5 Facts About Independence Day

IMG_1655Independence Day!  The Fourth of July!  It’s here.

Why not spend a few moments with your kids teaching them some facts about this all important American holiday? It is vital that parents spend time educating their children about our country’s history.

Here are 5 little known tidbits about the Fourth of July 1776 and the Declaration of Independence.

  1. 1. John Adams thought the national holiday should have been July 2.  He wrote to his wife that from then on the 2nd of July should be “solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other form this Time forward forever more.” That is because the original vote for separation from England–for independence–was cast on July 2.  The vote on July 4 was to adopt revisions made to the Declaration of Independence.  According to www.history.com, Adams is reported to have boycotted later 4th of July celebrations in protest.
  2. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two men who were most influential in the creation of this new government experiment, died within hours of each other on the Fourth of July, 1826–the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
  3. Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  They were John Hancock and his secretary, Charles Thomson.  The majority signed on August 2. One didn’t sign until November 1776 and it is rumored that the last signature was not placed on the document until 1781!  Richard Stockton renounced his signature after being captured and tortured by the British.  After being released he again swore allegiance to the Revolution.
  4. Some of the first Independence Day celebrations were mock funerals for King George III.  It was symbolic of the separation from England.  Also included were often readings of the Declaration of Independence.
  5. In the original edition of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson included a rebuke to slavery.  He stated that one of the reasons for independence should be that England encouraged slavery in the colonies.  Its removal was one of the revisions made between July 2 and July 4.
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Are You Democrat, Republican, or American?

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Cold war.  Racial tensions. Giant rifts between US citizens.  Animosity.  Fear.  War.  Lack of tolerance and understanding. World in chaos.

That was the 1960’s.  But how much does it sound like our country today?  It just makes the point that if we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

Wake up, citizens of the United States!  It is time we stop being divided and start being Americans first.  It’s fine to have a party affiliation, but know what that party stands for.  It is both major parties that are letting us down and leading us along the path to destruction.

We have to stand up and say that it has gone on too long.  If we want to retain the freedoms our countrymen and women have fought and died for, then we need to start paying attention.

Stop listening to news pundits and individuals with an agenda to attain power.  Listen to what our elected officials and candidates to elected office actually say, regardless of their party affiliation.  The internet records everything.  It doesn’t take long to get a feel for how that person believes.

And while I am at it, let me say that the founders never intended for Congressman or Senator to be a person’s only job for a lifetime.  Let’s remember that just because they are incumbents does not mean that we have to re-elect them.  They should have term limits and we have the power at the ballot box to make that happen.

It is time to be Americans.  That is how we should think of ourselves.  That is how we should vote.  That is what we should be proud to call ourselves!

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Home is the Sailor…

IMG_6406Our son is coming home!  He has left the sandbox and will be with us soon.  Happy dances all around!

It has been a long nine months, but it is finally here.  I thought I would share with you what I have been grateful for during our son’s deployment.

  1. He has been safe from harm–while not completely out of harm’s way, he comes home sound and healthy.
  2. The internet–it has allowed us to stay in touch with him and actually see him on occasion.
  3. Today’s phones–we could text and if absolutely necessary, we could speak on the phone.  So different from earlier wars in which the family had to remain in the dark during the deployment.
  4. Having wildly supportive and patriotic family members who were there to talk to and who love this country as much as we do so they understood his need to do his part.
  5. Having online and local community resources that supported us and sent him boxes while he was gone.
  6. It was only for 9 months.  When my dad went to WW II, he was there the whole time and his first leave was when the war was over.  (He did get a break during his bout of dengue fever, but that was not really much fun for him.)
  7. Having a daughter in law who is so wonderful and understands that we love him as much as she does.  She was always willing to share with us what she was hearing from him and kept us up to speed.  (interestingly, he called her every day but not us…go figure. lol)
  8. Having a son who was willing to do his part to protect our national interests and to put himself into harm’s way to keep us safe.  We are so proud of you, son!IMG_0155

WELCOME HOME!

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Forget the Fourth of July

IMG_1648That is what most people do.

Ok, they don’t forget to have picnics, take the day off work, drink adult beverages, run in races, and watch fireworks.  No one forgets it is a holiday–a time to relax and have fun.

But they forget to remember and honor what was sacrificed in order to have that relaxing holiday.  They forget to spend time with their kids talking about what the day actually means.

IMG_1629When Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence he is famously quoted as saying, “We must all hang together, gentlemen, or else we shall most assuredly hang separately.”

They were signing their own death warrants.  The founders of this country believed in liberty so fervently that they were willing to sacrifice their fortune, their lands, and their lives for it.  To the British and to the Loyalists, these people were traitors to the Crown.

However, the signers of the Declaration of Independence saw it differently.  To them, a new country was being created in which each person would eventually have full liberty to pursue their own dreams of happiness and success.  No longer would they be pushed around and taxed by a far away country who had no idea who the people living in the 13 colonies really were.  Now they would create a climate in which the people told the government what to do–not the other way around.

That is what makes our country exceptional.  That is what we must pass on to our children.  It is how we honor those who earned our freedom.  It is how we honor those who have guaranteed our liberty for us over the years with their sacrifices.

So enjoy your holiday, but celebrate the cause.  Spend a few moments to educate our next generation about the miracle of our country.  Instill that wonder and love of what we have here in the US in them at a young age so they never forget it as they grow older.

If you don’t do these things, just forget the holiday.  You don’t deserve to enjoy it.

 

Posted in American Exceptionalism, American History, American Revolution, Educaiton, Fourth of July, Patriotism | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Should We “Celebrate” Memorial Day?

DSC00045Imagine you waved good bye to your husband as he trudged off to war.  He hah been there before and came home so you were concerned but less than last time.  However, the unthinkable happened and now you are a young widow with a small child who spends Memorial Day visiting the grave of the husband and father who gave his life for all those who are celebrating today.  You do not celebrate–you grieve for the lost love, the lost father, the loneliness that stretches into the foreseeable future.

Memorial Day, or as it was originally known, Decoration Day is a somber day to remember those who have given their lives to earn or protect the freedoms most of us take for granted.  Gold Star Moms visit graves and remember the bright eyed beautiful son or daughter that they will never see in this life again.  Spouses and children recall the person who helped make their house a home, but now will never pass through the front door.

Will this holiday ever be the joyful celebration to them that it is to most of us?  Never in the same way for they have learned the truth behind the holiday.

Am I suggesting that we do not have the barbeques and parties?  Not at all.  After all, these hallowed dead sacrificed their lives so we can celebrate in a free country.  However, I believe that we should spend a few moments of that day saying a prayer for the fallen and their families.  As parents, we should teach our children the meaning behind the day and never let them forget who paid the price of our liberty.

Perhaps because we have a son in harm’s way this year, I have had many thoughts about the moms whose child is not at the barbeque this year and never will be again.  My heart breaks for them and I hold them in my heart and send them hugs of gratitude and love.

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Ten Tips on Sending Gifts to Troops

IMG_6406You are a wife and your husband is deployed.  So he knows you are thinking of him, you want to send a box of goodies…what do you send?  Or say you are a mom or dad and your daughter is in the Middle East on assignment with the military.  What can you send her that will brighten her day?

Now picture your son/daughter getting their box with delight and they cannot wait to open it.  When they do get that first peek inside, they start laughing and crying and hurriedly pulling stuff out of the box as though they cannot wait to see it all.

These scenarios happen every day. So what do you send them that is useful and enjoyable and legal and safe?  Some things to keep in mind when selecting items are:

  • What is the temperature where they are?  You don’t want to send a bunch of chocolate bars in a box that may sit in 110 degree temps for several days.
  • Is it consumable?  They don’t have much space and items that can be consumed-toothpaste, beef jerky, soft toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and so forth are always welcome.  Don’t send a lot of stuff that sits around and crowds them.
  • Send extra so they can share with buddies. Not everyone gets boxes from home and they all share with each other.
  • Ask your loved one what they would like to have or what they need.  I promise they will have a list and you will be a hero.  Our son asked for socks so I sent a bunch of socks of all different types.  I knew if he needed them then others did too and he could share.
  • Food is always good.  Items like beef jerky, trail mix, homemade cookies, boxed candy, and so forth are all popular.
  • Keep holidays in mind.  Send decorations and items pertaining to the holiday so they can get into the spirit.  At Christmas, I found a very inexpensive small artificial tree with lights on it and send that with some small decorations to our son.  He loved it.
  • Know how long it takes for your boxes to arrive.  You don’t want to send a holiday or birthday box and find it has gotten there after the fact.
  • Know what kind of duty they are assigned.  If they are infantry and out in the field, they can use bath wipes, Monkey Butt powder, deodorant wipes, lip balm, and so forth.  If they are in a confined area, those items are less useful.
  • Always include something personal.  Write a letter to tell your soldier how proud you are of him.  Send a funny card to make her laugh.
  • Don’t send anything valuable.  There is always the chance that money or other valuables can get “misplaced” along the way and never reach its intended destination.

Remember, they are over there without the comforts of home.  Anything you send is appreciated and they will love you even more because you took time out of your busy day to acknowledge them.

More to the point, for us here at home, it is a small sacrifice on our part to raise the spirits of someone who is putting their life on the line for us.  Our military members–Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guard–all have sacrificed so we can live in freedom.  We owe them a great debt.

God bless our military service members.

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American Exceptionalism on Display in Boston

Imagine the endless hours spent training for a marathon and now the day has come.  You are in peak condition and excited about being one of the chosen few who get to run the Boston Marathon. You are nearing the finish line and the unthinkable happens.  Suddenly there is an explosion.  Yes, it is Patriot’s Day, you are participating a nationally recognized program, and you are now the target of a terrorist attack.

On Patriot’s Day in Boston, there was a cowardly attack on defenseless people who were enjoying the iconic marathon and cheering for friends and family as they made their way along the 26.2 mile route.

Eight year old Martin Richard had just hugged and congratulated his dad on completing the marathon.  Suddenly a bomb denoted near him and that was the last thing a beautiful child did on this earth.  Imagine you are that dad.

Imagine you are the mother of  two sons who went to the marathon to cheer on a friend.  You think nothing of it, going through your day, until you get a call from one of them telling you that he thinks he is hurt bad and he doesn’t know where his brother is.  That happened to one mom who later learned that both brothers had lost a leg as result of a bomb blast near them.

Innocents killed and maimed in a cowardly attack that was supposed to instill fear into the hearts and minds of the people in the US.  And yes, it did momentarily for some.  But for others, it had the opposite effect.  Many raced toward the blasts  to aid the wounded.  Runners ran straight from the finish line to the hospitals to donate blood.  With broken bodies and unattached limbs surrounding them, Americans took off their own belts and shirts to make tourniquets and bandages, saving many lives.

People opened their homes to strangers or gave them the coat off their backs to warm them.  Restaurants offered food and drink and didn’t expect payment from runners who had no way to get back to their belongings.  Businesses offered people a place to come to just not feel alone for a while.

No one asked the victims if they were Democrats or Republicans.  No one cared about skin color, what God they worshipped, or what the person did for a living.

Yes, we have differences of opinions about our country’s direction or who should lead it.  Yes, we don’t agree on everything.  But be assured, when we are attacked, we circle the wagons.  Our country is like my children when they were growing up.  They argued every day.  But God help someone who hurt one of them because he would have to answer to the other two!

In July there is a big race in Atlanta, the Peachtree Road Race.  I am signed up to run in it and, by God, I will be there if I have to crawl the whole 6.2 miles.  You will not scare me away from my life and make me cower in my house.

This is what America is, you cowards! And now, we not only are NOT afraid, we are angry.  Keep looking over your shoulder because we will be there.  We are your worst nightmare.  We are Americans!  God bless our country and its people.

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Why Protect the Second Amendment?

IMG_1618When the founders of our country set about creating a form of government that the world had never before seen, one of the compromises they agreed to was the Bill of Rights.  The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

So why do we have it?  There are several reasons our founders wanted an armed citizenry, such as to have a ready militia if we are attacked, self defense, to deter a rebellion, to prevent a dictator from seizing power, and other reasons.  Therefore, one of the reasons we are allowed to be armed is to protect us from our own government if necessary.  Remember, they had just fought a long and bloody war for that very reason.

John Basil Barnhill said, “Where the people fear the government, you have tyranny.  Where the government fears the people, you have liberty.”  The fact that we do have weapons is about the only way our government is afraid of us any longer.  We do not vote, we allow our elected leaders to drive our country so far in debt we may never get out, and we look the other way when they lie to our faces.  Let us not give up that last trump card against an intrusive government.

In a recent interview when asked about gun control, Bruce Willis said it well with his comment, “I think that you can’t start to pick apart anything out of the Bill of Rights without thinking that it’s all going to become undone.”  It works because we see it and use it as a whole.  Picked apart, the Constitution loses its power.

In countries in which there are dictators one of the first actions that person takes is to collect all the weapons and make it illegal for regular people to own one.  Look at Germany, the old Soviet Union, Cuba, and more to see how that worked out for the citizens in those countries.  Hitler said in Mein Kampf to relief citizens of their freedoms by saying it is for the children.  He believed that if you convinced people it was for their child’s welfare, they would completely give up all freedoms–and they did.

So pay attention people, don’t let your rights be chiseled away a little at a time.  It is happening today.  Stand firm for the Constitution and for the Second Amendment.  It is our only protection against tyranny.

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Holidays During Deployment

IMG_1987Holiday deployments are the worst.  Even though there are many family members who are with you and safe–or with someone else and safe, your mind can’t stop wandering back to the one who is in harm’s way.

The joy of the holidays was still there–I mean with so many grandchildren, how could it not be?  And our daughter in law and granddaughter were part of our celebration.  So we all banded together and did what we do…just like so many families of deployed military did this holiday season.  As so many have done for holiday seasons since the beginning of time.

We ate, shared gifts, laughed, ate some more, shopped, ate, and enjoyed being together.  Did I mention we ate a lot?  But there was always something missing.  There was turkey at Thanksgiving, ham at Christmas, and fire crackers on New Year.  There were tons of gifts under the family tree.  There were church services and kids’ school programs.

582746_589675697714702_1935302568_nWhat was missing?  Our son in a land far away who wears the uniform that stands for our freedom was not here.  Not only did we wish he was with us, but we hoped he wouldn’t miss the festivities at home too much.  Luckily, as at all military bases, they create their own little families by sticking together and finding some fun in a desolate land.  As you can see from the photo, they managed to find some time for goofing off and laughing.  This photo helped me.

We also sent him a small Christmas tree, which we could see in the background whenever we were able to Skype with him, and some small presents.  On Christmas Day he was able to reach us when we were all together so everyone got a chance to speak with him and say Merry Christmas–although, by that time, Christmas had come and gone where he was.

That is how I coped with his absence–spending time finding little stupid things to send to make him laugh, gathering things we knew he needed to send to him, a text here, a Skype discussion there, and having the family together that could be here.

I know lots of heroic moms and wives who do so much more–sending dozens of cards and care packages to people they don’t know…just hoping to brighten a soldier’s day.  God bless them.

Thank you, Mason, and all our troops who guard us while we work, play, and sleep safely here at home.  I am praying you all come home safe and sound soon.

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Snow, Mud and Blood at Valley Forge

IMG_1704Walking back to a hotel in Omaha recently we were assaulted by strong winds and icy snow.  The temperature dropped quickly and we were trying to hurry back to get warm.  Even though I was wearing adequate clothing for the conditions, I was so very cold and wind was blinding my eyes.

Since I had just finished reading an account of the winter our colonial army spent at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78, I thought about those brave men.  Most of the 10,000 troops who arrived on the hilltop were without shoes or any form of adequate clothing.  They were hungry and exhausted.  Many died that winter of illness, starvation, and exposure.  In fact, more than 2000 of them did not see the spring.

thThey lived in tents until more permanent structures could be built. The hilltop was defensible if necessary, but also open to the winter winds.  What trees were there were taken down for building and firewood, and had to be hauled long distances to the encampment.  Food was scarce.  Snow and the cold were discouraging.  They hunted for, bought, or “procured” needed food and supplies from the nearby countryside.

The pathways they walked were covered in mud from melting snow and blood from frostbitten uncovered feet.  Conditions were deplorable with 12 men in a small wooden hut.  But somehow, George Washington found a way to use this time to train his rabble of shopkeepers, traders, and farmers into a real army.

While I was hurrying back to the hotel, I briefly considered taking off my shoes and socks to see how it must have felt to the shoeless men at Valley Forge, but I couldn’t do it.  My respect for them rose much higher.

We owe them a debt we can never repay.

 

 

 

 

 

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