A Tribute To My “Uncle” George


In the South we have a tradition, a tradition not well understood in much of the rest of the country. Most of us who are dyed-in-the-wool Southerners grew up with more uncles than those we areHBA024102-1_20150314 actually related to. As for myself, even at 41 years of age, I still have quite a few.

I was deeply saddened to learn that one of those “uncles,” a very dear family friend, passed away on Saturday, March 14. George Imbragulio, a man I affectionately called “Uncle George,” was a lifetime resident of Ellisville and a retired professor of music at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Imbragulios emigrated from Sicily. Uncle George’s father, Sam, ran a local store on Front Street in Ellisville, a building that no longer stands. And with that business the Imbragulios prospered, even in South Mississippi. They got along great with their neighbors and remained valued members of the community.

I was fortunate to live on Court Street right next to my great-grandparents, who were friends and neighbors of Uncle George. That’s how I knew him. And Uncle George was a man of a great many talents.

From his obituary:

He graduated from Jones County Junior College and received BMUS and MMUS degrees from Michigan State University, where he studied with Ernst Victor Wolff, he also studied with Claudio Arrau and Rudolf Firkusky.

He was on the music faculty at USM for over 30 years where he taught and mentored a host of young piano students.

A brilliant pianist, he played concerts throughout the southeast. He was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship for a year’s study in Rome, Italy. Also he was a judge for the Piano Guild of America. He served in the US Army during WWII as a chaplain’s assistant. He saw service in China and India.

He was also a fine writer who authored a novel, Miss Etta’s Arkansas Spring. He personalized an autograph copy for me, which sits in a place of honor on a special shelf in my library.IMG_0157

And unbeknownst to all but his closest friends, he was a magnificent chef who made the best Sicilian dishes you can imagine. I still recall with great pleasure his lasagna. But, in typical Sicilian custom, he would never part with his family recipe.

Uncle George was a man of extraordinary character and goodness. I never saw him angry, even when us kids played on his porch or his backyard. One would be hard pressed to find a kinder, gentler soul anywhere on Earth.

Those of us who knew him can mourn his passing, for we have lost a dear friend. And Mississippi lost a valued and accomplished son.

With his passing, our world became just a bit darker. But Heaven is now a bit brighter.

God speed, Uncle George!

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Some Advice from a First-time Author


This column was published in the Laurel Leader Call newspaper (Laurel, MS) on May 8, 2012:

Recently, I published my first book, The Last Jeffersonian: Grover Cleveland and the Path to Restoring the Republic.  It re-examines the life of a great, but largely forgotten President and extolls the policies he used to solve the political problems he faced in his day, which are many of the same issues we now confront.

I am now working on a couple of book projects for future publication, one on the history of the Democratic Party since Grover Cleveland and a defense of another tarnished President, Warren G. Harding.

I’ve had many questions from people who are also interested in writing a book, seeking my advice and guidance, for whatever it’s worth.  I’m often asked questions like, how long it took me, how I found a publisher, and how hard it was to actually produce a book manuscript.

So, rather than producing yet another opinion piece on the sad and frustrating state of our politics, and on the recommendation of friends, I wrote today’s column to answer some of these questions. Continue reading

Are You Star Trek or Star Wars?


With the release of Episode III, the final installment of George Lucas’s classic saga, we can now ask ourselves what is the true legacy of Star Wars. But better yet, while doing this, let us also consider that other famous space flick Star Trek. For both series’ have far different outlooks on the future.

Simply put, Star Trek is based on the premise that man is perfectible and the institution in which he achieved that state of perfection is government. Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, was a believer in a one-world government system, also known as the New World Order, and was a big proponent of the United Nations. His story centers not on a world government system, but a universal government agency – the United Federation of Planets (UFP). During the first series, with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, all galactic beings got along great, with the exception of the Klingons. But by the Next Generation, even the evil Klingons had been brought into the fold and “perfected.” Even evil can be eradicated in Mr. Roddenberry’s world. The UFP controlled everything and one is quickly led to believe that everything will work out great if we just had one international institution to watch over us.

This notion comes directly from socialism and Marxist/communist theory. Karl Marx and other proponents of these ideas believed in a utopia, a perfect society that could be achieved by government, in one form or another, but all totalitarian systems. Marx also believed that even government would not be necessary once the final stages of his utopia, his worker’s paradise as he termed it, was achieved. However, these utopian ideas are there to fill a void, a void without God. We as Christians understand that man is perfectible only by God and only when we arrive in His perfect place – Heaven. No superior being exists in Roddenberry’s saga. So Star Trek would equal communism and socialism. Government can be used for good, to perfect man and to perfect society. But because there is no God (to a communist/socialist), we have to have a strong, centralized government structure to perfect man and to perfect society. Isn’t this what Hitler had in mind for his Reich? A perfect society full of perfect people. So doesn’t Star Trek sound a lot like our liberal, and even neo-conservative friends in Washington? A world-wide (or universe-wide) crusade for utopia.

Star Wars, on the other hand, is a great story about good vs. evil, a version of God and Satan, and about human nature itself. There is good in this world, but as we have seen throughout our history on this planet with the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, we also have much evil. But liberals refuse to believe evil exists. Unfortunately it does and because of this we as humans have to have government. As James Madison said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But we are not angels, a little lower I’m afraid. Star Wars portrays this perfectly. We need a government but the best system we can have, which our Founders left us, is a constitutional republic. Episode III demonstrates that a republic is much preferred to a dictatorship. Rather than try to co-exist with evil (or even to convert it), Star Wars seeks to destroy it. The Jedi do not co-exist with the Sith, but wage war against it at every turn, seeking to end its influence in the republic. In fact the Jedi exist solely to protect the republic against enemies that might try to destroy it. This is true conservatism. We should be concerned with enemies, both foreign and domestic, that threaten our freedom and our republican institutions. However, foreign crusades for utopian ideals can be destructive and should be resisted. As John Quincy Adams once said, “Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [ America ’s] heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”