Monthly Archives: November 2013

Chances

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Chances
by Gregg Wattenberg and John Ondrasik

Chances are when said and done
Who’ll be the lucky ones who make it all the way?
Though you say I could be your answer
Nothing lasts forever no matter how it feels today

Chances are we’ll find a new equation
Chances roll away from me
Chances are all they hope to be

Don’t get me wrong I’d never say never
‘Cause though love can change the weather
No act of God can pull me away from you

I’m just a realistic man, a bottle filled with shells and sand
Afraid to love beyond what I can lose when it comes to you
And though I see us through, yeah

Chances are we’ll find two destinations
Chances roll away from me
Still chances are more than expectations
The possibilities over me

It’s a fight with two to one, lay your money on the sun
Until you crash what have you done? Is there a better bet than love?
What you are is what you breathe, you gotta cry before you sing

Chances, chances
Chances lost are hope’s torn up pages
Maybe this time

Chances are we’ll be the combination
Chances come and carry me
Chances are waiting to be taken, and I can see

Chances are the fascinations
Chances won’t escape from me
Chances are only what we make them and all I need

A friend of mine suggested that I listen to this song, and I instantly fell in love with it. In fact from what I can tell, he has great taste in music, far better than I do. I love music, but I often listen to NPR on the radio in the mornings going to work, and most of the times on the way home. If I’m not listening to NPR or an audiobook. I don’t often listen to music on the radio because we have crappy stations around here. Too bad I don’t have Sirius/XM satellite radio. If I did, I’d probably listen to more music. The music I hear from my students is often ear shatteringly bad, so it’s nice when someone introduces me to some new music, especially when they have great tastes. This song was just the beginning on a journey of great music from this particular friend of mine.

Every once in a while, I enjoy featuring a song instead of a poem on Tuesdays. Songs really is poetry set to music, especially a good song. “Chances” is the title of a song written by Gregg Wattenberg and John Ondrasik, and recorded by Ondrasik under his stage name Five for Fighting. The song was released on July 21, 2009, as the first single from the band’s 2009 album, Slice. The song was the band’s fourth single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

If you are interested in listening to the song and watching the video, check out http://youtu.be/n8cfbBgXIow. Interestingly, the video was filmed at Singing Springs Movie ranch a week before the Station Fire burned 250 square miles in the Angeles National Forest. All structures and vegetation seen in the video were destroyed.


The Eleven Nations of America

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For hundreds of years, this nation has been known as the United States of America. But according to author and journalist Colin Woodard, the country is neither united, nor made up of 50 states. Woodward has studied American voting patterns, demographics and public opinion polls going back to the days of the first settlers, and says that his research shows America is really made up of 11 different nations.

Woodard says that while individual residents will have their own opinions, each region has become more segregated by ideology in recent years. In fact, he says the mobility of American citizens has increased this partisan isolation as people tend to self-segregate into like-minded communities. Woodard lays out his map in the new book “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.” Here’s how he breaks down the continent:

YANKEEDOM. Founded on the shores of Massachusetts Bay by radical Calvinists as a new Zion, Yankeedom has, since the outset, put great emphasis on perfecting earthly civilization through social engineering, denial of self for the common good, and assimilation of outsiders. It has prized education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and broad citizen participation in politics and government, the latter seen as the public’s shield against the machinations of grasping aristocrats and other would-be tyrants. Since the early Puritans, it has been more comfortable with government regulation and public-sector social projects than many of the other nations, who regard the Yankee utopian streak with trepidation.

NEW NETHERLAND. Established by the Dutch at a time when the Netherlands was the most sophisticated society in the Western world, New Netherland has always been a global commercial culture—materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience. Like seventeenth-century Amsterdam, it emerged as a center of publishing, trade, and finance, a magnet for immigrants, and a refuge for those persecuted by other regional cultures, from Sephardim (Jews of Spanish and Portuguese descent; I had to look it up, so I thought I’d share the definition) in the seventeenth century to gays, feminists, and bohemians in the early twentieth. Unconcerned with great moral questions, it nonetheless has found itself in alliance with Yankeedom to defend public institutions and reject evangelical prescriptions for individual behavior.

THE MIDLANDS. America’s great swing region was founded by English Quakers, who believed in humans’ inherent goodness and welcomed people of many nations and creeds to their utopian colonies like Pennsylvania on the shores of Delaware Bay. Pluralistic and organized around the middle class, the Midlands spawned the culture of Middle America and the Heartland, where ethnic and ideological purity have never been a priority, government has been seen as an unwelcome intrusion, and political opinion has been moderate. An ethnic mosaic from the start—it had a German, rather than British, majority at the time of the Revolution—it shares the Yankee belief that society should be organized to benefit ordinary people, though it rejects top-down government intervention.

TIDEWATER. Built by the younger sons of southern English gentry in the Chesapeake country and neighboring sections of Delaware and North Carolina, Tidewater was meant to reproduce the semifeudal society of the countryside they’d left behind. Standing in for the peasantry were indentured servants and, later, slaves. Tidewater places a high value on respect for authority and tradition, and very little on equality or public participation in politics. It was the most powerful of the American nations in the eighteenth century, but today it is in decline, partly because it was cut off from westward expansion by its boisterous Appalachian neighbors and, more recently, because it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk.

GREATER APPALACHIA. Founded in the early eighteenth century by wave upon wave of settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Appalachia has been lampooned by writers and screenwriters as the home of hillbillies and rednecks. It transplanted a culture formed in a state of near constant danger and upheaval, characterized by a warrior ethic and a commitment to personal sovereignty and individual liberty. Intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike, Greater Appalachia has shifted alliances depending on who appeared to be the greatest threat to their freedom. It was with the Union in the Civil War. Since Reconstruction, and especially since the upheavals of the 1960s, it has joined with Deep South to counter federal overrides of local preference.

DEEP SOUTH. Established by English slave lords from Barbados, Deep South was meant as a West Indies–style slave society. This nation offered a version of classical Republicanism modeled on the slave states of the ancient world, where democracy was the privilege of the few and enslavement the natural lot of the many. Its caste systems smashed by outside intervention, it continues to fight against expanded federal powers, taxes on capital and the wealthy, and environmental, labor, and consumer regulations.

EL NORTE. The oldest of the American nations, El Norte consists of the borderlands of the Spanish American empire, which were so far from the seats of power in Mexico City and Madrid that they evolved their own characteristics. Most Americans are aware of El Norte as a place apart, where Hispanic language, culture, and societal norms dominate. But few realize that among Mexicans, norteños have a reputation for being exceptionally independent, self-sufficient, adaptable, and focused on work. Long a hotbed of democratic reform and revolutionary settlement, the region encompasses parts of Mexico that have tried to secede in order to form independent buffer states between their mother country and the United States.

THE LEFT COAST. A Chile-shaped nation wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade and Coast mountains, the Left Coast was originally colonized by two groups: New Englanders (merchants, missionaries, and woodsmen who arrived by sea and dominated the towns) and Appalachian midwesterners (farmers, prospectors, and fur traders who generally arrived by wagon and controlled the countryside). Yankee missionaries tried to make it a “New England on the Pacific,” but were only partially successful. Left Coast culture is a hybrid of Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration—traits recognizable in its cultural production, from the Summer of Love to the iPad. The staunchest ally of Yankeedom, it clashes with Far Western sections in the interior of its home states.

THE FAR WEST. The other “second-generation” nation, the Far West occupies the one part of the continent shaped more by environmental factors than ethnographic ones. High, dry, and remote, the Far West stopped migrating easterners in their tracks, and most of it could be made habitable only with the deployment of vast industrial resources: railroads, heavy mining equipment, ore smelters, dams, and irrigation systems. As a result, settlement was largely directed by corporations headquartered in distant New York, Boston, Chicago, or San Francisco, or by the federal government, which controlled much of the land. The Far West’s people are often resentful of their dependent status, feeling that they have been exploited as an internal colony for the benefit of the seaboard nations. Their senators led the fight against trusts in the mid-twentieth century. Of late, Far Westerners have focused their anger on the federal government, rather than their corporate masters.

NEW FRANCE. Occupying the New Orleans area and southeastern Canada, New France blends the folkways of ancien régime northern French peasantry with the traditions and values of the aboriginal people they encountered in northeastern North America. After a long history of imperial oppression, its people have emerged as down-to-earth, egalitarian, and consensus driven, among the most liberal on the continent, with unusually tolerant attitudes toward gays and people of all races and a ready acceptance of government involvement in the economy. The New French influence is manifest in Canada, where multiculturalism and negotiated consensus are treasured.

FIRST NATION. First Nation is populated by native American groups that generally never gave up their land by treaty and have largely retained cultural practices and knowledge that allow them to survive in this hostile region on their own terms. The nation is now reclaiming its sovereignty, having won considerable autonomy in Alaska and Nunavut and a self-governing nation state in Greenland that stands on the threshold of full independence. Its territory is huge—far larger than the continental United States—but its population is less than 300,000, most of whom live in Canada.

“The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history,” Woodard writes in the Fall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.”

His main thesis seems to be that the culture of violence is one of the main dividing factors between the “11 Nations.” Though Woodward says that clashes between the 11 nations play out in every way, from politics to social values. He particularly notes that states with the highest rates of violent deaths are in the Deep South, Tidewater and Greater Appalachia, regions that value independence and self-sufficiency. States with lower rates of violent deaths are in Yankeedom, New Netherland and the Midlands, where government intervention is viewed with less skepticism. States in the Deep South are much more likely to have stand-your-ground laws than states in the northern “nations.” And more than 95 percent of executions in the United States since 1976 happened in the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, Tidewater and the Far West. States in Yankeedom and New Netherland have executed a collective total of just one person.

Woodward does point out that while these particular “11 Nations” are original to him, others have suggested similar divisions, which include maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history. Woodward writes that “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities, a phenomenon analyzed by Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing in The Big Sort (2008). Even waves of immigrants did not fundamentally alter these nations, because the children and grandchildren of immigrants assimilated into whichever culture surrounded them.”

He also makes the following distinctive point:

Before I describe the nations, I should underscore that my observations refer to the dominant culture, not the individual inhabitants, of each region. In every town, city, and state you’ll likely find a full range of political opinions and social preferences. Even in the reddest of red counties and bluest of blue ones, twenty to forty percent of voters cast ballots for the “wrong” team. It isn’t that residents of one or another nation all think the same, but rather that they are all embedded within a cultural framework of deep-seated preferences and attitudes—each of which a person may like or hate, but has to deal with nonetheless. Because of slavery, the African American experience has been different from that of other settlers and immigrants, but it too has varied by nation, as black people confronted the dominant cultural and institutional norms of each.

Though Woodward makes some interesting points, and I will admit that I have not read his new book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, I think he has oversimplified the issue by erring on political correctness and gun control debates. The areas that he claims are more violent are often either more racially diverse or more economically divided. Yet, Woodward does not discuss this in any meaningful way in his article in Tuft Magazine. I hope he does in his book.my biggest problem, however, is that he completely ignores Hawaii and south Florida, both of which he dismisses as not being part of the United States. It seems to me that it would have been a better choice to have 13 Nations, not 11, which would have been more in line with the historical distinction of the Thirteen Colonies. Then he could have included south Florida as part of the Spanish Caribbean and Hawaii as a culture distinct of its own. Yet, I’m not sure that Hawaii shouldn’t be aligned with the Left Coast, bit Woodward simply does not consider it.

No matter what the problems with Woodward’s thesis is, it is an interesting debate, especially considering how he pits the two superpowers of the eleven nations against each other. He ends his article in Tufts Magazine by writing:

Among the eleven regional cultures, there are two superpowers, nations with the identity, mission, and numbers to shape continental debate: Yankeedom and Deep South. For more than two hundred years, they’ve fought for control of the federal government and, in a sense, the nation’s soul. Over the decades, Deep South has become strongly allied with Greater Appalachia and Tidewater, and more tenuously with the Far West. Their combined agenda—to slash taxes, regulations, social services, and federal powers—is opposed by a Yankee-led bloc that includes New Netherland and the Left Coast. Other nations, especially the Midlands and El Norte, often hold the swing vote, whether in a presidential election or a congressional battle over health care reform. Those swing nations stand to play a decisive role on violence-related issues as well.

For now, the country will remain split on how best to make its citizens safer, with Deep South and its allies bent on deterrence through armament and the threat of capital punishment, and Yankeedom and its allies determined to bring peace through constraints such as gun control. The deadlock will persist until one of these camps modifies its message and policy platform to draw in the swing nations. Only then can that camp seize full control over the levers of federal power—the White House, the House, and a filibuster-proof Senate majority—to force its will on the opposing nations. Until then, expect continuing frustration and division.

In many ways he’s correct, the great American divide is still between the North and the South. In every major American conflict from the American Revolution to the Civil War and from the Civil Rights Movement to the modern Gay Rights Movement, the North and South are still pitted against one another.

Links:

“Up in Arms” by Colin Woodward, Tufts Magazine

“Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?” by Reid Wilson, The Washington Post.

“Forget The 50 States; The U.S. Is Really 11 Nations, Author Says” NPR


A Good Foundation

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<blockquote>”Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Luke 6:46-49

Sunday two weeks ago (I was sick last weekend), we looked at two of the problems that face us as people who have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The first problem is that even though we are “like God” in our ability to know right from wrong, we don’t always know what the best thing is to do. Sometimes we simply do bad things, knowing they’re bad. But, more often, we try to do good, and it turns out for evil, because our perspective is too small.

In the above passage of scripture, Jesus tells us how he can help us with that problem. The earliest disciples gathered around Jesus because they recognized him as a teacher of God’s wisdom. In the Gospel of John, we are told they thought of him as God’s Word made flesh–Holy Wisdom in human form.

Today, we can read Jesus’ teachings and find the same wisdom in them that his earliest followers did. Thanks to the writers of the Gospels, we can be Jesus’ disciples and he can be our teacher, even in the 21st century. This is how Jesus helps us with one of the big dilemmas of having eaten for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Instead of being stuck with our own small wisdom, we can build on the foundations of Jesus’ teachings. We can become wise people, who build our houses on rock. A house built on rock is more likely to be built well, and the same is true of our lives. If we build our lives on the rock of Christ’s teachings, we will more consistently do good instead of evil, and our lives will be sturdier.

I’m not implying that studying Jesus’ teachings is the only way to know how to do good more consistently. There are other teachers who taught us right from wrong. The Gospels are only 4 of the 66 books of the Bible, and God has given us other wise people to whom we should pay attention. However, listening to Jesus gives us a good foundation to build upon.

Many in the LGBT community, turn away from God because their congregation or people claiming to be Christians rejected them. I think one of the greatest things my parents did was to raise me in a loving church community. Not all churches of Christ are as loving and as accepting as mine was. I’m really not for sure how accepting they would be if they knew I am gay; however, with the love I have seen in my church, I think most members of my church would accept it. They certainly would not ask for me to leave the church. I was taught a good foundation for my faith, and I believe that it is that foundation that has kept my faith strong and unwavering.


Moment of Zen: A Beautiful Smile

For me, there are only a few things in this world that can get my juices flowing like a guy with a great smile. When it’s one of those smiles that lights up their entire face, and you know it’s 100 percent genuine, I get instantly aroused. I’ve been thinking a lot about smiles this week, because I have a special friend, who has one if the sexiest smiles I’ve ever seen. What makes it even more sexy is that he has no idea just how sexy his smile is. So remember, smile…it not only makes the world a better place, but it also makes me horny.


Words To Live By

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Congratulations Hawaii and Thank You!

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Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill Wednesday legalizing gay marriage in the state that kicked off a national discussion of the issue more than two decades ago.

Now, the island chain is positioning itself for a bump in tourism as people take advantage of the new law and the state provides another example of how differently marriage is viewed in the nation. An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says gay marriage will boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years, as Hawaii becomes a destination for couples in other states, boosting ceremonies, receptions and honeymoons in the islands.

“In Hawaii, we believe in fairness, justice and human equality,” Abercrombie said Tuesday after the state Senate passed the gay marriage bill. “Today, we celebrate our diversity defining us rather than dividing us.”

Hawaii’s gay marriage debate began in 1990 when two women applied for a marriage license, leading to a court battle and a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision that said their rights to equal protection were violated by not letting them marry.

That helped lead Congress to pass the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, part of which was struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision led Abercrombie to call a special session that produced Hawaii’s gay marriage law.

Abercrombie signed the measure at an invitation-only ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center, near the tourism hub of Waikiki.

The law allows gay couples living in Hawaii and tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2. Another 14 states and the District of Columbia already allow same-sex marriage. A bill is awaiting the governor’s signature in Illinois.

President Barack Obama praised passage of the Hawaii bill, saying the affirmation of freedom and equality makes the country stronger.


Flabbergasted!

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Flabbergasted! That’s what I am. Just flabbergasted!

Yesterday, I went to court for the speeding ticket that I had blogged about a month or so ago. The officer testified that he registered a gray car in the far left lane closest to the median and farthest from him. He also testified, that no cars were around me. I called my witness, who was in the car with me. She was not allowed in court during the officer’s testimony. I asked her, which lane was I in? She answered, the far right lane closest to the state trooper. I asked, how much traffic was on the road? She said cars were speeding around us. One of those cars was a gray Ford Fusion in the farthest lane over. She also testified that I was going the speed limit and that she keeps a close eye on both the speedometer and the surrounding traffic. The prosecutor made a smart ass comment about how she could see two things at once, when I reminded the judge that being able to see what was in front and around was called peripheral vision. He agreed with me. Remember, she had not heard the previous testimony and backed up everything I said. After her testimony and mine, the prosecutor called back the officer. The prosecutor, who was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, did catch on to my line of questioning and realized that his witness had made a number of mistakes. So he asked the officer if he ever lost sight of me after he had me in his sights. The officer said he never lost sight of me. I asked him how that was possible when he was behind his vehicle and I lost sight of him. The judge agreed that there was no way he kept his eyes on me the whole time. He then asked if I wanted to testify. I said that I did, and I told my story, just as it happened. Then the judge asked if there were any further testimony or questions….

When no one had anything else to add, the judge said he found me guilty. What the hell!!! The officer was clearly unable to tell which car was which. He could not remember what lane I was in, and he lied about losing sight of me. The judge agreed with me on each and every point. So how the hell did he find me guilty? The prosecutor was able to prove nothing. I was told that I could appeal it and go before a the circuit court and receive a jury trial. If I did this though, I’d have to pay a $400 bond for the appeal. I knew I could not try this on my own in circuit court, and I couldn’t pay the $400, so I paid the $200 for the ticket and left the court.

I can’t begin to describe my disappointment in the Alabama judicial system. It was an absolute farce. It would not have mattered if I could have had Jesus Christ himself testify on my behalf, the judge would have still ruled against me.


Remembering the War Poets

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Yesterday was Veterans Day—originally Armistice Day—was renamed in 1954 to include veterans who had fought in all wars. As discussed in yesterday’s post, this day of remembrance has its roots in World War I—Nov. 11, 1918 was the day the guns fell silent at the end of the Great War. On this day after Veterans Day, we celebrate the poetry of World War I, one of the legacies of that conflict. My love of poetry and the history of World War I go hand in hand. As an undergraduate, I became fascinated with World War I, and from there, I became fascinated with the poetry from that war, which only intensified my love of poetry. So I am dedicating this post to the three poems that I believe are the most important for understanding the First World War.

Soldiers like Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, John McCrae and Rupert Brooke wrote evocative poems about their experiences. One of the most famous poems of the war is Brooke’s “The Soldier.” Brooke died of dysentery and blood poisoning aboard a troop ship headed for Gallipoli in April 1915. Brooke’s poem “The Soldier” reads:

The Soldier
by Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

“The Soldier” shows the eagerness for war that was so apparent in the militarism that helped move the world toward war. “The Soldier” was written at the beginning of the First World War in 1914, as part of a series of sonnets written by Rupert Brooke. Brooke himself, predominantly a prewar poet, died the year after “The Soldier” was published. “The Soldier”, being the conclusion and the finale to Brooke’s ‘1914’ war sonnet series, deals with the death and accomplishments of a soldier. This sonnet encompasses the memoirs of a deceased soldier who declares his patriotism to his homeland by declaring that his sacrifice will be the eternal ownership of England of a small portion of land upon which he died.

As the Great War continued and bogged down on the Western Front, the attitude of patriotism began to wane slightly. Militarism had given the world the impression that wars would be short and glorious occasions, yet as 1914 turned into 1915 with no sign of end in sight, war was not seen through the naive young eyes of ready and willing soldiers, but of those of war weary soldiers of the front. One of these soldiers was a Canadian doctor named John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially unsatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

“In Flanders Fields” demonstrates McCrae’s preoccupation with death and how it stands as the transition between the struggle of life and the peace that follows. It is written from the point of view of the dead. It speaks of their sacrifice and serves as their command to the living to press on. As with many of the most popular works of the First World War, it was written early in the conflict, before the romanticism of war turned to bitterness and disillusion for soldiers and civilians alike, yet it has a more sorrowful tone than Brooke’s “The Soldier.”

One of the lasting legacies of “In Flanders Field” is the symbolism of the poppies. The red poppies that McCrae referred to had been associated with war since the Napoleonic Wars when a writer of that time first noted how the poppies grew over the graves of soldiers. The damage done to the landscape in Flanders during the battle greatly increased the lime content in the soil, leaving the poppy as one of the few plants able to grow in the region. Even today, you will see many citizens of the British Commonwealth, and even some in the United States, wear a red poppy pinned to his or her lapel to commemorate the soldiers of the Great War.

The last poem I want to discuss is that of Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum est.” This is a poem written by poet Wilfred Owen in 1917, during World War I, and published posthumously in 1920. Owen’s poem is known for its horrific imagery and condemnation of war. When Owen wrote this poem, the romanticism of war was long gone. The Battles of Verdun and the Somme had destroyed any residual romanticism left in soldiers of the trenches.

Dulce Et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

The historian and literary critic Paul Fussell has noted in The Great War and Modern Memory that, “Dawn has never recovered from what the Great War did to it.” He argues that World War I, with its unprecedented trench warfare and mass devastation across the European landscape, left a dark cloud hanging over the world. Despite the patriotism, optimism, and idealism held by the young men who eagerly fought for their respective country, World War I was fraught with widespread destruction and loss.

The very symbol of dawn, which traditionally would bring with it the hope and freshness of a new day, was reconfigured in a war like no other in history. Instead of the symbolic hope and freshness of a new day, the Great War dawn often brought with it the profound reality of a landscape flecked with causalities and devastation as young soldiers peered from the dark depths of their trenches. With dawn as a common symbol in poetry, it is no wonder that, like a new understanding of dawn itself, a comprehensive body of “World War I Poetry” emerged from the trenches as well.

Perhaps the most widely read and anthologized World War I poet, Wilfred Owen fought and ultimately died in World War I. His famous poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” presented a raw portrait of the life soldiers often experienced during the War. From the horrors of the trenches, we have the beauty of the War Poets to keep the memory of the war alive.


Veterans Day

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World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which had set the war in motion. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The United States Senate refused the ratify the Treaty of Versailles that officially ended the war with Germany because it contained the League of Nations Charter. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I with the Knox-Porter Resolution signed into law by President Harding on July 2, 1921. Congress officially recognized Armistice day when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. In much of the rest of the world, November 11th is still honored as Armistice Day or in the Commonwealth as Remembrance Day, renamed after World War II to celebrate and remember all veterans.

The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

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Considering the main goal of this blog, I would particularly like to honor all the LGBT service members who have fought and died for our country. For most of America’s history you have served in silence, and often persecuted for who you were. Yet you strove to fight for your country. One of the earliest goals of the gay rights movement, under the leadership of the Mattachine Society in the 1950s and 1960s, was to allow the gay men to serve in the military without persecution. Today service members can finally serve their country as out and proud gays and lesbians. Yet we should never forget those who risked everything to serve their country in silence, even when their country refused to give them full equal rights.


Healing

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And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you.
Deuteronomy 7:15

You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you.
Exodus 23:25

I still have a bad cold, though it is getting better. I had planned to write a post continuing the topic of temptation, but I just haven’t felt like typing much. Since the time in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God there has been sickness on earth. Sometimes we suffer from a common cold virus (as I do now) or maybe we are sick with a more serious disease. Regardless of the type of sickness; there are many Bible verses for the sick. I have included two such verses above. I hope that you are all doing well, and may God bless each of you.


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