Revolutionary writings — Abigail Adams to John Adams Oct 1782

Massachusetts Historical Society

Just as families today are separated in wartime, and in other measures of public service, Abigail and John Adams  were separated for 10 of their 54 years of marriage. He left for Philadelphia in 1774 for the Continental Congresses, spent time in France, and eventually rejoined her in 1784. (Source: Our Country’s Founders: A Book of Advice for Young People, Ed. William J. Bennett, Aladdin Paperbacks, 2001)  She wrote many letters that are preserved and they demonstrate superior strength of character and conviction, along with undeniable love. What appears to be a complete archive is housed and digitized at The Massachusetts Historical Society.  Here is one of them (in part), dated October 25, 1782 written at a time that they had been continuously separated for three years. The comments in [ ] are from the Historical Society.  Note the quaint language and odd (to us) spelling, and especially note her references to a “the untitled Man to whom [she] gave [her] heart’ and then to her “titled Husband.”

My Dearest Friend

The family are all retired to rest, the Busy scenes of the day are over, a day which I wished to have devoted in a particular manner to my dearest Friend, but company falling in prevented nor could I claim a moment untill this silent watch of the Night.

Look — (is there a dearer Name than Friend; think of it for me;) Look to the date of this Letter — and tell me, what are the thoughts which arise in your mind? Do you not recollect that Eighteen years have run their anual Circuit, since we pledged our mutual Faith to each other, and the Hymeneal torch was Lighted at the Alter of Love. Yet, yet it Burns with unabating fervour, old ocean has not Quenched it, nor old Time smootherd it, in the Bosom of Portia. It cheers her in the Lonely Hour, it comforts her even in the gloom which sometimes possessess her mind.

It is my Friend from the Remembrance of the joys I have lost that the arrow of affliction is pointed. I recollect the untitled Man to whom I gave my Heart, and in the agony of recollection when time and distance present themseves together, wish he had never been any other. Who shall give me back Time? Who shall compensate to me those years I cannot recall? How dearly have I paid for a titled Husband; should I wish you less wise, that I might enjoy more happiness? I cannot find that in my Heart. Yet providence has wisely placed the real Blessings of Life within the reach of moderate abilities, and he who is wiser than his Neighbour sees so much more to pitty and Lament, that I doubt whether the balance of happiness is in his Scale.

I feel a disposition to Quarrel with a race of Beings who have cut me of, in the midst of my days from the only Society I delighted in. Yet No Man liveth for himself, says an authority I will not dispute. Let me draw satisfaction from this Source and instead of murmuring and repineing at my Lot consider it in a more pleasing view. Let me suppose that the same Gracious Being who first smiled upon our union and Blessed us in each other, endowed him my Friend with powers and talents for the Benifit of Mankind and gave him a willing mind, to improve them for the service of his Country

You have obtaind honour and Reputation at Home and abroad. O may not an inglorious Peace wither the Laurels you have won. * * * *

Adieu my dear Friend.

Ever Ever Yours Portia

They had adopted pen names

The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag

It’s Flag Day. Notice all the flags around town? Many changes to the Pledge of Allegiance have occurred on Flag Days past, including insertion of the phrase “under God.”

On September 8, 1892 a Boston-based youth magazine “The Youth’s Companion” published a 22-word recitation for school children to use during planned activities the following month to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America.   Under the title “The Pledge to the Flag”, the composition was the earliest version of what we now know as the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.

via The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag.

Tea Party Member Stuns Crowd

I previously posted this directly onto Facebook, but want to preserve and further share this marvelous moment. This former marine belts out the 2nd verse of “The Star Spangled Banner” — which I frankly never had heard. (lyrics below) It’s a stirring verse and he really belts it out. Notice the crowd when you view the video — it takes them a bit to realize the origin of the song, and to stand and salute.

This marine obviously stood up for something — America — and still does. It seems to me that a lot of the trouble with some folks today is that they’ve never stood up for something important, maybe not even for themselves. Many people can be proud of their country, their religious beliefs, or their favorite team without having been in the military or the clergy, never having played pro football, but they can still become “invested” in that endeavor and its tenets.

Of course, most who DO step up into something important will stand up for that entity or activity for a lifetime.

But conversely, if you have an “America hater” you almost always have a person who never stood as a “servant citizen” — military or otherwise.

Now listen to someone who has stood up, and now stands out.

OR here for an alternative site.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


Roger L. Simon » Times Square: It’s the jihad, stupid

That statement seems so obvious. And it is, in my estimation.  Yet the attitude you see discussed in the following clip (and you should read the article) is the same attitude that has the United States of America revealing to the entire world the number of nuclear warheads we have!

So let’s tell them all of our military strategic information, scrub perfectly descriptive words from our lexicon, and assume that our enemies place the same value on life as do we, here in America.  They do not.  And quit apologizing for being America!  “They” are our enemies because of the GOOD in America, not because of a damn thing for which we must apologize.  Have we as a nation erred on occasion?  Heck yeah, and so have every one of us individually.  But with these attitudes we would have lost WWI and WWII and the attitudes are the same that caused us to walk away from Korea and to lose Vietnam.  That’s right, lose it.  My 18 months at sea during that time was not lost because I and all of us were doing what our country asked us to do.

But the wrong-headed thinkers lost it, just like they’re losing America’s might in the world — the might that is the only thing standing between you and a jack-booted thug.

Read the article.

[Shahzad is probably a jihadist]  Yet only months after the Ft. Hood massacre, our government and leaders refuse to name our enemy. In fact, as a recent PJTV video reminds us, they are running the other way. Words like “jihad,” “Islamic fascism,” etc. — the very ideologies cited by the 9/11 Commission as the causes of September 11 — have now been expunged from the lexicon of our government and even our military.

Times Square reminds us how dangerously self-destructive that is. Were it not for our concerned citizenry and smart law enforcement, our civilization would be on its way out. Many of our leaders are evidently ready to hand it over.

via Roger L. Simon » Times Square: It’s the jihad, stupid.

William Bennett Creates Innovative History Series for Grades 8-12

This is big. The history of America (as opposed to simply “American history”) is a fabulous story in spite of the many bumps encountered along the way. It is a history of which to be proud to have inherited, to be a part of preserving, and to be a part of creating for future generations. Yet, sadly, as Secretary Bennett states below, it is not only our school children’s worst subject but it is being steadily illegitimized.

(Update: Links to purchase the books. Amazon.com & Barnes and Noble.  No pecuniary interest in this — just an advocate for a better education in history.  And go to the sample site for the online component of the history series as it would be used.)

Secretary Bennett stated: “History is our nation’s school children’s worst subject. And yet, the history of America is the greatest story of the modern era. It should not be boring, it should not be dumbed-down, and it should not be politicized. It is the story of a great experiment—what Abraham Lincoln called a ‘proposition.’ It is the story of many noble efforts to live up to that proposition, sometimes failing, more often, succeeding. This great adventure is told the best way I know how, chronologically, excitingly, honestly. ‘Once Upon A Time’ can still be an invitation to our youth and there is no greater ‘Once Upon A Time’ than ours. It is the dream of a lifetime for me to have a textbook in our nation’s schools explaining all of this—and with a most exciting curriculum to accompany it. And to do so with the leader in excellence in education publishing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is a special privilege.”

via Former Secretary of Education William Bennett Creates Innovative History Series for Grades 8-12 | Business Wire.

The Texas Board of Education — even at this time — is in the process of approving new history books (see
State Board of Education — Revisionist History in Progress) but there may yet be an opportunity to influence them toward a good history:  which this is. I have Parts I & II and find them to be a wonderful read and am convinced that they represent an authoritative work of history.  If I had the money, I would gladly donate the entire curriculum to our local school district.

And I think our local schools should be encouraged to adopt this series even if not approved by the SBOE.  I am increasingly convinced that at the feet of poor education in general and of history in particular can be laid the lacks of ambition, patriotism and sense of public service among an all too large portion of our population both young and old.  I would never stoop to condemning entire generations, but from my life and professional perspective I have to say that all too large a segment of our populace fails in those areas of ambition, patriotism and sense of public service.

Where do YOU stand? Will you call your school board members today? Is knowledge of the history of this great nation important in your mind? If it is, then you’ll do something about it.

A different Christmas poem

Please see the note at the bottom about the origin of this poem.  Regardless of the true origin, it’s a beautiful thought and worthy of preserving.

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,

I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘ Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘ Nam ‘,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

”  So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

According to snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/glurge/different.asp) the true author is Michael Marks.  And on another site (http://officespam.chattablogs.com/archives/2006/11/lcdr-jeff-giles-sc-usn.html), I found this comment:

Jeff Giles has been incorrectly cited as the author of “A Different Christmas Poem”. The poem is actually entitled “A Soldier’s Christmas” and was written by Michael Marks on December 7th, 2000. The works of Mr. Marks have been featured in the Washington Times, hang in the Titan Missile Museum, and are featured on the International War Veteran’s Poetry Archive at http://www.iwvpa.net/marksm

I know, because I am Michael Marks. LCDR Giles simply forwarded my poem long ago and had his email signature appended at the bottom.

Warmest regards,

Michael Marks

Thank you, Michael Marks, for a beautiful piece.

http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/glurge/different.asp

Political ‘correctness’ run amuk — again

A woman thinks enough of America to immigrate here, is offended by the flying of the American flag, so the employer chooses to instead offend the patriotic employee by ordering the flag down. Huh?

McLucas, a supervisor at Kindred Hospital in Mansfield, Texas, had displayed the 3-by-5-foot flag in the office she shares with the hospital’s three other supervisors. McLucas said one of her colleagues, a woman who immigrated to the United States from Africa 14 years ago, complained about the flag to upper management, and the hospital decided to take down the flag.

“I was told that as long as my flag offended one person, it would be taken down,” McLucas said.

via Texan Woman Told to Remove ‘Offensive’ American Flag From Office – Local News | News Articles | National News | US News – FOXNews.com.

That is political correctness gone totally crazy, as so often it does any more. The woman from African needs to either do as the Americans do when in America, or go back home to Africa. And the supervisor who initially ordered the flag down should book a ticket with her.

This is just plain silly. This is America. This is where we used to honor the flag on almost any occasion by flying or otherwise displaying it. I think it started with the silliness of such molly-coddling as giving all the children a trophy or ribbon in contests so their sensitive psychies would not be harmed. Let’s face it: there are winners and losers in any game, including the game of life. Overly sensitive people should be encouraged to become stronger, to face adversity, and to become a winner at whatever their talent is. Get prepared for the travails of life.

And now, any time one person is “offended” by almost anything at all, overly sensitive employers fall over themselves to give a trophy — in this case the removal of the symbol of freedom and liberty around the world — thus molly-coddling one more underdeveloped psyche.

And kudos to Mrs. McLucas and her family, and thanks for helping defend the freedom of the hospital to be silly.

Disclosure: political correctness was harmed in the making of this blog entry.

North Platte, Nebraska — a place in WWII history

I am a proud son of the Greatest Generation — those people who endured and brought us out of World War II and into prosperity as truly the greatest nation the world has ever known. My father, like the parents of most of my friends, served in WW2 and there can be no doubt that these were great people for they endured hardship in battle yet came home — the lucky ones did — to work and prosper and, amazingly, never did they complain! They just worked and had an ethical structure that they tried to pass on to their children. I think it stuck to me, mostly, and I’m thankful for it. But then there’s North Platte, Nebraska. What about that?

The folks there took up a cause to support soldiers and sailors just like my father, and boy did they ever do it up right. I had never heard of North Platte before, at least not in this light, and the story is truly amazing. The YouTube video follows below and you really need to spend the 7 minutes it will take from your busy day.

And when you’re done, thank a solder, a sailor, an airman or marine.  Now grab a tissue, pull up a chair, and click ‘play.’

Are we still alive at 65?

Hell yeah! And what a trip it’s been getting here (in another month or so, for me). I unashamedly quote from an email by my friend Don who set out exactly what it means to the group now reaching the mid-sixties. I could not have said it better — even if I could have remembered it all!

Hummmm, 64 years?  Some of us are even older… 65 (not me, at least not yet).

Wow… what a time we have lived through and maybe even helped shape.

One more month and the Republic of Texas will be one year older.  For those of us who have wandered off into other interesting places, beyond the reach of undocumented immigration,… if you start today you may be able to round up the ingredients for a good pot of Four Alarm Chile in time to celebrate.  Getting a Lone Star Long Neck may require a trip to eBay or some more specialized venue.

Perhaps Terry has a ‘1958 vintage bomb shelter out back, all stocked up with long necks, but true longnecks, with returnable bottles are now a great rarity, so I doubt he will share them with us.  I guess maybe we were “greener” back then than today, what with returnable bottles and all…

We have, like generations before us witnessed change, some good, some maybe less so.

The Bomb.  A war was ended abruptly, many lives including perhaps my own father who was fighting in the pacific when Truman unleashed two bombs and virtually destroyed two large Japanese cites with substantial military production centered in them. One war terrible global war was snuffed out in the style of Red Adair using explosives to snuff out an oil well fire, but the world in which we were to live was changed.  The world still changing as a result of “The Bomb”, as we watch rogue regimes gain access to this weapon while “diplomats” demonstrate mass dipsomania as they realize that nothing they, or even the military, can do will prevent this proliferation.

We did not see the first powered flight, but we were here when man first broke the sound barrier and lived to tell what Good Stuff it took to do that.  Then we saw, however briefly, the first supersonic airliner.

We did not see Lindberg cross the Atlantic, but we saw the first space flight, lunar landing, amazing unmanned landings and explorations of Mars, fly-bys of other planets and their moons, and the stu8nning beauty of the cosmos revealed by the Hubble Telescope.  Some of maybe even worked on one or more of these achievements directly or indirectly.

We did not see the first TV (1923!) but saw, and some of us maybe even helped along, “the chip”, the personal computer, the internet, and the worldwide web.

Perhaps in preparation for our own generation getting old, our generation has created a whole industry (now under threat of the final bureaucratizion… so our grandchildren are unlikely to benefit from a continued vitality of invention in this area) which has created an astounding array of medical diagnostic tools, therapeutic technologies, and (hopefully) beneficial pharmaceutical products. Several of our group have played a part in this area of achievement.

We have seen being an engineer, scientist, or mathematician, in America, become “totally geeky”  and have vast increases in young people pursuing degrees in “Political Science” ( which insults the word “science” and does not auger well for our grandchildren seeing the explosion of beneficial advances to sustain the ever growing population of our planet.  But not to worry, China, India, and Russia are cranking out those skills, so they will be able to sell to us, those products and services which we have chosen to devalue and attack… if we can find a way to afford them.

I think we, the class of ’62, have lived in a true Golden Age.  We had all those things, plus Buddy Holly (I actually married a Peggy Sue!), Roy Orbison (anyone remember him playing in the gym for a sock hop after a basketball game), The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, the TV Series “Route 66”, The Jet Drive-In, …  Heck, they made movies about us and the experiences that influenced our adult lives ( perhaps American Graffiti, The Last Picture Show, The Groove Tube, Apocalypse Now, and Midnight Cowboy were particularly relevant for our gang).   What a run we have had!

64?  No big deal.  Making it this far without someone killing me… amazing.  What a life.

Don

Thanks, Don. Quite a trip down memory lane. I share your proud appreciation for where we are and how we got here. With all of the talk of the “greatest generation” (the only thing I ever agreed with Tom Brokaw over) there is an oft-overlooked fact. We, the “not-quite-baby-boomers” generation (I don’t think our group has a clear-cut tag), are the direct progeny of the “greatest” and I wonder how we will be remembered. Did we fail them in not passing along the best traits of the best? Or did we accomplish it? Many of us (not including self) are as fine as that “greatest generation” and I know that some of our children are as well. But as a generational appelation how will we or our children be remembered and viewed by history?

Of course, just as facts make a difference in the courtroom they make a difference here. The circumstances of WWII were unique in American history. Were those “finest” Americans defined by the circumstances, or did they define the circumstances themselves. It seems that Americans have always risen to the instant occasion to an unsurpassable level, especially in crisis. WWII was certainly a crisis and whereas in the present day we tend to not be able to sustain that crisis mode level of intensity, the “greatest generation” did so, in spades. That attribute, sustainability of purpose, may be the single most distinguishing factor between that generation and ours.

Yes, still alive at 65 and there remains work to do.