Tag Archives: History

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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An Unexpected Surprise

I was teaching a second grade class last week and had to give them a prompt for their writing assignment. Since I love finding out what’s in the heads of children, I asked this simple question, If you could spend a day or have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be, and why?

Now I know they’re only second graders but they’re well into the year and that makes a bit of a difference. At 7-8 years old, they can be easily influenced by their friends, athletes, singers, celebrities, even fictional movie/animated characters. Boys may wear shirts or jersey’s with the names of athletes on the back or action hero’s while girls at that age love their princesses or some pop singers. So I was half expecting some of these names to show  up in their writing.

With one exception, it didn’t happen.

Of the seventeen children who shared their writing with me, only one listed a female pop singer. The rest listed family; mothers cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings and even one dad. I was pleasantly surprised, considering everything our children are exposed to today,  to find that family meant more to them than whatever else was out there. Maybe it’s because they are only 7-8 years old or maybe children have a greater, simple, appreciation of family than adults do.

Then I started wondering at what age that mindset changes; because if I asked teenagers or adults that same question the answers would probably be very different. The question we’ve all heard or been asked, if you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would it be and why, is usually answered with the names of notable historical figures or current flavors of the day. Family is usually not the first thought that comes to mind or part of the current equation.
Of course anyone who reads this and is then asked the question might include a relative you never met or one who passed away at an early age, but that would be cheating. First reactions are usually the most honest.

So when does it change?

I don’t have an answer because the answer is probably different for everyone, but at some point, it does change. At some point we become a little more curious about those people instead of these people. I suppose it’s natural.

But for now I’m just happy that, for these second graders, family is still important enough to spend time with and enjoy. Those other people can wait a little longer.

 

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.

If You Could….

….have been present for one event in history, what would it be and why? Now by being present, I’m talking about actually being there. So if you choose landing on the moon, for instance, you and Neil would have hit golf balls together that would still be carrying. The Crucifixion? D-Day? Woodstock? The signing of the Declaration Of Independence? The Titanic? So many to choose from.

I guess this is similar to the question of what three people you’d like to have dinner with but I think it goes a little further because it places you in a specific time period for as long as the event took place.

I’m sure after I post this someone will come up with something really interesting and I’ll want to change my answer, especially since I didn’t give it hours of thought. More like minutes.

The first thing that came to mind was something relating to Jesus Christ. I know that’s the most obvious answer for many people and it was for me, also. But if I were to move beyond that, I think I’d pick Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

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I’ve always enjoyed history and been a big fan of Lincoln. That period of time, the war between the states, that specific battle and Lincoln himself giving his most famous speech is something I would have liked to witness.

What about you? What would you choose?