Saluting Hood’s Fallen
May06

Saluting Hood’s Fallen

THE BELLS — by Antonio Hebert and Seth Stephens   One week after the shooting at Fort Hood April 2 that left three soldiers dead and 16 wounded, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visited the post, which is less than 20 minutes from UMHB. They joined top politicians from both the federal and state levels to publicly grieve with the families of the three soldiers killed. Soldier Ivan Lopez is accused of the deadly rampage.   The boots, helmet, rifle and dog tags of the deceased soldiers were placed at the front of the stage. After the ceremony was over, attendees waited in a long line to pay their respects.   The president and first lady spent a moment in silence before each of the three battle crosses. Obama, in a solemn tone opened his remarks by saying, “In our lives, in our joys and in our sorrows, we’ve learned that there is ‘a time for every matter under heaven.’  We laugh and we weep.  We celebrate and we mourn.  We serve in war and we pray for peace.  But Scripture also teaches that, alongside the temporal, one thing is eternal….” He praised the soldiers who died in the April 2 tragedy: Sgt. 1st Class Danny Ferguson, Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney-Rodriguez and Sgt. Timothy Owens.   There wasn’t enough seating for all soldiers in attendance at the ceremony, so many stood or sat on the ground. Standard bearers held company flags among the sea of army camouflage.   Those gathered for the ceremony who weren’t military were dressed mostly in dark colors and sat quietly waiting for the president to appear on the steps, signaling the service to begin.   “It was love for country that inspired these three Americans to put on the uniform and join the greatest Army that the world has ever known,” Obama said. “It was love for the Army that made them the soldiers they were.”   The president directly addressed the loved ones who attended the memorial. “For you, their families, no words are equal to your loss.  We are here on behalf of the American people to honor your loved ones and to offer whatever comfort we can.  But know this. We also draw strength from you.  For even in your grief, even as your heart breaks, we see in you that eternal truth. ‘Love never ends,’” he said.   Obama tried to offer comfort by identifying with the grieving parents. He said, “To the parents of these men ––  I cannot begin to fathom your anguish.  But I know that you poured your love and your hopes...

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Adviser closes out 13 years with The Bells
May06

Adviser closes out 13 years with The Bells

THE BELLS — by Vicky Kendig   The past 13 years of my being adviser of this newspaper have been some of the happiest of my life, though they didn’t necessarily start out that way. I came to the university in August of 2001, and the first edition of The Bells under my advising was nothing short of a baptism by fire. It was the paper we published online Sept. 11, 2001. Before that frightening day, the newspaper staff wasn’t really set up yet or even expecting to publish anything so soon in the new school year. We were all taking our time, getting our feet on the ground, getting to know each other. However, as so often happens in journalism, the students found themselves thrown into a story of such proportion that few of them could understand all the consequences. Nor could I.   By some accounts, The Bells was the first newspaper in the local area to publish Web content about the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon. Pretty heady stuff for a small newspaper from a small school. That coverage won the paper several awards and set the tone for the following years. Since that time in 2001, staff members have collected approximately 475 journalism awards in writing, photography, online and design from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association, Baptist Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. Those honors, awarded by professionals in the journalism field, have confirmed the fact that UMHB students had—and still have—the right stuff. I’ve watched with pride and humility as students have grappled with tough topics like homelessness, abortion and the drug wars on the Texas-Mexico border. I’ve seen their humanity through the tears in their eyes as they tell of the wildfires they covered or, recently, the toll of human lives in the two Fort Hood shootings and West fertilizer plant explosion.   They’ve written about presidents, past presidents, foreign presidents and protests against those presidents. When George W. Bush was president, central Texas was rife with story possibilities, and UMHB students made regular treks to Crawford, the location of Bush’s ranch. We all hoped Barack Obama would buy that ranch when he was elected president. Sadly, that was not to be. The students have written about Texas culture, Texas secessionists, and gun control—all the while covering the more tranquil campus goings-on, and doing both types of stories with enthusiasm and vigor.   As I prepare to retire, I say to this year’s staff, so ably guided by Editor-in-Chief Katelyn Holm and Assistant Editor Antonio Hebert, I was honored to be your adviser and that of the staffs before you....

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Behind the characters of Mary, Jesus
May06

Behind the characters of Mary, Jesus

  It’s often hard for Christians to put into perspective the suffering that Christ endured when he was crucified.   The university’s Easter Pageant provides its audience with a visual representation of Christ’s sacrifice, but for those who are actually in the production, experiencing the crucifixion first-hand can be a life changing experience. That was the case for Karl Baker and Esther Gibbs, who played Jesus and Mary respectively in the 75th rendition of the annual pageant.   The roles of Jesus and Mary are hand selected by university president Dr. Randy O’Rear. Baker, who had played a temple guard in the previous two pageants, received a phone call last spring. Dr. O’Rear wanted to meet with him. During the meeting, the president selected Baker to play the role of Jesus. “I was really humbled and honored just to be put in that position,” Baker said. “We just talked, and I was excited, and he told me he’d be praying for me. It was neat to just create that relationship with him.”   Gibbs was a crowd person her sophomore year and was then chosen to be one of Mary’s mourners the following year. Gibbs had been searching for ways to show God through her life, and that came through her role in the pageant. “The year before I was asked, my prayer had been that during my last few years at UMHB, it would be God that would be seen through my actions, not me,” she said. “When Dr. O’Rear asked me, I was not expecting it, but I know it was nothing that I had done that made me be chosen. It was completely God.”   The two were each allowed to select a group of individuals whom they would rely on throughout the process – both in the pageant itself as well as behind the scenes. “I was able to choose seven girls to be mourners and discipled them throughout the year, and the time I spent with them was so precious,” Gibbs said.   Baker selected 12 disciples and spent time in fellowship with them throughout the year. “They’re all guys that I knew – some better than others — but they’re all guys who I saw as good leaders on this campus,” he said. “Since September, we met weekly at my house, so it was a neat way for us to become a group and for us to grow together.  We had an intramural flag football team and got third place, and that was awesome. Just having them around was incredible.”   While the experience was rewarding, both Gibbs and Baker were challenged by...

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Lt. Gen. Milley, Sen. Cornyn comment on Fort Hood shooting investigation
Apr03

Lt. Gen. Milley, Sen. Cornyn comment on Fort Hood shooting investigation

THE BELLS — Antonio Hebert and Seth Stephens Just after 4 p.m. April 2, 2014, a shooter identified as 34-year-old Ivan Lopez opened fire in a medical facility on Fort Hood killing four and injuring 16. All were military personnel. Some were treated at Scott and White Hospital in Temple.     The gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wo und shortly after the incident. The investigation is still ongoing. Police and military personnel will release information as it becomes available.     Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Lt. Gen. Mark Milley held a brief press conference April 3 at 3 p.m. Milley began by asking reporters and media outlets to avoid speculation.     “As for the investigation, the criminal investigation division of the U.S. army continues to lead investigating agencies and they are right now synchronizing all of the investigative work of the federal, state, local and army agencies throughout Fort Hood and the surrounding area. They are interviewing witnesses as an ongoing and active investigation,” he said.     Milley hinted at the possibility of the Lopez’s psychological history playing a role in the tragic incident. He also said that authorities are still looking into all possibilities concerning motive.     “At this point we have not yet ruled out anything whatsoever. And we are letting the investigation run its course. But we have, again, no indication that this… (has) any link to terrorist organizations,” he said.     Cornyn said he considers mental health problems to be “among the most vexing” and said measures are being taken to care for the psychological well-being of soldiers.     Milley discussed future plans to remember the deceased saying, “We’re planning a memorial ceremony early next week in honor of the fallen. I’d also like to thank the outpouring of support from the central Texas community and the entire state of Texas. And all of our national leadership within in the military and civilian leadership at the national level. Everyone is chipping in trying to assist in anyway they...

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The Grove: A paradise in progress
Apr02

The Grove: A paradise in progress

THE BELLS — By Christian Hernandez Eighteen miles north of Belton, in east Coryell County, lies the skeleton of a town that used to be full of life. It now lies dormant adjacent to a community that remains as tight knit today as it was when the town was just a small, welcome stop on an old military supply road to Old Fort Gates. It’s called The Grove. “It’s a neat little place,” said Michael Barr, former principal of Gatesville High School and author of half a dozen local history books. “I know all about The Grove. I was born near there. My mother worked at the store,” the 62-year-old Gatesville native continued. “It’s a place that’s been my home.” The history of The Grove goes back to the mid-19th century when local    foliage inspired the name.. “There is a beautiful grove of live oak trees just south of the town,” Barr wrote in his book If You Blink You’ll Miss it. “In the hot summertime, in the 1840s and ’50s, teamsters would stop to rest under the oak trees. That’s where the name The Grove comes from.” According to the Texas State Historical Association, the town was established in 1859 and within a year boasted a mill, a gin and two general stores — one of which was the W.J. Dube general store, arguably the most iconic building in the town. Some believe, though, that it was the arrival of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in the 1870s that really stimulated growth in the town. The church sits just north of the town’s center and still holds services to this day. With the turn of the century, the town would continue to grow into one of the most prosperous in Coryell County. It had a post office, grocery stores, two schools and at some point exceeded a population of 700. The community flourished until its people made a decision that would isolate the town from the rest of Central Texas that was quickly evolving without it. In the middle of town is a hand-dug well that was made in the earliest years of its settlement. “When Highway 36 was being built after World War II, the state offered to bring the road right through the middle of The Grove, but that would have meant paving over the old well.” Barr said. “Residents could not bear the thought.” And so, the highway was laid half a mile north of the town. This would prove to be a costly decision for the people of The Grove. “Progress killed them,” Barr said. As time went on, the town withered. Farmers lost land...

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From Belton to Afghanistan: one student’s quest to serve his country
Apr02

From Belton to Afghanistan: one student’s quest to serve his country

THE BELLS — Last year, freshman political science major Ishmael Pulczinski left the university to serve with the United States Army in Afghanistan. Pulczinski seeks ways to serve those around him and his country. He planned to become an officer in the Army through the university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program and had already been serving in the Army Reserves at a chemical unit as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear operations specialist, or 74D. “Growing up, I would always play with G. I. Joe men outside, so it was always in the back of my mind,” Pulczinski  said. “What really propelled me into wanting to join was Sept. 11. I was in the third grade when it happened, and when I heard the news, it woke me up that there are people who wish to do harm against this nation and its citizens. I felt compelled to join to help defend this country from those people.” Pulczinski first came to UMHB in the 2011 spring semester after completing Army basic and has always wanted to serve in the political realm. He was in Beall House Council where he lived during the fall and spring semester of the 2012 to 2013 school year. During the spring semester, Pulczinski heard from some of his fellow reservists that a unit was looking for volunteers to deploy during the summer to Afghanistan. He jumped at the opportunity. “I felt like it was something that God wanted me to do. It was something I needed to do,” Pulczinski said. “I added my name to the list of volunteers. It wasn’t until February after I had started my next semester that I learned my name had been selected. So, I dropped my courses and started the training I had to do in order to deploy.” As Pulczinski started to drop his courses, friends and the university were supportive of him. His classes were reimbursed, and his status as a student was left open for him to come back when his service is over. “The fact that he volunteered at the age that he is and quit school completely embodies the person that he is,” said Beall Hall resident director Christan Hammonds. “He cares about people and has a servant’s heart, a genuine gentleman. I have the utmost respect for military personnel, but the fact that he volunteered in the middle of college to go over there says exactly who he is. I’m ready for him to come back.” Currently, Pulczinski plans to be back in May and has already begun the process to return to the university in the fall. Although he misses his...

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