Their Last Game, Chapter Two

shirley povich

Legendary “Washington Post” sportswriter Shirley Povich.

Bobby sat at the kitchen table the next morning at seven, and read about the Washington Senators in Shirley Povich’s column in the “Washington Post,” which even a kid could understand.

He thought a lot about the Senators’ planned move to Texas at the end of the season, but the red scratches above his knuckles concerned Bobby more.

His mom had bought the story about hitting his hand on a fence, but he suspected his dad only went along with it not to upset her.

Bobby heard the front door, and JP walked into the kitchen returning from a Friday night out. He was nineteen and had taken off from school to work construction.

6’4”, with a broad chest, and thick, muscular arms, he wore chinos, and brown Weejuns, and his receding black hair fell in ringlets over the collar of his crisp, French blue button down, and thick, long sideburns encroached upon his cheeks.

Bobby watched JP walk to the refrigerator and take out a half gallon can of Hawaiian Punch and rummage through a drawer and find a can opener and open the can. His brother stepped over to the cupboard and reached in and pulled down a glass and poured the drink unsteadily into it.

Some juice spilled on to the counter, and Bobby watched JP wipe the spill with a sponge on the counter and take a long drink of the juice and turn to Bobby and say, “How’s the boy?”

JP forced himself to be still and his eyes wandered away from Bobby, and his thick speech made Bobby wonder if JP was drunk. Bobby said, “Not bad.” And Bobby watched JP take another long drink, and slam his glass back to the counter, which startled Bobby.

Bobby clenched and unclenched his hand, and JP smiled and said, “What’s going on with your hand?”

“I punched this kid Harrison Bentley, and scratched my hand on his braces.”

“Did this Bentley kid get in any shots on you?”


“Why the face?”

“I don’t want mom to know.”

“She won’t figure it out unless this kid squeals on you. Will he?”

“He’s too afraid of me.”

“You have nothing to worry about.”

“What about dad?”

“It won’t upset him if you’re fighting, if the kid had it coming, and he doesn’t want mom to know her angel is fighting.” His brother smiled and laughed, and said, “I’m going to hit it, buddy. Don’t sweat this thing.”

“Alright. Thanks,” Bobby said. Even if his brother’s words seemed to run together too quickly, Bobby still heard what he meant. And he watched his brother try to keep his balance as he left the room.


Their Last Game, Chapter One

Editor’s Note: In the tradition of the old serials, I’m releasing the first chapter of my short story, “Their Last Game.” Look for more chapters in subsequent days.

TLG Blog 1

Where our story begins.

The first day of summer in 1971, Bobby Gallagher rode his bike to the corner of 46th and Van Ness Streets and met his best friends Mario and Vince Donatello, and the boys rode down Van Ness the short block into Friendship playground.

Bobby lived in Spring Valley with his parents Mike and Liz, older brother JP and sister Anna, but the brothers lived in Tenleytown above their family bakery.

Bobby’s parents said the Donatello’s bread was the best in town, but his mom’s warning not to hang around the brothers from the wrong side of the tracks was lost on him.

Bobby and Mario were 11 and going into the sixth grade at Annunciation Catholic School, but Vince was going into the eighth, but should have been going into ninth.

Bobby was tall and thick- chested while Mario, of average height, was muscular and quick. And already shaving a face dotted with acne, Vince lumbered after the others when they got off their bikes at the basketball courts.

Bobby went to the clubhouse and came out with a basketball, and they entered the courts, passing a three-on-three game between Jesuit and DeLasalle High School boys. Bobby observed Chuck Alfoghinis playing with the DeLasalle boys and knew not to mess with him.

A glistening, snorting bull of a man-child, who came from a large, tough family, a menacing brown crew cut revealed his skull’s veins. Two brothers had been thrown out of DeLasalle, and their old man allegedly slapped around their mom.

Everyone at Friendship knew Bobby was JP Gallagher’s brother. Something of a local legend, JP seemed destined for a college basketball career before he blew out his knee his senior year at Jesuit. Bobby dribbled to a basket opposite the court where the three-on-three game was played.

Wanting others to see JP in him, he rose to shoot and made three shots in a row. When he missed, he retrieved the ball near the chain link fence surrounding the court and saw Harrison Bentley outside it. A geeky, sissified, rich mama’s boy, he came around periodically and became annoying when the others didn’t let him join them.

Bobby believed some of Harrison’s behavior wasn’t completely his fault; he had two last names and went to St. Dunstan’s where they made kids dress like old men in blue blazers with elbow patches and grey trousers.

Bobby observed Harrison giggling, trying to hide his braces, and he said to Bobby, “My sister can shoot better than you.” Bobby collected the ball and tossed it to Vince, and glanced again at Harrison.

“Who’s that snot?” Mario said to Bobby.

“Some kid from my neighborhood: Harrison Bentley,” Bobby said, clenching his teeth, imitating Thurston Howell III from “Gilligan’s Island.” He observed the Donatellos laugh and glance at Harrison.

“Hey, little Gallagher,” Alfoghinis, from across the playground, said, “It’s your game.” The DeLasalle boys were bigger and stronger, but not quicker than Bobby and Mario. The DeLasalle boys also couldn’t fight through Vince’s picks, and Bobby and Mario had ample time to shoot.

With each basket Bobby and Mario made, the DeLasalle boys grew rougher. Then Alfoghinis knocked Vince into Mario as he shot. Vince called, foul, and the brothers reeled backward, but Bobby stepped in and said to Vince, “Be cool, man. Just one more hoop and this game is ours. They’re not worth it.”

Bobby saw one of the DeLasalle boys pick up the ball and go in for a layup. Annoyance quickly replaced Bobby’s disbelief when he heard Harrison, still safely behind the fence, giggling like a schoolgirl again. Bobby said to the kid who made the layup, “Didn’t you hear him?”

“That big goon,” the kid said, “has been moving on those screens all game.”

“What do you mean? He’s just standing there.”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake, little Gallagher, he can’t extend his arms like that,” Alfoghinis said.

His voice quivering, Bobby said, “You’re just hacked because you’re losing to kids.”

Alfoghinis said, “It’s our ball.”

“Alfoghinis,” Bobby said, “you’re a bully and a cheat and if you’re that desperate, we’re going to go.” He wanted to add his old man was a drunk and wife beater and his brothers thugs.

Leaving the court, Bobby heard Harrison laughing, and he said, “So, the little baby is going home.” Bobby slugged Harrison in his mouth, cutting his hand on Harrison’s braces.

“Are you alright?” Mario, not even looking at Harrison, said to Bobby.

“Yeah, but what about my mom? She’ll want to know how I cut my hand.”

“Just tell her,” Mario said, “you hit it against the fence or something. She’ll believe anything.”

Bobby laughed and smiled at Mario, and the three of them got on their bikes and rode away and left Harrison – his hand on his bloody mouth and whimpering and sniffling – not sure what hit him.


Joe Judge Deserves To Be in Baseball’s Hall of Fame

joe judge

“That other WashingtonMonument” as Mel Allen once called him, Joe Judge, during his playing days. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

March 11, 1963, while shoveling snow outside his Chevy Chase, DC home, former Washington Senators’ first baseman Joe Judge died of a heart attack. He was 68.

Judge, who hit .385 during the 1924 World Series when the Senators won Washington’s only Major League Championship, died believing baseball’s Hall of Fame had unfairly passed him over for election into the hall.

Judge’s grandson and local writer Mark Judge has argued for more than a decade Judge belongs in the hall. I had erroneously assumed Mark’s understandable devotion to his grandfather clouded his judgment. But having investigated Judge’s record, I’m convinced Mark is correct.

I have my own biases however. Mark’s older brother Mike is a good friend from Georgetown Prep. And Judge later coached players on the Georgetown baseball team dear to me: my Uncle Bill Byrd and good family friend Jim Castiglia, who also played in the NFL for Washington.

A clear-eyed look at Judge’s numbers, however, makes his case for the hall.

More than 80 years after his 1934 retirement, with 2,352 hits, Judge currently ranks 134th among Major League Baseball’s (MLB) all-time hit leaders. That’s more hits than Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra respectively.

In 20 years, Judge hit .298 and higher than .300 9 times, with his best season coming in 1930 when Judge hit .326 and had a .919 OPS, both career highs.

Also, Judge only struck out 478 times in his career. By comparison, Ted Williams, arguably the best hitter in MLB history, struck out 709 times in 19 seasons. Judge struck out 6% of his at-bats, which is the 96th best strikeout percentage in MLB history.

Among Minnesota Twins’ all-time franchise leaders (the Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960) Judge also ranks in the top five in Games Played, At Bats, Runs, Hits, Doubles, Triples, Total Bases and Walks. Judge’s company in these categories includes: Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett and Judge’s teammate Sam Rice.

As good as he was offensively, Judge was better defensively. The anchor of the legendary double play combination Peck (Roger Peckinpaugh) to Harris (Bucky) to Judge, he was arguably the best defensive first baseman of his era. Judge’s .993 fielding percentage stood as a record for first baseman for 30 years after his retirement.

And he’s in the top 25 among first baseman in MLB history in putouts, assists, and double plays turned. These numbers are especially remarkable when you consider first baseman’s mitts then weren’t as large as they are today, and at 5’ 8”, Judge was an undersized first baseman.

Judge’s defensive prowess was most evident July 1, 1920 in Fenway Park. His teammate Walter “the Big Train” Johnson, arguably the best pitcher in MLB history, was one out away from his only no-hitter. Boston right fielder Hall of Famer Harry Hooper drilled a ball, which hooked over the first bag and had double written all over it.

Playing deep, Judge dove and snared the ball with a backhanded stab and flipped the ball to the covering Johnson. He caught Judge’s toss with his bare hand and beat Hooper to the bag, securing his no-hitter. Judge, according to several accounts, erupted into a war dance, and the much bigger Johnson jumped on his back.

His all-around play garnered Judge consideration in the MVP voting in 1922, 1923, 1926, and 1928. If Baseball’s Veterans Committee compares Judge’s numbers against players from his era, who are currently in the hall, they’ll conclude Judge belongs in their company.

Consider how he stacks up against outfielders Hooper and Kiki Cuyler.

Hooper finished with more hits than Judge, but he hit more doubles and RBIs, and his batting average was 17 points higher than Hooper’s .281. And Hooper’s banal .966 fielding percentage was 27 points lower than Judge’s.

Cuyler, whose Pirates defeated Judge’s Senators in 7 games for the 1925 title, hit .321, 23 points higher than Judge. And he hit more homers and drove in more runs while Judge had more hits and doubles. Cuyler’s prosaic .972 fielding percentage, however, was 21 points lower than Judge’s.

Acknowledging Judge was a better all-around ballplayer than some of his contemporaries already in the hall, will, I hope, convince the Veterans Committee finally to punch Judge’s ticket to Cooperstown, where he has long belonged.





“Paterson,” A Wonder of a Film


Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Amazon Studios

Rated: R


In the 80’s, Director Jim Jarmusch’s ironical, whimsical, quirky, and funny films such as “Down By Law” and “Mystery Train” felt like revelations of something truly new and Indie filmmaking’s essence. Over time though, releases of a new Jarmusch film weren’t quite the events they once were.

Absence of anticipation will enhance your gratification discovering his new film “Paterson,” which reflects Jarmusch’s refreshing new sincerity, which moves beyond the irony that had characteristically marked his films.

Paterson (Adam Driver) lives in the small city of Paterson in northern New Jersey with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). His job is bus driver, but his vocation is writing poetry. The film’s minimalist structure is one of its charms.

It takes place from one Monday to the next. Each new day begins with the couple in bed; their sleep positions – back to back, face to face, she resting her head on her chest – their routine’s only modifications.

Watch in hand, Paterson awakens at 6:15 am and walks down the city’s narrow, serpentine streets, and assumes his seat in his NJ Transit bus.

Stealing moments before his shift, Paterson works on that day’s poem when his supervisor Donny (Rizwan Manji) greets him and complains hyperbolically about his life that’s falling apart.

At lunch, Paterson takes his lunchbox and sits on a bench and watches the city’s spectacular waterfall. And inspired by Laura’s photograph taped to his lunchbox, Paterson works on his poetry.

He returns home at night, and eats dinner with Laura. After dinner, he walks his English bulldog Marvin, and stops at the neighborhood bar. Paterson drinks one beer, which he doesn’t finish, and returns home.

There, in a sense, is your movie. But “Paterson” is much richer than that. Bus driver and poet, on the surface, may seem like an unlikely juxtaposition, but Paterson’s work enhances his poetry because he goes everywhere, sees everything, and allows himself to smile as he overhears his bus’s passengers.

Two adolescent boys discuss one of the city’s natives Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Memorialized in song and film, he was falsely accused of murder and later exonerated.

One of the boys says, “Denzel looked like him,” conflating film illusion with actuality, revealing the gentle humor, which marks Jarmusch’s films. The film also celebrates other city notables: Lou Costello, Dave of soul music duo Sam and Dave, and anarchist Gaetano Bresci.

Much of the joy you experience watching “Paterson” derives from its celebration of poetry and poets. As you hear Paterson work out that day’s poem in his mind, the words appear on the screen, deepening our appreciation for how a poet brings a poem to life, as if we discover the process for the first time.

Paterson takes an ordinary object – a matchstick – and looks beyond its practical purpose to create an image – the matchstick that lights your lover’s cigarette – that evokes a surprisingly gratifying response.

Laura encourages Paterson to publish his poems, but he doesn’t seem motivated to do that. As Laura nurtures his poetry, Paterson lovingly indulges Laura’s ever changing creative outlets.

One day, she’s convinced her cupcakes are the next big things, and the next she orders an expensive guitar, sure she’s the next great country singer.

All the while her obsession with black and white polka  dots – the walls, drapes, and shirts she wears –  almost overwhelms them. The film celebrates how these well-suited foils nurture each other to be the people they’re called to be.

Also very good in the new film “Silence,” Driver well modulates the subdued Paterson’s movements and expressions, his hangdog face always portraying the right measure of emotion. And the Iranian actress Farahani is vivid, striking and winsome as Laura.

Except for one moment at the bar when Paterson intervenes to stop a lovesick acquaintance Everett (William Jackson Harper) from harming others, there’s little dramatic tension in “Paterson.” More than a drama or a comedy, an observation might be a better way to describe the film.

It observes two people, affirming each other, who re-discover the blank page’s power to write their lives’ poems each day. Amid the glut of more high-profile Oscar contenders, don’t overlook “Paterson,” one of 2016’s best films. You’ll kick yourself if you miss this wonder of a film.



Creative Maladjustment Will Help End Poverty


The site of a proposed shelter for homeless families. Why can’t we eliminate the need for these kinds of shelters?

In my Washington, DC neighborhood – the most affluent in the city – people are upset about a homeless shelter proposed to be built in the neighborhood.

Some of my neighbors’ NIMBY attitudes aren’t unexpected, but our neighborhood hasn’t been singled out. Part of a city wide plan, which attempts to re-structure the way the city houses persons who are homeless, the proposed shelter is one of five designated to support homeless families throughout the city.

Instead of housing 270 families in one central shelter, which, all agree, is dangerous and overcrowded, these new shelters would house 50 families in each shelter, offering them more privacy and dignity.

With fewer families to help, the new shelter system’s proponents believe case managers won’t lose track of families or neglect their needs, and receiving more individualized attention, families will more readily escape homelessness.

Because these shelters promise a better future to these families than our current broken system, in one way, I hope the city overcomes my neighbors’ objections and builds the shelter. But, in another sense, if for the wrong reasons, my neighbors are right: no one should want a homeless shelter built in their community.

Each new one our society builds signals a collective failure of will and imagination to think more ambitiously about eradicating homelessness.

We shouldn’t debate where to put shelters and how many persons to house. We should work instead to eliminate the need for shelters. Because, however, it feels as if there are homeless persons on each corner asking us for spare change we can’t conceive of ending homelessness.

We’ve become too well acquainted with the wide range of reactions we experience when we encounter homeless people. We think nothing of walking past someone sleeping on a subway grate. Or we avert our eyes or walk to the other side of the street. Their begging exasperates us or we’re ashamed of our failure to act.

Unable to sort through these conflicting emotions, and overwhelmed by a problem that feels too enormous, we feel powerless to act, and have become too accepting of the status quo.

We need a revival of what Dr. King called, “creative maladjustment,” which refuses to adjust to the scandalous outrage of more than 560,000 persons nationally living without homes. Our maladjustment, I hope, will disquiet us enough to engender the creative solutions necessary to end homelessness.

Bringing together people irrespective of their ideologies, we should create greater solidarity among poor and non-poor persons that encourages them to work to end homelessness. Fully aware it’ a symptom, we’ll understand poverty is the disease we must overcome.

To convince others to end poverty, we should help them understand current government programs and private charitable efforts haven’t lifted 43 million of our brothers and sisters out of poverty.

Programs such as SNAP and Medicaid generate $2 for each dollar spent, and create jobs, and it’s estimated SNAP kept 4.7 million Americans out of poverty in 2014, and Medicaid kept 2.7 million people out of poverty in 2010. These effective programs shouldn’t be cut.

However, the reality of 43 million persons reliant upon SNAP, and 69 million persons reliant upon Medicaid starkly remind us of the great need that stubbornly persists, despite our best efforts and intentions.

In similar ways, programs that help feed families, and help them meet their rent and keep their utilities connected are admirable, but only help so many. Requiring furthermore people go one place for food and another for clothing and three more to pay their bills diminishes their dignity.

And when you spend most of your time and energy scrambling to gather resources to survive, you can’t think about how to create a better future for your family.

Poor persons are best qualified to articulate they deserve much better. And their non-poor allies should empower them to advocate for solutions for their problems: greater societal investment in a stronger safety net, preparing and training people for jobs that pay living wages, affordable housing, food security, affordable and outstanding education, universal health coverage, and safe and peaceful neighborhoods.

Better advocacy by itself won’t overcome poverty, however. Poor persons won’t escape poverty until they can determine, as all people desire, their own futures. With others’ support and that of a better safety net, poor persons will need to avoid the destructive behavior that traps them in poverty and take advantage of the educational, training, and economic opportunities, which present themselves.

But those who don’t believe poor persons can rise or change haven’t paid attention. They’re among the more creative and resourceful people in our society. If we channeled the effort poor persons make gathering resources into creating good jobs or helping poor people own their own businesses, that could mean homelessness and poverty’s demise.


Breyer Is Right; Court Should Rule Capital Punishment Unconstitutional



The eight justices, who preside at this building should outlaw the death penalty. 

Justice Stephen Breyer is right. The Supreme Court should revisit the death penalty’s constitutionality. And, as he indicates, evidence mounts capital punishment is unconstitutional.

It isn’t the “’worse of the worse’” he said, who are chosen to die, but “individuals are chosen at random, on the basis of geography … or still worse, on the basis of race.”

The data support Breyer’s conclusion. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 82% of executions occur in 10 southern states, and persons who kill whites are five times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill African Americans.

Breyer’s recent statement also echoes the court’s 1972 finding in Furman V. Georgia, which ruled capital punishment unconstitutional.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Potter Stewart wrote: “These death sentences are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual. … The petitioners are among a capriciously selected random handful upon whom the sentence of death has in fact been imposed.”

Breyer cites Romell Broom’s case to buttress his argument about capital punishment being cruel and unusual. Sentenced to die for the 1984 rape and murder of 14 year-old Tryna Middleton, Broom was scheduled to be executed in Ohio in 2009.

Broom’s executioners jabbed him 18 times unsuccessfully trying, for more than two hours, to find a receptive vein for the drugs, despite his screaming and crying in anguish before the execution was halted.

Earning the dubious distinction as the only person to survive a lethal injection, Broom recently sought relief from the court when Ohio set another execution date for him.

Despite his compelling claims related to cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy, the court distressingly refused to hear Broom’s petition. Because Broom’s case raises disturbing questions about cruel and unusual punishment, however, Breyer said he would have heard the case, and Justice Elena Kagan concurred.

Increasingly more commonplace, botched executions like Broom’s underscore death penalty’s cruel and unusual nature. Once thought to be more humane, lethal injections have a 7% botched rate, higher than any other execution method employed in US history, according to “The Daily Beast.”

In 2014, Arizona injected inmate Joseph Wood 15 times with an experimental combination of Hydromorphone and Midazolam. Woods gasped 600 times for more than two hours before he died.

Midazolam also played a role in Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett’s 2014 death. His execution’s observers witnessed the grisly spectacle of Lockett choking and gasping, writhing and grimacing for 43 minutes before he died.

Lethal injections have become more problematic and troubling because states are experimenting with unreliable drugs such as Midazolam to carry out executions. That’s so because drug companies, ethically opposed to their drugs being used to take lives, since 2008, have refused to sell prisons drugs formerly used in executions such as Sodium Thiopental and Nembutal.

And when the huge pharmaceutical company Pfizer recently decided it wouldn’t provide execution drugs any longer, it effectively closed the open market for these drugs.

This has compelled some states such as Georgia and Virginia to shield the identity of drug makers, who sell drugs used in executions. Virginia recently signed a contract to pay a secret supplier $16,500 per execution for lethal injection drugs, 30 times more than what the state used to pay for lethal injection drugs.

This lack of transparency and accountability should trouble even those who support capital punishment, and this deviousness reflects how low some states will sink in the putative name of justice, desperate to maintain a dying system of death.

Besides concerns about botched executions, arbitrariness and racial bias, those raised by 153 innocent persons exonerated from death rows nationally, and exorbitant execution costs have prompted many to reconsider their positions on capital punishment.

And the witness of Sister Helen Prejean, Pope Francis, and murder victims’ family members opposed to capital punishment have grown the movement to abolish the death penalty.

19 states have abolished the death penalty, and Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Oregon have moratoria on executions. And the number of death sentences juries impose nationally continues to decline from a peak of 316 in 1996 to 49 in 2015.

Public support for capital punishment, more significantly, according to a 2016 Pew Research Poll, has slipped from a high of 80% in 1994 to 49%.

Americans increasingly understand: we can be safe, and hold murderers accountable without sinking to their level. State killings haven’t made society safer or better, or brought closure to murder victims’ families. The court should finally declare this inhumane practice unconstitutional.






Virginians Should Work With Journey of Hope to End State Death Penalty

Governor Terry McAuliffe’s cynical gambit to shield the identities of the drug companies, which supply drugs used in executions will make Virginia’s executions more secretive, especially when you consider they’re already carried out and witnessed by few persons in relative obscurity.

This lack of transparency and accountability should trouble even Virginians who support capital punishment.

Moreover, reputable pharmaceutical companies won’t participate in McAuliffe’s scheme. As Leonard Edloe, President of the American Pharmacists Association Foundation said: McAuliffe’s ploy “undermines everything our profession stands for. Medicines are made to save lives, not end them.”

Industry actions consistently uphold this ethic. The huge pharmaceutical company Pfizer, for instance, recently decided it wouldn’t provide execution drugs any longer, closing the open market for these drugs.

Resisting McAuliffe’s untenable, likely illegal and immoral maneuver Virginians should compel him and his legislative allies to acknowledge Virginia’s death system is dying.

Since capital punishment’s 1976 reinstatement, Virginia has executed 111 persons, the second highest state total in the country. Now, however, only 7 persons are on Virginia’s death row, and Virginia juries haven’t handed down any death sentences since 2011.

With drugs necessary for executions and persons to execute increasingly and practically non-existent, it’s a matter of time before the state ends executions.

More than changing political leaders’ minds, to end Virginia’s death penalty will require changing Virginians’ hearts as well. To move Virginians to support abolition, Virginia death penalty opponents should work with the Journey of Hope, which will be in Northern Virginia June 26 -28.

To learn about the Northern Virginia speaking tour please read the attached.

Journey of Hope members’ stories will convince Virginians to support abolition. Begun in 1993, and led by murder victim family members, this national organization conducts educational tours against the death penalty.

These tours emphasize love, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation to break the cycle of vengeance, death, and violence prevalent in our society. Marietta Jaeger’s story represents their message well.


Marietta Jaeger’s journey took her from revenge to forgiveness.

In the summer of 1972, Marietta and her family were on a camping trip in Montana. On the trip’s first night, Marietta stepped over others to reach her youngest child 7-year old Susie to hug her goodnight.

“Oh, mama, not like that,” Susie said when Marietta couldn’t quite wrap her arms around her young daughter. Marietta hugged the insistent Susie and kissed her good night. It was the last time they embraced.

In the middle of the night, a man slit their tent and kidnapped Susie. At the time, Marietta said, “I could kill him with my bare hands and a smile on my face.” A year passed before Marietta discovered Susie’s fate. The kidnapper had raped and killed her.

In that year, Marietta’s Catholic faith helped move her past her rage and desire for revenge. It called her to love her enemy. When the kidnapper called to taunt her on the anniversary of taking Susie, Marietta realized the God in whom she believed viewed Susie’s captor to be as precious as Susie.

Marietta’s compassion for the man, as they talked that night, helped establish the evidence investigators needed to charge him. Marietta believed state killing for Susie’s killer would only add another victim and grieving family and wouldn’t honor Susie’s memory.           

Marietta and other Journey members re-live the worst experiences of their lives to show us the way to peace. Virginians who want peace should embrace the Journey’s message of love and compassion for all of humanity and gently usher Virginia’s death penalty out the door.