Vicky Collins Online

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The Chinese Scam I Almost Fell For

It’s amazing the lengths people will go to to rip others off.  I recently was contacted by a Mr. Dehua from Henan Yu Xin International Co. Ltd. in Zhengzhou, China.  He emailed to say that his company was making a 20 episode series of 25 minute documentaries in HD for television broadcast.  The intention was to enlighten the Chinese audience about America’s history, economy, culture and tourism.  At first I was a bit skeptical.  How did he find me?  Was it because I did a documentary length piece on Chinese influence in the Caribbean for Dan Rather Reports?  Was it because I spent three months in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics?  Did I impress someone along the way who referred me?  I emailed him back.  He followed up with the project information.  It was in detail and he clearly understood the logistics of production.  He also informed me that they would pay $50,000 to $60,000 US per episode.  The project was a dream come true with a budget that would allow us to produce excellent television.  It kept me up at night thinking of ideas that I would bring to the Chinese and people I would collaborate with.  I worked out a production schedule and sent him off my ideas.  He said “I am so happy that we have a so good beginning.”  Today as I was looking for more information I came across this warning from a production company in Munich, Germany.

Thanks to the internet and the experience of the production company in Munich I was saved from going any further down this scheming road.  I am now posting this as a cautionary tale to warn fellow producers and production companies.  The scam which first swept through Germany and Italy and other European countries has now reached American shores.  I guess if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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War and Remembrance 3

My conversation with Ben Coker, Jr. of South Carolina continues following my Veterans Day post.

In response to your letter to me, I very respectfully offer the following:

I agree with you on the point you made about unity going into WWII. We had been seriously violated by Japan’s blatant and flagrant attack on us at Pearl Harbor. However before I discuss that issue, let’s examine the time at which these events occurred. In 1929 the Stock Market crashed and left a nation in disarray and financially devastated. My father was born in 1910, my mother 1917. They told us children of the difficulty they had suffered through the ensuing years to the conclusion of the war. The American people’s endurance of these traumatic years prepared them to face the difficult years of WWII. They were united and had resolved to defeat the tyrants who had inflicted so much devastation.

This unity persisted throughout WWII; However Churchill had made repeated requests of President Roosevelt to enter the war as ally to England and France without fruition. Our leadership had taken the position that “We did not have a dog in the fight” which seems to be the attitude of most people about so many issues that so immensely impact our lives. Nevertheless, coming out of WWII our nation remained united and we enjoyed much growth and financial advancement during the fifties. Nonetheless, there was an effort by the Communist nations after WWII to spread communism throughout the world. Russia and China were asserting themselves in the effort to spread communism to other nations even if this had to be achieved through hostile action as it had been done in so many other instances.

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War and Remembrance

I received a very thoughtful response from Ben Coker, Jr. of South Carolina to my Veterans Day post. He and I are having a dialogue about war and peace and our obligations as Americans.  We have never met and I sense we are on two sides of the political spectrum but we are sharing our opinions and trying to understand where the other is coming from.  In the meantime I am getting quite a history lesson.  I’ll be sharing our conversation with you.  Read on:

Good morning Ms. Collins,

I read with great interest you column on your inability to endure your son’s telling you that he would like to join the military. In that column you expressed your gratitude for those who have and are currently serving their country. Your point is well taken, but let me offer the following thoughts. It is only natural for a mother to protect her children; however please allow me to offer the following.

I was born in 1948 and grew up in a very rural area in South Carolina. I had two uncles on my dad’s side that fought in “The Battle of The Bulge” in Germany during WWII. I had other relatives that were deployed to other parts of the world in order to maintain freedom for our beloved America. As I was growing up, I vividly remember the horror stories on TV of the atrocities on sea, land and in the air. One of my uncles was never ever able to re-adjust to life after the war. He had a family with five children, but he was an alcoholic. My other uncle acclimatized well to life after the war.

However, having been born in 1948 I can remember an abundance of patriotism for WWII. There were many movies depicting battles of WWII. We children were drilled on the importance of our military and the need to support the military. I was always very interested in “Operation Overlord” or better known “D Day”. I educated myself on the events that motivated Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor and our subsequent “Declaration of War” on Germany and the other countries allied with Germany.

Other underlying facts involved the genocide initiated by Germany and the the theft of the people throughout Europe who did not adhere to Nazism. Our nation endured much pain and suffering in order to defeat Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. Of course there were many more who rose to power whom we eventually defeated, but the fact remains, the USA paid an enormous cost. from this war rose some of the most courageous leaders ever known. In fact Tom Brokaw wrote a book about the forefathers who endured that period of time. The name of his book was “The Greatest Generation”.

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Columbine Revisited

Has it been 10 years already?  The anniversary of the deadly shooting at Columbine High School is less than a month away and as I dive back in to the story I’m flooded with memories of that Tuesday.  I haven’t really thought about Columbine much over the last few years, except on the painful occasions when another disturbed youth goes ballistic and takes it out on his classmates.  It happened just recently in Germany.  Virginia Tech was another shocking reminder of how helpless we can be when a motivated killer has fellow students in his sight.  Now it’s time to revisit Columbine again.  With the 10th anniversary upon us I can’t help but remember that day and the many days that followed as we covered the story for NBC News. 

I was up in Boulder working on another story when all hell broke loose and we were told to get to Littleton fast.  I remember driving, writing, talking on the phone all at the same time, trying not to collide in traffic.  I didn’t know where the school was.  The roads were closed.  I parked my car a distance away and hitched a ride to where the media was gathered.  I was one of the first on the scene and we started doing live shots.  I don’t think I returned to my car for two days.  The names of the fallen still ring in my ears.  Dave Sanders, Lauren Townsend, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Schoels, Daniel Mauser, Cassie Bernall, Steve Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matt Kechter, Daniel Rohrbough, John Tomlin, Kyle Velasquez.     

We were there with the first responders and in the early chaos it was a blur.  It wasn’t until the reinforcements arrived from NBC News (and there were so many of them who came from all over the country) that I really had time to absorb the incredible scope of the story.  For three weeks we were booking, producing, doing live reports, talking to families and friends of victims, talking to survivors of the horror, attending funerals.  Finally that first weekend I was able to breathe and took a walk at Clement Park along the memorial fence and completely fell apart.  I brought my children.  We read the notes, saw the candles, stuffed animals and flowers.  The whole world was grieving.  There was an aftermath of confusion and compassion. 

Ten years later, what have we learned?  We still hold our guns as dear as we hold our children.  Perhaps we’re better at preventing massacres but now and again some troubled teen like Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold bursts through our defenses and there is carnage again.  Andrew Robinson, a senior at Columbine on April 20, 1999, has created a movie called “April Showers.”  It is not a documentary but rather a theatrical piece about a school shooting “based on actual facts.”  You see where he got his inspiration.  So much of Columbine is recognizable.  At the end of the movie there is a scroll of all the people who have died during school shootings in the U.S.  The list is so long.  Kent State, Virginia Tech, Columbine, on and on.  Viewers watch silently.  Taking it in.

As the anniversary approaches, we are hooking up again with those we met 10 years ago.  They have all kept on going.  Pushing through the pain.  Remembering their loved ones in positive ways.  They have also done remarkable things during the journey to turn a horrible day into a teaching moment.  Darrell and Craig Scott take Rachel’s Challenge into schools so kids will learn to love each other.  Schools have worked hard to teach tolerance, empathy and become safer.  The buildings are not impenetrable but they are better.  Those whose lives were changed forever on that day are coming forward again, perhaps for the last time, to make sure no one ever forgets Columbine.  After all, there are still lessons to learn from that deadly day at school.

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