Appreciating Diversity: Reawakening the Heart of America|
By Vincent J. Bove, CPP
Recent events, both national and regional, remind us of the necessity of appreciating diversity.
Because diversity is an essential component of American society, a reawakening of the heart of America
from a culture of violence and crisis of leadership is impossible without a true appreciation
of the inestimable value of each human being and a respect for their beliefs.
Honoring Civil Rights History: The Inaugural Civil Rights Game
Civil Rights Game of Major League Baseball
took place on Saturday, March 31, 2007 in a pre-season match between the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals and the Cleveland Indians in Memphis, Tennessee at a minor league park of the Cardinals. The Memphis location is only six blocks from the Lorraine Hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on April 4, 1968.
As an educator, I am dedicated to the importance of affirming, appreciating and advancing issues
of diversity throughout American society. Also, as a former confidant and counselor to players
on the New York Yankees and throughout Major League Baseball, it is my hope that this game
serves as the stepping-stone to additional initiatives that express
an appreciation of diversity, such as enhanced community outreach programs and educational
programs which instill diversity awareness and character education into the very heart of
baseball — to its players, staff, fans, service providers and administrators.
Smiling Heroes: Tuskegee Airmen Finally Get Their Due
The honor is well-deserved but long overdue. More than fifty years after they helped defeat Hitler and the Nazis in
World War II, the
a group of African American young men who received pilot wings and commissions between 1942 and 1946,
were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on March 29, 2007 at a
White House Ceremony.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy
force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress,
it is often called the
Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Navy medal was the first to be struck, followed quickly by the Army version of this award. There are three different types of Medals of Honor: the original simple star shape established in 1861 which the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have retained; a wreath version designed in 1904 for the Army; and an altered wreath version for the Air Force, designed in 1963 and adopted in 1965.
The outstanding record of African American airmen during World War II was accomplished by individuals
whose names will forever live in hallowed memory. Each one accepted the challenge and
proudly displayed his skill and determination while at the same time experiencing humiliation and indignation
in the form of racism and bigotry.
These airmen fought two wars — one against a totalitarian military force overseas and
the other against unjust racism at home.
At a time when African Americans could not eat, be educated, ride the bus, or use
public restrooms with whites, they chose to bravely serve America.
As I view the White House web site photographs and see the captivating smiles of these men as they receive their medals
from the President of the United States,
I am convinced that they are the truest of heroes who profoundly represent valor, honor and courage.
8th Annual Solidarity Seder: A Celebration of Diversity
On Wednesday, March 28, 2007, the
celebrated its 8th Annual Solidarity Seder with over 100 law enforcement,
government, community, faith based, corporate and citizen guests at the
Trenton War Memorial
in Trenton, New Jersey. The event was truly an
expression of the diversity of America as it allowed for the promotion of
understanding and community from representatives of many faiths and cultures.
"When we recognize our differences,
and acknowledge our similarities,
we appreciate how rich a culture we are.
That alone is reason to celebrate
diversity in New Jersey."
From the ADL's 8th Annual Solidarity Seder Program
The Passover Seder celebrates the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery and is a universal message of liberation, hope and freedom. This year's Seder entitled "Strangers in a Strange Land: Building a Family of Immigrants" focused on stories of immigration and how an interfaith community celebrates the unique stories and journeys that create our American family. It was profoundly fitting for this event to be held at the Trenton War Memorial, a National and State Historic Site that was built as "a great community center" dedicated to the memory of American soldiers and sailors who died fighting World War I.
Prior to the Seder, Etzion Neuer, the New Jersey Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, spoke about the belief of the ADL,
"Injury to any one person is an injury to all."
He shared a quote from
concentration camp survivor, world renowned author, Nobel Peace Prize and Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient:
"Indifference reduces the other to a distraction."
Mr. Neuer explained that this philosophy reduces neighbors to individuals of no consequence and he warned of the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan whose hatred is fueled by an intolerance toward immigrants.
It is my heartfelt belief that all who walk this land must heed the treasured words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the
pedestal of the
Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door"
Testimonials were given by various young men and women. One young man spoke about the heartbreak of seeing his mother arrested as he and his family attempted to enter the United States from Mexico. This young man went on to proudly become an American citizen and has applied to become a member of the United States Army. Another young man reminded us that there are no complaints about immigration as we enjoy the fruits and vegetables which were harvested through the labor and sweat of immigrants working on American farms.
A young woman eloquently spoke about the challenges her family and so many families experienced in coming to America after being victimized by so many regimes in Europe. And individuals from many countries and of many faiths shared their admiration and pride for America throughout the celebration.
During the Seder, the recital of the Haggadah with the Ha Lakhma Anya, "The Bread of Affliction," was personally inspirational. The leader lifts the plate for all to see the matzah and all participants recite:
"Ha Lakhma Anya. This is the bread of affliction which Israel ate in the land of Egypt. It is a symbol of days of slavery and pain, endured by the Jewish people for centuries. It is a symbol also of the slavery and pain of so many in the world today. It is our hope that next year we will be free, that next year all people will be free of all oppression."
Undoubtedly, the most moving moment of the Seder was the testimonial of Holocaust survivor Shelly Zeiger who spoke passionately about "The Town's Fool."
This man, lovingly referred to as Anton by Mr. Zeiger, was looked down upon as a misfit by his townspeople in Western Ukraine and considered a fool because of his seemingly obsessive respect for all life. Anton was a Catholic who would not eat meat, fish or even drink milk because in order to obtain them, a living creature would have to experience pain. Yet Anton, the "Town's Fool", became, according to Shelly, "the savior of our family." Anton risked his own life to hide Jewish neighbors in his home. He hid Shelly, his father and mother and two girls from the Nazis in the Zbrow ghetto for 27 months beginning in 1942. Shelly stated that “Anton was truly a hero who teaches us to respect each human being, for courage can be found in the most unlikely of persons.”
Afterwards, I was privileged to speak privately with Shelly Zeiger who revealed to me a mystical element of this inspiring story. Shelly stated to me that prior to possibly being arrested by the Nazis, his deceased grandmother appeared to his mother in a dream and told her to "Go to Anton."
After the war, Shelly and his family came to America. Years later, although very difficult, he mustered enough courage to go back to his home town in the Ukraine to find Anton. He found him and brought him to live with him and his family in America.
In the event booklet was this statement so appropriate to the moving story shared by this Holocaust survivor:
BARUCH ATA ADONAI ELOHEINU MELECH HA'OLAM SHEHECHEYANU V'KIYIMANU V'HIGIYANU LA-ZMAN HA-ZEH.
"Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe; you have given us life; you have kept us alive that we might live to this time."
Understanding Islam through Community Policing Initiatives
During one of its monthly meetings, the North Jersey Regional Crime Prevention Officers Association
held an extraordinary program at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The meeting featured
an attorney who delivered an insightful presentation on "Understanding Islam and the Muslims."
The presentation was attended by civilians, numerous law enforcement agencies, and security personnel which included the:
- New Jersey Office of Homeland Security
- Fairleigh Dickinson University Security
- Federal Air Marshall Service
- Rutgers University Security
- Moonachie Police Department
- Carlstadt Police Department
- Bergen County Sheriff's Department
- Cliffside Park Police Department
- Hackensack Constable's Office
- Meadowlands Sports Authority Security
- Hackensack Police Department
- Teaneck Police Department
Sohail Mohammed demonstrated how the Muslim community in New Jersey
developed strong ties to law enforcement, including the FBI as well
as with government officials and religious leaders from other faiths.
His presentation was community building and enhanced an understanding of
the pillars of Islam (Faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting and Pilgrimage),
the Prophet Muhammad, the Quran, sayings of the prophet,
Ramadan and Jihad.
Forged partnerships within the entire community and respect for freedom of religion is the strength of our nation and America must be fully dedicated to the principles of diversity and the conviction that in many we are one.
- Congressional Medal of Honor Society (
Vincent J. Bove, CPP
is a Board Certified Protection Professional, Board Certified Crime Prevention Specialist,
Certified Law Enforcement Instructor and U.S. Department of Justice Certified Community
Anti-Terrorism Awareness Trainer.
He is the 2007 New Jersey recipient of the prestigious
FBI Director's Community Leadership Award
and was hand-selected to serve as a facilitator and mentor for the 2007
National Conference on Ethics in America
and speaker for the 2008 conference at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"Vincent J. Bove is considered one of the foremost
national experts on school and workplace violence
prevention, specializing in facility protection,
evacuations, terrorism prevention and leadership
training." -- U.S. Senate
You can visit Mr. Bove's website at
or email him at