Archive for September, 2011

San Diego October Calendar of Events

Friday, September 30th, 2011
Through October 31
Pumpkin Station – Del Mar
This event is ideal for children ages 3 to 13 and includes pumpkins, several children’s rides, slides and jumps. School programs are available for children to learn about the harvest of the season. Pumpkin Station offers a wide variety of gourds, squashes, Indian corn, and pumpkins. Admission is free, but tickets are sold for rides.
Time:  Mon – Thur 9:00 am – 7:00 pm / Fri – Sun  9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Location:  Del Mar Fairgrounds – East Parking Lot, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
For more information visit

Through October 31
The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park
The Haunted Trail is a stroll through the park that you will never forget. When the sun goes down–run for your life! Red eyes glow and creepy fingers reach out to get you. Experience outdoor terror that is simply too big to house indoors.
Time:  Refer to website
Location:  Balboa Park – Marston Point, east of 6th Ave. & Juniper
For more information visit

Through October 31
Fall on the Farm – Bates Nut Farm
Weekend entertainment consists of pony rides, straw maze, kid ‘n paint, food, including BBQ, kettle corn, ice cream, a Scarecrow Contest, pony rides, rock climbing and tons more! Get your pumpkin!! The Pumpkin Patch will be open September 24th through October 31- 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day. See the Pumpkin Patch page for all the activities available, prices, times, etc.
Time:  Pumpkin Patch open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily
Location:  Bates Nut Farm, 15954 Woods Valley Rd., Valley Center
For more information visit

September 30 – October 2
Miramar Air Show
Annual aviation expo with nearly seven hours of performances
by the world’s best military and civilian pilots. Military aircraft scheduled include the Navy’s Blue Angels and Super Hornet demo, the Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier, the Air Force F-22 Raptor and F-16 Falcon, and the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) with spectacular special effects pyro. New this year is an hour of Vintage Warbird fly-bys and special demos.
Time:  Refer to website
Location:  MCAS Miramar
For more information visit

September 30 – October 2
Octoberfest 2011 – La Mesa
This is the Big ‘un… La Mesa’s Oktoberfest is among the largest celebrations of its kind on the West Coast. Traditional German celebration featuring dancing, food, beer gardens, Bavarian bands, arts & crafts, commercial booths, and a kids’ carnival.
Time:  Fri & Sat  11:00 am – 11:30 pm / Sun 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location:  La Mesa Blvd between Date & Fourth Streets, La Mesa
For more information visit

October 7 – 9
Annual Polish Festival San Diego
This Polish festival will tantalize your taste buds with delicious Polish food such as stuffed cabbage, sausage, or hunter’s stew. The beer garden will offer imported Polish beer. Costumed performers will sing and dance. Polish merchandise and jewelry will be available for sale. Admission $3.
Time:  Fri (21+) 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Sat  12:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Sun  12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Location:  St. M Kolbe Roman Catholic Polish Mission, 1735 Grand Ave.

October 7-8
Annual Ocean Beach Oktoberfest
A Bavarian Oktoberfest with traditional German festivities will happen in Ocean Beach. Dine on delicious food and drink and be entertained with music, costumed dancing, and fun games. Fun Run registration at 9:00 am, Race at 10:00 am.
Entrance donation: $3.
Time:  Fri.  4:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Sat. 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Location:  Ocean Beach, parking lot at Newport Ave. & Abbott St. & grassy area
For more information visit

October 9
Annual Little Italy Festa
Free event takes place in San Diego’s downtown Little Italy business district. The Little Italy Festa is known to be one of the largest single-day Italian American festivals West of the Mississippi. Enjoy the wine & beer garden, entertainment on 2 stages, over 120 Italian food & crafter booths, sidewalk chalk art, and shop to your heart’s content.
Time:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  Little Italy, India St., Downtown San Diego
For more information visit

October 9
San Marcos Harvest Festival
Featuring a variety of food and unique vendor booths, arts & crafts, live entertainment, a beer garden, and a champagne breakfast. There will be a live music stage in the beer garden and carnival rides will be available for children. Also featuring The American Muscle Classic Car Show, the largest in San Diego County that includes approximately 200 classic cars and hot rods.
Time:  9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Via Vera Cruz – San Marcos, Grand Ave. & San Marcos Blvd.
For more information visit

October 12 – 23
Oceanside Music Festival – OmFest
The 10th Annual Oceanside Music Festival, OMFest, offers 6 concerts this year boasting a variety of music genres, showcasing both student and professional musicians from throughout Southern California. OMFest’s goal is to raise funds for performing arts scholarships for local high school seniors.
Time:  Refer to website
Location:  Oceanside Museum of Art, 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside
For more information visit

October 15 – 16
San Diego Pet Expo
Information about pets, including pet product and service vendors. 2 stages of entertainment, animal celebrities, petting zoo, splash dogs, expert speakers, pet adoptions, breed area, food court, and much more. Admission: Adults: $9.00 / Seniors (65+): $4.00 / Juniors: (0-15) free w/adult.
Time:  Sat  10:00 am – 7:00 pm / Sun  10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Del Mar Fairgrounds, Bing Crosby Hall, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
For more information visit

October 16
Escondido Downtown Street Faire
Over 700 vendors, live entertainment, and food from around the world have combined to make the
Escondido Downtown Street Faire a family tradition since 1989. This is the second largest street fair
in California.
Time:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  Downtown Escondido, Grand Ave. between Centre City Parkway & Ivy
For more information call 760-945-9288

October 22
Annual Light the Night Against Crime 5K
Join law enforcement personnel to show your concern against crime and for the victims of crime by participating at a nighttime 5K run/walk. Includes a post event social and a Kid’s Zone with activities and games. Wear a costume and be sure to bring a flashlight! Costume contest & awards at 8:30 pm. See website for registration fees. The course begins and ends in Balboa Park.
Time:  7:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Kids Run @ 8:15 pm
Location:  Balboa Park – Old Navy Hospital, Park Blvd & Presidents Way
For more information visit

October 22-23
Annual San Diego Dragon Boat Festival
The Festival is free and open to the public. Entertainment, food, arts and crafts and the Dragon Boat Race. Race with the Dragons is for everyone and no experience is required. Each team will be made up of 16 paddlers. Free for all spectators, so get everybody you know to come and cheer you on!
Time:  9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Mission Bay Park – Playa Pacifica, north of the Hilton Hotel
For more information visit

October 29
Annual Monster Bash
Adult Halloween Block Party with live entertainment, food, dancing, cocktails. Wear a costume & mingle. There’s a costume contest with a $3,000 CASH prize for the winner.
Admission: $30 per ticket in advance, $35 at the door.
Time:  6:00 pm – Midnight (21+)
Location:  Gaslamp Quarter, 6th Ave & Island Ave., Downtown
For more information visit

October 29
Annual Nightmare on Normal Street
Normal Street goes Abnormal tonight! The streets will be filled with people showing off their elaborate Halloween costumes and enjoying the festivities. Proceeds from this event benefit more than 40 community programs at The Center. You’re welcome to come with or without a costume…but do you really want to be “Normal” tonight?
Time:  7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Location:  Hillcrest, Normal St. between University Ave. & Blaine St.
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Don’t Foreclose Yet…You May Have Options!

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

With the economy in turmoil and people scared to make big purchases, the real estate business is undoubtedly challenged. In difficult times some people panic, and I see that happening amongst distressed borrowers, yet there is a process to the situation that you need to follow in order to have a chance to save your home and your credit. I have blogged on this topic before and it is worth repeating.

If you are in a distressed situation you need to approach it methodically, even if you don’t believe that there are options. Foreclosure should be the last resort. Here are some steps you can take to try and avoid it:

1.  Contact your lender. I know this sounds horrible, but you need to start somewhere. Some lenders, like Bank of America, actually have been stepping up to help people avoid foreclosure. You need to have all pertinent information ready when you call – your loan number, employment information, bank statements, etc. You want to see if you can qualify for a loan modification. This will take some time, but you need to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later, as soon as you discover you are unable to pay your mortgage or if you have a change of circumstance.

2.  Contact a counselor if your bank cannot help you. There is a wonderful free counseling organization called HopeNow that can help you evaluate your situation and see what options may be out there for you to peruse. You can reach them at 888-995-HOPE. You can find them on the web at

3.  Investigate ALL other possible options. If you are in the military, there are options that may be available to you. You may be able to qualify for a deed in lieu of foreclosure, refinancing, postponement, or a reverse mortgage if you are older and have equity in your home. There are stalling tactics you may be able to use while you find a way to get yourself on track. There are government programs that may help you if you are unemployed. Investigate all options, but do not feel overwhelmed. If you speak with your lender or a counselor you can whittle down the available options.

4.  Short sale. When there is no other option a short sale is better than going through foreclosure. You need to speak with an experienced agent if you are considering this option. Make sure you understand all tax and credit consequences – speak with your accountant or an attorney. Many lenders will bless short sales, and it is a good idea to work with someone experienced because they can try to get lender approval at the get-go. Some lenders are even evaluating homes now and telling the homeowners what price they will accept on the short sale BEFORE the home is listed. You may also qualify for programs like HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program), which allows you to collect up to $3000 from your lender toward moving expenses.

It is important to understand the foreclosure laws in your state and the consequences they carry. If you are having difficulties with your mortgage please do not just give up – you need to try and find a solution before succumbing to foreclosure. Do not walk away from your home either, as that is a voluntary foreclosure. If you spend a little time you may find a solution that lets you avoid foreclosure, so hang in there.

If there are any distressed property issues you would like to see addressed in this blog, please let me know in the comment section below. If you do not see the comment section, simply click on the title to this blog and then scroll back down.

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What’s New In the Distressed Property Market?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The distressed property market continues to be a big part of our real estate market, and there is a lot going on as of late. Here are some of the highlights:

First time homebuyers getting tired of short sales: A survey conducted by Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance revealed that first time buyers have had enough with short sales. This segment of buyers purchased around 40% of short sales in August, compared to 54% of all short sales purchased in November of 2009. Some of the reasons sited for this drop in short sale purchases are frustration with timelines to get the home through escrow, paperwork glitches and appraisal issues, and overall dissatisfaction with short sale lenders. Short sales are still seen as good bargains by many buyers, as they typically sell for 27% less than similar traditional sale homes, making them a great deal for many first time and repeat home buyers who do not have to move immediately.

Florida may change to a non-judicial foreclosure state. The state of Florida, one with a large number of foreclosures, is heeding the cry of many homeowners and buyers by contemplating switching to a non-judicial foreclosure state. Currently a judicial foreclosure state – which means that all foreclosures must go through the court system to be finalized (and there is a huge backlog) – Florida’s foreclosures take longer than those in non-judicial states, up to three times as long by some estimates. Some lawmakers are afraid that these lags will cause lenders not to lend in the state, and that the current system stagnates the market and leads to neighborhood blight. The court system, as we know, can be very slow, so I think this is a good idea, although some lawmakers are opposed to a change with the status quo.

State attorneys general still not close to agreement in robo-signing scandal: Yes, it pains me to report that once again, there is no final decision in the robo-signing scandal. Lenders and attorneys general cannot seem to come up with a punishment for the lenders that makes all happy. Really? Whose money is being used for these attorneys general to meet ad nauseum and figure this out?  I frankly think it ridiculous. Some AGs are saying that the banks should not be held liable for things that have not been investigated yet (what?), and that the liability should be placed on Wall Street and not so much on the lenders. Come on people – accept the blame and move on. The committee has stated that it the lenders will not be released from all civil liability…the saga continues.

Fixing the foreclosure mess may take more than a year. The latest statistics on fixing the foreclosure nightmare are that it may take more than a year, according to one story in Not a big surprise to many folks, and much of the long fix is due to the robo-signing fiasco. Over 4.5 million files must be examined for signs of improper foreclosure procedures, and new plans put in place to prevent such incidences from occurring in the future.

Some interesting numbers: 31% of all home purchases in California in August were short sales. In San Diego county alone, there are currently over 2500 short sales on the market today, with 1098 pending and over 3000 awaiting lender approval (contingent status). In the last six months in the county there have been 3412 short sales that closed escrow, with an average market time of 149 days. The point is that short sales are still very much a part of our current market, and I don’t think that will change any time soon.

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Are You Ready for Carlsbad’s Art Splash?

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

This weekend one of my favorite events comes back to Carlsbad- Art Splash. Stop by on Saturday from 10:00-6:00 and Sunday from 10:00-5:00 on Armada Drive off Palomar Airport Road. The majority of the street is closed for this event, and you can park off Fleet Street. The event and parking are free.

Art Splash is a wonderful place to take the family and enjoy some of the finest local art. There are demonstrations, art vendors, performers, food, and my favorite – the street art. I am always amazed by the talent of our local artists. Your children can try their hand at street art too.

The list of performers for this year’s Art Splash is fantastic – Musicians, dancers, yo-yo and hula hoop demonstrations, cake decorating and chalk art…there is so much to see and do. So if you are looking for something fun to do this weekend that won’t leave your wallet empty, come on out and have some fun at Art Splash!

For more information and an events calendar visit the website at

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Help Prevent School Bullying on October 8 (and Have Fun Too!)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Bullying is one of the worst and most relevant things children today must deal with. It is something that we as a society need to tackle, and it will not go away unless we all work together to help educate our children. If you have always wondered how you can help, or what you can do or say to eliminate it, here is your chance.

On October 8 from 4-7 p.m. come on down to Rock for Challenge Day at The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach for some great music (by Temple of the Dad) for a great cause. All proceeds will go towards Challenge Day at Aviara Oaks Middle School, which is an award-winning program for teens to combat bullying. Challenge Day is coming to a Carlsbad School for the first time on November 7. Over 100 children and 35 adults experience this amazing workshop, to help stomp out bullying and teasing on school campuses.

If you have not read one of my previous blogs about Challenge Day and do not know about it, you can go to MTV’s website and watch an episode of “If You Really Knew Me.” This show is a reality show that highlights the Challenge Day program at campuses across the nation. You can pick any episode, but make sure to have tissues handy. Share it with your teens too. Challenge Day is the most real, raw, intense and inspirational wake up call to kids. NO ONE IS UNAFFECTED by this program.

Our biggest dream is that Challenge Day can one day be on every high school and middle school campus, but we need your help. It is not free, and there are few people who are trained to run the program, so there is a waiting list. Here is your opportunity to really make a difference in preventing bullying, and all you have to do is come to the Belly Up and enjoy some great music with friends, have a drink, and relax.

To find out more about Rock for Challenge Day on October 8, Challenge Day itself, and to order your tickets, please visit Tickets are only $15, and will be $20 at the door. The Belly Up Tavern is a 21 and over venue.

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The Best Real Estate Sites & Apps for Buyers

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
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Conforming Loan Limits to Get the Ax

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

On Friday the House of Representatives failed to extend the current conforming loan limits, which are set to expire on September 30. This was a big blow to the real estate market and to buyers and sellers. But does this mean the fight for extension is over?

Let’s take a look at the situation so that you can understand the problem. Current conforming loan limits are set at $729,750. They were raised to that number in 2008, to allow buyers to obtain financing for larger mortgages. This was a great help to buyers in ares where housing is higher, like here in San Diego county. If the limits do not get extended they will drop down to $625,500 in some areas, lower in others. Again, this really effects higher priced areas, such as along the west and east coasts.

Some argue that dropping the limits will actually be good for housing, as it will assure that only qualified buyers will get loans. However, in the higher priced areas it will force buyers to have larger down payments, or to buy homes priced lower. This will effect the higher end market, and in pricier areas this will effect the market, period. This is not good news for those who need to sell, and the long-term effect is that it will likely bring down prices substantially, or stagnate markets further…neither of which are positive options in this economy.

The Obama administration says that allowing the limits to expire will cause more private money to flow back into the housing markets. I am not a mortgage expert, but wouldn’t these have much higher interest rates? Allowing these limits to expire is going to effect an already fragile housing market.

The next opportunity to reverse the loan limit reduction will be at the end of the year. Let’s hope we get there, as now is NOT the time to distress the housing market any further.

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Backing out of a Real Estate Contract: Buyer’s Rights

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Real estate contracts in most states are and have always been pro-buyer, especially here in California. Buyers usually have a contingency period, in which they can complete home inspections, get their loan approved and any other things that are important before contingencies must be removed and they risk losing their initial deposit. What most people don’t know is that a buyer needs to have a legitimate reason to cancel the contract, even during the contingency period.

The California Residential Purchase Contract (RPA) gives the buyer several “outs” that allow the buyer to cancel the contract without being penalized and losing the initial deposit.

1.  Loan contingency. This is one of the main reasons contracts cancel. The buyer’s lender uses the contingency period – standard is 17 days unless the agent wrote in a different number – to get the buyer’s loan approved. During this time period if the lender finds the buyer cannot qualify for a loan, the buyer can effectively cancel the contract.

2.  Appraisal contingency. Likewise, all loans rely on appraisals of the property involved. If the property does not appraise for the agreed purchase price the lender will not fund a loan. The buyer at this juncture can go to the seller and renegotiate the purchase price as per the appraisal. If the seller refuses to do so the buyer can cancel the contract. However, it is important to keep in mind that once a buyer hands the appraisal over to a seller, the seller is made aware of the appraised value of the property in respect to potential future buyers. If the seller’s property cannot appraise for the amount he desires, his only hope of getting that amount is to find an all cash buyer who does not mind paying more than appraised value – good luck with that one.

3.  Buyer’s right to accept the condition of and matters affecting the property. If during the contingency period the buyer discovers there are problems or issues with the property  that the buyer does not want to or cannot afford to deal with, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract. Some examples include where the buyer’s home inspector discovers a plumbing or electrical problem that will be costly or is dangerous, and the seller will not agree to take care of it;  a cracked slab, necessity for a new roof, additions not built to code, or if there is an easement on the property that could effect use and enjoyment of the property, or a myriad of other issues. The contract protects the buyer’s right to back out upon discovering issues that make the property less habitable or otherwise affect the condition.

4.  Breach of seller’s duties. If the seller does not provide certain documents to the buyer on time, such as property and statutory disclosures, it may be cause for cancellation of the contract. The buyer must wait until the expiration of the time period and then provide a written notice to perform to the seller. If the seller does not do so in the time period provided the buyer may cancel the contract. Time periods are specified in the contract.

The California Residential Purchase Contract is written with protection of the buyer as a high priority. No one wants to sell a home to a buyer who is unhappy about it (or, let me rephrase that – I certainly do not want to do that, and most agents feel similarly). Look at your contingency period as a time to gather all the information you will need, so that you understand any faults associated with the property.

Most sellers will work with buyers on repair requests, but keep in mind that ALL homes in California are sold as is – the seller has no obligation to make any repairs. Limit your requests to those items that are dangerous or alter the habitability or enjoyment of the property. Lastly, keep in mind that in short sale situations and most foreclosure cases, the lender will not agree to any requests for repairs.
Happy home hunting! Please let me know if you have any questions I can answer about the purchase contract or the purchase process. I will be happy to address them in a subsequent blog…just make your suggestions below.



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Will Obama Job Plan Really Help Housing Market?

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

After many real estate industry complaints that the new Obama administration recovery plans did nothing for housing (aside from refinancing assistance plans, which as we all know still require lender cooperation), out comes a plan with that goal in mind. But will this new plan really help distressed inventory and jobs, or is it merely another attempt that will eventually fall apart and leave the housing market no better off?

The new plan, called Project Rebuild, is actually not a completely new concept. Based on the already somewhat successful Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which in two parts provided grants to states and local governments (and later to non-profit agencies) to rebuild blighted neighborhoods, Project Rebuild focuses on jobs. The $15 billion program will connect out of work Americans with jobs to rebuild distressed neighborhoods, including both residential and commercial properties.

There are several problems with this approach.

1.  How will neighborhoods be identified to participate? The program states that it will focus on the most distressed neighborhoods, yet there are so many areas that have these types of neighborhoods. While $15 billion seems like a lot of money, when you are talking about rebuilding homes and buildings it can go pretty quickly. Many states, like California, don’t have the money to fix all the broken neighborhoods, so while some may be helped this obviously will not make the problem substantially better.

2.  How will states decide who gets these jobs? Many states have big unemployment numbers, and while the program states it will give jobs to people in the distressed areas again – this means the rest of those in other distressed areas will receive no jobs. It cannot cover everyone, and may not even be able to make a dent in jobless numbers. Also, there will likely be many people who cannot work in construction, for various physical  reasons. What, specifically, are these jobs going to be, and how will they choose who gets them? What if people need training – is that part of the budget?

3.  Will fixing some distressed areas really make that much of a difference in the distressed housing market? Should the feds even be involved in this? Some say that the feds need to leave the distressed markets alone, with perhaps the only exception being the need to get lenders to be more cooperative in working with distressed homeowners in avoiding foreclosure.  (It is important to note there are federal programs with this goal in mind, but the fact is that the lenders still can do whatever they like, for the most part, and cooperation is not where it should be). Distressed markets can actually be good for housing, as they bring prices down so that more people can afford to buy. This can really be a blessing or it can be a problem, depending on your thinking.

I think it is fantastic to try and clean up some of those areas that have suffered the worst, and make these neighborhoods liveable once again…while at the same time providing jobs that meet that goal. We all know that there are so many people out there who are ready and able to work, and providing more jobs is a great goal. I am just not sure that this is the best way to do it, and even with private sector involvement I question whether there will be enough money to go around.

We could look at some other options. One that comes to mind is to pour some of that money into our public schools so that we can hire more teachers and reduce class sizes, bring back art and music and P.E. to many schools. Bolstering up schools is a win-win for everyone, including neighborhoods. This is just one idea, and I do think we need to do something about the lenders and the difficulties with them refusing to help people avoid foreclosure. In time, this will help heal neighborhoods as well. The fact is that we still do not have a strong program to help the housing market and homeowners.

What do you think? This is a tough call, and I would love to hear your thoughts – I invite you to comment below (if you do not see the comment box, simply click on the title of this post and then scroll down to the end).

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9/11 Anniversary Message

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

I woke this morning and watched the memorial services in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, contemplating the enormity of the attacks of 9/11/2001, and what they meant to us as a nation and as individuals. As I the names of those who died were read, with the beauty of the World Trade Center memorial in the background; as I listened to Vice President Joe Biden give a heartfelt speech about the resiliency of America; as images of that day were superimposed onto images of the peaceful skyline of lower Manhattan today…I felt such a mix of emotions.

Bringing back those memories – the utter disbelief, the horror, the sadness, the anger…the realization that we are not invincible – has an effect on every person. Yes, we need to be thankful for the beauty in our lives, for those we love, for those with whom we were lucky enough to be with, whether it was for a moment or many years. We have to still strive for love, above all else, because once we give up on love we distance ourselves from the greatest joy life has to offer.

I am humbled by the sacrifices that so many make for American freedom. I am in awe over the unity and brotherly love that grew from the dark ashes of death and destruction. I hope that we all carry in our hearts the appreciation for what we have, for what America stands for, and that we don’t ever forget September 11, 2001. It is not only history, it is a clear message to us all to be amazed at and thankful for what we have been given…not just today, but every single day.


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