Stop and Take a Breath

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Well, it’s Labor Day weekend. The time of summer and sand is over, school is back in session, and the crisp fall air will soon be slithering its way down from the Arctic and the leaves will turn and fall. I wrote a bit about that last post, but today I want to take moment and just recall the summer that we leave behind.

On Saturday, we drove up to Dahlonega, GA to pick up something my wife had ordered. It is a bit cooler in the north Georgia mountains than it is here where we live, though it isn’t a long drive to Dahlonega. It was still a warm day, but as we turned off to wind our way up farther into the hills to the town, we saw scarecrows along the side of the road (you’ll be seeing some of those pictures in the next few days). Scarecrows in Iowa were always pretty much a sure sign of the summer being at an end.

My wife has a favorite restaurant in Dahlonega and we stopped there to eat. It is a seafood restaurant and their food is good and the prices are not unreasonable. We sat on the enclosed porch on the second floor as we ate. I noticed the sign in today’s photo as I sat there. It drew me in to the summer one more time. While I am not a beer drinker at all, the image of the blue sky and billowy clouds, the thatched roof shade over the lounge chair, the beach and water quietly lapping at the shore in the near distance…it almost made me feel the gentle breeze over my skin and I felt the peace of the scene.

I hope that your summer was a good one. And I hope that you get to relax a bit this holiday weekend when we honor the working women and men of our great country. Stop, take a breath and enjoy…it is a sign that the summer is over, but one can always look back in the mind and review the scenes and events of that made our summer what it was.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1915, a prototype tank nicknamed Little Willie rolled off the assembly line in England. Little Willie was far from an overnight success. It weighed 14 tons, got stuck in trenches and crawled over rough terrain at only two miles per hour. However, improvements were made to the original prototype and tanks eventually transformed military battlefields.

The British developed the tank in response to the trench warfare of World War I. In 1914, a British army colonel named Ernest Swinton and William Hankey, secretary of the Committee for Imperial Defence, championed the idea of an armored vehicle with conveyor-belt-like tracks over its wheels that could break through enemy lines and traverse difficult territory. The men appealed to British navy minister Winston Churchill, who believed in the concept of a “land boat” and organized a Landships Committee to begin developing a prototype. To keep the project secret from enemies, production workers were reportedly told the vehicles they were building would be used to carry water on the battlefield (alternate theories suggest the shells of the new vehicles resembled water tanks). Either way, the new vehicles were shipped in crates labeled “tank” and the name stuck.

The first tank prototype, Little Willie, was unveiled in September 1915. Following its underwhelming performance–it was slow, became overheated and couldn’t cross trenches–a second prototype, known as “Big Willie,” was produced. By 1916, this armored vehicle was deemed ready for battle and made its debut at the First Battle of the Somme near Courcelette, France, on September 15 of that year. Known as the Mark I, this first batch of tanks was hot, noisy and unwieldy and suffered mechanical malfunctions on the battlefield; nevertheless, people realized the tank’s potential. Further design improvements were made and at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, 400 Mark IV’s proved much more successful than the Mark I, capturing 8,000 enemy troops and 100 guns.

Tanks rapidly became an important military weapon. During World War II, they played a prominent role across numerous battlefields. More recently, tanks have been essential for desert combat during the conflicts in the Persian Gulf.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: though it has been found on every continent on earth, gold is so rare that the world pours more steel in an hour than it has poured gold since the beginning of recorded history.


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