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Letters to grieving families are a presidential tradition. Here are some famous ones.

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 1:33 PM

Allan Pinkerton, President Abraham Lincoln, and General John A. McClernand at Antietam, Maryland, October 1862.
Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG/Getty Images/Universal Images Group
Allan Pinkerton, President Abraham Lincoln, and General John A. McClernand at Antietam, Maryland, October 1862.(Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG/Getty Images/Universal Images Group)

By any measure, it’s one of the toughest jobs a president can have -- writing to the family of a soldier killed in action.

The issue of presidential condolences has come to the forefront in the past week as  President Donald Trump incorrectly claimed that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, failed to write letters of condolence to the families of slain soldiers.

While Trump has not backed down from the claim, he has found himself being accused of indifference by the family of an Army sergeant killed in Niger two weeks ago.

According to the mother of La David Johnson, President Donald Trump showed “disrespect” to his loved ones by saying that the solider “knew what he signed up for” before he was killed in action.

The president has denied saying that, while Rep. Frederica Wilson, (D-Florida), said she was in the car when the president spoke toJohnson’s widow as they went to the airport to receive Johnson’s body.

Letters from Commanders-in-Chief to the families of those who are killed in war is not new. 

Perhaps one of the most famous condolence letters sent by a president was a letter sent by President Abraham Lincoln to Lydia Bixby, a widow whose five sons served in the Civil War.

While the letter has been often quoted, the facts of. Bixby’s story has been questioned. It’s believed that at least two of Bixby’s sons were captured during the war, one deserted and one was killed.

Lincoln did not know that when the letter was written. Some believe it may not have even been written by Lincoln, but, nevertheless attributed to him.

Here is that letter and a few others sent by presidents to grieving families.

Lincoln’s letter to Lydia Bixby:
Executive Mansion, Washington, Nov. 21, 1864
Dear Madam,
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln

Another letter from President Lincoln to the parents of a man killed in the Civil War:
My dear Sir and Madam, In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here, is scarcely less than your own.
So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in his fall. In size, in years, and in youthful appearance, a boy only, his power to command men, was surpassingly great. This power, combined with a fine intellect, an indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as seemed to me, the best natural talent, in that department, I ever knew.
And yet he was singularly modest and deferential in social intercourse.
My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago; yet through the latter half of the intervening period, it was as intimate as the disparity of our ages, and my engrossing engagements, would permit.
To me, he appeared to have no indulgences or pastimes; and I never heard him utter a profane, or intemperate word. What was conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents. The honors he labored for so laudably, and, in the sad end, so gallantly gave his life, he meant for them, no less than for himself.
In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend, and your brave and early fallen child.
May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power. Sincerely your friend in a common affliction --
A. Lincoln

From President Lyndon Johnson to the parents of astronaut Gus Grissom:
Men of your son's utter dedication to country and cause are rare. The loss of such a man is humanity's loss.
On each of the happy occasions when I met with Gus, I was impressed by the strength of his spirit and his cool confidence in the success of our space program. He was a leader who shared his strength and faith with all who knew him. By his courage, skill and dedication, he has guaranteed future generations a knowledge of the universe that will enrich their lives on earth.
Your sacrifice is beyond measure. But I hope you can take some comfort from your knowledge that your pride can be without limit. 
Mrs. Johnson and I mourn with you as we pray for God's blessing. Millions share our debt to you for giving Gus to man, and inspiration to mankind.
Lyndon Johnson

From President Richard Nixon to the parents of a young man killed in the Vietnam War:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cummins:
It is with great sorrow that I have learned of the death of your son, Specialist Five Richard L. Cummins.
Of all the hardships of war, the cruelest are the losses of men such as your son. The only consolation I can offer is the profound respect of the nation he died to serve, and the humble recognition of a sacrifice no man can measure and no words can describe. Those who give their own lives to make the freedom of others possible live forever in honor.
Mrs. Nixon joins me in extending our own sympathy and in expressing the sympathy of a saddened nation. You will be in our prayers and in our hearts.
Sincerely,
Richard Nixon
From Richard Nixon to Jacqueline Kennedy on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy:
Dear Jackie,
In this tragic hour, Pat and I want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.
While the hand of fate made Jack and me political opponents I always cherished the fact that we were personal friends from the time we came to the Congress together in 1947. That friendship evidenced itself in many ways including the invitation we received to attend your wedding.
Nothing I could say now could add to the splendid tributes which have come from throughout the world to him.
But I want you to know that the nation will also be forever grateful for your service as First Lady. You brought to the White House charm, beauty and elegance as the official hostess of America, and the mystique of the young in heart which was uniquely yours made an indelible impression on the American consciousness.
If in the days ahead we could be helpful in any way we shall be honored to be at your command.
Sincerely,
Dick Nixon 

Several weeks later, the former First Lady responded to Nixon’s letter. 
(Punctuation, phrasing, and spelling is as it was in Kennedy’s original handwritten letter.)
Dear Mr. Vice President –
I do thank you for your most thoughtful letter –
You two young men – colleagues in Congress – adversaries in 1960 – and now look what has happened – Whoever thought such a hideous thing could happen in this country –
I know how you must feel – so long on the path – so closely missing the greatest prize – and now for you, all the question comes up again – and you must commit all you and your family’s hopes and efforts again – Just one thing I would say to you –if it does not work out as you have hoped for so long – please be consoled by what you already have – your life and your family –
We never value life enough when we have it – and I would not have had Jack live his life any other way – thought I know his death could have been prevented, and I will never cease to torture myself with that –
But if you do not win – please think of all that you have – With my appreciation – and my regards to your family. I hope your daughters love Chapin School as much as I did – 
Sincerely
Jacqueline Kennedy

From President George W. Bush to the brother of a man killed in combat:
Dear Thad:
Johnnie Yellock passed along the copy of your book, My Brother In Arms. It looks like a moving tribute to your brother, Senior Airman Mark Andrew Forester, USAF. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and kind inscription.
I know you miss your brother dearly, and I wish there was something I could do to heal your broken heart. Mark's noble service in the United States Air Force helped preserve the security of our homeland and defend the liberties America holds dear. Our Nation will not forget Mark's selfless sacrifice and dedication in our efforts to make the world more peaceful and more free. We will forever honor his memory.
Laura and I send our respect and appreciation. May God bless you and your family.
Sincerely,
George W. Bush

From President Barack Obama:
I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of your son, Chief Petty Officer Nicholas H. Hull, USN, and it was a solemn honor to join in saluting him as he returned home to his final resting place. Our Nation will not forget his sacrifice and we can never repay our debt to your family.
A simple letter cannot erase the pain of losing a child, but I hope you take solace in knowing that his brave service exceeded all measures of selflessness and devotion to this country. We pay tribute to him not only as a guardian of our liberty but also as the true embodiment of America’s spirit of service to a cause greater than ourselves.
Michelle and I offer our heartfelt sympathy and pray that God’s grace gives you comfort as you grieve. In life, you son was a shining example of all that is the best in our land. In rest, may he find the peace we all seek.
Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Government shutdown: What will close; will you get your Social Security check; what will happen to SNAP, WIC

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:35 PM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

Update: While the House passed legislation on Thursday to fund government  services, the Senate on Friday failed to vote on a continuing resolution that would keep the government up and running. With no bill to fund the government, non-essential services have been shutdown. 

Below is the original story that explains what will happen now that the government has been shut down.

The fight over a border wall, the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, and the wrangling over the funding of an insurance program for children could force a U.S. government shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass legislation that would keep the government running.

While negotiations on a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, are ongoing, House Republican leaders said late Wednesday that  they lacked the votes to prevent a shutdown, but that they are pressing members to back Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), on the  temporary spending bill.

“I think it passes,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, (R-North Carolina), told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but I think it passes.”

>>Read more trending news

What would happen if no bill is passed and the government “shuts down?” Here’s what to expect:

First, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government completely shuts down. Employees and services deemed “essential” would remain in place. About half of the federal employee workforce, however, could be furloughed – sent home without pay.

Government agencies would shut down because of the lack of a bill that funds services those agencies provide. What Congress will be considering Thursday night and Friday is a continuing resolution, a way to temporarily fund the government.

What is a continuing resolution?
A continuing resolution, or “CR,” is legislation that funds government operations at the current spending level. In normal years, a bill that funds government operations is signed by Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year. That didn’t happen this year.

CRs can fund the government for days, weeks or months. The CR that could be considered Thursday would fund the government through Feb. 16.

Here is a list of services and how they would be affected if a CR is not passed by Friday night:
Air travel
Air travel would not be affected as federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and Transportation Security Administration screeners would remain in place.
Federal court
For about two weeks, federal courts would continue operating normally. After that time, the judiciary would have to furlough employees not considered essential.
Food safety
The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls. Most routine safety inspections would be halted.
Health
Patients in the National Institutes of Health would continue to be treated. New patients would not be accepted until a funding bill is in place.
International travel 
You could still get a passport and visa applications would still be processed by the State Department. Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.
Loans 
The Federal Housing Administration, the agency that guarantees about 30 percent of all American home mortgages, wouldn't be able to underwrite or approve any new loans during a shutdown, causing a delay for those using one of those loans to purchase a home. 
The mail
You would still get mail, as the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.
Military
Active-duty military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.
National parks
All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums. Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.
School lunches, SNAP and WIC
School breakfasts and lunches funded by the federal government would not be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, could be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called the Food Stamp Program, would continue to be funded and SNAP benefits would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.
Science
The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather.
Social Security
Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would be paid, but new applications for those payments could be delayed. 
Veterans services
Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue.

Sources: The Associated Press; Politicothe Congressional Research Service

  

Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, family says 

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:15 PM

Tom Petty Death Caused By Accidental Drug Overdose

Tom Petty died from an accidental drug overdose after taking a variety of medications, the family for the legendary rock star said Friday. 

>> Read more trending news

Petty, who suffered emphysema, knee problems and more recently a fractured hip, was prescribed various pain medications including Fentanyl patches, his family said. 

“On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication,” his family wrote on Facebook

The family called Petty’s Oct. 2 death an unfortunate accident. 

“As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”

DOVER, DE - JUNE 22: Tom Petty performs onstage at the Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway on June 22, 2013 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Firefly Music Festival)(Theo Wargo)

Drake makes surprise appearance at Memphis nightclub

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 10:47 PM

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09:  Drake attends
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09: Drake attends "The Carter Effect" premiere during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 9, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)(Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

He may have started from the bottom, but rapper Drake is making headlines after doing one dance that started in the Bluff City.

>> Read more trending news

According to party promoter Curtis Givens, the Grammy winner called him wanting to have a private party at In LOVE Memphis, a popular nightclub.

Givens said it was a last minute call, but he and his business partner were up for the challenge.

As word quickly spread that Drake was in Memphis, videos started to popping up on social media.

He was seen doing the popular "shoot" dance made famous by Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB.

About Last Night Wit My Bro🔥💯 @champagnepapi

A post shared by BlocBoy JB 💯💯💯 (@blocboy_jb) on

Drake even previewed new music during his appearance at the club.
He also made a stop at Friday night's Grizzlies game against the Sacramento Kings.

Drake is no stranger to the area. His father, Dennis Graham, is from Memphis, and Drake is known to visit frequently.

Woman dies after falling from balcony of Carnival cruise ship

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:54 PM

Carnival Cruise Elation. (Photo: ActionNewsJax.com)
Carnival Cruise Elation. (Photo: ActionNewsJax.com)

A woman died Friday after falling from the balcony of a room on the Jacksonville-based Carnival Elation cruise ship.

>> Read more trending news

The woman fell from the balcony to several decks below, Carnival said in a statement.

Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville on Thursday for a four-day cruise to the Bahamas.

Carnival sent the following statement to Action News Jax:
"Early this morning a guest fell from her balcony to several decks below. The ship’s medical team responded immediately, but, unfortunately, she passed away. The incident was reported to all proper authorities and CARE Team support was offered to fellow travelers and her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and her family. Carnival Elation departed Jacksonville Jan. 18 on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas."