My niece, Cassie Iverson is a woman of deep convictions. She has researched her positions on things, including vaccinations, education, government, and a number of other things, and she has made up her own mind how she feels about all these things. Whether you agree with her choices or not, I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and the right to make their own choices for their family, and especially for their children. Cassie and her husband, Chris have dealt with more medical issues with their son, Lucas, than anyone should ever have to, and they have done well with his upbringing. Having a child with disabilities is hard, but when those problems also include the need for many surgeries, it is really more than any parent should ever have to face. They are very much fighting for their child’s life and they are determined to win that battle. Any time a parent has to fight for the life of their child, I think they should be considered noble fighters.

Cassie have become a fund raising guru, and for anyone who has ever had to do and fund raising, you know how hard a job that is. Nevertheless, trips to Colorado for surgeries are expensive, and so sometimes you have to work hard to come up with the money for them. Cassie does what she has to do. It’s for their son, and that makes the work worth while. Anyone who has met Lucas knows what a sweet boy he is, and also that he is a fighter. Once you meet him, you can’t help but love him, and root for his victory in everything he has to deal with. While things are sometimes tough for Cassie and Chris, there are many good times too.

The take as many opportunities as they can to go camping, fishing, and photographing. Cassie loves to take pictures of nature, as well as having a business in photography where she takes family, baby, and graduation photographs. Those are great, but for me, it is the nature pictures that are amazing. Anyone can snap a picture of a mountain in the distance, but not everyone has an eye for it. If you have an eye for it, the scene really jumps out of the photograph and makes you feel like you are right there. Cassie has that ability, and that is what makes her pictures great…not to mention that she has so many great nature scenes to photograph in Wyoming. She even sells her pictures, which gives other people the chance to see things through her eyes. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Prior to the Civil War, and even for years afterward, the black man was considered first a non-human, and secondly not very intelligent. Because of that, it was thought that the black soldiers would not be able to handle real combat situations. Nevertheless, the Union Army needed their help, and so they would have to take a chance on the black soldiers along the James River in the spring of 1864. My guess is that it was a rather tense moment when the Federal Soldiers faced off the Rebels on May 24, 1864. They stood behind the walls they had built with their own hands, and watched as the dismounted Rebel cavalry charged toward them. With their rifles trained on the enemy troops, each man knew that this was their chance to prove themselves. They were a brigade of mostly black soldiers, and it was vital that they be able to hold their own against an enemy who outnumbered them two to one. As well as an enemy who was party to their years of slavery.

The battle the black troops were about to fight was a small part of Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant’s Overland Campaign. The goal was to cripple the Confederate capital, and in doing so, bring down the Confederacy before the end of 1864. The Army of the James consisted of the X and XVIII Corps. About 40% of the army’s 33,000 men were black. Butler was confident his “colored troops” would do all the Union hoped and more, because he realized they viewed their service as a chance to gain rights they had never had before for themselves and for their families…making blacks free and equal to whites. Of course, fear of capture and a return to slavery, was a great motivator to win this battle and the war too. In early May, Butler and his army left Fort Monroe at the mouth of the James River and drove upriver toward Bermuda Hundred, about 14 miles south of Richmond. The general believed this was a better position to attack the capital from this strip of land, which lies at the point where the Appomattox River meets the James. From there, Butler’s forces could disable rail transportation south of Richmond and with it, communication between the capital and points south.

Late on the afternoon of May 5, a week before the army’s planned arrival on Bermuda Hundred, Butler reported to Grant that Brigadier General Edward A. Wild’s brigade of black troops had captured these two sites without opposition. Their arrival, Butler wrote, was “apparently a complete surprise” to the Confederates. The sight of former slaves coming ashore at Wilson’s Wharf must have almost terrified local planters, because many of the troops had once been held in bondage in the surrounding area. It could feel very intimidating to think of the former slaves motive for revenge. Shortly after the brigade’s arrival, the soldiers captured William Clopton, a wealthy planter known for his brutality. Wild, with his profound hatred of slavery, ordered his men to tie Clopton to a tree and expose his back. Then Wild ordered William Harris of Company E forward to flog his former master, Cheers echoed through the African Brigade. “Mr. Harris played his part conspicuously,” Sergeant Hatton recalled, “bringing the blood from his loins at every stroke, and not forgetting to remind the gentleman of the days gone by.” Wild described the lashing of Clopton to Hinks as “the administration of Poetical justice.” The fears of the plantation owners were realized that day, but whipping the planters was the least of Wild’s concerns at Wilson’s Wharf. He immediately put his troops to work on an earthwork fortification on a bluff over the James and named it Fort Pocahontas. The walls held against Confederates, and the Union would go on to win the Civil War, but no one would again be able to say that the black soldiers couldn’t do their job, nor would they ever doubt the depth of their rage over the cruel treatment they had been subjected to by the slave owners.

On this day, May 23, 1911, President William Howard Taft presided over a ceremony to dedicate the New York Public Library, which is the largest marble structure ever constructed in the United States. The building occupies a two-block section of Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. The monumental Beaux-Arts structure took 14 years to complete at a cost of $9 million. The term beaux arts (pronounced BOZE-ar) means fine arts or beautiful arts. “The Beaux-Arts “style” emanated from France, based on ideas taught at the legendary L’École des Beaux Arts (The School of Fine Arts), one of the oldest and most esteemed schools of architecture and design in Paris.” The 20th century marked a period of great growth throughout the world, and new access to learning materials was needed. The first free continuous children’s library in the United States was funded privately, and was founded in 1835 in Arlington, Massachusetts. Nevertheless, libraries were in pretty short supply when the New York Public Library opened in 1911. One day after its dedication, the library opened to the public. It is thought that about 40,000 citizens passed through to make use of a collection that already consisted of more than a million books. It was a great day in the world of education.

Since that time, many advances have happen in the world of books. It is a matter of debate in many circles as to whether these changes are good or bad. I settle on the side of good, because I think that if technology is available, we should take advantage of it. Many of my writer friends tell me that they love the smell of the ink on the printed page, or the feel of the book in their hands, but I guess I tend to be more on the practical side of the argument. I like my kindle, and the fact that I can carry hundreds of books around in my purse, to be available no matter where I am, and without the necessity of packing around several books. When the Kindle came out, I saw it as “the greatest thing since sliced bread.” I can own hundreds of books and I don’t have to have room to store them all. Nevertheless, as a writer, I have found that I have very little time to be a reader, and that posed a problem. I had all these books I wanted to read, but I was always trying to finish the story I was currently working on, so time was scarce.

Enter Audible.com. I had heard of Audible long before I gave it a try, but on a “girls trip” with my sister, Cheryl Masterson and my niece, Liz Masterson, I was introduced to Audible by Liz, who is a member. Liz, like me has very little time to dedicate to reading a book, but while she is editing photographs for her job as a journalism teacher, she can listen to a book. “Well,” I thought, “So can I.” So I joined and I have really enjoyed taking my daily walk, while listening to a book, or writing while listening to a book. I am a World War II history buff, and I love listening to the history of that war the most, but I have also listened to many other types of books.

Knowledge comes to us in many different forms, and while the library has been responsible for bringing a world of books to the people, without the need to spend the money on purchasing the book, it also must change with the times. People lead very busy lives, and being able to check out an audible or a digital book is a great way to continue bringing books to the world. Unfortunately, many libraries have been reluctant to accommodate this new style of reading. That is sad for them, because like it or not, the digital age is hers, and if the libraries want to move forward into the next century, they are going to have to join the modern times. I hate to see buildings no longer be used as libraries, but there will always be the purist who loves the smell of ink and the feel of the pages, and there will always be schools who bring classes to the library to introduce them to the world of books, but you can’t discount the busy adult who wants to read, but doesn’t have the time. Digital books are the wave of the future that allows even the busiest adult the ability to access books and learning.

It is a rite of passage…turn 16, get your drivers license. For my grand nephew, Xander Spethman, today is that rite of passage day. Soon he will be able to take himself out on dates and not have to find a ride. He will be able to drive himself to school, and of course, run errands for his parents. I’m not sure how long that will be fun, but most kids like it for a while, because it means they get to drive. Nevertheless, I think that Xander’s younger siblings will reap the benefits of Xander having a driver’s license.

When it comes to school, Xander is all about football…with a little studying on the side. He is a great player, and already has colleges looking at him for recruitment, and offering every type of scholarship imaginable, to meet his every academic desire. Not bad for a kid who is just a freshman in high school. Xander has always been good in sports, and especially in football. He just understands the sport and what he needs to do to be successful in the sport. Last year, Xander went to football camp at Black Hill State University, and really learned a lot. He plans to attend the same camp this year, but he as also been invited to a camp at the Colorado School of Mines for their football camp. They are interested in looking at Xander for recruitment into their football program. It’s an exciting offer for a kid of his young age.

Of course it isn’t the only sport he is good at. Xander, like every member of his family knows how to shoot a gun and how to be safe with one. His dad, Steve takes Xander and brothers Zack and Isaac hunting very year, and this year they also plan to do some fishing. Xander and his family have always been close, and while Xander’s interests are changing, I know that he will always enjoy the “man sports” with his dad and brothers. And of course, Xander is an amazing gentleman to his mom, Jenny and his little sister, Aleesia, and to all women. They always know that the men of the family are there to protect them. Xander is quickly becoming a man, and he is going to do amazing things in his future life. Today is Xander’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg is a woman who is determined to accomplish her goals and dreams. She doesn’t let anything get in the way of getting her daily steps in, whether it is bicycling steps or foot steps, she reaches her goal of 25,000 steps a day…every day. If that means she gets up at 4:00 am to get to work at 8:00 am, then she does. Nothing gets in the way of her step count. At night, if she has been traveling during the day, and is a little behind in her steps, she simply doesn’t sit down until she finishes the steps. That means walking around her house for as long as it takes. Any place can be a trail, as long as you have room to walk around. Trails aren’t always outside, and Brenda utilizes any space necessary to complete her daily steps.

Brenda spent much of her life overweight and really unhealthy, and while most people wouldn’t want me to talk about that part of their lives, Brenda uses that part of her life, and the transition she has made to be an inspiration to others. She has set another goal for herself…to reach out to other people who are where she was…to let them know that it is never too late to change your life for the better. Getting healthy and fit is just a step away. Yes, it will take many steps, but the first step is the most important, because without the first step, you remain an overweight, unhealthy, couch potato. Of course, that first step…must be taken every day, if you are going to have to succeed. Most people when they get to that place, where their weight is out of control, and they have become unhealthy, decide that because of this health problem or that health problem, it is simply impossible for them to lose weight and become healthy again. Brenda is proof positive that they can. All it takes is much determination and that first step.

These days, Brenda enjoys things like traveling…by plane, train, or automobile. These are things she really couldn’t do before she lost the weight. She was so limited. Now she travels to different areas around Wyoming and Colorado to speak to others about her story. Sometimes, all it takes to get someone started on the road to better health, is to see that someone else made it. Getting started is so hard, especially when you feel like you will never make it, but when you see someone like Brenda, who has turned her whole life around, you begin to feel like you can do it too. And that is what inspires Brenda…helping other people to succeed. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every new for of weapon or battle plan must have a first time of use. I don’t know if the soldiers or the inventors would be more nervous as this plan unfolded, but my guess is the soldiers, who must place their lives in the hands of the inventor, and pray that he knew what he was doing. The Battle of Crete, also known as Operation Mercury was fought during World War II on May 20, 1941 to May 21, 1941. It was short-lived mostly because of the “firsts” the Allies saw during this battle.

On that day, May 20, 1941, the Nazis began an airborne invasion of the island of Crete. Greek forced were joined by other Allied troops to defend the island. After one day of fighting, the Germans appeared to be losing, as they had suffered heavy casualties. This gave the Allies a feeling of confidence in their victory over the Nazis. Unfortunately that feeling of confidence was a little premature. The next day, the Allies encountered some communication failures, and due to the Allied tactical hesitation, as well as German offensive operations, Maleme Airfield in western Crete fell to the Germans. This enabled the Germans to land reinforcements and overwhelm the defensive positions on the north side of the island. The Allied forces had no choice but to withdrew to the south coast. More than half of them were evacuated by the British Royal Navy, but the remainder surrendered or joined the Cretan resistance. The defense of Crete evolved into a costly naval engagement, and by the end of the campaign the Royal Navy’s eastern Mediterranean strength had been reduced to only two battleships and three cruisers…not enough to defend anything.

So…what made this an operation of firsts? The Battle of Crete was the first time that German paratroops, known as Fallschirmjäger, were used en masse. It was also the first mainly airborne invasion in military history, and the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from decrypted German messages from the Enigma machine. It was also the first time German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population. Prior to this time the Nazis held enough power over the civilians to force them to comply. These people fought back…for the first time. Due to the number of casualties and the belief that airborne forces no longer had the advantage of surprise, Adolf Hitler became reluctant to authorize further large airborne operations, preferring instead to employ paratroopers as ground troops. In contrast, the Allies were impressed by the potential of paratroopers and started to form airborne-assault and airfield-defense regiments of their own. Major changes in military history, brought about by one battle.

My nephew, Rob Masterson is a busy father of four children. His oldest, Christina is grown and living on her own in Colorado. The other three, Raelynn, Matthew, and Anna still live in the family home…which recently changed, by the way. They had been living in an apartment, and now they are in a house…much better for a family. The really nice thing is that the new place is much closer to where Rob and his wife, Dustie both work…Sam’s club. This is a great change for this family, and we are all very happy for them.

As a boy, Rob grew up in a house full of women. His mom, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was a single mom, and of her five children, Rob was the only boy. I’m not sure for whom that situation was the worst. Rob was definitely outnumbered, but I don’t think that the girls, Chantel, Toni, Elizabeth, and Jenny, ever really got the better of their brother, who was the middle child. These days they all joke about the antics of those years, and in reality, it’s all pretty funny. Nevertheless, I don’t know how pleasant it was at the time, especially for the other party in this boy verses girls show of power…their mom. I’m sure that there were many times Cheryl wanted to send them all to their rooms, but there were likely just as many times that the antics brought great bouts laughter in the house, because lets face it, the antics of kids can be very funny.

I think that the antics Rob pulled as a kid have never really left him, because his own son seems to have had some inherited many of his dad’s abilities…or maybe, it’s just a boy thing. Whatever it is, sisters have “suffered” the consequences of it for generations. Still, eventually those boys grow up to be men, and I think that sometimes the ones who picked on their sisters the most and pulled the most pranks, make the best dads. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Weston Moore is graduating from high school today and I find it hard to believe that it has already been that many years since he was born. Weston is the oldest son of my niece Machelle Moore and her husband, Steve. He has a younger brother named Easton. Weston was destined to be tall from the moment he was born. He comes from tall stock…with his grandfather, Lynn Cook, who is 6 foot 6 inches, his dad who is well over six feet and his mom who is close to six feet, he is destined to be tall. Last night when we were visiting, he said that someone had measured him and he was 6 feet 5 inches.

Weston recently got a job at Verizon in Powell, and he plans to work for a year before pursuing his higher education. Sometimes, that is a nice thing for a student. Thirteen years of public school is s long time, and sometimes a break is needed before moving on in life. It’s also nice to have the opportunity to brag to younger siblings and cousins when they head back to school and you don’t have to. Nevertheless, pretty soon you begin to think that maybe it is time to get on with it and go back to school. I’m sure that time will come for Weston before the year is over.

Weston’s is considering his options for college, and is looking at Sheridan College, because they have one of the best culinary arts programs. Being a chef is something he has wanted for some time now. Since my grandson, Chris Petersen went through the program, I can say that it is an excellent program, and Chris learned so much in his time there.

Wherever life takes Weston next and in the future, I know that he will do well. He knows how to work hard and doesn’t mind the hard work. When he puts his mind to it, I know he will excel in any endeavor. Today begins the journey into the rest of your life, Weston. Today you cross the threshold between being a kid and being a man. You are a kind and loving man who will go far in this world. I am so excited to see what the next chapter of your life will bring for you. Congratulations on your graduation from high school!! We are all so proud of you!!

This past year has been filled with many exciting changes for my sister, Caryl. She retired from her long time career in respiratory therapy at the Carbon County Memorial Hospital, but stayed of the board of respiratory therapists. That position has kept her somewhat busier that she had originally anticipated, but it has also been fulfilling. Still, when you are retired, you don’t really want to have too many obligations. The whole point of retirement is to have as little obligations as possible. Most retired people want to be able to pick up and go somewhere on a whim, not have places they need to be every day.

Caryl and her husband, Mike Reed have spent the past year building their retirement home on their ranch outside of Casper. It will be very strange to have them living in Casper. Caryl hasn’t lived in Casper for years, so it will be nice to have them back here again. Their new home is a beautiful, open concept home with granite countertops and floor to ceiling windows in the dining room, which looks out on a beautiful view of the mountain. The entertaining space is big enough to entertain our whole big family, which is just great, because there are enough of us to need a big space. Caryl loves to entertain, so I know that we are all going to enjoy many good times at their house. It will be a whole new life.

Caryl has always loved horses, but for this birthday, she got a different kind of power…trike power. Her husband got her a trike for her birthday, and she absolutely loves it. It is a beautiful dark red Harley Davidson, and I know they will have many wonderful adventures on the open road. They like to travel, and this will be a new kind of travel for them. I’m not a fan of motorcycles myself, but there are many in my family who are, so this bike fits right in with the rest of the gang, and Caryl is very excited about riding it, so that’s what matters. I’m sure that in the future Caryl will have a couple of horses of their own, and while they won’t take trips on the horses per se, they will enjoy spending many hours riding them as well. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens, this has been an incredible year. Probably the greatest year since the year his first child, Michelle was born. This was the year Mike became a grandfather to his granddaughter, Elliott Michelle Stevens. Elliott was born on August 3, 2018. Her parents are Mike and my sister, Alena Stevens’ son, Garrett and his wife Kayla Stevens. Becoming grandparents was something Mike and Alena have been waiting to be for a long time to be grandparents, and little Elliott has fulfilled a very special dream of theirs. Mike and Alena are very family oriented, and adding a granddaughter takes their family life into a whole new dimension…a very special dimension.

Mike is a sports fanatic, and loves to share his knowledge with his kids and maybe down the road, his granddaughter. Mike knows a lot about sports, any sports. Not everybody who likes sports, really understand the logistics of the sport, but Mike understands it. Summertime brings different kinds of sports. Mike loves softball, and sometimes is on a team. This year Mike and Alena bought a new 4-wheeler, and they are looking forward to spending lots of time on the mountain riding around on the 4-wheeler. In fact, they had planned a weekend on the mountain for Mike’s birthday, but the weather refused to cooperate…something many of us are disgusted with. Hopefully this spring/summer won’t prove to be ultra-rainy, so they will have lots of time to use their new toy.

Another of the sports that Mike likes is the yearly family camping trip to Boysen Reservoir, where they hold the Stevens’ Family Horseshoe Tournament. The whole Stevens family looks forward to the trip each year, and they really feel cheated out of summer if they don’t get to go. They have a traveling trophy for each event, and it is a fight to the finish to see who will take that trophy home this year. Everyone hates to lose, because to win means that you get bragging rights for a whole year. Now that can be bad for the losers. That said, we wish everyone good luck this year. Today is Mike’s birthday. Congratulations on becoming a grandpa this year, Mike. I know you are loving it. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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