Everyone has heard of the Liberty Bell. The bell was ordered in 1751, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s original constitution. The Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly ordered the 2,000 pound copper and tin bell. The bell was placed in the Pennsylvania State House, which is now known as Independence Hall. The bell rang out summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, by Colonel John Nixon. The document was adopted by delegates to the Continental Congress meeting in the State House on July 4th, however, the Liberty Bell, inscribed with the Biblical quotation, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land unto All the Inhabitants Thereof,” was not rung until the Declaration of Independence was returned from the printer on July 8th.
The bell was made of inferior materials, and cracked during the first test. It was recast twice and finally hung from the State House steeple in June 1753. The bell was rung on special occasions, such as when King George III ascended to the throne in 1761, and to call the people together to discuss such important things as the controversial Stamp Act of 1765. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Of course, the most famous time it was rung was July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.
When the British were advancing on Philadelphia in the fall of 1777, the bell was removed and hidden in Allentown to protect it from being melted down by the British to be used for cannons. Following the defeat of the British in 1781, the bell was returned to it’s place in Philadelphia which was the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800. In addition to marking important events, the bell was used as a part of the celebrations such as George Washington’s birthday on February 22, and Independence Day on July 4. In 1839, bell was first given it’s name when it was coined the Liberty Bell in a poem.
As to the crack that finally made the Liberty Bell unsuitable for ringing, there has been some dispute. It was finally agreed upon that the bell suffered a major break while tolling for the funeral of the chief justice of the United States, John Marshall, in 1835, and in 1846 the crack expanded to its present size while in use to mark Washington’s birthday. After that date, it was decided that the bell was unsuitable for ringing, but it was still ceremoniously tapped on occasion to commemorate important events. On June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded France, the sound of the bell’s dulled ring was broadcast by radio across the United States. In 1976, the Liberty Bell was moved to a new pavilion about 100 yards from Independence Hall in preparation for America’s bicentennial celebrations. The Liberty Bell will always be a symbol of patriotism and liberty in my mind.
For me, there is no more perfect way to celebrate Independence Day that to come to the Black Hills of South Dakota. I can’t think of a more patriotic place that is close enough to my home in Wyoming to be able to go to each year. The Black Hills is a shrine to patriotism. Mount Rushmore…home to the faces of four presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln…brings home that spirit of patriotism that lives inside me. I love going to Mount Rushmore, and every time I go, I feel a sense of awe. These great men did the things necessary to make our country great. We don’t often think about the sacrifice a president made, but George Washington was a great soldier before he was president. He, along with the help of an ancestor of my husband, Bob’s, Henry Knox worked out a strategy to win the Revolutionary War, thereby winning our independence. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Lincoln was the man responsible for ending slavery in the United States, and Teddy Roosevelt was chosen because of his contributions to business, conservation and the creation of the Panama Canal. These were four men who saw just how great this nation could be, and who worked to make sure that it always would be a great Constitutional Republic.
For most of us, the Independence Day celebration would not be complete without a grand fireworks display. I have been to a lot of fireworks displays in my lifetime, but few can match the display that takes place every year in Custer, South Dakota. They start by doing the roll call of the states. I have been amazed over the years that almost every state is represented. Then the fireworks begin, with synchronized music, that is the best mix I have ever heard. Of course, every patriotic song in existence is sung, and the display seems to go on for hours. By the time the evening is over, you truly feel like you have celebrated our nation’s birth. I always walk away feeling more patriotic than when I arrived…if that’s possible.
I believe that the United States of America is one of the greatest countries on earth, and in the past few years, people have been trying to tear it down, and make us believe that we are not a great nation with great people. I don’t like that. I don’t like that our government tries to take away our rights, and tries to change the fabric of this nation into a nation of whiney babies that I hardly recognize. I hate to make Independence Day a story about the election, but it’s time to “Make America Great Again.” It’s time to fight for our Constitution, and the freedoms it provides. If we don’t fight for those rights now, they will be gone forever, and with them would go the nation we love. I pray that you all have a very safe and happy Independence Day!!
When strikes occur, emotions can get out of control. Sometimes, tensions get so high that they hit the breaking point, and people die. The year was 1914. The date was April 20th. The place was Ludlow, Colorado, and things were about to get out of control. The strike began the previous September, when about 11,000 miners in southern Colorado went on strike against the powerful Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation. They were protesting low pay, dangerous working conditions, and the company’s autocratic dominance over the workers’ lives. The company was owned by the Rockefeller family and Standard Oil. They responded to the strike by immediately evicting the miners and their families from company-owned housing, which were basically shacks. The United Mine Workers stepped in to help. The miners moved with their families to canvas tent colonies scattered around the nearby hills and the strike continued.
The company had depended on the evictions to end the strike, but when that failed, they hired private detectives to attack the tent colonies with rifles and Gatling guns. The miners fought back and several were killed. The company began to realize that the strikers were determined so Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation contacted the governor of Colorado, who authorized the use of the National Guard, provided they agree to pay their wages. The strikers mistakenly thought that the governor has sent the National Guard to protect them, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The National Guard was under orders to stop the strike…no matter what the cost might be. The National Guard attacked the strikers on April 20, 1914. Two companies of guardsmen attacked the largest tent colony of strikers near the town of Ludlow, home to about 1,000 men, women, and children. The attack began in the morning with a barrage of bullets fired into the tents. The miners shot back with pistols and rifles.
A strike leader was killed while trying to negotiate a truce, and the strikers, fearing that the attacks might intensify. They tried to placed the women and children in pits they had dug beneath the tents. At sunset, the guardsman moved down from the hills and set the tent colony on fire with torches, shooting at the families as they fled into the hills. It wasn’t until the next morning that they discovered the true carnage of their attack. A telephone linesman discovered a pit under one of the tents filled with the burned remains of 11 children and 2 women. The Ludlow Massacre outraged many Americans, nevertheless, the tragedy did little to help the Colorado miners and their families. Federal troops were sent to assure the end of the strike, and the strike failed to achieve any significant improvement in their wages and working conditions. Sixty-six men, women, and children died during the strike, but not a single militiaman or private detective was charged with any crime. Sometimes, the worst injustice comes from the very people who are supposed to protect us.
When we think of the president of the United States…in general terms, we often wonder if he will be good enough to be re-elected and serve the maximum term of eight years. We seldom think about whether or not he will finish his first year…or even month for that matter. And few of us can name the president with the sad title of being the president of the United States for the shortest term. Nevertheless, that is a record that has to be held by someone, and that man was William Henry Harrison, who was our 9th President. Harrison’s inaugural speech, delivered on a bitterly cold March morning, lasted one hour and forty five minutes. Harrison wasn’t really feeling well at the time, and went to bed at the end of inauguration day with a bad cold. The cold quickly developed into what would become a fatal case of pneumonia. I have to wonder if he would have been just fine in this day and age of modern medicine. Not everyone gets pneumonia these days, but most of those who do, survive and go on to lead long lives. Pneumonia isn’t the death sentence these days that it used to be.
William Harrison was the last president born as an English subject before the American Revolution. After that time, it became law that the president must be a natural born citizen, something that has sparked bitter battles in these modern times. He hailed from Virginia, and attended college intending to become a doctor, but opted to join the army before finishing his degree. President John Adams took note of Harrison’s exemplary service in the Indian Wars of the Northwest Territories. In 1801, President Adams appointed him governor of the Northwest Territories, which is now Indiana and Illinois. Harrison later fought in the Battle of the Thames River during the War of 1812. After that time, he decided to go into politics, and went on to become a congressman and the ambassador to Colombia before running with John Tyler on the Whig Party ticket in the presidential election of 1840, which he won, but this would not prove to be a long term in office for him. In fact, his death came exactly one month after he was inaugerated into office.
I have to wonder what things he might have done differently than his running mate, John Tyler did. Harrison was 68 years and 23 days old when he took office. He was the oldest president to take office until Ronald Reagan in 1981. After his passing, there was a brief constitutional crisis, because this had never happened before, and it had to be decided, who would take over. The solution was not widely accepted, and there were disputes as to the presidential line of succession, with regard to the Constitution up until the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967. William Henry Harrison was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, who was the 23rd President from 1889 to 1893, so his line did have a second chance at the course that the country would take, even though he was not directly involved. Of course, there is nothing to indicate that Benjamin would have had the same values as William did. Things change over the years, but he was a Republican…a good thing in my opinion.
Before women could vote, the first lady in our White House was primarily there to handle the household staff, entertainment, and just look pretty beside her husband…the President. Of course, this was during the age when it was thought that women simply couldn’t handle the serious political information that it took to run a country. These days, women would howl in protest at the thought of being placed in the pretty, but incapable box. In reality, the women back then didn’t like it much either, but it seemed that there was nothing they could do about it…at least, not at the time. Still, even though women were not allowed to vote or have a political voice, there were men who valued the opinions and insights of their wives. One of those men was President John Adams. I suppose that Abigail Adams could have had one of those amazing minds, and that would seem to be the case from the different topics of discussion between John Adams and his wife, but the sequence of events that took place on this day March 7, 1777, is nothing short of amazing.
While John, who was at the time, a Continental Congressman, was in Philadelphia with the Continental Congress, and Abigail was in Braintree, Massachusetts at the family farm, he wrote her three letters, and received two letters that she had written in February. The correspondence between the two, was quite remarkable, and in all numbered 1,160 letters. They covered topics ranging from politics to military strategy, and from household economy to family health. John could see the value of his wife’s mind in all his life’s work, but probably the most in his presidency…other than family, that is. In many ways, it is sad to think that the minds of so many amazing women have gone untapped when it comes to the political arena. Of course, not all minds, male or female, intelligent or not so intelligent, can be said to have a good grasp of the important things necessary to run a nation, and keep it from derailing…as we have seen in recent years. Our nation needs people who understand how a Constitutional Republic works…and sadly, many don’t. But John Adams knew how important our Constitution was and always would be…as did his wife, Abigail. John was probably on the forefront of modern thought, in that he saw in his wife the ability to think politically, militarily, economically, as well as all of the thoughts any wife and mother has for her family. John and Abigail were not alone either. They were among the few people of that time, who saw women as intellectual and emotional equals.
In his letter, John mentioned that he felt saddened by the move of the capital to Baltimore, saying “This City is a dull Place, in Comparason [sic] of what it was. More than one half the Inhabitants have removed to the Country, as it was their Wisdom to do—the Remainder are chiefly Quakers as dull as Beetles. From these neither good is to be expected nor Evil to be apprehended. They are a kind of neutral Tribe, or the Race of the insipids. By contrast, Adams described the Loyalists, who prepared their Minds and Bodies, Houses and Cellars, to receive General William Howe should he attack, as a Pack of sordid Scoundrels male and female.” Abigail had written the letters he received on this day, in February, in which she spoke of the difficulty of corresponding during war, but also spoke of the lack of military fervor demonstrated by the New Englanders around her. I’m sure there was a weariness among the people. She wrote that she awaited greater patriotism, greater prosperity and future correspondence from her beloved husband to his devoted Portia, a nickname John had give her likely in reference to the intelligent and devoted heroine of Shakespeare’s Portia in The Merchant of Venice. These words and the respect her husband had for his wife and her mind were very unusual in a time when women were placed in the pretty, but incapable box.
These days, when a new president makes the move from their current home to the White House, it is a huge production. Very little of the packing is actually done by the first family. Things were much different in 1861, when President Abraham Lincoln was moving to Washington DC. When Abraham Lincoln moved to Washington DC, he packed his family’s belongings himself. His wife Mary was in Saint Louis on a shopping trip, so she would join him later in Indiana. It was on this day, February 11, 1861 that Abraham Lincoln boarded a two car private train…probably the only special thing about this transition. After an emotional speech to his fellow Springfield, Illinois citizens, Abraham Lincoln moved to Washington DC. The day was cold and rainy…much like the mood as Lincoln left his friends. He spoke to a crowd before departing: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young man to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being…I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.” One of the people who attended the speech, said that the president-elect’s “breast heaved with emotion and he could scarcely command his feelings.”
It’s hard to say if Lincoln had an inkling that he was not just saying “goodbye for now” to the citizens of Springfield, Illinois, or not, but there is no doubt that he knew that his presidency was going to be difficult…to say the least. Since his election, seven southern states has seceded from the Union. The nation was in the middle of a national crisis. President Lincoln knew that the nation was quite likely heading for a civil war. In short order, he was proven to be correct, when our nation embarked on one of the most bitter wars it ever fought…waged against its own people, over slavery.
When Lincoln said that it was possible that he would never return to Springfield, he was ironically very correct. While he returned in body, he did not return in life…as we all know, because he was shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, and died at 7:22am the morning of April 15, 1865. Booth opposed Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves, and maybe felt like killing him would somehow change that. Of course, it did not. After his passing, Lincoln’s body made a two week train trip back to Springfield, Illinois for burial, taking a route that would allow the people to pay tribute along the way. Memorial services were held at different towns when the train passed through them. It was the only time he rode in the new private train car that had been built just for him.
In this day of the internet, cell phones, television, and radio, a new form of patriotism has emerged. The rights our American soldiers fought for are in peril. In a year in which many Americans were offended by literally everything, and the internet, specifically Facebook, has become one of the greatest sounding boards there is, everyone has stepped up to the plate to state their views and yes, even to hear the views of others. Of course, hearing the views of other people, is not always something that is well received. Sometimes, people lose sight of the fact that since we each own our own Facebook page, we also have the right to say what we want to say. Others may not agree, but that doesn’t matter, because this is our page…our right to free speech.
Of course, people with differing views have the right to challenge our views…to state their own case, as it were, but they don’t have the right to challenge our right to speak our own opinion on our own page. If we are offended by the views of another person, we need to move past the post. Never is this more evident than when the opinions of one person in a family offends another, and they decided to take things to the next level…unfriending. I won’t do that, because while I will state my opinion, and I will respect the rights of my friends to post what they choose, and to debate my opinion, the family connection is far too important to me to argue in such a way.
In history, patriots had to go to the place they were going to protest. And of course, by the time they could get there, it was probably too late to protest. I suppose maybe our politicians were more honest back then, or maybe we just didn’t know all that was going on. It has been said that some presidents would never have been elected if we could have seen them. That is so true, and sometimes I think maybe that should be how it is today. If race, gender, and maybe even party affiliation weren’t able to be seen, who would we elect? That might be something to think about. Maybe we need to stop giving a pass because of race or gender, and make the politicians do what’s right.
My nephew, Chris Iverson is a dedicated dad. When his son, with his wife Cassie, was born with Downs Syndrome he stepped right up to the plate. Lucas was his boy, and that was the greatest thing ever. Chris and Cassie have also taken up the cause to bring awareness to the world about just how amazing these children are. Lucas is such a happy boy, and while he can have his moods like any other kid, he smiles a lot. I think that is partly due to the amazing parents he has. Of course, becoming a big brother this past summer was great for Lucas and his parents too. Chris and Cassie’s little girl, Zoey arrived right on schedule and she thinks her big brother is pretty great. She thinks her parents are great too.
Chris loves the outdoors, and wants to teach his kids to love it too. He and Cassie like to go camping in the Big Horn Mountains. Chris loves to fish and just enjoy the great outdoors. I’m sure that as time goes on, he will be teaching his kids the ropes, thereby setting the stage for the next generation of nature lovers. I can’t blame Chris for loving the great outdoors, because I feel the same way. My big thing is hiking, and I don’t really know if Chris shares that with me or not, but to each his own. I’m not into camping. I guess that after spending the day hiking in the woods, I want the comforts of a motel. Nevertheless, I have a lot of respect for people who get out and rough it.
One of the things I like the most about Chris is that he is a patriot. These days, we need every patriot we can get. With the government trying to take our rights away from us every day, America needs people who will stand up for those rights, whether it is fighting or being very vocal about what is going on. Either one takes real guts, and Chris has guts. We really need more people like that in our country these days. I like that Chris stands up for our country. He is a good man, dedicated dad, good husband, and a patriot…what more could a family ask of a man. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It seems that whenever something goes wrong in our world, someone must be to blame, and I believe that is often the case. The problem with playing The Blame Game, is that all too often, the person where the real blame should go is not the one who ends up taking the fall. Scapegoats have been around since Bible times, when the sins of the people were placed on a goat and it was sent into the windernesss. That isn’t the type of scapegoat that we see today, however.
Don’t get me wrong, we all play The Blame Game, but politicians seem to be particularly adept at it. A good example is the forced retirement of Rear Admiral Husband E Kimmel, who was relieved of his command of the United States Pacific Fleet on December 17, 1941, just ten days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I don’t say that he bore no blame at all, but in reality, he had no more reason to think that an attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent, than anyone else had. And in reality, the blame needed to fall on our President at the time, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, because he was soft on the Japanese, and basically asked us to trust them, when they were not at all trustworthy. President Roosevelt’s actions…or lack thereof, left us sitting ducks when the Japanese made their move.
Basically, Rear Admiral Kimmel was chosen to take the blame because of his lack of imagination…or so it was said. Kimmel was a creature of habit, and he had expected an attack on Midway Island or Wake Island, and even went so far as to request extra antiaircraft artillery be sent there. None could be spared, and so was not sent. It never occurred to him that the Japanese might attack Pearl Harbor, and therefore he took no special action there. Unfortunately, Kimmel was an easy read by the Japanese, and when he chose not to protect Pearl Harbor, that was where the Japanese made their attack. But, as I said, he had no more reason to expect an attack at Pearl Harbor than anyone else had, and for that reason he should not have born the brunt of the blame.
Kimmel could have faced court martial…a second and even more severe injustice…but in the end, when he requested early retirement, his request was granted. The American people were outraged at this breach in security, so someone had to take the blame. I really find that to be an unfair way to handle this situation, but it was how it was done anyway. When Admiral Kimmel’s Story, which was an “as told to” autobiography, was published in 1955, the admiral made it clear that he believed President Roosevelt sacrificed him, and his career, to take suspicion off himself. Although there was no evidence to prove it, Kimmel believed Roosevelt knew Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed. I’m not sure Roosevelt could have known that either, but I think he was just as much or more to blame than Kimmel was. There always seems to be enough blame to go around, but in reality, trusting our enemies will always bring bad results. We need to be watchful and strong in military might to keep this nation safe.
There once was a time when things like duty, sacrifice, and honor meant something. People were thankful for the service of our armed forces, who were willing to give all to ensure the freedoms we have in this nation. Sadly, these days, so many people think that our freedoms are somehow an infringement on the rights of others. They feel like freedom should be controlled by a select few…namely our government. I can’t figure out why they can’t understand that when the government controls your freedoms, you are no longer free. That’s living in a dictatorship, and not in freedom.
For as long as the United States has been able to form it’s own military force, we have been a people who fought for the rights of all people to think, speak, and believe as they choose…whether anyone else agrees with them or not. It was our soldiers who fought to give us those rights, and oddly enough, when people did not have the right to decide how others should think, there was far less hate and racism in this country. I realize that when people are allowed to worship, think, speak, and write as they choose, there will be disagreement with their opinions, and that’s ok. Disagree with me all you like, just don’t try to tell me that I have to think the way you think, and I will show you the same courtesy.
Our military personnel go to war whenever asked, whether it is a holiday or not. They can’t stop defending us and other nations just because it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. They get up and they fight on. They don’t have the luxury of a 9 to 5 job, but rather must be prepared to battle well into the night and even into the next day, because the enemy doesn’t take a break. There has never really been a time in our history when things were in more turmoil. There are those, even within our own borders who hate this nation and all it stands for. Those people have no honor, no sense of duty or pride in our nation, and they certainly don’t understand the sacrifices our military personnel made to give them the freedom to be so hateful toward those who are just stating their opinion.
Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day set aside to honor those who have fought for this nation and others. It is a day to remember those who gave their lives that others might live in freedom. In reality, we owe them so much more than we could ever repay, but most of all, we owe them respect. Veteran’s Day is a day to tell our veterans just how much they mean to us. Be sure to thank a veteran today, and to all Veterans, Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.