Can you hear it? Faint sounds of shovels into dirt, nails into wood, sandbags hoisted into place.
They’re growing faint with time. It’s been an even century now. Yes, during the autumn of 1914 soldiers dug trenches. They prepared for winter. They prepared for defense.
During September 1914, French and British troops halted the German advance toward Paris. They managed to force a retreat — but not a great long one.
A trench was not a new defense. Both sides used them during the American Civil War. Moats and trenches around castles spotted the European battlefields centuries before that.
But the Great War, now known as WWI, brought trench warfare to it’s pinnacle. (Or low point if you were an infantryman.)
Trenches defined the front lines. No-man’s land came to mean the killing field between the opposing army trenches. Yes, lines shifted at times. Trenches would be captured with their supplies, communication equipment, and soldiers.
And the trenches killed men. They killed with a portion would collapse. They killed with wet and penetrating cold in winter. They killed with disease.
Can you hear something else? The silence. Four long, deadly years after those first trenches were constructed outside of Paris — the guns go silent. Armistice. Peace. A generation will grow to manhood and pick up arms to fight armies across many of the same miles.
Salute a veteran today. Remember a veteran today. Pause for a minute at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Are you a U.S. citizen? Over age 18? Registered to vote?
Have you voted today?
No? Then why are you spending precious minutes reading this. You should be walking, driving, taking a bus or finding a train to get to your polling station.
Important issues are on your ballot. Every one of us has a choice to make for a member of congress. Geography decides if you have a US Senator or State Governor on the ballot. And decisions on bond issues, state tax procedures, and state constitutional amendments are included.
Yes? Congratulations!!!Thank you for helping government work.
Antonin Scalia, currently the longest serving Associate Justice of the Supreme Court has a record that is focused and consistent in his method and rational.
One source referred to his philosophy as that of “originalism” and defined it as considering what the writers intended to be decisive. Justice Scalia does not view the Constitution as a “living” or “evolving” document. On this foundation he has become a defender of religious references in the public square and argues against removing them unless by specific statute.
Like many prominent lawyers, he’s an author. The most recent title in my sources was Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts from 2012. The title also reflects his history of using the text, and often only the text, rather than the legislative history of a statute.
He brought a history of private practice, teaching, and government service to the court when appointed by President Reagan in 1986.
This is the first in a series of posts introducing my readers to the justices of the Supreme Court. The court begins a new session on Monday — an event which puts them in the news.
Determined is only one of several words that could be selected to describe the subject of today’s post. The second woman to serve on the court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is currently the oldest member.
A few situations in her life where determination became necessary.
Harvard Law School: One of eight women in a class of 500. As a married student with a young child time management and organizational skills would be tested today. In the 1950’s add open hostility from male faculty and classmates to the issues confronting her daily.
Women’s Right Project for ACLU: Women’s rights. Equal rights. Human rights. In the 1970’s much progress was made. Thanks in part to the six landmark cases she argued before the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court of the United States: In 1993 when she took her seat on the court she joined Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed. She managed to make her voice heard. Difficult at best, strenuous for the three and a half years after O’Connor retired, she continues to express her thoughtful opinions on the cases accepted by the court.
Not all of my readers will admire her stand on certain issues. But I would expect all Americans to respect the hard work, intelligence, and determination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Have you identified the source of the quote? Today you may hear this document read in a public setting. While the beginning of the second paragraph collects more quotes in the press than the first — the beginning sets the stage and states the purpose.
Now for some facts filled with numbers. Fifty-six men signed this document. It was read aloud in public two days prior to the date currently celebrated. Educated men wrote in a different style two hundred and thirty-eight years ago. The first paragraph contains four commas and seventy-one words. The rules of capitalization have changed. (I see a German influence with their capitalization of nouns)
Kudos to readers that identified The Declaration of Independence from the first seven words. I do believe you paid attention in American History class.
Sincere thanks to the brave men who voted to adopt and signed this declaration. They were risking their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. By their example others joined them in the struggles for Independence and Establishment of a new nation. A nation that in subsequent decades (and centuries) became a haven and destination for peoples from all portions of the globe.
Today’s post was prompted by a stop on my recent travels. I make this stop often — just over the border from Illinois, outside Beloit, WI is a rest area/welcome center.
Like state “welcome centers” across the nation you’ll find modern restrooms, water, maps, tourist information, picnic tables, and an area to walk your small pet. (Large dogs permitted. Please leave your horse in the trailer.)
In addition to the usual, this location includes a memorial to all the Medal of Honor recipients from Wisconsin. From the Civil War to the present their names and the conflict in which they displayed valor is engraved in polished stone.
I checked my dictionary and found valor defined by personal bravery. Heroism. Prowess. Gallantry. Strong words for strong deeds.
Pause with me a moment to honor their lives and their deeds.
Did you put out your flag? Thank a veteran? Visit the grave of a loved one?
Memorial Day weekend can be busy. Graduations – high school and college – mark milestones for both student and parents. Weddings give opportunity for beautiful dresses, photographers, and musicians. Family reunions and picnics – even the opening of public swimming pools – cluster around the date. I hope you enjoyed the first weekend of “summer”.
Did this weekend mark any “firsts” for you? The first BBQ of the season? New summer clothes? First visit to a particular place? First attendance at a special concert or ceremony? My wish is that you did one or more. Live forward without forgetting the sacrifice of the people in history that make it possible for all the activities that will be our memories tomorrow.
From 1793 until 1933, a span of 140 years and 36 United States presidential election cycles, this was Inauguration Day. I went looking for a few fun facts to mark the occasion. I won’t attempt to be inclusive.
The most popular location for the ceremony was the East Portico, US Capitol, Washington, DC. Andrew Jackson in 1829 was the first to be sworn in at that location. Other sites within Washington DC have been the Senate Chamber, House of Representative Chamber and two outdoor sites – The Front of the Old Brick Capital in 1817 and In front of the Original Senate Wing with McKinley in 1897. Jefferson in 1805 was the final president to take the oath in Philadelphia. Washington was the only one – first term only – to be sworn in in New York.
Washington, a name that should be familiar, also made the shortest speech. In 1793 when taking the oath for his second term his speech began with “Fellow Citizens” and contained two paragraphs. A total of 133 words.
Wm. H. Harrison, on the other hand, is a presidential name familiar to less of the population. He took the oath in 1841 on the East Portico and spoke at length. A total of 8443 words according to my source. I skimmed the text and counted twenty-five paragraphs (some near a page in length). His final paragraph began “Fellow-citizens.” Perhaps he should have skipped the first portion and delivered only the last paragraph. Would that have prevented the pneumonia which killed him one month later?
Note to politicians giving outdoor speeches in winter: Be brief and concise.
Have you cast your ballot yet? Did you vote absentee? Or do you live where early voting is allowed?
My first presidental ballot was cast absentee as a twenty-one year old college student. My roommate voted also and we witnessed each others ballots. I think our votes cancelled each other.
The first time in my life when a presidental election fell on Nov 6 I was just becoming aware of politics. I remember asking my father after I came home from school if he’d voted. Yes, he did.
Who did you vote for? The loser, he replied. How do you know? The votes haven’t been counted yet. I could see this mountain of paper ballots that needed counting in my mind and the polls just now closing.
It was years later, during another election cycle when I began to understand about projections, polls, and landslide victory in 1956.
Twenty-eight years later I cast my ballot again. By this time our family – two sons added to the husband – had moved several times and changed economic status but not opinions. This was the fourth state I’d lived in and the third where I’d cast a presidential vote along with state and local officials. (Our stay in one state didn’t include a leap year.) My losing streak remained intact.
Today is twenty-eight years later. I’m in a different state now. The sons are grown and will cast ballots in their own juristictions. The husband is an ex and I suspect he will vote – veterans tend to. My plans for the day put a walk to the polling place as a diversion on my regular morning walk.
My reward? I think I’ll continue that morning walk to a restaurant that serves breakfast. Tonight will find me watching the results. Winner or loser – I’ve exercised my civic muscle.