In September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a History teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock , did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks in her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.

'Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?'

She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'

They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades' 'No,' she said.

'Maybe it's our behavior.' She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom. Kids called their parents to tell them what was happening and by early afternoon television news crews had started gathering at the school to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the desk-less classroom. Martha Cothren said, 'Throughout the day, no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom Now I am going to tell you.'

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it. Twenty-seven (27) US. Veterans, all in uniform, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it.'

By the way, this is a true story. And this teacher was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year for the State of Arkansas in 2006. She is the daughter of a WWII POW.

Do you think this is worthy of being passed along so others won't forget either, that the freedoms we have in this great country were earned by our U.S Veterans?... I do.

Let us always remember the men and women of our military and the rights they have won for us.

You and your classmates throughout the country have more political power than any group in the nation. Your generation could set a pattern for fifty or sixty years of honest, conscientious, and responsive governing. Don't listen to those who say that the energy and determination will pass.

My name is Jim Hamm, and even at 82, I am encouraged. Broaden your scope and never give up.

Please take the time to forward this letter to anyone who will listen to this message.

My Response to Mary, April 9,2019

Yes, Martha Cothren is a teacher. Reading the story got to me. I welled up. (I know you won't believe it coming from a guy who annually gives up sarcasm for Lent and his best score is 9:12 pm on Ash Wednesday.)

For my children and grandkids, this has become require reading, when they get back from Disneyland, of course.

This kind of "ignorance" goes far beyond the classroom and students. I often hear business owners and billionaires, whether from Green Point Brooklyn or Gross Point, Michigan, claim that they built their companies with their hard work, sacrifice, and intellect. Are they really "ignorant" of the 240 years of our history - toil, blood, sacrifice, perseverance, and genius that cleared the land, dug the foundation, erected the protective walls and roof, and provided the conveniences for their successes. Do they ever think about the unrecognized millions whose bones reside at the bottom of oceans, in forest and jungles, in marked and unmarked graves who drove the nail, laid the cobblestone, fired the rifle, flew the bomber, stood tall in the face of adversity, or cast a deciding vote at their political peril. Is there ever a thought of the employees who perform daily -- sweeping the floors, oiling the wheels, building the spreadsheets, etc.

We all take too much for granted giving little credit to the individuals influences in our lives and the broad freedoms, protections, and opportunities that our country provides. Does Mitch McConnell realize that without the TVA, he would be inching toward the outhouse with a whale oil lantern. Without the interstate highway system, a small business might be a mom-and-pop food wagon with a musical horn parked outside a construction site. We are so lucky. Oh, yeah, there was WWII, the rebuilding of Europe, Japan, and the world economy, the G. I. Bill, the space program, the internet, etc.

Do we realize that without the strength of individuals and the conscience of our democracy we could be sharing a border with a Confederation of slave states.


Say Nothing came today. I'm eager to get at it. Thanks


For parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, all relatives, and friends who have lost someone in one of our wars, the day they remember is the day they received the devastating news. They remember the time, the place, and the emotional impact.

For those of us who fortunately have not suffered such a loss, we have Memorial Day. Before our thoughts meander toward bar-b-cues and beaches and an early start on Summer, we just might google American Battle Monuments Commission or John Basilone (Whenever I think of this American hero, I can't help thinking of all the other John Basilones who are interred or are among the MIAs and whose deeds were and are unrecognized.) Or, you might just visit Preston Sharp on Sixty Minutes.

For a ten or fifteen minute investment, your life will be enriched a hundred fold. And, Memorial Day may never slip passed you again.


All too frequently the last Monday in May with its barbecues, baseball games and mini-vacations masks the meaning of the Day. And, all too frequently the remembrances are gender based. The sacrifices made in the last 240+ years for our great nation and freedom everywhere can never be understated and the individuals can never be under-revered. This year let us take a look at our heroines . Google Ruby Bradley or Aleda Lutz or Nancy Wake or Krystyna Skarbek or Lyudmila Pavlichenko or Princess Noor Inayat Kahn. Or, you could go back to my favorite, Sophie Scholl.

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