Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
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At a political meeting once, behind closed doors, one of the self-important blowhards in attendance leaned across the table toward David Bellavia, who had come seeking an endorsement, and asked, “So, other than kill people, what do you do?”
It was contemptuous and dismissive.
It was also a crystal clear insight into what does and doesn’t matter to the people who control who gets on the ballot.
See, we think the power is in the vote.
But it’s not.
The power is in deciding who we get to vote for.
And the political parties keep that power to themselves. Under most circumstances, the process of selecting candidates is controlled by a small number of political bosses who play by their own set of rules.
Like, who will write the biggest check.
For the last three selection cycles, most of the Republican political bosses of the 27th District of New York have backed the candidate who could write them the biggest check. And so it is that in a congressional district of broad-based conservatism and economic challenge, the Republican bosses have repeatedly backed moderate millionaires.
One ended in a national scandal, the next ended in a loss of the seat to the Democrats, and this one has yet to be decided.
In this one, the voters will choose the Republican candidate. In a June 26 primary, enrolled Republicans will decide whether they want to support the millionaire pretty boy, one-term Erie County Executive Chris Collins, or the blue-collar war hero, David Bellavia.
I will vote for David Bellavia.
For the same reason Americans voted for George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower.
I choose to see in the commitment of battlefield service, not just a courage to defend our nation, but a love of our nation and a strength of character that drive that courage.
It’s not about what David Bellavia did in combat. It’s about what took David Bellavia to combat, and what sustained him there.
It’s about his commitment to serve, and our commitment to those who have served.
Yes, David Bellavia has killed people. A lot of people. Sometimes in hand-to-hand combat.
Maybe someday he will show you his medals.
But every day, and in every way, he shows the values that define and empower our military. What beats in his heart is the spirit that marches across the plain at West Point, that lines the deck of a carrier putting out to sea, that swells in the aspirations of every young man and woman waiting at the recruiter’s office for a chance to serve.
Like the politician leaning across the table, some fail to understand what it is that the military does. Typically, their confusion is fueled by their own failure to serve.
Never having taken or lived the oath of enlistment or commissioning, they don’t know what is at its core: The undying pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies – foreign and domestic.
Keeping that oath can demand violence, as it did in the case of David Bellavia and so many others who have been in combat in defense of America. But it also demands a lifetime’s fidelity to the defining document of America, not just as a soldier, but also as a citizen. Not as some ancient text or complex legal document, but as the very fiber and spine of our Republic.
To wear the uniform of the United States is to pledge your life – or the rest of your life – to the liberties and sovereignty of We The People.
That stuff sinks in, and it hardens, and it never changes.
And that is who David Bellavia is.
He is a representative of each and every one of us who have ever been in the service. He is a representative of each and every one of us who have ever sent off a loved one to the service, or stood in gratitude at a parade as the veterans marched past.
If you have hung a yellow ribbon or wore a flag on your t-shirt or lapel, David Bellavia is your candidate. If you’ve gotten a lump in your throat at the thought of the sacrifices laid on the altar for our freedom, David Bellavia is your candidate.
Because the House of Representatives is about We The People. It’s about some of us going off to have a voice in the leadership of our nation.
And we have enough millionaires there.
But we don’t have near enough soldiers.
The politician leaning over the table didn’t get it, but you do.
You know why they fight. You know who they fight for. You know you would do the same.
And you know David Bellavia is your man.
Vote, donate and volunteer. It’s a forced march to June 26, and we can’t waiver or fail.