The Bead Trees of New Orleans

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There are many reasons why New Orleans is an interesting town.  Do you love jazz?  You’ll love NOLA!  Bluegrass?  You’ll love NOLA!  Cajun music?  You’ll love NOLA!  Cajun food?  Eat up!  Hot, humid weather?  You’ll feel right at home in New Orleans!

The city itself is very diverse in terms of its cultural and ethnic make-up.  There are great museums, tourist sites, fascinating cemeteries, incredible homes and gardens.

But, I’ll bet that you didn’t know that they have bead trees in New Orleans.  It’s true!  Today’s photo is proof for those of you who are skeptics.  Look closely at the tree and the branches in the foreground and you’ll see ‘em, growing on the branches, hanging there until they’re ripe and then they’ll fall.  You can’t eat them, they’re just pretty to look at is all.  That, and, well, I guess that they harvest them for the parades when it is time!

Next time you go to the garden district in New Orleans, look up and be amazed!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  on this day in 1940, the Burke-Wadsworth Act was passed by Congress, by wide margins in both houses, and the first peacetime draft in the history of the United States is imposed. The Selective Service was born.

The registration of men between the ages of 21 and 36 began exactly one month later, as Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who had been a key player in moving the Roosevelt administration away from a foreign policy of strict neutrality, began drawing draft numbers out of a glass bowl. The numbers were handed to the president, who read them aloud for public announcement. There were some 20 million eligible young men—50 percent were rejected the very first year, either for health reasons or illiteracy (20 percent of those who registered were illiterate).

In November 1942, with the United States now a participant in the war, and not merely a neutral bystander, the draft ages expanded; men 18 to 37 were now eligible. Blacks were passed over for the draft because of racist assumptions about their abilities and the viability of a mixed-race military. But this changed in 1943, when a “quota” was imposed, meant to limit the numbers of blacks drafted to reflect their numbers in the overall population, roughly 10.6 percent of the whole. Initially, blacks were restricted to “labor units,” but this too ended as the war progressed, when they were finally used in combat.

“Conscientious objector” status was granted to those who could demonstrate “sincerity of belief in religious teachings combined with a profound moral aversion to war.” Quakers made up most of the COs, but 75 percent of those Quakers who were drafted fought. COs had to perform alternate service in Civilian Public Service Camps, which entailed long hours of hazardous work for no compensation. About 5,000 to 6,000 men were imprisoned for failing to register or serve the nation in any form.

By war’s end, approximately 34 million men had registered, and 10 million served with the military.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The Norwalk virus or Norovirus (the virus that causes the stomach flu) can survive on an uncleaned carpet for a month or more.

Mardi Gras World

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I have never been to Mardi Gras and I doubt that I will ever go at that time of the year.  I imagine it would be interesting, but not for the reasons some might assume.

The real Mardi Gras has nothing to do with the risque tossing and receiving of beads…in fact, New Orleans veterans resent that image of Mardi Gras.  It started out to be a family friendly, fun time, and in fact, for the resident of New Orleans, they have their own Mardi Gras celebration and parades prior to the one that draws all the tourists.

One of the tourist sites in New Orleans is Mardi Gras world where many of the Mardi Gras floats are put in storage until the next parade.  You can pay to tour it, but we didn’t have time and I’m probably too tight-fisted to do so anyway!

But, as the tour bus drove past the entrance, I snapped some pictures from the top deck using my point and shoot (hence the lower quality of picture than I usually like to share with you).  It was very colorful and I think that next time we may pay for the tour.  At least, that’s what my wife tells me!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1950, during the Korean War, U.S. Marines landed at Inchon on the west coast of Korea, 100 miles south of the 38th parallel and just 25 miles from Seoul. The location had been criticized as too risky, but U.N. Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur insisted on carrying out the landing. By the early evening, the Marines had overcome moderate resistance and secured Inchon. The brilliant landing cut the North Korean forces in two, and the U.S.-led U.N. force pushed inland to recapture Seoul, the South Korean capital that had fallen to the communists in June. Allied forces then converged from the north and the south, devastating the North Korean army and taking 125,000 enemy troops prisoner.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when 90,000 North Korean troops stormed across the 38th parallel, catching the Republic of Korea’s forces completely off guard and throwing them into a hasty southern retreat. Two days later, U.S. President Harry Truman announced that the US would intervene in the conflict, and on June 28 the United Nations approved the use of force against communist North Korea. On June 30, Truman agreed to send U.S. ground forces to Korea, and on July 7 the Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces sent to Korea be put under U.S. command. The next day, General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of all U.N. forces in Korea.

In the opening months of the war, the U.S.-led U.N. forces rapidly advanced against the North Koreans, but Chinese communist troops entered the fray in October, throwing the Allies into a hasty retreat. In April 1951, Truman relieved MacArthur of his command after he publicly threatened to bomb China in defiance of Truman’s stated war policy. Truman feared that an escalation of fighting with China would draw the Soviet Union into the Korean War.

By May 1951, the communists were pushed back to the 38th parallel, and the battle line remained in that vicinity for the remainder of the war. On July 27, 1953, after two years of negotiation, an armistice was signed, ending the war and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today. Approximately 150,000 troops from South Korea, the United States, and participating U.N. nations were killed in the Korean War, and as many as one million South Korean civilians perished. An estimated 800,000 communist soldiers were killed, and more than 200,000 North Korean civilians died.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  A woman in a housecoat is forbidden to drive a car in California.  Humm…I wonder which woman it is?

 

Joanie on the Pony!

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The city of New Orleans is always full of surprises.  When we stopped there on our way across the country so that my Iowa cousin could see it and hear some jazz, we took at “hop-on, hop-off” tour.  We had a great tour guide on the bus – full of fascinating and interesting facts – and also blessed with a great sense of humor.

We saw so many places on the bus tour that took about 2-3 hours and we went all over the French quarter.  At one point, we came across the statue that you see in today’s photo (taken with my point-and-shoot).  It is a statue of Joan of Arc.  Our tour guide, however, introduced her to us, telling us that in New Orleans, everyone calls her “Joanie on the Pony”!  Giddyap!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) began arriving in South Vietnam at Qui Nhon, bringing U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam to more than 125,000. The unit, which had a long and storied history, was the first full U.S. Army division deployed to Vietnam. The division consisted of nine battalions of airmobile infantry, an air reconnaissance squadron, and six battalions of artillery. The division also included the 11th Aviation Group, made up of three aviation battalions consisting of 11 companies of assault helicopters, assault support helicopters, and gunships.

The division used a new concept by which the ground maneuver elements were moved around the battlefield by helicopters. Initially deployed to the II Corps area at Qui Nhon, the division took part in the first major engagement between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley fought in November, just two months after the division began arriving in Vietnam. Later, the division moved further north to I Corps in 1968 to relieve the embattled U.S. Marines at Hue during the Tet Offensive; in October of the same year, they redeployed to III Corps to conduct operations to protect Saigon; and in 1970, the division took part in the invasion of Cambodia and conducted operations in both III and IV Corps (the Mekong Delta). Thus, the 1st Cavalry Division, popularly known as the “First Team,” was the only American division to fight in all four corps tactical zones. The bulk of the division began departing Vietnam in late April 1970, but the 3rd Brigade remained until June 1972. The 1st Cavalry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and “First Team” soldiers won 25 Medals of Honor, 120 Distinguished Service Crosses, 2,766 Silver Stars, 2,697 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 8,408 Bronze Stars for Valor.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Hershey’s produces over 80 million chocolate Kisses–every day.  That’s a lot of kisses!  XOXOXOXO

Eternal Memories

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There are few truly great men and women in history.  Sure, we’d all like to make our mark and leave behind something that would cause everyone to say of us, “S/he was a great person!”  The reality is, that in the eyes of the world, such will not be said of us.

Perhaps that’s why we tend to put eternal flames on the graves of those who lit up the world in special ways.

Our recent trek across country (those have become far to frequent in the past few years!), one of my Iowa cousins joined us to drive the extra car across country.  He hadn’t had a road trip for quite a while so he was eager to accept the invitation.

Once we got here to Atlanta, he requested a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. center.  He had been profoundly influenced by the man and was keenly interested in seeing the center.

Every time I go there (I’ve been there 3 times), I have come away dazzled by King’s conviction, courage and oratory.  While he, like all of us, was not perfect, he was a giant figure in 20th century America.  And perhaps that is why they put an eternal flame near his final resting place – to remind us forever of his brilliance and enduring legacy.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1977, at Baumetes Prison in Marseille, France, Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant convicted of murder, became the last person executed by guillotine.

The guillotine first gained fame during the French Revolution when physician and revolutionary Joseph-Ignace Guillotin won passage of a law requiring all death sentences to be carried out by “means of a machine.” Decapitating machines had been used earlier in Ireland and England, and Guillotin and his supporters viewed these devices as more humane than other execution techniques, such as hanging or firing squad. A French decapitating machine was built and tested on cadavers, and on April 25, 1792, a highwayman became the first person in Revolutionary France to be executed by this method.

The device soon became known as the “guillotine” after its advocate, and more than 10,000 people lost their heads (no pun intended!) by guillotine during the Revolution, including Louis XVI and Mary Antoinette, the former king and queen of France.

Use of the guillotine continued in France in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the last execution by guillotine occurred in 1977. In September 1981, France outlawed capital punishment altogether, thus abandoning the guillotine forever. There is a museum dedicated to the guillotine in Liden, Sweden.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Individuals with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of 60% more than people with only a high school diploma, which adds up to more than $800,000 over a lifetime.

Of a Perfect Day

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Sometimes sunsets just spell-bind me!  The last few nights as we took the dog down to the lake to let her take care of her business, I’ve noticed the setting sun and the reflections on the lake and thought to myself, “I should get a picture of that!”  Well, tonight before we went out the door I grabbed my camera and came up with today’s photo.

I sorta think it is the perfect end to the day.  I like how the fire of the sun burns on the surface of the water even as it dies in the western sky.  Ah, serenity!

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY:  Did you know that during WW2 the Japanese bombed the US mainland (not just Hawaii, but the mainland?)  On this day in 1942, a Japanese float plane drops incendiary bombs on an Oregon state forest-the first and only air attack on the U.S. mainland in the war.

Launching from the Japanese sub I-25, Nobuo Fujita piloted his light aircraft over the state of Oregon and firebombed Mount Emily, alighting a state forest–and ensuring his place in the history books as the only man to ever bomb the continental United States. The president immediately called for a news blackout for the sake of morale. No long-term damage was done, and Fujita eventually went home to train navy pilots for the rest of the war.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Google uses approximately 20 petabytes of user-generated data every day. (Petabytes are estimated at 10 to the 15th power. So 1 petabyte is approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.) It uses massive amounts of computation to index the Web, process search results, serve up ads, and more.

Israel’s Secret Weapon

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When I was recently in Israel, we stayed at a hotel on the beach in Tel Aviv.  Today’s photo was taken from the balcony of my hotel room the first night we were there as the sun was going down in the west (to the left of the picture) over the Mediterranean.

Tel Aviv is a modern city by any measure.  Parts of it are very old and ancient.  For example, not far at all from where we stayed is Joffa.  If you remember your Bible stories at all, a man by the name of Jonah lived in the ancient city of Joppa (now Joffa).  And, in the New Testament, Peter was in the city of Joppa when he had a vision.

We were there during the Hamas/Israeli war that recently came to a cease-fire.  Tel Aviv was far enough north that there weren’t many Hamas rockets coming into the area, but there were some.  The first time that I heard the sirens and had to scramble into the shelter inside the hotel was when I was outside walking on the beach to the lower left of this picture.

In the city of Tel Aviv were large billboards touting “Iron Dome”, the anti-missile system that had been put in place to help protect the citizens of Israel from these rockets.  Sometimes they worked, sometimes they failed.  But the billboards were interesting.

Even more interesting, however, was a billboard (they are all in Hebrew, so I had to have someone translate for me) with a picture of an old Jewish man (rabbi, perhaps) with his eyes closed, his beard very prominent, and head bowed in prayer.  I asked my Jewish companions what the billboard was about and what the large Hebrew letters said.  His reply was that the billboard simply said: “Israel’s Secret Weapon.”  How cool is that????!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1941, German forces began their siege of Leningrad, the USSR’s second-largest city. German armies were later joined by Finnish forces that advanced against Leningrad. The siege of Leningrad (known as the 900-Day Siege though it lasted a grueling 872 days) resulted in the deaths of some one million of the city’s civilians and Red Army defenders.

Leningrad, formerly St. Petersburg, capital of the Russian Empire, was one of the initial targets of the German invasion of June 1941. As German armies raced across the western Soviet Union, three-quarters of Leningrad’s industrial plants and hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants were evacuated to the east. More than two million residents remained, however, and the evacuated were replaced by refugees who fled to Leningrad ahead of the German advance. All able-bodied persons in the city–men, women, and children–were enlisted to build antitank fortifications along Leningrad’s edge. By the end of July, German forces had cut the Moscow-Leningrad railway and were penetrating the outer belt of the fortifications around Leningrad. On September 8, German forces besieged the city, but they were held at bay by Leningrad’s fortifications and its 200,000 Red Army defenders. That day, a German air bombardment set fire to warehouses containing a large part of Leningrad’s scant food supply.

Aiming to tighten the noose, the Germans launched an offensive to cut off the last highways and rail lines south of the city. By early November, the city was almost completely encircled, and only across Lake Ladoga was a supply lifeline possible.

German artillery and air bombardments came several times a day during the first months of the siege. The daily ration for civilians was reduced to 125 grams of bread, no more than a thick slice. Starvation set in by December, followed by the coldest winter in decades, with temperatures falling to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. People worked through the winter in makeshift armament factories without roofs, building the weapons that kept the Germans just short of victory.

Residents burned books and furniture to stay warm and searched for food to supplement their scarce rations. Animals from the zoo were consumed early in the siege, followed before long by household pets. Wallpaper paste made from potatoes was scraped off the wall, and leather was boiled to produce an edible jelly. Grass and weeds were cooked, and scientists worked to extract vitamins from pine needles and tobacco dust. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, resorted to cannibalizing the dead, and in a few cases people were murdered for their flesh. The Leningrad police struggled to keep order and formed a special division to combat cannibalism.

Across frozen Lake Ladoga, trucks made it to Leningrad with supplies, but not enough. Thousands of residents, mostly children and the elderly, were evacuated across the lake, but many more remained in the city and succumbed to starvation, the bitter cold, and the relentless German air attacks. In 1942 alone, the siege claimed some 600,000 lives. In the summer, barges and other ships braved German air attack to cross Lake Ladoga to Leningrad with supplies.

In January 1943, Red Army soldiers broke through the German line, rupturing the blockade and creating a more efficient supply route along the shores of Lake Ladoga. For the rest of the winter and then during the next, the “road of life” across the frozen Lake Ladoga kept Leningrad alive.

In early 1944, Soviet forces approached Leningrad, forcing German forces to retreat southward from the city on January 27. The siege was over. A giant Soviet offensive to sweep the USSR clean of its invaders began in May. The 872-day siege of Leningrad cost an estimated one million Soviet lives, perhaps hundreds of thousands more. The Soviet government awarded the Order of Lenin to the people of Leningrad in 1945, paying tribute to their endurance during the grueling siege. The city did not regain its prewar population of three million until the 1960’s.  Part of the siege is recounted in the movie, Enemy at the Gates starring Jude Law and Rachel Wiesz.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Although women attempt suicide about three times more often than men, men complete suicide about three times more often than women.

The Wall of the Old City

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There are so many amazing things in Israel that I hardly know what to show!

Today’s photo was taken toward the end of our trip.  We’d spent the most of our time there in Tel Aviv, but toward the end of our trip, we were able to spend one night in Jerusalem.  The first night there it was dark by the time we arrived and we all decided that we would go to dinner.  Our host took us to a restaurant that was right across the street from the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.  That’s the photo that I’m sharing with you today.  The lighting was incredible and it was like we’d stepped into a fantasy world that I’d only imagined up until that point – but it is a real place and so many historical events have taken place in that city – indeed, just on the other side of these walls of the Old City.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1940, 300 German bombers raided London, in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing. This bombing “blitzkrieg” (lightning war) would continue until May 1941.

After the successful occupation of France, it was only a matter of time before the Germans turned their sights across the Channel to England. Hitler wanted a submissive, neutralized Britain so that he could concentrate on his plans for the East, namely the land invasion of the Soviet Union, without interference. Since June, English vessels in the Channel had been attacked and aerial battles had been fought over Britain, as Germany attempted to wear down the Royal Air Force in anticipation of a land invasion. But with Germany failing to cripple Britain’s air power, especially in the Battle of Britain, Hitler changed strategies. A land invasion was now ruled out as unrealistic; instead Hitler chose sheer terror as his weapon of choice.

British intelligence had had an inkling of the coming bombardment. Evidence of the large-scale movement of German barges in the Channel and the interrogation of German spies had led them to the correct conclusion – unfortunately, it was just as the London docks were suffering the onslaught of Day One of the Blitz. By the end of the day, German planes had dropped 337 tons of bombs on London. Even though civilian populations were not the primary target that day, the poorest of London slum areas – the East End – felt the fallout literally, from direct hits of errant bombs as well as the fires that broke out and spread throughout the vicinity. Four hundred and forty-eight civilians were killed that afternoon and evening.

A little past 8 p.m., British military units were alerted with the code name “Cromwell,” meaning the German invasion had begun. A state of emergency broke out in England; even home defense units were put to the ready. One of Hitler’s key strategic blunders of the war was to consistently underestimate the will and courage of the British people. They would not run or be cowed into submission. They would fight.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Martin Luther King Jr. talked Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) out of leaving Star Trek: The Original Series .

Hoity-Toity

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I don’t know how to spell “hoity-toity”, but I know what it means.  It is a term used to describe folks who tend to think they’re pretty special and who put themselves up on an exalted pedestal.  Sometimes it is just a person or two, but sometimes it can be a whole town.

Some towns cultivate an image of being a high class, artsy, high-brow kind of place.  There are several I can think of in the northern California wine country…and I can think of some that are high-brow “wannabe’s”.

On the coast of northern California is a town that I really like (honest), but it is one of those towns that thinks it’s high-brown.  Don’t get me wrong – I do love the place – but when I saw the image that I captured in today’s photo, I think it kinda showed the nature of the place.  They were preparing for a festival and they’d wrapped the posts that held up some of the second story porches on the main street with colored felt.  High class?  No, I actually thought it was a about as cheesy as one could get, but it made for an interesting picture.  Here’s to you, Monterey!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1780, patriot Francis Marion’s Carolina militia routed Loyalists at Blue Savannah, South Carolina, and in the process Marion won new recruits to the Patriot cause.

Following their surprising success at Nelson’s Ferry on the Santee River in South Carolina on August 20, Lieutenant Colonel Francis “The Swamp Fox” Marion and 52 of his militiamen rode east in order to evade pursuing British Loyalists. They were successful, but during their escape, another, much larger, force of Loyalists led by Major Micajah Ganey, attacked the militia from the northeast. Marion’s advance guard, led by Major John James, routed Ganey’s advance guard and Marion ambushed the rest, causing Ganey’s main body of 200 Loyalists to panic and flee. The success of Marion’s militia broke the Loyalist stronghold on South Carolina east of the PeeDee River and attracted another 60 volunteers to the Patriot cause.

Marion, a mere five feet tall, won fame and the “Swamp Fox” moniker for his ability to strike and then quickly retreat into the South Carolina swamps without a trace. He also earned fame as the only senior Continental officer in the area to escape the British following the fall of Charleston on May 12, 1780. His military strategy is considered an 18th-century example of guerilla warfare and served as partial inspiration for Mel Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, in the film The Patriot (2000).

Marion took over the South Carolina militia force first assembled by Thomas Sumter in 1780. Sumter, the other inspiration for Mel Gibson’s character in the film, returned Carolina Loyalists’ terror tactics in kind after Loyalists burned his plantation. When Sumter withdrew from active fighting to care for a wound, Marion replaced him and teamed up with Major General Nathaniel Greene, who arrived in the Carolinas to lead the Continental forces in October 1780. Together, they are credited with grasping a Patriot victory from the jaws of defeat in the southern states.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  how’s this for something that’s pretty doggone useless: toilets were also included in some ancient Egyptian tombs.

Down in the Valley

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The Grand Canyon is not, strictly speaking, a valley.  But it is big enough that it could be called a valley, in fact, it is larger than many so-called valleys!  Year-round, it is an intensely popular tourist destination.  When you’re there, you are maybe more likely to hear tourists speaking German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and other languages are you are to hear English.  People come from all over the world to see this truly immense, spectacular sight.

You can (if you are the stomach for it!) ride mules down from the rim to the canyon floor (and  yes, mules have fallen, contrary to popular belief!)  You can (if you have the legs and lungs for it!) hike from the rim to the canyon floor.  But if you plan to do that, listen CAREFULLY to the rangers and their recommendations before you head down.  Many, many people have died from cardiac arrest, dehydration, hypothermia and other conditions from the effort required.  You can (if you wish – and I’d love to do this!) raft down the canyon if you make reservations far enough in advance.  But there are MANY who have drowned in the mighty Colorado…even those who were only in very shallow water.  Flash floods can come tumbling down blind canyon offshoots when it rains up on the plateau miles and miles from the canyon.  And the current is swift…and can be very deadly, too.

Still, it is a wonderland.  Today’s photo was taken last May when we visited the canyon.  What a place!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1777, the American flag was flown in battle for the first time during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the “Stars and Stripes” banner raised as a detachment of his infantry and cavalry met an advance guard of British and Hessian troops. The rebels were defeated and forced to retreat to Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania, where they joined General George Washington’s main force.

Three months earlier, on June 14, the Continental Congress had adopted a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The national flag, which became known as the Stars and Stripes, was based on the Grand Union flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes. According to legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the new canton, which consisted of a circle of 13 stars on a blue background, at the request of General George Washington. Historians have been unable to conclusively prove or disprove this legend.

With the entrance of new states into the Union after independence, new stripes and stars were added to represent the new additions. In 1818, however, Congress enacted a law stipulating that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states.

On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the flag. As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country. In the years after the first Flag Day, several states continued to observe the anniversary, and, in 1949, Congress officially designated June 14 as Flag Day, a national day of observance.

Even to this day, I think she (the flag) is the most beautiful in the world!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  In 2008, nearly 50,000 kilos of cocaine were seized in the U.S. during drug arrests. The wholesale street value of this amount of cocaine was approximately $1.5 billion.  (That’s a lot of McDonald’s cheeseburgers!)

Ancient Shrine

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Do you remember the movie Gladiator?  (My all time favorite, by the way!)  In that movie, Maximus (played by Russell Crowe – for which he won an Oscar), has tiny figures that he uses when he prays to his Roman gods for his family.

In many different parts of the world, shrines are common and part of the local religious worship.  Some of the shrines are quite large, while others, like those in Gladiator, are quite small.   They were meant to be dwelling places for the gods.

During my recent trip to Israel, we want to the museum in Tel Aviv one morning.  It was a very interesting place, and they had an amazing collection of small shrines that were used thousands of years ago by the inhabitants of Canaan (what was to become Palestine).  If you are biblically literate, the names of Ashera, Ashtoreth, Molech, Baal and others may come to mind.  Families might have miniature shrines and idols in their homes that they used to worship these “gods”.

Today’s photo is of one such shrine that is thousands of years old.  I thought they were fascinating.  Some were very well preserved and decorated (like this one) while others were much more crudely made.  Still, I found them fascinating!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  the year was 1945 when the USS Missouri hosted the formal surrender of the Japanese government to the Allies. Victory over Japan was celebrated back in the States.

As Japanese troops finally surrendered to Americans on the Caroline, Mariana, and Palau islands, representatives of their emperor and prime minister were preparing to formalize their capitulation. In Tokyo Bay, aboard the Navy battleship USS Missouri, the Japanese foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, and the chief of staff of the Japanese army, Yoshijiro Umezu, signed the “instrument of surrender.” Representing the Allied victors was Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of the U.S. Army forces in the Pacific, and Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, now promoted to the newest and highest Navy rank, fleet admiral. Among others in attendance was Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, who had taken command of the forces in the Philippines upon MacArthur’s departure and had been recently freed from a Japanese POW camp in Manchuria.

Shigemitsu would be found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to seven years in prison subsequent to the surrender. The grand irony is that he had fought for concessions on the Japanese side in order to secure an early peace. He was paroled in 1950 and went on to become chairman of Japan’s Progressive Party. MacArthur would fight him again when he was named commander in chief of the United Nations forces in Korea in 1950.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  In 1994, Warner Brother’s 1957 classic “What’s Opera, Doc?” featuring Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny in a parody of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle operas, was voted #1 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons. It was also deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Pictures and Thoughts from a Day in Galen Dalrymple's Life

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