06/07/2008

Bob Hartnet - An Inspiration for the Physically Challenged

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Bob was an inspiration to all at Cradle Beach

Updated: 07/06/08 7:59 AM


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Ezan Bagdasarian, who was born and raised in Buffalo, has fond memories of Cradle Beach.


As a 10-year-old, I felt uneasy at my first meeting with this precocious and astonishing youngster at Cradle Beach Camp in Angola. Robert E. Hartnett was one year older than me and, at age 11, he seemed to handle his physical disabilities extremely well.

Bob was born with no arms. He had only one leg, and that leg had no knee. Little did anyone know at the time that for the next 19 years, Bob would grow into a legend within the Western New York community and accomplish the success that has eluded so many others.

At Cradle Beach, Bob was assigned to a cabin with other physically challenged campers. I was in a “field” cabin with well kids from Buffalo and other areas of Western New York. Meeting Bob and gaining his friendship changed my whole perception of life. As the years went by, our friendship grew. Eventually, we both became staff members at Cradle Beach.

Our love for the camp and its philosophy of integrating well and physically challenged campers was shared by the camp directors and staff members. Bob was very adept at counseling homesick and handicapped campers. He had an overwhelming personality causing you to forget his physical disability within minutes of meeting him.

During his tenure, Bob was perhaps the best and most popular counselor Cradle Beach ever had. Returning campers would ask to be placed in his cabin. Bob had a customized wheelchair with a battery- operated motor that allowed him to control the chair with his leg. Campers would hang around him as if he was the Pied Piper!

Bob attended School 84 and Canisius College. In the late ’50s, he graduated with high honors from Canisius and was named to the national college academic “who’s Who.” He opened an accounting and tax office in South Buffalo. It became a successful business with many clients. Yet he always kept his summer months open to return to Cradle Beach as a staff member. He served as a genuine model of humanity not only for the physically disadvantaged campers but for the other campers and staff as well. Bob was an inspiration to so many. If he could make his way in life with his disabilities and excel, then why couldn’t anyone else? And he did so without self-pity.

Bob had one great advantage in his life. He had a very loving and caring family. Bob was accepted by his parents without any misgivings. They raised him with love and understanding and made certain that he attended Mass every Sunday at St. Teresa’s Church on Seneca Street. His deep faith sustained him throughout his life. He also had the loving support of his siblings, aunts and uncles.

As a counselor, Bob used to like taking his campers to Buffalo Beach and have them enjoy sliding down with him on what was known as the snake slide, which had twists and turns. After Bob’s passing, the camp had a similar slide placed at Cradle Beach and called it the “Bob Slide”. It was dedicated to Robert E. Hartnett and has been used and enjoyed by hundreds of campers ever since.

Bob had dreams of running for political office and had he not passed away, would have done so and won. Friendships such as Bob’s can never be forgotten and may come our way only once in a lifetime. For those of us who were fortunate enough to know Bob and enjoy his friendship, we were blessed with his inspiration and fortitude as an example of overcoming any adversity or challenge that life may present.

30/10/2007

The Armenian Genocide - Denial of History


My father, Armen Bagdasarian

Every year April 24 marks the anniversary of the Armenian genocide. On that day, in 1915, under the pretext of WW I, the orders were given by the leaders of the Ottoman Turkish government to commence their genocide against the Armenian people living within the Ottoman Empire. The Turks made no particular attempt to conceal that plan. At the time, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morganthau, was convinced that “the whole history of the human race contained no such horrible episode as this”. He believed that “the great massacres and persecutions of the past seemed almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915”. He also said that “when the Turkish authorities gave the orders for Armenian deportations to the deserts in northern Syria, they were merely giving the death warrant to all Armenians within their empire”. Talat Pasha, one of the Ottoman Turkish leaders, admitted to his German ally that Turkey is taking advantage of the war to thoroughly liquidate its internal foes (i.e., the Armenians). It was the first full scale major genocide of the 20th century. Decades have passed and the Armenian people are still waiting for justice and recognition of the genocide.

To this day, the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the genocide even though documentation abounds with this sad historical fact. Witness accounts given by Henry Morganthau as well as writings by David Marshall Lang, Christopher Walker, Franz Werfel, Richard Hovannisian, Peter Balakian, Vahakn Dadrian, et al. Were those Turkish politicians and generals who authorized and administered the effort to completely annihilate the Armenian people successful in extending their theory of genocide into modern times? It was documented during the Nuremburg trials that in1939 Adolph Hitler, while persuading his associates that a planned Jewish holocaust would be tolerated by the west stated, “Who after all speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” The Armenian genocide proved to the civilized world that man’s inhumanity to man can be implemented with little, if any, world concern or condemnation. This heinous crime was carried out with such zeal that within three years, over 80 percent of the Armenians living within Turkey were massacred. Close to two million Armenians were killed, fled their homeland to safe countries or deported to the deserts of northern Syria. As Hitler planned for the Jews, The Ottoman government sought to eliminate a whole race of people.

Why?

The Armenians were the last Christian nation within the Empire seeking reforms or independence on the soil that they occupied since 1000 B.C. During the past century, the Turks had lost Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania and would not accept an independent nation on its eastern flank, no less a Christian nation. Prior to WWI, England, France and Russia had all agreed that Armenia should exist as a nation or at least convince the Ottoman government that reforms affecting the Armenians should be implemented within their empire. These proposed reforms consisted of equality before the courts, equal taxation, freedom of Armenians to practice their religion, protection from Turkish and Kurdish brigands and equality in holding property. No reforms were forthcoming and the Turks blamed the Armenians for the European meddling and implemented their planned genocide. There would be an Armenia without Armenians.

Today, in present day eastern Turkey, the traditional homeland of the Armenians, very few traces of Armenians exist. Churches have been converted to barns and others reduced to rubble. After the war Armenia, known as the “little ally” of the west, eventually formed a small nation in the Caucuses and was an independent republic until 1921 when the Soviet Union invaded it and subverted the country to a Soviet Republic. That Armenian Republic was only 15% of the Armenian homeland. I am a descendant of survivors of that genocide. There isn’t a person of Armenian heritage living anywhere on this earth today who didn’t have a relative killed in those atrocities. Yet the current Turkish government denies that the previous regime of the Ottoman Turkish government committed such a heinous crime. That denial of historical fact makes the current government of Turkey as culpable as the previous regime. Although many nations and historians have acknowledged this tragedy, the current government of Turkey refuses to accept this disastrous event as genocide.

On May 16, 1978, President Jimmy Carter at a White House ceremony said, “It is not generally known in the world that, in the years preceding 1916, there was a concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people, probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group. And there weren’t any Nuremberg trials”.

It is hoped that the Turkish government will have enough courage to admit to this crime and to be bold enough to seek justice and make reparations as originally agreed to under the Treaty of Sevres. The martyrdom suffered by the Armenians in that tragedy will never be forgotten, not by this generation or those generations of Armenians to follow. The voices of the Armenian people will never be silenced on this crime. The hour may be late but there is a morning yet to come. Will Turkey ever admit to this historical tragedy?

24/06/2007

The Origin of the Name "Ezan"



The name "Ezan" was given to me by my father whose entire family was masacred during the Ottoman Turkish genocide of the Armenians from 1915 to 1922. The name comes from an Armenian revolutionary fight song whose refrain goes something like this: "Ezan-e-veraj, arach, arach". That means, "To arms!, Revenge! Forward!, Forward!". My father belonged to an Armenian regiment of the French Foreign Legion and fought the Turks in Palestine. He later joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation which helped create the Independent Republic of Armenia until the Soviet Union annexed it as part of the Soviet Union in 1921.

I am a retired Supervisory Customs Inspector from the Eastern Great Lakes Field Office located in Buffalo, NY. I have served as Supervisor of the Contraband Enforcement Team, District Administrative Supervisor, Station Supervisor in Charge at Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY, Supervisor of Customs Training for the Buffalo District, Supervisor in Charge of the Summer Inspector Program, Bomb Threat and Terrorist Threat Coordinator and Co-Cordinator of the Eastern Great Lakes Intelligence Collection Analysis Team. In 1983, I participated in the establishment of the Customs Behavioral Analysis Program and have lectured on "behavioral Analysis and Observational Techniques" to law enforcement agencies and as a contractor, tc countries overseas. I am currently a Contract Special Investigator for the United States Government doing bacground /security investigations.

The Cradle Beach Spirit


THE EMBODYMENT OF THE “SPIRIT OF CRADLE BEACH CAMP”


I was 14 years old when I first met this young 21 year old counselor at Cradle Beach Camp. After five years as a camper, I was actually able to become a Pioneer Camper (PC) at Cradle Beach. Pioneer Campers were the 14, 15, and 16 year olds who worked in the kitchen, served and fed the handicapped children and helped out in many other ways. Cradle Beach Camp is perhaps the only camp in the United States that integrates well kids (mainly from the inner city) and physically disadvantaged children into a full program of joint activities. Jack Anthony was my first PC counselor. In my life, that summer was one of the most memorable ones that I have ever had.

I had originally been sent to Cradle Beach as a nine year old. I had been growing up as a rough and tough kid on the west side of Buffalo. Growing up there kind of made you that way. As a youngster, the quickest way to resolve a disagreement was to get into a fist fight and win. I had many at P.S. 76 when some kids would poke fun at my name. Although the Butler Mitchell Boys Club was nearby, Cradle Beach was a Godsend for me. Meeting Jack Anthony and having him as my counselor changed my attitude and life forever.

This tall athletic looking young man could relate to campers of all races, ethnic origins, social strata and physical handicaps. Our cabin of 14 was mixed with well and handicapped PC’s. Black and white kids got along well. Jack saw to that.

One day, in the afternoon during a “rest hour”, a fellow PC made some comment to me that I did not like. I jumped on his bed and was ready to punch him when I heard a voice call out my name. It was my counselor, Jack Anthony. His voice stopped me from fighting. Jack escorted me to the counselor’s room and proceeded to give me a lecture on the unacceptable use of violence to resolve conflicts. He did it in such an unassuming way that made me realize what a sincere, dedicated counselor this man was.

As time went on, Jack eventually became the Director of the camp and I served on his staff for many years. Jack’s directorship lasted for over 35 years. Jack Anthony’s tutelage both as a counselor and Camp Director has benefited so many campers in so many ways that will never be forgotten. What is known as the “Cradle beach Spirit” is embodied in Jack. That spirit is one that says regardless of your physical or social handicap, life does have something to offer you. Jack taught campers that life’s challenges can be met and overcome with a little patience, understanding, and taking pride in who you are, regardless of perceived handicaps.

The Counselors staff all had to meet Jack’s high expectation and standards in dealing with the campers. This was no ordinary camp. The counselors were taught how to deal with those campers who were physically handicapped. They were made aware of the challenge of dealing with the kids from the inner city. In the end, it all came together with two weeks of fun and sunshine. It was all for the kids.

There were campers in wheel chairs and well kids playing baseball, black and white campers being buddies at swim time, campers learning that they could do things that they never dreamed of doing before such as making things in the craft, hobby and woodshop.

Those few campers who had a hard time adjusting would be counseled by Jack and more often than not, return to their cabin with a positive attitude.

The atmosphere created by Jack Anthony was pervasive enough to influence so many campers who initially may have come to Cradle Beach with a bad attitude towards life, but left with a positive feeling not only about themselves but what they could accomplish in their future. If there were more Jack Anthony’s in the world today, then perhaps we could truly find peace on earth, good will to men.

My grandchildren are (Left to right) Adam, Adrik, Austin and Ava.

Identifying Suspicious Behavior

Identifying Suspicious Behavior
Ezan Bagdasarian

The potential terrorist threat to American business’, large or small is real and cannot rely solely on private security forces or local law enforcement to protect them from possible terrorist actions. In our current environment, it has become imperative that employees be cognizant of potential terrorist activity and targeting methods. Recognition of an impending terrorist threat is crucial. Sometimes, we are not aware of what is in front of us and the potential danger that exists. Be aware of your surroundings and what doesn’t fit into that surroundings and seems out of place.

One of the most effective methods used to identify suspicious behavior is the use of observational techniques. This method employs broadly based principles that attempt to determine the credibility of actions of the individual being observed.

Many of us have had an occasion where, when talking to someone, either socially or on-the-job, you sense that the person is lying to you or acting suspiciously. Even though what the person is saying sounds like the truth, you know they are lying. Chances are that in those situations you are unconsciously noting a mannerism or changes of some sort that is causing your suspicions.

I will focus primarily upon those methods you can use to determine the legitimacy and credibility of an individual whom you feel may be acting suspicious or in an unusual manner. Using these primary concepts will significantly assist you in identifying those individuals whose behavior appears to be out of the norm. I will attempt to provide you with the basic tools to:

1. Define the concept of observational techniques and suspicious behavior.

2. Understand some of the actions that might indicate that an individual is acting suspiciously.

3. Having some basic knowledge of the terrorist and their behavior, identify those individuals that appear to be high-risk by applying the fundamentals of observational techniques and behavioral symptom analysis.


The following is very general targeting intelligence of a terrorist. Because of its limited nature, it should only arouse suspicion when used in conjunction with other articulable facts -

Initial observations of suspicious behavior.

(1) Suitability of whether he fits into the given environment. The appropriateness of clothing, briefcase, package and luggage

(2) Characteristics of companions, if any.

Age: Usually in the 18-35 year range

(3) Sex: Male or female

(4) Appearance: Well dressed or casual

(5) Finances: Uses cash, not credit cards

(6) Travel status:

(a) Usually travels singly or in pairs

(b) If two persons of different sexes travel together, they often pose as husband and wife

(c) Rarely travels with children

(d) Joins tour groups after beginning of tour


Appearance and Behavior:

Does the individual’s clothing and dress fit the environment? If a person is wearing a heavy coat when the weather is warm, does that person have something underneath his garment that he doesn’t want detected?
What type of person do you normally encounter in your work environment at any particular time of day, day of week or time of year?

How is the average employee dressed? How is the person you suspect as being a terrorist dressed?

Why is the person there? Can he articulate his reason for being at your work site? If you engage in a conversation, does this person articulate his profession or work status? Does it make sense?

What is this person’s relationship to employees or management?

Identifying Suspicious Behavior II

Identifying Suspicious Behavior II


Body gestures should be observed. Stress is an uncontrollable instinct and when under stress, a person cannot control their own bodily reactions. The terrorist may be under stress and stress causes involuntary physiological changes which may cause:

1. An increase in heart rate and blood pressure (the carotid artery shows fast pulsation).
2. Increase breathing (breathing fast and/or taking several deep breaths.).
3. Dilating pupils (eyes expanded)
4. Dry mouth.


Some visual Observations of Stress:

1. Face turns red
2. Refuses eye contact
3. Frowning
4. rubbing or touching nose
5. smoothing mustache
6. unusual sweating
7. squinting
8. exaggerated movements – can’t stand still, wandering around
9. Clutching of a package or briefcase.
10. tapping of shoes.
11. Grooming or smoothing hair
12. Scratching repeatedly
13. Protects throat area with hands
14. Yawning
15. Rubbing of hands


Some Auditory Observations:

1. Stuttering
2. hesitancy of speech
3. Deep sighs
4. Repeatedly clears throat
5. cracking voice
6. teeth grinding
7. if asked a question, inability to answer