director, Master Warrant Officer Maurice Williams, Jr. was the immediate former director of the Army Blues jazz ensemble in Washington DC.

He’s an historic figure and pioneer. I learned lots watching how he directed and programmed our outstanding band.

And the way he managed and led all of us as highly skilled artists was a master class each day. He always kept everything focused on the music.

We played great charts too – killing! I still model my own approach to directing large jazz ensembles after him in so many ways.

When I left the school assignment I asked Mr. Williams for a signed photo. He said certainly. I was expecting one of his official military photos.

Photo gift: Mr. Williams and his Army Blues

Instead, he gave me this photo from one of his last performances leading the Army Blues. It’s their 1991 concert at the international jazz festival in Montreux, Switzerland.

endings and beginnings
Part of our “Scrapbook” wall in our storage room.

My professional military music career began as soon as I graduated high school when I passed the auditions for both the Army and Air Force music programs. I chose the Army because its program started new musicians at a higher rank and pay grade, not to mention the Army was larger and had more band assignments around the world to choose from.

I had great teachers during my developmental years and that is largely the reason I was able to pass the audition at such a young and inexperienced age. Thanks to instruction from my school band director, Mr. Jim Fuchs and to my private lessons teacher, Mr. Charlie Molina I was able to qualify and enlist.

A 21st Century gathering with our kids.

Passing that audition resulted in my eventually staying with military music and going to the Army band in Germany where I ultimately met, fell in love with, and married Terri Anderson. We started our family together, raised two children into fine adults, and also finished a complete active duty military career as a family. Military families should be commended.

This Armed Forces School of Music assignment was literally the pinnacle of what is now objectively documented to be a stellar career for me in the Army serving as a professional musician. I was there on an unaccompanied tour. And it was a bittersweet situation where I was separated from Terri and our children. I have learned that is a typical rub in life. Good with bad.

A 20th Century visit with Mother Burnett

Our Commandant (Tom Davis) and Command Sergeant Major (Charlie Heintz) wanted me to bring Terri and our children out to live in Virginia where the Armed Forces School of Music was located and I could have stayed assigned there indefinitely. But, Terri and I knew that living in the Tidewater Area would not have been a good fit for our family. It was huge geographically and population was in the millions.

My bosses also knew that I had made the decision to retire as soon as I could after serving 20 years so that I could go back home. One day they called me into the Commandant’s office and asked if I liked serving at the Armed Forces School of Music, and if so, what would make me stay in the military longer. Of course I actually loved the job. It was the best one to that point.

Guest Suite framed photos of the Commandant and Command Sergeant Major who let me come home.

I simply told them our reasoning behind our family’s decision. And I didn’t expect any other consideration. I was a First Sergeant and senior soldier by then. There was a saying in my time, “if the Army wanted you to have a family, it would have issued you one.”

But Colonel Davis looked me in the eye and said we just happen to need a new enlisted bandleader where you want to go. It would be a perfect fit for your skill set considering what needs to be established there at this time. And he said that I would be paired with a senior warrant officer bandmaster to do that work.

So when that opening came up for the top enlisted job at the Army band in Missouri, I took it so that I could go home to be with my family. I stayed in another three years to complete my career.

And as they say, “the rest is history.”

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Visit BurnettMusic.biz for more information.

Musings in Cb: MOTHER BURNETT WORDS OF WISDOM (part 1)

Like most people, I have found my parents to have gotten “smarter” along with my own age and ultimately as my adult life experiences increased.

Amazing how that works, huh?

When your parents drop knowledge on you it is often well ahead of when you need or truly understand it.

Here’s one from our late mother, Vi Burnett.

I was in my middle forties when she laid this one on me and am now just truly appreciating what she said more fully because I have used it recently — but I can’t claim it as my own original thought:

“You can’t blame other people for your adult life not being what you want it to be, not even your parents. No, I guess you can but it’s not rational.”

— Vi Burnett, 1924-2012, BurnettFamilyUS.org

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Visit BurnettMusic.biz for more information.

“Black History” is everyday

Here’s an historic professional studio photograph of our late mother Violet Lorraine (b. 1924, d. 2012). It’s on permanent display with several other family photographs in a prominent place in our home.

Mom Burnett graduated from Olathe High School with her racially integrated class of 1941.

Our paternal aunt Aida Burnett was among her classmates and the only other Black student.

At 17, mom entered Pittsburg State Teacher’s College where she attended for two years until returning home to live in Olathe and work at the Sunflower Munitions Plant in service of the national ethos supporting the allied efforts to ensure a victorious resolution of World War II.

She subsequently married our father Clifford LeRoy when he returned home to Olathe after his World War II service as a Navy “Sea Bee.”

Several years after they had started a family together, my father re-enlisted in the active duty military, this time to serve in the Air Force.

I was almost two years old at the time we began these travels and also the youngest child of the family. I remember our military service years as among our happiest.

We had lived in Colorado and France, where three of my four younger siblings were born.

And then we lived in Michigan before settling in our maternal hometown city of Paola in the 1960s where our last brother was born.

Our parents divorced between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. Looking back from a more mature perspective, the established foundation we had been given by both of our parents, (along with the strong community paradigm we grew up within during those times,) enabled each of us as fellow school age siblings to successfully meet our challenges with overall resiliency. That’s cool.

Mom would ultimately live the remaining decades of her life as a happy resident and fine citizen of the greater Paola community.

She was also an active member of our church where she even played the piano as part of the music ministry – for services and for the choir.

She worked her way up in her professional career to ultimately serve as a state certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor for the (now defunct) Osawatomie State Hospital. We still have some of her business cards and awards.

Mom was the very first Black person (male or female) to do this type of work there and she even had a very nice “corner office” in her department’s building on the hospital campus.

She helped successfully raise very positively productive children (who were spread over three decades in ages) mostly during the period known as the American Civil Rights Era.

Each of us became adults who were equipped.

This is Black History.

It’s like the history of most any family, really.

And this story could likely be told with similar details by most Black families in America, and in almost any era, or from the perspective of most any generation.

What I would like to emphasize here in telling about our mother isn’t explicit in the preceding inspiring narrative.

But it’s likely the most important thing she’d want told and if not just simply remembered.

Mom never quit. No matter how good or how bad the particular circumstances, her faith remained very steady.

Hers was also a life that I witnessed as being tangible to my own and others, not simply a professional resume or good life obituary.

What’s not mentioned between the above heroic lines is the real heroism of continuing on after her mother died in a car accident when she was only six.

Mom and her baby sister went on to be raised by her aunt and uncle because our relatives didn’t allow their men to raise little girls all alone and by themselves back in those days.

What’s not mentioned between the above heroic lines is the real heroism of continuing on even after her widowed father died one day unexpectedly when his home’s heating stove literally burned his house down in the early morning hours before he was to leave for work.

What’s not mentioned between the above heroic lines is the real heroism of continuing on often positively and often only by her faith.

The importance of those historic lines above is what real good can happen in our own lives and those of other people when we don’t quit.

# # #

Us on the bus.

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.

Visit BurnettMusic.biz for more information.

“ON THIS DAY” (February 13, 2011)

? “ON THIS DAY” (February 13, 2011) ten years ago, we took our late mother Violet to lunch at Fort Leavenworth. Mom would have been 97 years old on February 24, 2021.

Here are a couple of photos of us that came up on my photos feed today:

PHOTO: Violet Lorraine Jackson Burnett – February 13, 2011 at Fort Leavenworth

(1) our mom Violet,

PHOTO: We took mom to lunch at Fort Leavenworth on February 13, 2011

and (2) me with our mom Violet.

She’s 87 years old in these photos and you can see lots of dark hair on her head.

I get my red/brown hair coloring and skin tone from her side of the family.

She never dyed her hair and neither do I.

I still have a full head of hair and not much gray.


SOME CANDID MOM PHOTOS OVER THE YEARS


Grandpa “Jack”
(George Jackson)

My maternal grandfather was not bald, so current science says that’s likely why neither am I. Similar findings point to facts regarding specific genes contributing to my not having much gray hair now in the same manner as my parents did not when they were 65. Just the way it goes, I guess.

COVER PHOTO BY OUR FRIEND DUANE HALLOCK

Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions

This is our traditional end-of-year post. The conclusion of 2020 also marks the end of the second decade of the first century of this millennium according to The Farmers’ Almanac (and the US Naval Observatory). Here’s to Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.

MMXX Remembrance

We completely purged and reorganized our home and life together in 2020 to match the phase of life we are now living. That’s pretty cool. As most of you likely know, doing this type of self-healing work has a renewing effect on the soul. Looking at one’s own history can be difficult. But it’s rewarding if you can. For us it was like having these 4+ decades of our life together put more firmly into proper perspective and giving us an objective balance moving forward within ourselves as individuals too. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.


It’s great to be done with 2020 in lots of ways. The global COVID-19 pandemic. It was also a US presidential election year that fostered an objective appreciation for governmental officials who are public servants, but most especially for those who are truly civic leaders. The election reflected our paradoxical US population. More people in history voted for and even more voted against the incumbent. It looks like democracy will win again. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.

Graphic Headlines are courtesy of US Elections 2020 | The Guardian

The 2020 Elections revealed that the same 50/50 divide of the Civil War Era still remains to this day in our nation. What I think is ridiculous, many others think to be reality. Social media became a major distortion field in 2020. So much so that I had to disconnect from some people who I have known for thirty years or more because seeing their posts kept resulting in me thinking less of them. And, seeing someone’s posts shouldn’t do that. I decided to leave them with their own thoughts and musings, as we are all entitled to have and remember the collegial times we shared in our youth. I had a caricature of some people who I didn’t really know at their core and that’s not fair to either of us. Have a great rest of your life old friends. It’s too short at best. Hence why I rarely post about politics . Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.


MMXX Renewal

As with every year, there were good things too.This year also marked both of our official retirements, the drawing of our respective social security pensions, and the launching of our family’s jazz music centered nonprofit organization, Burnett Music Foundation. We were able to safely produce three of our programs (ARC Student Jazz Jam Sessions, KC Area Youth Jazz, and Bird Boot Camp) utilizing the protocols used by US Army bands to mitigate coronavirus risk. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.


MMXX Resolutions

We resolve to be thankful for each day and each opportunity to interact with the people we love, to do the work that we love, and to have our health to enjoy each day together. Here’s to Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.


We sincerely agree with these
sentiments of our 44th POTUS.
..

COVER PHOTO

Feb. 17, 2009 – Aboard Air Force One, a close-up of the Presidents signature on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which he had just signed in Denver.
(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

AUTHORIZED USES: The official White House photograph are made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Thanksgiving … is a daily condition

Most family people who also have children and grandchildren can relate to the state of being thankful. It’s actually pretty easy to be thankful if your life is good and your kids are doing well also.

T and I watched our parents at this age live with grace and dignity. I often tell my siblings who missed seeing our mom grow through her 40s, 50s, and 60s that they missed the best of her in many ways. I’m thankful that our children and grandchildren met her there too.

But most successful people also learn to be thankful for the balance that comes with the inherent challenges of living. Jazz musicians often call this the blues. These blues help us grow toward realizing those good times. We have found that good times simply result from many years of positive effort being rewarded in some cool tangible context. We’ve seen this in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives as well as in our own.


Our Children and Grandchildren help give us perspective.

During a conversation the other day, T and I decided that one of the coolest aspects of this stage and life is that we’ve lived long enough to have already had a significantly positive impact upon the lives of other people. Our children. Our grandchildren. Our friends. Our colleagues. As well as the general people of those communities where we have been fortunate to make our home over the years as a family.

A relatively recent photograph of me with my sons and grandsons

Micah is now the age I was when I retired from my active duty military career after 22-years of continuous service. Lorri is now the age I was when I was selected for the special assignment as the First Sergeant of the Student Company at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia. Seth is now the age I was when I was selected for the special musical assignment with the NATO Band in Naples, Italy. Ethan is now the age I was when I chose to go to the Army band at Ansbach, Germany where Terri and I first met. Ariana is now the age I was when I was accepted to the Army Band Group Leader Course at the Armed Forces School of Music. Owen is now the age I was when I got serious about music and practicing the saxophone. Avery is now the age I was when my father was still active duty Air Force and we still lived at Kincheloe Air Force Base in the Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan Air Defense Sector. Hayden is now the age I was when I got my first “big boy” hair cut.


As Parents and Grandparents we still learn from our kids.

When our children first left home as young adults our instinct was to protect them as we did when they were children. We didn’t know any better and had to learn how to be parents of adults. Over the years we’ve (or rather I have) learned to trust what they were taught and trust they have practical common sense. Over protective to a fault sometimes.

Our daughter Lor, our son Seth, and our two youngest grandchildren

I will add to this parental transition and growth was my own personal distrust of most people in our society and nation as a black man. Yes, that sounds really awful considering everything positive and wonderful that I have been part of and have done throughout my life and career. But, since everyone has something to confront, this issue has been part of the deal of me becoming who I am in a more mature form. Reconciling contradictions is the essence of life after all. And it’s often a challenge for others to understand we are all works in progress no matter how old or experienced.

Our daughter Lor, our son Seth, and our two youngest grandchildren

The cool thing about being a grandparent is that you can look at your children and grandchildren and they will show you that you won life. You ran the table. They help you realize that you already have everything you need. Yes, our children and grandchildren taught us that. Even that littlest guy who seems to have lost total patience with the photo shoot.

We are truly thankful everyday.

John Henry was a man … was a real man

“Often we can find all of the #motivation and #answers we really need from the #history within our own #family” … 

John Henry Pratt was married to my great aunt Willa Beecham Pratt. Aunt Willa was the sister of my maternal grandmother Mary Jane Beecham Jackson. John and Willa Pratt were leading citizens and well respected among both the black and white communities of Olathe, Kansas.

John Henry worked for the railroad and Willa took in laundry along with cooking for various people and functions around town. By most standards they were considered “well off.” They had no biological children of their own. And I got to know them both pretty well during a good part of my childhood of the 1960s and 1970s after we came back to Kansas when my father’s active duty Air Force service was finished. I loved and respected them very much.



PRATT CONNECTION

When our mother’s mother was killed in an automobile accident in 1930, our mother was only 6 years old and her sister (our aunt) was a toddler.

HISTORIC NOTE: The Oriole – 1922 Paola High School Year Book. I graduated from Paola High School in 1974 as the Panthers. Our maternal grandfather George Jackson is featured prominently throughout the pages of this publication. And, as you see the Paola, Kansas school district was integrated 32 YEARS BEFORE the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka school desegregation case.


ALL HER CHILDREN ROLL CALL

Our family folklore tells that it wasn’t proper for a widowed man to raise two young girls. Thus the reasoning Willa and John Pratt took our mother and her baby sister in to live with them. And our maternal grandfather George Jackson would subsequently die in a house fire several years later, truly leaving the Jackson sisters orphaned. Our mother, Violet, as a very young girl, would naturally remain inconsolable for many years but would ultimately overcome and have a great life in her own right. That’s another story …

HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPH: “Our NCAA Division 1 Athletes” – Richard (d) and Nathaniel at Kivisto Field, University of Kansas where Richard was a music education major, varsity football star, and remains an all-time letterman. He went on to greatness as a successful musician in New York City. Nathaniel was an education major, multi-event varsity track star, and walk-on varsity basketball player at Wichita State University. They were adopted by Willa and John Pratt after our mother divorced their father.

SIBLINGS ROLL CALL: Richard Dean (d); Nathaniel Anthony; Joyce Nadine; Bonnie Jean; Christopher LeRoy; Penny Lynn (d); Mary Jane; Donnie Ray; Michelle Antoine (d); Keith Duane (d).


JOHN HENRY PRATT FAMILY FOLKLORE

John Henry Pratt is a legend in our family and I want to make sure that our children and grandchildren know how significant he is to them too. I hope they tell their assigns about John Henry Pratt for generations to come.

Growing up, we called him “Dilloy” or “Deak.” I still don’t know why or what these nicknames even mean to this day and I’m in my sixties now. My lasting memory of John Henry will be his unpretentious modesty and humbleness. It was clear, even from my perspective as a boy, that the man had his priorities together.

They told me that John Henry was a World War I veteran and he fought in Europe and saw combat duty in Germany. So I asked him about it once and he told me that when his segregated unit encountered the Germans they would not fight the black soldiers. John Henry said a German soldier told him face-to-face that they didn’t have anything against the blacks who were actually politically oppressed peoples like most Germans were then. I was surprised by this but he insisted it was truth.

John Henry built his life around his family, rather than building a family around his life. I liked that. Every successful man I have been in contact with has had their own version of this ethos. At this point in my life, it’s objectively safe to say I have successfully modeled this in my own way. John Henry was a man you could look up to and admire.

They told me he adopted my two older brothers and I asked him why. John Henry told me that it was the right thing to do at the time so he did it. And that was the extent of what he had to say about that topic. John Henry was not at all mean or angry for my asking, but so matter-of-fact about it that my childish curiosity was satisfied and I left it alone.

I recall one terrible argument between my parents and the Pratts were visiting our home. My dad and John Henry used to talk outside by their vehicles. They’d talk about their cars and any other subjects of the day. My dad was frustrated with my mother and was talking lots about their issues to John Henry. John Henry listened and didn’t say anything or interject during my dad’s passionate oration.

When my dad finished, John Henry told him that all of those things were part of being a husband to a woman and a grown ass man. He told my dad that he understood his frustrations as best he could knowing the two of them and their relationship at a distance. John Henry also told my dad that my mom and us children would be taken care of if he were to leave us. That ended the conversation on that topic and they moved on amicably to discussing the football prospects of the Chiefs.


FEATURED PHOTO

“PLAY IT WHERE IT LIES” Father’s Day golf with my youngest brother Keith Duane used to be an annual tradition. He was actually a more than pretty decent golfer. Me not so much. Average at best. Golf is one thing that I actually simply do for “fun.” We simply made a point to do it so we would spend time with each other. That’s cool. I’m almost certain he’d be happy knowing I had my clubs re-gripped and am golfing again.

They Call It Retirement… But, Is It Really?

We, in the USA, have traditionally mostly worked until a certain age range between 62 to 72 and then we typically retire to a terminal vacation status. That was literally the tradition for the generation before our late Baby Boomer cohort.

We both have decided to “retire” in July 2020. And we are very happy about this decision because it has come by our own choice. Our lives will not change drastically in the sense of most activities. We will simply now be our own bosses. That’s pretty cool.

We both have worked almost literally our entire lives, having had jobs since we were teenagers, having served in the active duty Regular Army as professional musicians, and having engaged successful careers as educators, as well as having worked in both federal government and corporate settings too. We’ve always been entrepreneurs.

We both made a point of subsidizing our art as musicians with day jobs that afforded a good living for our family but didn’t detract from our primary calling as artists. It was a difficult balance to maintain at times. However, we have always seemed to find synergy in this regard throughout these years.

We are going to enjoy this next phase of life and look forward to the opportunities it will bring. It’s going to be cool engaging the music-related projects we have established over the years, and the unlimited positive possibilities of our nonprofit organization.

We plan to golf, bowl, walk, and enjoy our ornamental gardening activities. We plan to visit our family and friends while engaging cultural sites around the USA.

We plan to visit our musical friends in Europe again and enjoy interacting with other people throughout the world as artists and humans. We hope to visit England (UK), Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Austria among other places.

And of course, there is the music. It was our mutual love of music that literally brought us together those decades ago. We plan to continue creating, practicing and teaching lots of music going forward.

Retirement? No, “next chapter.”