Posts Tagged ‘Character Education’

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2014
All Rights Reserved

Lord we thank Thee…for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies that make our lives delightful. Robert Louis Stevenson

The words of one of the most beloved poets best explain theGroup gratitude Kitch and I have for the priceless gifts we received in 2014 from our friends and family.

The year began with a memorable event at the Gateway Theater in Gettysburg. Thanks to the the kindness of Robert Monahan, Jr., the screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg was a perfect way to share the story of the Medal of Honor convention, the values associated with the Medal of Honor and the transformation of the students from North Plainfield, New Jersey who attended almost all of the convention events recorded in the documentary.

After the screening, we received this comment from a mother and grandmother who attended the screening:

IT REALLY SHOULD BE SHOWN TO THE SCHOOLS as the majority of the youth are not exposed to the humility, sincerity and dedication that you presented.


In March, we had the good fortune to participate in the Annual Ethics Conference at Marywood University. Organized by Dr. Murray Pyle and several of his colleagues at Marywood, it was a day of learning, and a priceless opportunity to make new friends and experience the beauty and the welcoming atmosphere of Kitch’s Alma Mater.

This is one of the transformational thoughts offered at the conference; There is no dichotomy between being a good person and being a success in business.

Dr. Murray Pyle “We thank you for the peace accorded us this day.”

On a beautiful march day, we traveled to Baltimore to attend the 15thIMG_5217aMJKD Annual Women in Maritime History Awards. Our friend, Mary Jane Norris was the honoree. During her acceptance speech she shared this thought: Do small things well, because they all add up.

Mary Jane we thank you for the gift of your example.

In April, Dr. Rex Dumdum, Jr. arranged a screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg at Marywood University. He attended to all the details of the event including dinner, a reception an afterglow, and the technical matters that make or break an event of this IMG_5597A250nature. Rex made sure there were no anxious or stressful moments before, during and after the screening.

It was an evening of community, friendship and learning.

There were no limits placed on the Q&A session. That enabled students, teachers and visitors to provide invaluable feedback. That experience inspired one of the students in attendance, Amber E. Clifford, to write a heartfelt comment about the documentary:

“Four Days of honor and Valor in Gettysburg is truly inspiring to those who are struggling to do what they know is right.”

Thank you Rex. You give special meaning to the words of Anna Sewell: “Good People make good places.”

In April, we participated in the annual Refresh Leadership Live Simulcast at the McCann School of Business in Wilkes-Barre, PA. ELL_5857_1_250

The facility was perfect for the event.

The people from the school were very pleasant.

The room where the event was held was an excellent choice for the session.

The members of the Express Pros team were very friendly and willing to do whatever they could to make everyone feel right at home. Their kind and welcoming way reduced the normal anxiety levels that accompany a presentation of this nature.

On that day, we met three radian faces of America, Kathleen Nolan Barrett and Kathy Barrett, Jeff Doran

In May, Amy Clegg invited us to participate in an Express Business Solutions Seminar in Scranton. Jack Smalley, the Director of HR Learning Amy Jack2and Development for Express Employment Professionals, gave an informative and inspirational presentation about leadership.

These are but two of the thoughts he shared with his audience:

Leaders are responsible. They leave the excuses behind.

Effective leaders do not accommodate falling stars. They encourage and reward excellence!

Jack Smalley is a man who exemplifies professionalism with heart.

Thank you, Jack for giving us the strength to encounter that which is to come.

In May, we traveled to North Plainfield, New Jersey for two screenings of our documentary. These events were organized by Tom Mazur. The screeningScreening 1_3_IMG_8045 at the High School enabled us to experience the ways in which the documentary resonates with students.

The comments students shared with us after the screening made the long and demanding days and nights of location shooting and editing worthwhile.

The evening screening showed us that adults relate to the messages in the documentary in very positive ways.

This screening gave us an opportunity to celebrate the leadership of the MB_Gift_8179retiring superintendant of schools, Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum. Without her belief in our work, we would not have been able to do what we have done in North Plainfield since 2009. That work may be over, but the positive memories will live on forever.

Later in the year, we joined a delegation from North Plainfield in Atlantic City. There we screenedFour Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg for a small audience at the New Jersey School Boards Association Convention. That venue proved the accuracy of Seneca’s words: It is quality rather than quantity that matters.

Several times this year, we had an opportunity to celebrate quiet heroes who make our world a better place because of their acts of kindness andIMG_4437 consideration. Many of these people are associated with Geisinger/CMC in Scranton and Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. Several articles in our blog record the competent and compassionate medical care Kitch received during her total knee replacement surgery.

To Dr. Harry Schmaltz and his team of caring professionals an adaptation of Stevenson’s words best records our gratitude. We thank you for the hope with which we expect tomorrow.

In 2014, both Kitch and I spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital for tests and procedures. In our blog, we expressed our thanks to the people who did their jobs without noise or notice in an excellent and humane way.

Judy Bob200_9229sm

In October, we visited with our friends at Wilkes University. This occasion gave an old teacher a new classroom, and an opportunity to work with an impressive group of students who wanted to learn something about character education.

If you are looking for excellence in education, you need look no further than the creative work of Judy and Bob Gardner and their colleagues. What they are doing to enhance learning opportunities for students in the Education Department at Wilkes University is impressive.

Thank you Judy and Bob for giving us an opportunity to help you with the important work you are doing.

A few weeks later, we traveled to Luzerne County Community toIMG_6231 participate in the Annual History Conference. This year Bill Kashatus invited us to partner with Mollie Marti to tell the story of the life and legacy of Judge Max Rosenn. To do this we produced a new version of the Windsor Park Story we broadcast about Judge Rosenn in 2004. It was a sentimental journey to one of our favorite places with one of the most impressive leaders we have ever met, Judge Max Rosenn.


In November, we drove to Binghamton, New York to celebrate the naturalization of two of our very favorite people Viola and Rex Dumdum. Sitting in the historic courtroom where the ceremony took place gave us a better understanding of what America and the blessing of American citizenship is all about.

What a gift it was to welcome two magnificent citizens to America on their big day.

Perhaps the most challenging work we did during the year took place during the early morning hours after we had attended to our other responsibilities.

In January, shortly after the screening in Gettysburg, Kitch and I began to work on a book for our grandchildren. Designed to be a legacy gift, it is a visual narrative. It combines images from our Face of America project and several documentary projects like our What IsIMG_8304 for Article America? Series and our Miracle Project with the life lessons we have learned navigating the bumps on the road of life.

During their Christmas visit we presented the book as a surprise gift to the grandchildren and their parents.

In a way, it closed the circle for us.

An adaptation of the words in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem Morning Prayer enables us to give thanks for the blessings of 2014 and look ahead to the New Year with hope:

Lord we thank Thee for the place in which we dwell… the peace accorded us this day…for our friends…give us the strength to encounter that which will come in 2015…that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.

Happy New Year!

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A Special Moment at Wilkes University

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Wilkes students view documentary film on Gettysburg
The Times Leader

October 02. 2014 6:26PM – 1913 Views

By Bill O’Boyle

Photograph by Fred Adams

WILKES-BARRE — Honor and valor, along with character, courage, humility and integrity were words discussed and their definitionsWilkes Presentation displayed at length Wednesday during a two-hour presentation at Wilkes University.

Dr. Tony Mussari Sr., retired King’s College professor, spoke to a group of Wilkes education students about his latest film — “Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg.” His presentation was part of the Drs. Robert S. and Judith A. Gardner Educational Forum Series that features speakers from the educational and business community.

When the film ended and Mussari stopped speaking, the students came away impressed, challenged and determined to follow the examples depicted in the film.

The documentary was filmed during the 150th Medal of Honor Convention, held in September 2013, in Gettysburg. Six Junior ROTC students from North Plainfield (N.J.) High School are featured: Adriana Miranda, senior; Elijah Sheridan, junior; Jared Ruiz, junior; Ruel Lindsay, junior; Kyle Pacla, junior; and Nancy Bahnasy, sophomore.

The students got to meet and talk to several recipients of the Medal of Honor and they heard the selflessness of each story and the attitude of “we did what we had to do” that echoed through the four days.

And the echoes reverberated at Wilkes, where the students gained a perspective on how important it is to live one’s life in an honorable and ethical way.

Mussari began with a thought for the day from George Washington, the father of our country, who said: “Labor to keep alive in your breast, that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

The New Jersey School Boards Association has supported publication and distribution of a teaching guide of Mussari’s documentary that will be used in all New Jersey public high schools.

“I’m worried about your generation,” Mussari said. “I’m not afraid for your future, but I am concerned.”

Medal of Honor

So Mussari embarked on this journey, with his wife, Kitch Loftus Mussari, to film another documentary to add to their list of completed projects, like those on the Agnes Flood of 1972, the Centralia Fire in 1982 and the Windsor Park series.

This project was 15 months in the making and included 21 trips to Gettysburg, site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

As the students watched the documentary, they learned there are 3,462 Medal of Honor recipients, all but one are men; 63 of them fought at Gettysburg and 1,522 fought in the Civil War. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.

As Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Barney Barnum said, “I’m not a hero. I’m just Barney Barnum,” the students pondered the question often asked: “What motivated them to do what they did?”

There were plenty of reasons offered, but the overriding response was: “We did what we had to do.”

The students learned the hardest thing to do is doing the right thing, but most of the Medal of Honor recipients in the documentary agreed that when faced with a dangerous situation, a moment arrives when all just reacted and they did what had to be done.

As Sal Giunta, the youngest recipient who served in Afghanistan, said, “Right will always be right.”

Mussari said the lessons learned in Gettysburg need to be learned throughout the U.S. He said one-third of children are born into single-parent families. He said numbers are always increasing of grandparents raising their grandchildren.

“These are challenging times,” Mussari said. “These trends need to change.”

The Wilkes students said the documentary opened their eyes and they came away impressed by how each recipient disregarded their own safety to do what was necessary for the good of their comrades, their communities and their country.

(The Medal of Honor statistics in the documentary reflect the number of recipients as of September 2013)