Posted tagged ‘United States’

“If things are getting easier, maybe you’re headed downhill.”

November 13, 2016

Today is a glorious fall day, sunny and warm. Gracie has been outside most of the morning. She knows a good thing when she sees it. Well, I never did get to that laundry. It is still sitting in front of the cellar door, maybe today, maybe not. I do have to make that dump run as the dump is closed the next two days, and my trunk is filled with trash.

Today I am going to grocery shop from the convenience of my home. My refrigerator is pretty empty. I’m down to having eggs for supper.

When I was in Ghana, the Peace Corps sent us the insert The Week in Review from the Sunday New York Times. I didn’t have a radio to listen to the Voice of America and the Ghanaian papers had mostly local news so that insert was the only current news I ever got about the United States. I did get the whole New York Sunday Times as a gift but the issues came months later in groups of four or five. Usually, I didn’t read the news but devoured the rest of the paper. Though so much was happening at home, I was disconnected. My life revolved around Ghana: teaching my classes, shopping in the market, greeting people and continuing to learn Hausa, traveling on vacations and developing friendships with Ghanaians and my fellow volunteers. The United States was just too far away.

On this last trip to Ghana, I did check the news each morning on my iPad. I kept track of the election but little else. That feeling of disconnection returned, and I didn’t mind. I was back to being involved with Ghana: with the heat, with my former students, with my favorite Ghanaian foods, with my bathroom runs (sort of a pun) and with my friends. I was glad for the respite.

“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.”

January 21, 2013

My head is ready to erupt if I cough one more time. When I call my friends, they think it is some guy making an obscene phone call. I’m tempted. Last night was a bad one. First was the mouse in the trap then the mouse out of the trap. I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed so the mouse, after making all sorts of noise, escaped. Fern noticed it and jumped off the bed but didn’t catch it. That’s the first time Fern has seen one so we’re making some progress. The Pats lost, but I went to bed early and missed the ending so the pain was lessened.

I’m watching the hoopla of the Inauguration. Whether you agree with the choice for President or not, you have to admit the inauguration is powerful. It is the peaceful transition of power, a continuing of traditions going all the way back to George Washington. It’s filled with color, with red, white and blue, and music from glee clubs and military bands. Jimmy Carter and his wife are now being seated. I always liked him. He has become the most amazing ex-President. The Clintons got quite a reception. She deserved it. I’m curious about Mr. Obama’s speech. He had such hope 4 years ago. We all did.

I remember watching President Kennedy’s inauguration and the smoke coming from under the podium when Richard Cardinal Cushing gave his invocation. I remember Robert Frost couldn’t read his poem in the sun and had to recite one from memory. I had a connection to President Kennedy. He was from Massachusetts so I couldn’t miss his inauguration. I don’t remember any other inaugurations except President Obama’s first. It was historical and not to be missed.

In the stands, there are no hats on the heads of the women. Well I did see one hat, an ugly hat some unknown woman was wearing as she walked toward the outside seating area. I have no idea who she is, but she gets the ugly hat award. I remember when the men wore top hats. Now a few are wearing fedoras but most are hatless. The men are wearing top coats so that style hasn’t changed. Ties will never go out of style.

“When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?”

November 11, 2012

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War I ended. This day became known as “Armistice Day.” In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Similarly, unknown soldiers had been buried in England at Westminster Abbey and at France at the Arc de Triomphe. All of these memorials took place on November 11th to commemorate the end of the “war to end all wars.”

In 1926, Congress resolved to officially call November 11th Armistice Day. Then in 1938, the day was named a national holiday. Soon afterwords war broke out in Europe and World War II began.

Soon after the end of World War II, a veteran of that war named Raymond Weeks organized “National Veterans Day” with a parade and festivities to honor all veterans. He chose to hold this on Armistice Day. Thus began annual observances of a day to honor all veterans not just the end of World War I. In 1954, Congress officially passed and President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veteran’s Day. Due to his part in the creation of this national holiday, Raymond Weeks received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan in November 1982.

In 1968, Congress changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. However, the significance of November 11 was such that the changed date never really got established. In 1978, Congress returned the observance of Veterans Day to its traditional date.

On Memorial Day, 1958, two unidentified soldiers were interred at Arlington National Cemetery having died in World War II and the Korean War. In 1984, an unknown soldier who died in the Vietnam War was placed next to the others; however, this last soldier was later exhumed, and he was identified as Air Force 1st Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie. His body was removed.

The unknown soldiers are symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars. To honor them, an Army honor guard keeps day and night vigil.

National ceremonies commemorating Veterans Day occur each year at the the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 AM on November 11, a color guard representing all military services executes “Present Arms” at the tomb. Then the presidential wreath is laid upon the tomb. Finally, the bugler plays taps.

Each Veterans Day should be a time when Americans stop and remember the brave men and women who have risked their lives for the United States of America. As Dwight Eisenhower said, “…it is well for us to pause, to acknowledge our debt to those who paid so large a share of freedom’s price. As we stand here in grateful remembrance of the veterans’ contributions we renew our conviction of individual responsibility to live in ways that support the eternal truths upon which our Nation is founded, and from which flows all its strength and all its greatness.”

“The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.”

May 28, 2012

My town parade lasted about 8 minutes but I loved it. It was small town American at its best. The soldiers who gave their lives and those who served were recognized for their sacrifices. The small crowd of spectators waved flags and applauded.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”  While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

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