The foundation upon which the United States of America was built consisted of two religions: a secular religion that was based on the beliefs and principles of individualism, self-reliance, freedom, hard work, patriotism, and independence, and a biblical religion that was based on the beliefs and principles of the 10 Commandments, the God of the Old Testament, and the teachings of the Son of God.
After I started my law practice in January 1983, one of my first clients was Donna Schmidt. I had met Donna several years earlier when my mom introduced me to her. I don’t remember where we were introduced, but I do remember that it was at a Catholic religious event. Donna was a year younger than my mom. They had known each other since they were teenagers, when they both attended the same high school — the Academy of Our Lady, in Peoria, Illinois.
When I was 12 years old (1969), I experienced two events that changed the course of my life: I got my own paper route, and my mom drove me to the bank and opened a checking account in my name. The reason she opened the account was because she didn’t want the job of writing a check every week to the company that owned the newspaper, the Peoria Journal Star. When we got home from the bank, she taught me how to write checks. When the first bank statement arrived in the mail, she taught me how to reconcile the account.
Her name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson. Have you ever heard of her? Me neither. The first time I was aware that she existed was last week when I saw a headline on a news website that said she had made an announcement that she was quitting Twitter. Apparently, several people on Twitter had posted cruel comments and memes about her size and weight.
I recently listened to an interview of a business consultant who said that he blames Thomas Jefferson for many of the problems in the United States, because Jefferson was the one who came up with the phrase in the Declaration of Independence that we have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The consultant said that he had no problem with the life and liberty part of the phrase, but that Jefferson’s use of the words “pursuit of happiness” was a mistake.
I’ve written before about how I grew up in a family of 17 children. I have two older brothers and two older sisters. My oldest sister’s name is Mary Kathryn “Mary Kay” Hersemann. Mary Kay and her husband, Joel, raised three children: Angelica, Joseph “Joey,” and Alanna. On Sunday, December 1, 2019, Joey was killed as a result of an automobile accident. He left behind his wife, Katie, and three young children, Layla, Madison, and Sam. Joey was 38 years old when he died.
I recently had a conversation with a young lady — I’ll call her Addison — who is the same age as my youngest daughter Teresa — 23 years old. I don’t know Addison very well, but I’ve known her parents for more than 20 years. Addison was raised as a Catholic and attended a Catholic grade school, Catholic high school, and a private, secular college.
It’s 11:45 p.m. on a Sunday night, and you just laid down to go to sleep. You had planned on going to bed before 10:00 p.m., but there were some things that came up that prevented you from following through on your plan. You’re exhausted and anxious because you have to get up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare for an important meeting that is scheduled for 8:00 a.m.