Category Archives: History

Remembering

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, January 10, 1946

We sometimes have a tendency to glamorize war in books and movies. Those who have been there understand it’s much worse than anything that’s been filmed or written. It never captures the brutality or long-lasting consequences.

Last fall I had an opportunity to visit the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. When we were planning a trip to NC/Va, I came across this town and wondered why The D-Day Memorial would be placed in a small farming town of a little over six thousand people in Central Virginia. In 1940, just before World War II, Bedford numbered less than four thousand residents.

During the Battle of D-Day, Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, were among the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beaches of Normandy. Nineteen boys from rural Bedford were killed in the first few minutes of landing. Another three boys were killed shortly after. In all, 22 young men from Bedford lost their lives, giving this small community the distinction of having the highest number of casualties, per capita, of anywhere in the country.

           

The story of this town and those that were lost is told in a book titled, The Bedford Boys. In many ways, the town of Bedford died on D-Day. The story of the boys that were lost, how if affected their families and the town itself is a reminder that war, though sometimes necessary, has consequences that can last for generations. It’s a book that should be read by all Americans.

Today is a day we remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the freedoms we enjoy. Please remember them and their families.

God Bless them all.

It’s the Soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It’s the Soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech

It’s the Soldier, not the politicians,
who ensures our right to LIfe, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It’s the Soldier who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag.

We live in the land of the free
Only because of the brave.
God Bless Our Military
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Every Piece Has A Story

I’m not a person who walks into an antique store looking for something to buy. On occasion I have but our home is not filled with antiques. Instead I enjoy the nostalgia aspect of it; revisiting the past and seeing things that I grew up with on store shelves.

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I love opening or picking up pieces, imagining their history and where they began their journey. I know it sounds strange to say about inanimate objects but even they have a life. They were once new, bought by someone who was excited to have purchased that piece.

I wonder where that old suitcase has been. What trips it took and why it was originally purchased. A honeymoon perhaps? College? Did it fly when air travel was still in its infancy or did it cross the ocean on a three week voyage.

I try to imagine when that woman’s purse might have been purchased and what valuables it may have held. Did it go on dates? Was it held during a first kiss? Did it attend weddings?

That chest of drawers was new at one time and it held a wardrobe back then. How did it look new? How many addresses has it had?

The dining room table and chairs probably once had a family gathered around it. Who was that family? What holidays, birthdays and special occasions were celebrated around that table?

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Jewelry has always fascinated me the most because they are usually special pieces even if it’s only costume jewelry. Did someone purchase it for a special occasion or as a gift for someone special? I always believed the jewelry stories have to be the most interesting because they are not part of those items considered necessary or essential. So the meaning must have special significance.

I also always wonder how these pieces came to be where they are. Was it part of an estate sale or purchased at a flea market or garage sale? I once asked the owner of an antique store how he found some of these pieces and he said many people come in looking to sell them. I suppose they’re either cleaning out the homes of family members or in some cases, their own.

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That last thought always leads me to wonder what will happen to the items in our own home. Eventually, it will end up somewhere. Some things will be passed down, some sold, and some may even be thrown out. But every piece, like those I held in my hand in those antique stores, has a story attached to it. Every piece holds value, monetary or sentimental.

I wonder if one day someone will wander through one of these stores and pick up a piece that was once a part of our life. I wonder what they’ll think and if they’ll find it interesting enough to purchase.  If so, I wonder where in their home it might end up. I’d like to think it will bring someone happiness. I hope so anyway.

Because even inanimate objects can bring happiness.

Even inanimate objects have a life.

 

Elie Wiesel

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
Elie Wiesel, NIght

Elie Wiesel died yesterday at the age of 87.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read the book, NIght, and these words about his first night in Auschwitz as a young boy. I only know that I have never read anything that has conveyed a moment in time as powerfully as this passage.

You don’t have to be of a certain faith or race to appreciate his life and words. You only have to be human.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Elie Wiesel

Among Mr. Wiesel’s many awards are the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He helped establish the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and has campaigned for victims of oppression all over the world, including those in South Africa, Nicaragua and Sudan, among many others.

There may be times  we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Elie Wiesel

If you have never read the book, NIght, I encourage you to do so. It’s a very short book, but as we’ve learned, the most important lessons of life rarely require elaboration.

No human race is superior; no religious race is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.
Elie Wiesel

We should listen closely to his words today, because as much as the world has changed, nothing has really changed.

Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving; the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking; For God’s sake, where is God? And from within me I heard a voice answer: Where is he? This is where–hanging from this gallows…

That night, the soup tasted of corpses.
Elie Wiesel, NIght

God rest his soul.

 

Remember And Honor

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Even though numerous communities had been independently celebrating Memorial Day for years, the federal government declared Waterloo, N.Y. the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo first celebrated the holiday on May 5, 1866.

• Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 for decades, but in 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and a federal holiday.

• Memorial Day originally honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865).

• Roughly 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War — making it the deadliest war in American history. About 644,000 Americans have died in all other conflicts combined.

• President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act on Dec. 28, 2000, designating 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day as a National Moment of Remembrance.

• It wasn’t always Memorial Day — it used to be known as Decoration Day.

• Red poppies are known as a symbol of remembrance, and it’s a tradition to wear them to honor those who died in war.

• The crowd that attended the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was about the same size as those that attend today’s observance: about 5,000 people

• Here are the number of casualties in each U.S. war:

Civil War: Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.

World War I: 116,516 Americans died, more than half from disease.

World War II: 405,399 Americans died.

Korean War: 36,574 Americans died.

Vietnam Conflict: 58,220 Americans died. More than 47,000 Americans were killed in action and nearly 11,000 died of other causes.

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 383 U.S. service members died.

Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,424 U.S. service members died.

Operation New Dawn: 73 U.S. service members died.

Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,349 U.S. service members died.

Freedom’s Sentinel Casualties – 22 U.S. service members died as of May 2016.

Inherent Resolve Totals – 20 U.S. service members died as of May 2016.

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What Should Matter

One of the things I enjoy most about subbing for elementary school children is what happens before our day even gets started. Each morning, after they put their belongings away and just before we begin class, they stand in unison, place their hands over their chests and recite The Pledge Of Allegiance. I usually stand to the side as I recite this with them so I can watch their faces. Then I smile at how strong their voices are and how serious they look as they recite the words.

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I’ve always been curious about whether or not they really understood what they were reciting so I started asking a few students in different classes if they understood what some of these words meant. Words like allegiance, indivisible., republic, liberty and justice. As it turned out, they had a very clear understanding of what the words meant and what The Pledge meant to them and to our country. I was a little surprised but I guess I shouldn’t have been. After all, the wording is very simple and clear so understanding it shouldn’t be that difficult.

How sad and unfortunate then, that eight and ten year old children  have a better understanding and appreciation of these words than any politician I’ve listened to in recent years. How sad and unfortunate that these same people, who have supposedly chosen a life of serving the public good is doing the most harm to those who don’t have a voice and whose lives may be most affected in the future by their actions today.

Ego, power and greed should not be the determining factors when seeking any kind of political office.

Maybe before a politician decides to run for office, they should sit in a classroom for a couple of minutes each morning and listen to the voices of those who really understand what it means to be an American.

If they have difficulty grasping the concept, I’m sure a eight year old will be more than happy to explain it to them.

 

A Post About Animal Crackers?

I wanted full disclosure from the beginning so I made sure anyone who read the title of this post could walk away from it without wasting their time because, really, who wants to read about animal crackers, especially from someone who should have outgrown them fifty years ago.

And yet, you’re still her. Imagine my surprise. Well, since you decided to visit and stay for a few moments, I promise not to make this too long.

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Yes, I admit I like animal crackers. I don’t know why and I never tried figuring it out. I like the shapes, the taste and how they make me feel when I eat them. Handfuls at a time. They’re addictive.

Without giving you a history of them, (who wants to endure that), here are just a handful of facts.

There have been somewhere around 53 different animals that have been used since the cracker/cookie was first created in England in 1902, however only the bear, elephant, lion and tiger has made it through the entire lifetime of the cracker.

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About six thousand miles of string are used annually on Animal Cracker boxes

Every hour, Nabisco’s factory, located in Fair Lawn, N.J. makes 300,000 of these cookies ending up with over 40 million boxes a year.

The current cookie count with respect to different animals is around 19.

If you put a box in front of me, I will pretend I’m 7 years old and eat the entire package…and that’s a fact.

Thank you for spending a few minutes with me in deep thought. You may now return to your regularly scheduled broadcast channels.

Free Advice, Ariana

imagesAriana Grande, the 22-year-old American singer, has created a bit of a headline in recent days. Apparently, she was in a donut shop when a baker brought out a tray of donuts. It’s reported that Grande, who is a vegan and an advocate for child obesity, saw the tray and said, “What the F**k is that? I hate Americans. I hate America. That’s disgusting.” There are also reports of a video of her and another person, licking some donuts but not buying them. Police are investigating whether she was attempting to get a free sugar high or just pulling a 22 year old vegan high school prank.

Grande was scheduled to perform at Major League Baseball’s All Star Game Concert on Saturday but claims she had to withdraw because she has to have some wisdom teeth removed. Right.

Look, she’s 22 years old and even though individuals that age should know better, sometimes they do and say some pretty dumb stuff. Her words and actions, considering her visibility, probably move  her actions to the top of the dumb list. But I’m not here to judge her feelings, thoughts or actions. I only have one simple suggestion.

Maybe you should skip having your wisdom teeth removed. Because right now AG, you can use all the smarts your little Gucci bag can hold.

You’re welcome.