During the sizzling summer weeks, many of you responded to the hot topics in this column with a wide range of emotions. In fact, I received so many emails, phone calls and letters that I am using today's writing to revisit the subjects that caused you to get mad, sad and glad (just to rhyme a few).
I used a tongue-in-cheek approach to gun issues that drew the ire of those who have little appreciation for hyperbole. The column facetiously suggested that the U.S. should screen potential gun buyers by using the natural curiosity of retired border agents.
It was a cheeky suggestion, but few saw the humor in it. My point was only that we need a better process to keep the dangerously mentally ill from buying guns. I still think that's a fair point.
However, I am grateful to the reader who called me out for the fuzzy math I used. It was a stat quoted by several reputable news outlets that there have been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook. The number came from an advocacy group called "Everytown for Gun Safety."
In fact, that while there have been dozens of shootings near school campuses since Sandy Hook, there have only been 10 shootings in the same random fashion. While 10 is too many, cavalier use of statistics to prove a pet point only verifies the adage: "Statistics don't lie, but statisticians do."
Mad take 2
As if I didn't get enough potshots from gun advocates, I really stirred the pot when I wrote about immigration. It was a column I was moved to write as I watched protesters block bus loads of Honduran children.
Truthfully, I hadn't seen such an ugly mob since white supremacists stoned bus loads of civil rights protesters in the '60s. I wrote the story through the eyes of my daughter, Sara, who begins teaching sixth grade in Honduras next month.
Immigration is a complicated subject, but I had hoped to garner a kinder response to help my daughter buy books for Honduran children.
Fortunately, not all of you got mad. A dozen readers pledged enough support so that Sara will return to Honduras carrying a few hundred pounds of books. If you want to know more, go to https://fundly.com/books-for-honduras.
Two months ago, I asked you to pray for Krissy Flesoras in her struggle with lung cancer. Krissy is the wife of the Rev. Christopher Flesoras, a Greek Orthodox priest in Roseville, Calif., and a chaplain who served with me in the Air National Guard.
Sadly, Krissy passed away last week. The devoted mother leaves a grieving husband and two small children.
In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging donations to a patient-driven philanthropy known as The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (www.lungcancerfoundation.org).
Last week, after having gladly served 28 great years, I reached my mandatory separation date and retired from the Air National Guard. Many of you congratulated me, but some expressed fear that I was also retiring my column.
To paraphrase words commonly attributed to Mark Twain, "The death of my column has been greatly exaggerated." Thankfully, I will be writing the column as long as your local editor chooses to publish it.
This news of my continued tenure will probably bring an array of emotions to the table. Some of you will be mad, some of you sad, but at the end of the day, I know at least one of us will be very glad.
Reach Norris Burkes at 843-608-9715, or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.