A Full Day: A flustered passenger, Gene Autry, and A’yanna Allen.

“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day.” Jim Valvano

Today is December 12, 2016, the 346th day of the year.

On this day in 1792, 22-year old Ludwig van Beethoven received his first lesson in music composition from Franz Joseph Haydn in Vienna.


It’s Saturday night and I pick up a couple in the Montford area of Charlotte. They request that I pick up another passenger on the way to their final destination.

When I pick up the third passenger, a young lady in her mid 20s, we get underway and I turn to her and say, “Ok, the three of us have been singing the 12 Days of Christmas; you’ve got day four. Go!”

“Um… uh… what’s the fourth day,” she stammered.

We had a good chuckle.


According to Billboard, the top-selling single on the first week of the 1950s was none other than Gene Autry’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It is also the only No. 1 hit to never appear again on the charts the following week. It trails only Bing Crosby’s White Christmas in sales of Christmas singles.



Do you know the name A’yanna Allen? At seven-years old, she followed in her father’s footsteps.

Many of the community of Salisbury, N.C. didn’t the night she fell asleep on Saturday, December 3. Staying at her grandmother’s house – the child normally stayed at the mother’s house on weekends – A’yanna went to bed that night with the grandmother and never woke up again. A still, yet-unknown gunman fired into the house and a bullet passed through the face of Allen before it exited her skull and hit the leg of the grandmother.


A day after Allen was laid to rest, in fact a few hours before I typed this, a pre-teen girl was watching TV in a house in Des Moines. A bullet fired into the house hit her in the shoulder.

A quick Google search on nearly any day over past the year will find the same, sad story of a senseless shooting of a child: someone’s son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild, etc. I’m not smart enough to know if we have an epidemic in our country of children being killed by random bullets, but two in a week – just a random week in a random year – ought to be enough to get our attention. But it won’t.

My writing here is not to rehash any of the arguments about guns and ownership of those guns by private individuals, and whether or not governments should regulate that ownership. Honestly, nothing new under the sun has been argued in my lifetime on either side, and I don’t think anything will change those arguments. People are entrenched in what they believe and they will use the names and faces more for political gamesmanship, rather than substantive progress on the issue that children are dying senselessly.

Nor, do I want to make arguments about the continuing cycle of gang violence in our cities – not just major urban cities like Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago, L.A., etc., but small town USAs like Salisbury. In reading about her story, the reader finds out that her father was killed by gunshots before Allen was born. What a sad, sad legacy to pass on.

We argue a lot when stuff like this happens, but more and more our arguments fall flat. We’re more interested in winning than seeing substantive changes.

You see, when arguments are made to try and win the day – like most political arguments, we treat them like sporting events, seeking only to win – the names and faces of children caught up in the madness of a gunman firing aimlessly into a house, or at a park, or at a school, or at a church, are just pawns. If we don’t read the names, see the school photographs of seemingly 100-teeth, smiling faces, hear the cries of families at a burial plot, we can go on and continue to make those same arguments.

Meanwhile, more of our kids will return week after week, day after day, to the dust from which they came. And it’s likely that A’yanna Allen’s name will be forgotten in a month… and nothing will change.

Folks, that should make us all weep.

A’yanna Allen

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