Inspiring People – Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Did you have a good week? Did you touch base with that teen or young adult in your life? We had a pretty quiet week of activity at our house with the sub zero temperatures here in Minnesota. But still had family dinners as an opportunity to catch up.

Today is President’s Day

According to officeholidays.com, the first President’s Day was celebrated on February 22, 1796 commemorate our first president, George Washington’s, birthday. In 1971, it was shifted to fall on the third Monday in February to simplify the yearly calendar and to give federal employees some standard three day holidays. What are you doing to celebrate our nation’s presidents today?

Black History Month

Black History Month

February is Black History Month. The posts this month are focusing on leaders, issues and pioneers that have had an effect on the history of the different races in our country. I wanted to feature someone not as well known, but made her mark on civil rights history. This week’s inspirational person is Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

Who was Ida B. Wells?

According to the book, Who was Ida B. Wells? by Sarah Fabiny, Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862.  She was born into slavery, but was freed by the Emancipation Proclimation in 1865.

As a young girl, her father asked her to read the newspaper to him and his friends. Through reading, she became interested in writing. When she lost both of her parents to yellow fever in 1878, she was put in charge of raising her siblings while she became and made a living as a teacher.

After two years of teaching at the rural school, Ida received an opportunity from her Aunt Fannie to move to Memphis and teach in a city school. While teaching school during the week, Ida started editing and writing a newsletter called the Evening Star on the weekends. This opportunity led her to start writing for a weekly newspaper. Through these different opportunities, she was able to start her career as a journalist.

She wrote for and edited many newspapers and published pamphlets about issues that affected blacks during the time after Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Her Anti-Lynching Pamphlets

Ida B. Wells was a Black American activist at a time when many Black Americans weren’t speaking up for their rights. She wasn’t just speaking up with her voice, but through her writing and publishing pamphlets about how blacks were being treated, The main focus of her pamphlets was about about lynching.

Lynching – when someone is killed without a trial. Many times, black people would be killed because they are black. The punishment does not fit the crime.

This was in response to something that happened to a friend of hers, Thomas Moss, and two others. They were the victims of a lynching while serving time in jail for defending their grocery business, the Peoples Grocery. Here’s what happened…

A competing grocery across the street, owned by white men, were upset about how well the Peoples Grocery was doing. So they sent a mob of people to ruin the store. Ida’s friends had to protect their business because they knew the cops wouldn’t help them. When they shot their guns off, three white men were injured. Moss and his friends were taken to jail, but they never made it to court, they were taken from jail and lynched.

I wrote a book review a couple of weeks ago about Death of Innocence which was about Emmett Till, a teen who was lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. This would be a great read to learn more about the human effects of lynching and racism. Here’s the link to that book review. Death of Innocence

The articles that she wrote about the lynching made many people in Memphis mad and Wells received threats. But that didn’t stop her from continuing to write about the injustices being served as is shown in her quote below.

What impact did she make on American History?

  • She was a journalist, activist and researcher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • She dedicated her life to fighting for equality of blacks, especially women

Inspiring woman in our country’s history

Ida B. Wells-Barnett wasn’t afraid to speak her mind about the social injustices taking place in our country towards Black Americans. Her skills in writing and connections as a journalist helped to voice her opinion in a time when newspapers were the main way that information was transferred to our country. She made her mark and was a key participant in the early part of the civil rights movement.

As a side note, Wells-Barnett was awarded a posthumous Pultizer Prize in 2020 recoginizing her as a journalist and her reports and publications about lynching.

If you would like to learn a little bit more about Ida B. Wells, here’s a link to the book I read to learn more about her. Who was Ida B. Wells? The author, Sarah Fabiny wrote several Who Was books about other interesting people in history. And there are many other books in this series written by other authors. Take a look and find another interesting person to read about.

The Hard Way

Cover design of my first book

Having friends that support us and have our backs is important throughout our lives. It is very important for teens to pick friends who will support and help them through those tough teen years. Looking for a good teen or young adult read about it? Here’s a link to The Hard Way. Be sure to check it out.

Have a great week!

Teen Challenge – Respecting Diversity and Inclusion

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Parents and Teachers: Did you touch base with that teen in your life this week?

Teens: Did you touch base with the adults in your life? Let them know what is happening with you? I bet they would love it if you did.

February is Black History Month

With February being Black History Month, I’ll be focusing this month’s posts towards people and events that have shaped our country’s view of different races.

With our country struggling with racial relations, I will be forcusing on the teen challenge of accepting diversity and inclusion of others who are different from ourselves.

Respecting Diversity and Inclusion

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, here are the definitions,

Diversity

Diversity is understanding that there are differences between people. Not only racial differences, but differences in culture, religion, sexual orientation, where you live and how much monry your may make.

Inclusion

Is accepting and including people who are different from ourselves and including them in what we are doing as equal partners.

This quote from Verna Myers, a Diversity and Inclusion Expert explains the relationship between these two ideas.

While we are able to see and understand that there are differences between us and others, do we make a point to include those who are different from us? Or,

  • Do we shun them?
  • Bully them?
  • Treat them differently because they are different from us?

The fact that we have historically treated people differently from ourselves has gotten us to the place we are now. Unable to get along with people who may be different from us. The Respect Diversity Foundation has programs they offer for kids and teens to teach us about diversity and inclusion.

Respect Diversity Foundation

This foundation is located in Edmond, Oklahoma. Its mission is to promote tolerance and acceptance across differences through communication, education, collaboration and the arts. They offer a program to educate kids and teens called “Different & The Same.”

“Different & The Same”

This is an engaging diversity program the foundation created to meet a need to educate kids and teens about diversity. They take this program to the schools and educate not only the kids and teens, but also the teachers and community.

Through this program, teens became kinder and more compassionate towards people. Some even became activists and advocates for diversity and inclusion with other people. This is the kind of grass root level teaching that needs to be done to help heal our country.

Here is a link to more information about the Respect Diversity Foundation and to the “Different & The Same” program.

There is another program out there to teach us about how to bring the ideas of diversity and inclusion into the workplace and other organizations. This college program is offered at Villanova University and other colleges throughout our nation. It would be something to consider if our teens are looking for a way to learn more about diversity and inclusion and become an advocate in companies and organizations they are involved in as adults.

Diversity and Inclusion – A graduation certificate program

Villanova University, located in Villanova, PA offers a certificate program called the Inclusion and Diversity strategy. It is the study of effectiveness of inclusion and diversity initiatives in organizations and other places in their lives. It is a part of the Human Resources course of study and is becoming a popular course of study to understand diversity and inclusion and actively improving those relationships in workplaces, organizations and other parts of our lives and society.

With our country struggling with racial relations, understanding diversity and activating ways of inclusion are important pieces to healing our country and improving how we are relating to one another. Here is a link to more information about the Inclusion and Diversity Strategy Certificate offered at Villanova University.

The Hard Way incorporates diversity

When my editor Michelle and I worked through revisions of The Hard Way, we have charcaters of different racial backgrounds interacting in the story. Not only to show what racial makup would typically be found in a burough of a city like New York City (which Manor City is loosely based on), but to show that characters of different backgrounds could come together as friends. Learn more about the book on the books tab of my website. Here’s the link

The Hard Way

What can we do?

Find out how the teens in our lifes feel about diversity and inclusion of others. Teach them with the programs that are available at places like Respect Diversity Foundation. This will go far to change the current views and to start adopting the ideas of diversity and inclusion in our society. What experiences have you faced with Diversity and Inclusion of yourself or others? Please let me know in the comments below.

PS – Something to check out!

Boys Town talks about Diversity this week

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about Boys Town as a Teen Resource because of their programs and how they advocate for teens. Here is a link to my blog post.

This week on Wednesday, February 10th at 12:00 PM CST, Boys Town will be hosting a Facebook Live event, The History of DIversity at Boys Town. Diversity is a foundational part of their organization. The founder of the organization, Father Flanagan began providing care for children regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. Be sure to stop by their Facebook Page on Wednesday to check it out. Boys Town – Facebook

Have a great week!

Book Review – Death of Innocence by Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson

Book Review

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

February is Black History Month. I’ll be focusing this month’s posts towards people and events that have shaped our country’s view of different races.

How was your week last week? Did you get a chance to check in with the teen in your life? Hey teens! Did you check in with the adult in your life? I bet they would love it if you did.

This month’s book review is a true story. It is told by the mother of a fourteen-year-old teenager who was a victim of a hate crime while taking a trip with his family and friends to Mississippi. She tell us what happened, her response in the aftermath, and how it was a spark to the civil right movement.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Death of Innocence – The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America

Authors

Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson

Type of Book

Non-Fiction – Biography and True Crime

Author Background

Mamie Till-Mobley, mother of Emmett Till, tells us about her life as a mother and a civil rights activist. When she said that she wanted to write a book about what happened to Emmett, Christopher Benson, the co-author of this book, was introduced to her and listened to her story. Six months after they started working together, Mamie passed away. Benson wound up writing her story and making the April 1st deadline for the start of the publication process.

Summary of the book

The first part of the book introduces us to Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till. Emmett was just fourteen years old when his mother said it was ok to go to Mississippi with friends and family in August of 1955. While on this trip, he was killed for supposedly whistling at a white woman. We are taken through the trial in Mississippi where the two white men were acquitted. To story continues after the trial when Mamie becomes a teacher. Through her teaching and speaking about what happened to Emmett, she became a voice for the civil rights movement.

Reaction to the book

I loved the book. The way the book was written, I really got to know Emmett and Mamie in the beginning, and it made me personally vested in their story. It was hard to read about how he was killed, but the fact that she became an advocate for the civil rights out of what happened to her son is very inspiring. With the story centering on a teenager, and it providing some of the history of the civil rights movement, I believe it would be a good read for a young adult reader.

Link to the authors

If you want to learn more about Mamie Till-Mobley, (she remarried in 1957), check out her page on Wikipedia Mamie Till-Mobley.

If you want to learn more about Christopher Benson, here is a link to his website at Northwestern University, Christoper Benson.

Link to the book

If you want to purchase Death of Innocence, here is a link to Amazon – Death of Innocence . Or you can pick it up from your local bookstore or shop online at Bookshop.org and have your purchase credited to them.

The Hard Way

Peer pressure is one of the challenge teens face. If you are looking for a good novel for the teen or young adult audience which fouces on this issue, here’s a link to a book review of The Hard Way.

Have a great week!

Hark! Who goes there? Why it’s William Shakespeare, again!

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog?

About a month ago, I posted an update and wrote about William Shakespeare. I was inspired by a couple of social media posts which became popular when stay at home orders were starting to take affect throughout the country with the Coronavirus outbreak. This past week, I saw mention of his April 23rd birthday and decided to take another look at this well-known literary playwright.

William Shakespeare celebrated his 456th birthday and the 404th anniversary of his death last week. The experts aren’t sure of the exact date of his birth, but they do know he was baptized on April 26th.

His birthday tends to fall on St. George’s Day, England’s National Day. Who was St. George? He’s the patron saint of England and parts of Portugal and Spain, a Christian martyr, and celebrated as the ideal for martial valor and selflessness. Legend has it that he was a soldier in the Roman Army who slayed a dragon and saved a princess. Most of the time, St. George’s Day is celebrated on Shakespeare’s actual birthday. However, if it falls during the week of Easter, then it’s observed the weekday following the celebration of Easter. Due to the Coronavirus, the British were asked to fly the flag from their homes instead of going out and celebrating this year.

A couple of additional facts about him,

-According to shakespeare.org.uk (a website dedicated to a charity which cares for the Shakespeare sites and offers tours and information about Shakespeare and his family), Shakespeare was born to John and Mary Shakespeare. He was the third of eight children and the oldest surviving son. His two older sisters, Joan and Margaret both died before reaching the age of two and of his younger siblings, Gilbert, Joan (named after her older sister), Anne, Richard and Edmund. His younger sister Joan was the only one of his siblings to outlive him.

-Upon his father’s death in 1601, he inherited the house which became an inn called Maidenhead and later on the Swan and Maidenhead. It remained an inn until 1847 when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it and to restore and care for the family history.

-When it comes to him being an actor and a playwright, an interesting thing about the Globe theater, where Shakespeare was an actor and shareholder, it accommodated people from all walks of life, so anyone could see a play. Just like going to an event at a theater or stadium now, what you can afford, will determine where you can sit. At the Globe, the cheap seats were on the ground floor and were open to all of the weather elements. The more expensive seats were in the higher levels complete with comfy seats which were out of the weather. A reversal of how a concert or sporting event is set up now. With the more expensive seats found on the lower levels and the least expensive seating found in upper level “nose bleed section”.


Shakespeare’s writing is complex and sometimes hard to understand. What are your thoughts?

In response to my blog post from March 24th, Authorbookings.com (a part of Story Monsters LLC) reached out and referred me to another Shakespeare resource. When I checked out the website, getshakespeare.com (which will take you to the Story Monsters LLC website), I learned about Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection. Cass Foster makes works of Shakespeare accessible for all ages. These versions are not adaptations, but timeless tales that may help make my understanding Shakespeare a lot easier. They are available through the Story Monsters LLC store and are suitable for students in sixth grade and up. I ordered one of the Shakespeare’s plays I haven’t read before, Taming of the Shrew, which was written originally written by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592, we’ll see how it reads.

As a side note, Authorbookings.com has a great program for book awards and outreach to the schools and media to get in touch with authors, artists, publishers and speakers for school and library visits. My first novel, The Hard Way, is a 2018 honorable mention Dragonfly Book Award winner, through Story Monsters LLC.

As I was reading the reviews for Sixty-Minute Shakespeare, I saw one which was posted by the Woodland Shakespeare Club, now the oldest women’s clubs in California founded in 1886 with the goal to “study, with intellectual and spiritual growth as goals”. It is a literary, multi-generational group, limited to 50 members, that started out just discussing works of Shakespeare, but in 1878, the women started reading works by various authors when they called upon each other at their homes for the meeting. Kind of like the book clubs of today.

According to the article published in the community section of the October 27, 2019 edition of the Davis Enterprise, Woodland Shakespeare Club: Your cup of tea? the California based group reads and discusses books with topics of California to Southern Women Writers to music themed books. The typical meeting is a discussion of a previously chosen book and ending with a cup of tea. Their reading season runs from October to April, with April being the month they celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with a luncheon and a special cake. Their theme changes from season to season with their recently completed season, 2019-2020, theme being “In Other Words: Shakespeare’s plays reinterpreted, retold and reimagined.” Members read current novels which are similar in type to one of Shakespeare’s plays.

I contacted the president of the group, Anne Hawke, and asked if they have a website. She replied, no it is too expensive for the group. If you Google, Woodland Shakespeare Club, like I did, you’ll find some interesting articles about the group. The group has 50 active members and they aren’t seeking new members. Any potential member must be referred by a current member of the group. When I asked what a favorite read for the group was, she said they enjoyed these Shakespeare plays reinterpreted. The Anne Tyler book, Vinegar Girl, is the Taming of the Shrew retold was one of her personal favorites. Looks like I found my next book to read and review along with the Sixty-Minute Shakespeare version of the story.

Funny how all of that information and a couple of future reads fell out of a second look at Shakespeare’s life. What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Today we remember Martin Luther King Jr.

I am a naturally curious person who is interested in learning more about things. So, I decided to find out more about Martin Luther King Jr. to better appreciate why a federal holiday was declared in his honor.

When I started my online search, the first things that came up were what is open or closed today and what date it was going to fall on in the year 2019.

So, I dug a little deeper.

The observed holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January, even though it may not fall on his actual birthday. Do you know when his birthday is? I looked it up. It is January 15, 1929 and he was born in Atlanta, GA.

It was declared a federal holday by Ronald Reagan on November 2, 1983 to honor King’s birthday, his legacy and to shine a light on civil rights. King played a very important role in the history of our country. He was involved in the civil rights and peace movements in the 1960s. Do you know what speech he is famous for delivering? I Have a Dream. He gave it during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.

abraham lincoln administration adult art
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The march was organized to advocate for the civil and economic rights of African Americans. About 250,000 people gathered in Washington, DC in front of the Lincoln Memorial and listened to Dr. King.

I have always wondered why was he referred to as Dr. King. A little searching online provided an explanation. He received a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. I then asked, what is systematic theology?

According to Wikipedia, systemtic theology is

a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith. It addresses issues such as what the Bible teaches about certain topics or what is true about God and his universe.

And one final fact, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. According to History.com – King Assassination

The Carpetbagger Photo - Lorraine Motel
Photo by http://www.thecarpetbagger.org

On March 28, a workers’ protest march led by King ended in violence and the death of an African-American teenager. King left the city but vowed to return in early April to lead another demonstration.

On April 3, back in Memphis, King gave his last sermon, saying, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

The day after that sermon, he was assassinated in front of room 306. This plaque was placed at the hotel after a local group saved it from foreclosure and turned it into a civil rights museum.

Civil Rights Museum - Lorraine Motel
Photo from ThisVerySpot.com ©2006

School aged kids, federal and government workers get a day off in honor of King. Just like Memorial Day and Columbus Day,  do we even know or recognize what the significance of the day is? I am glad I took the time to learn a little more about Martin Luther King, Jr. He played a very important role in the history of our country. I hope you learned a little something about him from this post.

Be sure to take a little time on the holiday to learn more about who or what we are honoring. You will not only learn a little something, but you will also gain a better appreciation for why you are enjoying a day off.

Have a great week!

Photo for featured image was taken by the Associated Press

Looking back at my most popular blog post

Since I am working on marketing my book, I looked back to what was my most popular post. It happened to be one not about writing, but about a holiday. A holiday that is special to me for many reasons, but it also falls around and sometimes on my mom’s birthday.

Not sure why this one took off so well on social media, but, I’m examining some of those things as I decide what types of posts really work for my audience. Because those will be the places I will focus some of my marketing efforts.

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Memorial Day 2016

Two of the holidays we celebrate in May fall into a theme that May is known for, Military Appreciation Month. That theme leads me right into the final holiday to be celebrated in May, and my blog’s theme, Memorial Day. This year it falls on May 30th which would have been my Mom’s 77th birthday. Every year around her birthday, when Memorial Day didn’t fall on May 30th, she would say the real Memorial Day is supposed to be celebrated on my birthday. I thought she was just trying to make a point that it was supposed to be celebrated on her birthday for the sake of it. As I was researching the history of Memorial Day, I found out that May 30th was the original date that Decoration Day was celebrated starting in 1868. I guess that Mom was right!

According to The History of Memorial Day on the pbs.org website, Decoration Day was a celebration of the men, both Union and Confederate, who lost their lives in the American Civil War. It came out of a tradition of placing flowers on the graves of the soldiers who died in battle.

During its first celebration at Arlington Cemetery in 1868, the former Union General, James Garfield, who was an Ohio Congressman at the time, made a speech before the 5000 volunteers who laid flowers at more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers graves. Here was a quote from that speech.

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

– James A. Garfield
May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery
 

That event at Arlington Cemetery was inspired by what many towns and cities were doing for Decoration Day since the end of the war in 1865. New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. After World War I, the holiday was expanded to celebrate the soldiers who died in all of America’s Wars. Once it became a National Holiday it was celebrated on the last Monday in May. That decision made the holiday not always fall on May 30th, to my Mom’s dismay.

There are multiple military holidays celebrated throughout the year. I saw a post on Facebook this week that discussed the differences between three of them. Memorial Day is the designated day to remember those who have lost their lives while serving in our armed forces. Armed Forces Day, which I blogged about last week, is designated to recognize the men and women who are currently serving. And Veteran’s Day, which falls on November 11th every year, is the day to recognize those who have served, but are still living.

So, what does one do to celebrate Memorial Day? At Arlington Cemetery, volunteers place an American flag on every grave. The President or Vice-President of the United States will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. During my research, this became an interesting story to me, one that is a big part of what Memorial Day is all about.

According to the ArlingtonCemetery.mil website, the tomb is a grave that sits on top of a hill at Arlington Cemetery. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified soldier from World War I to be buried in the New Memorial Amphitheater. On Memorial Day 1921, four unknown soldiers were exhumed from a World War I cemetery in France. Here is the story of how the one to be buried in the tomb was chosen.

Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat, highly decorated for valor and received the Distinguished Service Medal in “The Great War, the war to end all wars,” selected the Unknown Soldier of World War I from four identical caskets at the city hall in Chalons-sur-Marne, France, Oct. 24, 1921. Sgt. Younger selected the unknown by placing a spray of white roses on one of the caskets. He chose the third casket from the left. The chosen unknown soldier was transported to the United States aboard the USS Olympia. Those remaining were interred in the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, France.

The Unknown Soldier lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from his arrival in the United States until Armistice Day, 1921. On Nov. 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery.

On  August 3, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill to pay tribute to the unknown soldiers who died in World War II and the Korean War. The same type of ceremony that was done for the World War I tomb was done for these unknown soldiers. They decided to chose one soldier from each of the main battle theaters in World War II, the European and Pacific, and one from the Korean War. Here is the story of how the ones to be buried in the second and third tombs were chosen in 1958.

Two unknowns from World War II, one from the European Theater and one from the Pacific Theater, were placed in identical caskets and taken aboard the USS Canberra, a guided-missile cruiser resting off the Virginia capes. Navy Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, then the Navy’s only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, selected the Unknown Soldier of World War II. The remaining casket received a solemn burial at sea.

Four unknown Americans who died in the Korean War were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle made the final selection. Both caskets arrived in Washington May 28, 1958, where they lay in the Capitol Rotunda until May 30.

That morning, they were carried on caissons to Arlington National Cemetery. President Eisenhower awarded each the Medal of Honor, and the Unknowns were interred in the plaza beside their World War I comrade.

The unknown solider from the Vietnam War was designated during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on May 17, 1984. Here is the story of his burial.

The Vietnam Unknown was transported aboard the USS Brewton to Alameda Naval Base, Calif. The remains were sent to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., May 24. The Vietnam Unknown arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., the next day. Many Vietnam veterans and President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan visited the Vietnam Unknown in the U.S. Capitol. An Army caisson carried the Vietnam Unknown from the Capitol to the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided over the funeral, and presented the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown.

The Vietnam unknown soldier’s story didn’t end there.

The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were exhumed May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, DoD scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. It has been decided that the crypt that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain vacant. The crypt cover has been replaced with one that has the inscription,

“Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”

After the research I did for this blog, I have a better understanding about what Memorial day is really about. Many men and women lost their lives fighting for our country’s security. For some of them, we will never know where their final resting places are. The traditions found in the ceremony of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a somber reminder that not all who serve find their way back home after the war.

For Memorial Day this year, I’ll be saying a prayer for all of the soldiers that serve, have served and died serving our country and their families. I’ll also be going to visit my mom’s grave. She wasn’t a solider in a war, but it is still her day. Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy 4th of July! It’s a milestone day.

A couple weeks ago, I realized that I was getting close to 100 blog posts on this site. I looked at the calendar and noticed what day the post was going to fall on. This year July 4th falls on a Monday, the day I post my weekly blog on. This is my 100th post on WordPress and it is going live on the internet on the 4th of July 2016. It’s debut comes on a day designated to celebrate our country’s independence with picnics, parades and fireworks. It is a great day to post this milestone’s debut on.

You may notice some changes to the look of my blog site. Thanks to some new found knowledge from a workshop about WordPress that I am currently working through, I did some updates to my blog. Some of them you will see. Different colors with additional pages containing an author bio and another page with a contact me form. Other changes are working behind the scenes to make things work better on the site.

So, let’s start this post with a little bit of background about Independence Day.

According to Wikipedia, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress. It declared that the original thirteen American colonies would become a new nation and no longer be a part of the British Empire.

From the onset, Americans celebrated the anniversary of this event on the date the declaration was signed and appears on the actual document, July 4th, 1776, rather than the date the resolution was approved, which was July 2nd. Not only is the difference in these dates an issue and disputed fact, but it isn’t even certain that the declaration was even signed on July 4th, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin later wrote they actually did sign it on the 4th.

Some additional bits of trivia about July 4th,

  • Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration to later become presidents of the United States, died on the same day, July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of when the Declaration was supposedly signed.
  • Another Founding Father, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, now the third president who has died on the holiday.
  • So far there has only been one president born on Independence Day, Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872.

I enjoy doing research for my blog posts. I learn a lot of interesting things that I want to share. I hope you find some of it interesting too. Through my blogs this year I have learned many fun facts about different events in the history of our country. I wonder if one of these facts will win me any money in a trivia contest someday.

Along with my 100th blog post milestone, I have another blog writing milestone to celebrate from this holiday weekend. I achieved the 100 likes mark on Saturday, thanks to another author who commented and liked last week’s blog post. Even though I feel like my writing has been at a stand still lately, these milestones show me the work and time I am putting in on my blog is progressing. I’m also making more contacts and meeting some great people in the process. This networking is helping the typically solitude life of a writer change into more of a social experience.

I have gained so much knowledge and experience about the writing and publishing process through this journey. Not only by the writing itself, but also by listening to the advice of others who have walked the path before me. There are a lot of people to thank for their help, advice, and support along the way. I know now, as a writer, you definitely don’t journey down this path alone. I have made contacts with so many people around the world through blogging and social media groups. I don’t know how I would have done it before the invention of Facebook and the creation of my blog.

Last week while I was sorting out my feelings about my writing progress, I came up with the writing house analogy. It is a way to view what I’m putting together for all my writing processes and goals. I compared it to building a house, because there are a lot of things that go into it. Some are visual, like the colors and furniture on the inside and some are essential but hidden from view, like the foundation, or writer’s platform, which needs to be stable and built the right way. Constructing the writing house is not only putting together what is seen on the outside, the right website, Facebook page, blog, or cover design for the novel. It is also having a comfortable place to go and create the stories and blogs that make the rest of the writing journey work and the house function with it.

Everyone has a happy place. A place where they can go to feel relaxed and calm or maybe just simply be happy. For my writing house, I’m picturing a tree house with a writing desk in it. Birds singing and wind blowing through the leaves. I feel a sense of calm when I imagine myself there, away from the stress of day-to-day life. It gives me a place where I can be quiet with my thoughts and listen to my heart’s passions; for my family and my writing. Even if I can only just imagine being there, it ultimately helps me get creatively inspired to write those stories that are inside of me.

My 100th post is a definite writing milestone for me. It makes me stop and think about how far I have come with my writing. A lot of work has been and will continue to be put into it. There have been a fair share of hard times and happy times on the journey, but anything worth having has to be worked for. And the work isn’t easy, but the results are well worth it in the end.

Memorial Day 2016

Two of the holidays we celebrate in May fall into a theme that May is known for, Military Appreciation Month. That theme leads me right into the final holiday to be celebrated in May, and my blog’s theme, Memorial Day. This year it falls on May 30th which would have been my Mom’s 77th birthday. Every year around her birthday, when Memorial Day didn’t fall on May 30th, she would say the real Memorial Day is supposed to be celebrated on my birthday. I thought she was just trying to make a point that it was supposed to be celebrated on her birthday for the sake of it. As I was researching the history of Memorial Day, I found out that May 30th was the original date that Decoration Day was celebrated starting in 1868. I guess that Mom was right!

According to The History of Memorial Day on the pbs.org website, Decoration Day was a celebration of the men, both Union and Confederate, who lost their lives in the American Civil War. It came out of a tradition of placing flowers on the graves of the soldiers who died in battle.

During its first celebration at Arlington Cemetery in 1868, the former Union General, James Garfield, who was an Ohio Congressman at the time, made a speech before the 5000 volunteers who laid flowers at more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers graves. Here was a quote from that speech.

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

– James A. Garfield
May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery
 

That event at Arlington Cemetery was inspired by what many towns and cities were doing for Decoration Day since the end of the war in 1865. New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. After World War I, the holiday was expanded to celebrate the soldiers who died in all of America’s Wars. Once it became a National Holiday it was celebrated on the last Monday in May. That decision made the holiday not always fall on May 30th, to my Mom’s dismay.

There are multiple military holidays celebrated throughout the year. I saw a post on Facebook this week that discussed the differences between three of them. Memorial Day is the designated day to remember those who have lost their lives while serving in our armed forces. Armed Forces Day, which I blogged about last week, is designated to recognize the men and women who are currently serving. And Veteran’s Day, which falls on November 11th every year, is the day to recognize those who have served, but are still living.

So, what does one do to celebrate Memorial Day? At Arlington Cemetery, volunteers place an American flag on every grave. The President or Vice-President of the United States will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. During my research, this became an interesting story to me, one that is a big part of what Memorial Day is all about.

According to the ArlingtonCemetery.mil website, the tomb is a grave that sits on top of a hill at Arlington Cemetery. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified soldier from World War I to be buried in the New Memorial Amphitheater. On Memorial Day 1921, four unknown soldiers were exhumed from a World War I cemetery in France. Here is the story of how the one to be buried in the tomb was chosen.

Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat, highly decorated for valor and received the Distinguished Service Medal in “The Great War, the war to end all wars,” selected the Unknown Soldier of World War I from four identical caskets at the city hall in Chalons-sur-Marne, France, Oct. 24, 1921. Sgt. Younger selected the unknown by placing a spray of white roses on one of the caskets. He chose the third casket from the left. The chosen unknown soldier was transported to the United States aboard the USS Olympia. Those remaining were interred in the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, France.

The Unknown Soldier lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from his arrival in the United States until Armistice Day, 1921. On Nov. 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery.

On  August 3, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill to pay tribute to the unknown soldiers who died in World War II and the Korean War. The same type of ceremony that was done for the World War I tomb was done for these unknown soldiers. They decided to chose one soldier from each of the main battle theaters in World War II, the European and Pacific, and one from the Korean War. Here is the story of how the ones to be buried in the second and third tombs were chosen in 1958.

Two unknowns from World War II, one from the European Theater and one from the Pacific Theater, were placed in identical caskets and taken aboard the USS Canberra, a guided-missile cruiser resting off the Virginia capes. Navy Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, then the Navy’s only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, selected the Unknown Soldier of World War II. The remaining casket received a solemn burial at sea.

Four unknown Americans who died in the Korean War were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle made the final selection. Both caskets arrived in Washington May 28, 1958, where they lay in the Capitol Rotunda until May 30.

That morning, they were carried on caissons to Arlington National Cemetery. President Eisenhower awarded each the Medal of Honor, and the Unknowns were interred in the plaza beside their World War I comrade.

The unknown solider from the Vietnam War was designated during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on May 17, 1984. Here is the story of his burial.

The Vietnam Unknown was transported aboard the USS Brewton to Alameda Naval Base, Calif. The remains were sent to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., May 24. The Vietnam Unknown arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., the next day. Many Vietnam veterans and President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan visited the Vietnam Unknown in the U.S. Capitol. An Army caisson carried the Vietnam Unknown from the Capitol to the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided over the funeral, and presented the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown.

The Vietnam unknown soldier’s story didn’t end there.

The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were exhumed May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, DoD scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. It has been decided that the crypt that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain vacant. The crypt cover has been replaced with one that has the inscription,

“Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”

After the research I did for this blog, I have a better understanding about what Memorial day is really about. Many men and women lost their lives fighting for our country’s security. For some of them, we will never know where their final resting places are. The traditions found in the ceremony of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a somber reminder that not all who serve find their way back home after the war.

For Memorial Day this year, I’ll be saying a prayer for all of the soldiers that serve, have served and died serving our country and their families. I’ll also be going to visit my mom’s grave. She wasn’t a solider in a war, but it is still her day. Happy Birthday Mom!

Celebrating Armed Forces Day 2016

Many special events and days of recognition are celebrated on any given day. Some are on a specific day like the 4th of July and others always fall on say the second Sunday in May like Mother’s Day.

Each day has its own reason to be celebrated. Armed Forces Day is a day to thank our military for their service to our country.

Thank you to all of our

service men and women

for serving and protecting our country

On Armed Forces Day 2016, we buried Sam’s Uncle Doug in his final resting place near their family farm in Litchfield, MN. It was a very simple ceremony with a close knit group of family and friends. Even at our private service, a bugle player was brought in to play Taps in recognition of his serving in the army. Military families have had to lay their loved ones to rest in so many different ways. Some in very public ceremonies with color guards and rifles and some in private family services like ours.

Unfortunately, some soldiers are still Missing in Action (MIA). The location of their remains is unknown and a burial couldn’t take place in a traditional way. They may have a memorial service and place a marker in the cemetery, but they live not knowing where their loved one’s body actually is.

I have many friends and family that serve and have served in our military. What a sacrifice of time and life that these people make for our country. They put their lives on the line to protect us and make us feel safe at night. I’m thankful for that everyday.

Each branch of the military used to celebrate it’s own day of recognition. Harry S. Truman led the push to combine all four of these days into one day to thank all of the members of our armed forces for their service. On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson made that happen. It was decided that the holiday would be celebrated the third Saturday in May annually, which this year was May 21st. The Marines continue to celebrate the birthday of the Marine Corps annually on November 10th, but still recognize the combined holiday. The month of May is also considered National Military Month.

The day is set aside for civilians to thank those that serve and many other countries do the same thing but on different days. In the United Kingdom, they will be celebrating Armed Forces Day on June 25, 2016. In their honor, there are parades and celebrations where the servicemen show their country the tools they use to protect our country. In some places there are airshows or military equipment demonstrations. There is an assigned theme for the celebration in the United States every year. The first one held in 1950 was themed “Teamed for Defense”. And this year it is “Guardians of Freedom”.

Armed Forces Day allows us to recognize the sacrifices our military makes for us to protect us. That job has changed a lot over the years and it has become more dangerous because of new technology, new weapons, and new methods of battle.

On a side note…

Did you know May 21st had another significant event take place? It was the second annual National Readathon Day. It is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and Penguin Random House. It is recognized as a national day to pick up a book and read from noon to four, but it is also a fundraiser for the Every Child Ready to Read initiative. What a great cause to support. Might even be a good day for an author to promote their books as an option for the readathon. Be sure to look for the date of next years event at www.readathonday.com/about.html.