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Kevin James Explains Why His TV Wife Was Killed Off After One Season

Kevin James Explains Why His TV Wife Was Killed Off After One Season

Letters to grieving families are a presidential tradition. Here are some famous ones.

By any measure, it’s one of the toughest jobs a president can have -- writing to the family of a soldier killed in action.

The issue of presidential condolences has come to the forefront in the past week as  President Donald Trump incorrectly claimed that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, failed to write letters of condolence to the families of slain soldiers.

While Trump has not backed down from the claim, he has found himself being accused of indifference by the family of an Army sergeant killed in Niger two weeks ago.

According to the mother of La David Johnson, President Donald Trump showed “disrespect” to his loved ones by saying that the solider “knew what he signed up for” before he was killed in action.

The president has denied saying that, while Rep. Frederica Wilson, (D-Florida), said she was in the car when the president spoke toJohnson’s widow as they went to the airport to receive Johnson’s body.

Letters from Commanders-in-Chief to the families of those who are killed in war is not new. 

Perhaps one of the most famous condolence letters sent by a president was a letter sent by President Abraham Lincoln to Lydia Bixby, a widow whose five sons served in the Civil War.

While the letter has been often quoted, the facts of. Bixby’s story has been questioned. It’s believed that at least two of Bixby’s sons were captured during the war, one deserted and one was killed.

Lincoln did not know that when the letter was written. Some believe it may not have even been written by Lincoln, but, nevertheless attributed to him.

Here is that letter and a few others sent by presidents to grieving families.

Lincoln’s letter to Lydia Bixby:Executive Mansion, Washington, Nov. 21, 1864Dear Madam,I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,Abraham Lincoln

Another letter from President Lincoln to the parents of a man killed in the Civil War:My dear Sir and Madam, In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here, is scarcely less than your own.So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in his fall. In size, in years, and in youthful appearance, a boy only, his power to command men, was surpassingly great. This power, combined with a fine intellect, an indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as seemed to me, the best natural talent, in that department, I ever knew.And yet he was singularly modest and deferential in social intercourse.My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago; yet through the latter half of the intervening period, it was as intimate as the disparity of our ages, and my engrossing engagements, would permit.To me, he appeared to have no indulgences or pastimes; and I never heard him utter a profane, or intemperate word. What was conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents. The honors he labored for so laudably, and, in the sad end, so gallantly gave his life, he meant for them, no less than for himself.In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend, and your brave and early fallen child.May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power. Sincerely your friend in a common affliction --A. Lincoln

From President Lyndon Johnson to the parents of astronaut Gus Grissom:Men of your son's utter dedication to country and cause are rare. The loss of such a man is humanity's loss.On each of the happy occasions when I met with Gus, I was impressed by the strength of his spirit and his cool confidence in the success of our space program. He was a leader who shared his strength and faith with all who knew him. By his courage, skill and dedication, he has guaranteed future generations a knowledge of the universe that will enrich their lives on earth.Your sacrifice is beyond measure. But I hope you can take some comfort from your knowledge that your pride can be without limit. Mrs. Johnson and I mourn with you as we pray for God's blessing. Millions share our debt to you for giving Gus to man, and inspiration to mankind.Lyndon Johnson

From President Richard Nixon to the parents of a young man killed in the Vietnam War:Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cummins:It is with great sorrow that I have learned of the death of your son, Specialist Five Richard L. Cummins.Of all the hardships of war, the cruelest are the losses of men such as your son. The only consolation I can offer is the profound respect of the nation he died to serve, and the humble recognition of a sacrifice no man can measure and no words can describe. Those who give their own lives to make the freedom of others possible live forever in honor.Mrs. Nixon joins me in extending our own sympathy and in expressing the sympathy of a saddened nation. You will be in our prayers and in our hearts.Sincerely,Richard NixonFrom Richard Nixon to Jacqueline Kennedy on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy:Dear Jackie,In this tragic hour, Pat and I want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.While the hand of fate made Jack and me political opponents I always cherished the fact that we were personal friends from the time we came to the Congress together in 1947. That friendship evidenced itself in many ways including the invitation we received to attend your wedding.Nothing I could say now could add to the splendid tributes which have come from throughout the world to him.But I want you to know that the nation will also be forever grateful for your service as First Lady. You brought to the White House charm, beauty and elegance as the official hostess of America, and the mystique of the young in heart which was uniquely yours made an indelible impression on the American consciousness.If in the days ahead we could be helpful in any way we shall be honored to be at your command.Sincerely,Dick Nixon 

Several weeks later, the former First Lady responded to Nixon’s letter. (Punctuation, phrasing, and spelling is as it was in Kennedy’s original handwritten letter.)Dear Mr. Vice President –I do thank you for your most thoughtful letter –You two young men – colleagues in Congress – adversaries in 1960 – and now look what has happened – Whoever thought such a hideous thing could happen in this country –I know how you must feel – so long on the path – so closely missing the greatest prize – and now for you, all the question comes up again – and you must commit all you and your family’s hopes and efforts again – Just one thing I would say to you –if it does not work out as you have hoped for so long – please be consoled by what you already have – your life and your family –We never value life enough when we have it – and I would not have had Jack live his life any other way – thought I know his death could have been prevented, and I will never cease to torture myself with that –But if you do not win – please think of all that you have – With my appreciation – and my regards to your family. I hope your daughters love Chapin School as much as I did – SincerelyJacqueline Kennedy

From President George W. Bush to the brother of a man killed in combat:Dear Thad:Johnnie Yellock passed along the copy of your book, My Brother In Arms. It looks like a moving tribute to your brother, Senior Airman Mark Andrew Forester, USAF. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and kind inscription.I know you miss your brother dearly, and I wish there was something I could do to heal your broken heart. Mark's noble service in the United States Air Force helped preserve the security of our homeland and defend the liberties America holds dear. Our Nation will not forget Mark's selfless sacrifice and dedication in our efforts to make the world more peaceful and more free. We will forever honor his memory.Laura and I send our respect and appreciation. May God bless you and your family.Sincerely,George W. Bush

From President Barack Obama:I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of your son, Chief Petty Officer Nicholas H. Hull, USN, and it was a solemn honor to join in saluting him as he returned home to his final resting place. Our Nation will not forget his sacrifice and we can never repay our debt to your family.A simple letter cannot erase the pain of losing a child, but I hope you take solace in knowing that his brave service exceeded all measures of selflessness and devotion to this country. We pay tribute to him not only as a guardian of our liberty but also as the true embodiment of America’s spirit of service to a cause greater than ourselves.Michelle and I offer our heartfelt sympathy and pray that God’s grace gives you comfort as you grieve. In life, you son was a shining example of all that is the best in our land. In rest, may he find the peace we all seek.Sincerely,Barack Obama

Off-Duty Uber Driver Arrested for Allegedly Kidnapping Woman, Touching her Inappropriately

Off-Duty Uber Driver Arrested for Allegedly Kidnapping Woman, Touching her Inappropriately

Father of man accused of killing 6-year-old calls son 'gentle giant'

The father of the 19-year-old man who is accused of killing 6-year-old Dayvid Pakko and leaving his body in a dumpster in Lynnwood, Washington, spoke from Texas on Tuesday.

Randy Henckel said he is grieving the death of his grandson, Dayvid, and trying to make sense of the arrest of his son, Andrew Henckel, in connection with it.

Andrew Henckel, who was visiting from Texas, is Dayvid's uncle.

>> Read more trending news

Randy Henckel described his son as a gentle giant who is more than 6 feet tall, weighs 200 pounds and has been diagnosed with autism. Randy Henckel said his son’s place on the autism spectrum leans toward Asperger’s syndrome.

"He's extremely mild,” Randy Henckel said. “He's introverted. He's everything aside from the Asperger's. He's been a perfect child.”

He said his son, the only suspect in Dayvid's death, has never been in trouble with the law and probably has no understanding of the legal process.

"My viewpoint on this is (that) they probably did Mirandize him, but he wouldn’t have any context for that," Randy Henckel said.

A frantic search for Dayvid was launched Monday night after the 6-year-old, who was also described as having mild autism, disappeared while he was under Andrew Henckel’s care, police said.

Teams of people fanned out near Dayid’s home, near Lynnwood. His body was found Tuesday morning in a dumpster just feet from where he lived. Andrew Henckel was taken into custody, questioned and later arrested. 

Since his son’s arrest, Randy Henckel said he’s had only limited access to his son.

>> Related: 19-year-old arrested after 6-year-old Washington boy found in dumpster

“My daughter, Andrew's sister, out of Austin, Texas, is up there right now,” he said. “She's not allowed to see him, and she's physically there.”

Randy Henckel believes his son can't fully understand what is happening and that his condition may make him more compliant and willing to answer questions.

“I told the detective last night, while they were still searching for my grandson, that he was autistic. And they said, 'We get that and we'll handle him with special care,'” Randy Henckel said. “Special care does not include not letting family members talk to him, or explaining why he might want a lawyer there."

Randy Henckel admitted that he does not know what happened to his grandson, but he wants to make sure Andrew Henckel was not coerced into admitting anything that could put him in legal jeopardy.

>> Related: Body of missing 6-year-old boy found in dumpster

“As far as demeanor leading up to this event, whatever it was, there was absolutely zero indication that Andrew was capable of something like this,” he said.

He also expressed deep concern over Andrew Henckel’s ability to process any of the rigorous questions and situations that come with a legal investigation.

“He hasn't had any interactions with the law whatsoever, we'll put it that way,” he said. “So this process of bringing him in and interrogating him, with his autism, makes me question the validity of anything he said without legal counsel present or a family member present.”

Randy Henckel said that his son may not even fully understand what a lawyer is, let alone understand his rights.

“You know what they do. They asked him, ‘Do you waive your rights?' and he would have said, 'Yes, I'll talk to you,'” he said.

Both he and his family have been trying to contact Andrew Henckel through the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Randy Henckel said.

Artists put their mark on pumpkins for Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

What do get when you pair -- or would it be pare -- artists with 5,000 pumpkins? You’d get the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Louisville, Kentucky.

The gourds line a quarter-mile walking trail and are lit from dusk till 11 p.m. or midnight, depending on the day.

>> Read more trending news

While organizers have illuminated the 5,000 pumpkins, they say that 100 of them are carved into full works of art.

The pumpkins will be on display until Nov. 5, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

For more on the display, click here.

Despite hurricanes, Caribbean still a popular travel destination

It’s been about a month since a trio of hurricanes barreled through the Caribbean and Florida, destroying many popular vacation spots.

Despite all the damage, the majority of destinations are open for business and need visitors to return.

A travel group just produced a video called “One Caribbean Family” that drives home the theme that the islands are still beautiful and welcoming.

>> Read more trending news 

Maryella Blundo, of Dream Come True Travel, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said there are 30 islands open for business and fully functional.

Every day, she receives updates from hotel vendors listing all the hotels that are accepting reservations.

The storms did devastate spots like Puerto Rico, St. Martin and the Virgin islands.

Many, however, fared much better.

“Aruba, Jamaica,” Blundo said. “You have places like Trinidad and Tobago that were virtually untouched. There’s Curacao. There’s Bonaire. There’s the Bahamas.”

Although parts of Florida are still cleaning up, many locations are ready for visitors.

Javier Rosenberg graduated from the hospitality program at Boston University and now runs three hotels in Florida.

One is in Naples, and two are in the Florida Keys.

"It's quite different where you look,” he said. “Miami, for example, I would say the East Coast is pretty much back to normal in many ways. On the West Coast, which suffered a more direct impact from Hurricane Irma, I think you will still see a number of hotels are closed.”

Rosenberg is happy with the pace of the cleanup and says tourist areas got priority.

“If you are planning to go down to Florida in December, January, or February, I think you have to ask a few great questions just to make sure you are comfortable,” Rosenberg said. “In some of the Keys, you want to make sure you have enough restaurant options that are open.”

There may be an opportunity to get a deal in the Sunshine State.

“In the next few months, you probably will see some specials as hotels, and I think destinations, try to get people comfortable with the idea of coming back, so I think there are some great deals and opportunities out there,” Rosenberg said.

At Boston Logan International Airport, most travelers said they’d be willing to go south in a few months to get a reprieve from a Boston winter.

One woman said, “Obviously, it’s pretty tragic what happened there, but I don’t think that I would have any reason not to go.”

“I would still go," one man said. "They are still safe to travel to. I would, but if you had the money to go to the Caribbean, then do it, but Florida is definitely a good option.”

Maryella Blunda told WFXT that she doesn’t expect to see deep discounts in the Caribbean.

She said some resorts are offering perks like spa discounts, but that’s about it.

If you aren’t interested in the Caribbean this year, she suggests checking out Costa Rica and Panama.

VIDEO: Trump Responds to Claims He told Widow of Fallen Soldier He “Knew What He Signed Up For”

Trump Responds to Claims He told Widow of Fallen Soldier He “Knew What He Signed Up For”

Rapper Lil Jon opens school in Ghana in honor of his mother

Lil Jon often talks about the value of education.

>> Read more trending news

Now, the award-winning rapper and producer has put his influence behind helping children go to school in rural eastern Ghana.

He recently partnered with the nonprofit Pencils of Promise to open a school in Abomayaw in memory and honor of his mother, Carrie M. Smith.

Students in that community have been “taught in unfavorable learning conditions. Kindergarten students are learning in open pavilions with unfinished walls and dirt floors, and without formal doors or windows,” according to Pencils of Promise.

Lil Jon is known for hits like “Get Low”, with the East Side Boyz, and “Yeah” with Usher and Ludacris. To help raise money he asked friends and fans to donate to the project in lieu of birthdays gifts earlier this year.

The three-unit school will also have an ancillary office and washroom facilities. According to PoP’s website, the school will impact hundreds of students.

In addition to the new kindergarten classrooms, repairs will be made and windows fitted to the primary students’ classrooms, providing the students with more light during class hours and better ventilation. The Abomayaw community committed to providing up to 20 percent of the labor and resources needed to complete construction.

Lil Jon is also helping build a second school in Ghana.

Pencils of Promise currently works in Ghana, Laos and Guatemala.

Read more at Pencils of Promise.

Related:

Lil Jon turns up and turns out to vote

‘Walking Dead’ superfan Lil Jon shows up on ‘Talking Dead’

Olympic gold medal gymnast: “I was molested” by Team USA doctor for 7 years

The #MeToo movement, encouraging women to tell their experiences as victims of harassment or sexual assault, inspired Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney to tell her own story.

>> Read more trending news

Maroney tweeted Wednesday morning about what happened to her while she was a member of the U.S. Gymnastics Team. She said she was the victim of repeated sexual assault by a former Team USA doctor.

Maroney named convicted sex offender Larry Nassar as her abuser in a lengthy statement posted to Twitter. She said the abuse, disguised as “medically necessary treatment,” started at a Team USA training camp in Texas when she was 13 and continued for at least seven years, after which Maroney retired from gymnastics.

>> Related: Brat Pack darling reveals she was sexually assaulted by a director at 14

Maroney said she suffered the worst abuse in 2011 during the world championships in Japan, where she first broke into gymnastics stardom.

Maroney wrote that on the flight to Tokyo, Nassar gave her a sleeping a pill, and she woke up in his hotel room while he was assaulting her. She wrote that she thought she was “going to die that night.”

Maroney said that Nassar’s abuse was constant.

“It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated,'” she wrote. “It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and it happened before I won my Silver.”

Nassar is accused of molesting dozens of young athletes associated with Team USA Gymnastics and his Michigan State University clinic. More than 125 women are suing him, claiming he used medical treatment as an excuse to sexually assault them.

He pleaded guilty in July to receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography and destruction and concealment of records. In custody since December 2016, he could get 22 to 27 years in prison. Nassar parted ways with Team USA in 2015, and Michigan State fired him in 2016.

Now 21, Maroney said her Olympic triumphs, her gold and silver medals in the 2012 Summer Games, were marred by Nassar’s abuse.

>> Related: In wake of #MeToo, men are vowing to make changes with hashtag of their own

“Sure, from the outside looking in, it’s an amazing story. I did it,” Maroney wrote. “I got there, but not without a price.”

But she ended on a strong note for the future: “Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back.”

“And remember, it’s never too late to speak up.”

Judge denies Jerry Sandusky's request for new sex abuse trial

A Pennsylvania judge has denied former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s request for a new trial.

>> Read more trending news

Judge John Foradora issued the order and an opinion on Sandusky's Post Conviction Relief Act appeal Wednesday afternoon.

Sandusky argued that he did not receive adequate representation by his lawyers during the trial and that prosecutors failed to turn over information about victims' changing stories.

>> See the latest on WPXI.com

The 73-year-old Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of abuse involving 10 boys, including attacks that occurred on campus property.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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