Sometimes we think we know the whole story, and other times, we are pretty sure we don’t know the story at all. For me, the attack of Pearl Harbor is one that has seemed somewhat fuzzy. I mean I know that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without warning on December the 7th of 1941…but why exactly. I have to wonder if I am the only one who isn’t exactly sure why my dad had to go to war in March of 1943 at the age of 18 years, along with several uncles. I know that his family knew that it was coming, and they were dreading it very much, but it was inevitable. We had been attacked. We must retaliate when we are attacked!! I understood that…but why were we attacked, and was it without provocation?
Then I came across something that happened on Dec 1, 1941. This was the day that the Japanese made the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. This had been a possibility since the 1920s, but in 1931, with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria things got really tense. Japan was insistent on invading other countries, and were slowly moving into China. Beginning in 1938, the United States adopted increasingly tighter trade restrictions with Japan. Nevertheless, Japan would not be deterred from its expansionist policies, or from signing the Tripartite Pact in 1940 with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, officially forming the Axis Powers. In 1940, Japan invaded French Indochina so they could embargo all imports into China including war supplies from the United States. Some of these facts I knew, and some I didn’t. This is, of course, a very shortened version, but you can see that Japan was becoming increasingly more dangerous to the world, and to everyone in it.
On November 7, 1941, Secretary of State, Cordell Hull warned President Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet that an attack on the United States by Japan could happen at any time…without warning. On November 9th, Winston Churchill, who is my 15th cousin once removed, told the United States that if we went to war with Japan, the British Empire would declare war on Japan “within the hour.” It was a heavy responsibility for the United States, and for Secretary of State Hull. Nevertheless, something had to be done, and the world was looking to the United States to make the first move.
The decision to go to war is a difficult one, and one that I do not believe any civilized nation takes lightly. I’m sure that is why so many presidents have tried every possible restriction against some of the crazy dictators in this world. The problem is that so many of those dictators are not moved from their agendas…no matter what. Secretary of State Hull decided to try one more time, and so he wrote the Hull Note on November 26, 1941, which outlined ten proposals, some of which matched earlier Japanese proposals, but of others, Hull knew meant he was basically declaring war on Japan. The agreement would have to be made by November 29, and of course, history tells us that Japan did not agree. While Australia tried an offer to act as mediator between the United States and Japan on November 29th, they were told that the opportunity to settle this was past. On December 1, 1941, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito declared war against the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands, after rejecting the demands of the United States in the Hull Note, which the Japanese later dubbed The Hull Ultimatum, as a way of making the United States look like they were to blame for all this.
It was this action…on this day in history, and the events leading up to this action, and those that would follow, including the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 that drew the United States and our allies into World War II, and that would ultimately bring about my dad’s part in that war…as well as the part played by so many others, including a number of my uncles. War is a horrible event, and one that I truly don’t believe anyone wants to be a part of, but sometimes it is inevitable. When a nation, such as Japan decides to take over the world…one weaker country at a time, someone has to step up and put a stop to it. Unfortunately, history has placed that responsibility in the hands of the United States many times. There are people who think we should just stay out of it, but if we did, just how long would it be before that nation came after us, because we appeared weak too. We might be able to fight them off…unless we have allowed our military might to be reduced to a point of making us as weak as some of these other nations. If we couldn’t fight them off, then our nation would lose it’s many freedoms, and we would find ourselves living under a dictator too. While I hate war too, I am not willing to lose the freedoms our military personnel have fought so hard for…are you?
I have always known of my family’s relationship to Princess Diana, and I also knew about the Knox family’s relationship to James Knox Polk, who is Bob’s 2nd cousin 5 times removed, but in more recent years I have come across, or as one family member put it, tripped over a line of presidents on my side of the family as well as Bob’s. It seems that both of us are related George HW Bush, my 15th cousin once removed, and George W Bush, who is my 15th cousin 2 times removed. We are also related to, although in a roundabout way, Andrew Jackson, the husband of aunt of wife of 1st cousin 6x removed of my husband, Bob…I know, that one is a little bit complicated.
I did not know of the Spencer connection to, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and George Washington. I also did not know of the Knox connection to the family history to Kentucky Frontiersman Daniel Boone, Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; his son, William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States; his great-grandson, Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States and…President George Washington. At this point, I don’t know at what level we are related to these, but I am finding out that Bob’s family history and my family history are intermingled in several areas. Now that I have some of this information, I look forward to putting these people into my family history, so I can find out how we are connected and who else might be in the family.
I have also found out that on the Spencer side of the family, Henry and Isabella Lincoln Spencer, who lived in the 1400’s, had a very large influence on the United States, as well as England, through their offspring. And, I have found out that John and Jean Gracy Knox, who lived in the 1700’s, also had a large influence in American history through their offspring. It is very strange to me to look at the people in history, knowing that at the time they had children, they had no idea what impact those children and their descendants would have on the world. To be an American president or a signer of the Declaration of Independence, made these men very well known throughout history. Even a frontiersman from Kentucky who probably never gave any thought to what the future of our nation might be at the time he was doing his part to go down in history, has managed to become an endeared character in all the history books, as well as, in television shows and movies. Who would have ever thought that could happen?
It’s odd to think that, depending on what we do with our lives, any one of us could stand out in the history of the nation and the world. Little did anyone think of the future when they began whatever cause they held close to their heart, and yet, just a short time down the road, they have become a household name, written in every history book, with parks, schools, museums, and airports, named after them. I wonder if they had any inkling just how big they were going to become. It is mind boggling just to think back on it now, and I’m not them. Of course, they didn’t really know how big they would be at the time they were becoming so big. Still, the presidents had to have known at the time they were elected that they had joined an elite group of men, and that would never change from that point on. Good or bad, right or wrong, the decisions they made from the first day of their presidency to the last, would be on record as either a testament or detriment to the man. I think that, in itself, would be a daunting thought, but in reality, they couldn’t think about that much when the decisions that affect a nation are in their hands. Just like their predecessors, they are a part of a long line of presidents, and some of them, are a part of my family.
Most people know that Princess Diana married Prince Charles, and for a lot of people that is the extent of the Spencer ties to the British Aristocracy. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The Spencer family is one of Britain’s preeminent aristocratic families. In the family line, there have been knights, baronets, and members of the royal family. Hereditary titles include dukedom of Marlborough, earldom of Sunderland, as well as Spencer and Churchill viscountcy. Of course, the two most well known members were Sir Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, with the current addition of Princes William and Henry, and now George.
So the question remains, how did this family rise to wealth, or were they born into it? The answer is that the Spencer family rose to wealth from humble beginnings. A close relative of Henry Spencer who died in 1478, was John Spencer who in 1469 had become a feudal lord of Wormleighton in Warwickshire and a tenant of the now famous to most people, Altrop in Northamptonshire in 1486. His nephew, Sir John Spencer, who died in 1522, first made a living trading in livestock and other commodities. He was able to save enough money to purchase both the Wormleighton and Altrop lands, and the estate of Altrop with its moated house and several hundred acres of farmland. The family grazed sheep on the land. As time went on, he purchased more and more land. He then rebuilt the Altrop house in 1508 and it became the family home for the next nineteen generations. By the 16th century the Spencer family had entered Parliament in the person of Sir Robert Spencer (1570 – 1627) who represented Brackley in Parliament. He was made a Knight of the Garter and created Baron Spencer of Wormleighton in 1601. During the reign of King James I, Sir Robert Spencer was reputed to be the richest man in England.
There were those in the British aristocracy, such as the more established Howard and FitzAlan ancestors, who didn’t approve of the Spencer’s rise to wealth through sheep herding, and who tried to act more officially aristocratic, but they were shot down in a heated debate when Lord Spencer replied, “When my ancestors, as you say, were keeping sheep, your ancestors were plotting treason.” I’m sure this did not go over well, but apparently, they were not able to dispute that accusation, and so the subject was dropped. There have been countless other Spencers in the British Parliament, as well as the House of Commons. The Spencer family has been influential in much of the lawmaking in England, as well as in the area of British economics.
I guess I don’t quite understand why the other aristocratic families didn’t like the way that the Spencer family rose to wealth, but I think that in the area of wealth and politics, the old money and old political families often don’t like having new upstarts invading their supposed territory. I don’t think it is much different in any country. The wealthy families tend to like their power and prestige, and really don’t want to share those things much. I seriously doubt that they ever gave any thought to where their own wealth came from. Later, after the upstart families are established, they simply have to accept it. It reminds me of the unsinkable Molly Brown on the Titanic. The established money didn’t like her marrying into her money. They didn’t feel like she belonged, but she didn’t care, and she was nevertheless a force to be reckoned with, so they had to treat her with respect. That is what has had to happen with the Spencer family, and now, their aristocracy is no longer questioned by any of the British aristocratic families.
They say that children learn what they live, and we all know that is true in many ways. What I find interesting is that when there is a family that has political ties, often they extend way back. Of course, with new people being introduced into the family with marriages and births, things can change, and move away from the ties that had been there before, but often they continue on for generations. That is the case in the Knox family, which is one of the families my husband, Bob comes from. His mom and grandparents were very much not political, but in generations past, there were several presidents in his family, with the one most well known to us being James Knox Polk, who is Bob’s 2nd cousin 5 times removed. I know that is pretty distant, but then, he lived from 1795 to 1849, so it would have to be.
There are also, the presidents who are a little more distant, but still come from the Knox family. Presidents like Andrew Jackson, George HW Bush, and George W Bush. The connections are a little harder to find, because they involve the in-laws and their marriages, but they are nevertheless a familial connection. I suppose that if we go far enough back, we will find a president or some royalty in pretty much every family. It stands to reason when you consider the various family connections. As marriages and births occur, and family connections are formed, it becomes more and more a real possibility. For some of us, like Bob’s family’s political ties, and my family’s tie to Princess Diana and the British Royal Family, the connections are well known to us from the time we are children. For others, those connections are not discovered until much later on, and some never know that a connection exists. To me that is sad, because I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out who I am related to…and I have been very surprised too. Both Bob and I are related to Princess Diana and her children, so the birth of Prince George was particularly exciting to me. Even though the royal family is not exactly a political tie in the normal sense of the word, they are still the ruling family in England, and so political in that way.
I suppose that things can come full circle too, from a very political family to one that is not so political, and back to very political again. And in that way, I would certainly be one of the latter…and possibly the most politically inclined member of the current family…at least for the Knox/Schulenberg side. I doubt if anyone would dispute that. I have no intentions of running for political office. I might be considered more of an activist, in that I have very specific ideas of right and wrong, and I certainly don’t mind voicing my opinions on matters, as my friends can fully attest. What can I say, except that it takes all kinds of people to make this world what it is.
They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. That is a true statement in many ways, but none is more evident than when your family member wants to debate you on everything…or at least everything political. When I began trying to hook up with as many of my family members and extended family members as I could, I thought maybe I had stumbled into just such a situation. We had a rocky start, because we do have differing opinions on some things, but after I figured out that Matt does like to debate, but isn’t afraid to learn something new. I decided that maybe I was going to be glad that he was my cousin…or cousin once removed, since he is my cousin, Tina and her husband Glen’s son.
Matt isn’t one of those people who picks a political party, but rather looks at each situation, and decides how he feels about it. That makes for a well informed person, and someone who might tend to disagree on many points with his friends and family who are more set on a specific party line. Matt and I have…crossed paths, and split hairs on several occasions, but in the end, it occurred to me that while he didn’t change my opinion on my beliefs, he made me think about the other side of some of the issues. Some things just aren’t cut and dried, and even when you just can’t change your view because of a debate, I don’t feel like the debate was a wasted effort on the part of either debater.
One of the things I have learned from Matt…yes, I have learned from him, even though he is years younger than I am…is that if you are going to talk about an issue, you had better have your facts straight. Don’t just form your opinion on the things people tell you about something…but, rather read, study, and ask questions about it before you decide how you feel about it…and consequently, to discuss it. I don’t think Matt set out to teach me or anyone else anything, he just wasn’t a person who could accept someone’s view on face value. He had to know more about it before he could accept it.
The thing I discovered about Matt is that he isn’t afraid to say that he really doesn’t know enough about a situation to effectively discuss it. I like that. So many people just spout off about issues they know nothing about, and really, all they want to do is irritate and try to pick a fight. Other people get mad if you don’t agree with their views. We are never all going to agree on every issue.
Today is Matt’s birthday. Matt and I are definitely in two different places politically, and I’m sure there will be quite a few debates in the future, but Matt…I have finally found something you cannot debate…today is your birthday…no doubt about it. Hahahaha!! So, happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! Debater or not, we love you.
I have not seen my cousin Shirley for about 30 years, but recently we have reconnected due to my mother’s desire to give Shirley our grandma’s wedding gown. Shirley is the oldest granddaughter of my dad’s and her mom’s mother, and as such, the wedding gown should go to her. It had been left in my dad’s care. After Dad passed away, Mom decided to give the dress to Shirley, but we had no way to get a hold of her. God takes care of the things we aren’t able to, and almost immediately, Shirley’s son, Larry showed up in a family tree search I was doing in Ancestry.com. He was searching too, and we connected. He got me in touch with Shirley, and then we and several other family members connected on Facebook. It is amazing how one little step can change the lives of so many people.
Since reconnecting with Shirley I have learned several things about her. Shirley is a patriotic American, who believes in the Constitution and the freedoms and rights it gives to each of us. She believes in hard work and being able to keep what you earn. She believes in the right to keep and bear arms. As I said, the Constitution and all its rights and freedoms. She and I are very much alike that way. It makes me proud that my cousin and I share our conservative American beliefs.
I also know that Shirley loves living up in the mountains, away from the crowds in town. That is not so unusual in that her family lived outside Casper on a piece of land in the Dempsey Acres area when she was a little girl growing up. I guess you could say that country living was in her blood. After leaving Casper, and trying some big cities, the family would move to the mountains of Washington. Shirley is a hard working woman who likes the simple things like the birds and other mountain sounds of the summer morning.
Today is Shirley’s birthday. We are sending you birthday wishes across the miles. We are thankful that our families have reunited again, though we have not yet seen each other in person yet. We hope your day is filled with all of God’s greatest blessings. Happy birthday dear cousin!! We love you!!
I was watching the news and once again, a government official was misquoting the US Constitution regarding the “church and state” issue. I wish people would take 5 minutes to really read the Constitution and not just try to make it say what they want it to say in order to keep God out of government. Nowhere in the Constitution are the words “separation of church and state” mentioned, they are however, written in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Many people think it came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson which said he would “keep the government out of the church” not the church out of the government. The amendment to the Constitution that everyone so often misquotes is below.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This does NOT say that we are to keep religion out of the government, it says we are to keep the government out of religion, just as Thomas Jefferson wrote in his letter. There is really no way to keep our faith out of government, since the government is made up of people…of many faiths. But government, being a mix of people of many faiths, an entity, should not and really, cannot mix with religion. It is impossible, because the faiths are too different, and government cannot make them agree. Nor should it try. The main reason our founding fathers left England is that they did not want to be forced to attend the Church of England, which is what was going on. Government ruling over religion.
In my opinion, the religious beliefs of the people in our government have had some of the most positive effects on our laws, and it is only as we push God further and further out that our laws begin to be as corrupt as those of the communist countries. And isn’t it funny that the churches have no problem displaying the American flag, the constitution, etc, but the 10 Commandments, nativity scenes, etc can’t be on public property. I say put the Bibles back in school, and even read from the Quran. At least then, everyone will know what it really says.
And an addition from my friend Jim – One more thing, since all the founders kept diaries and almost all of them wrote in them what they said in the meaning of the constitution, and each related phrase to mean. None of them wanted anything outlawed as far as religion goes. The FIRST thing the new congress did was to pray a prayer “IN JESUS NAME!!”. If they didn’t mean for that to happen, they would have stopped it. I believe they all applauded?
As I watched the memorial service for the Tucson shooting victims, my thoughts went back to all of the political blame rhetoric that has gone on since this shooting. This shooting was tragic in every way, and the loss of life unthinkable, but I think that the need to blame people other than those who committed the act is simply wrong. We all hear negative things said about ourselves and others in this life. Unfortunately, we don’t all agree on who is beautiful and who is not, or who is doing a good job and who is not, or who has the right idea and who has the wrong idea, but we must agree that once we reach the age of accountability, we each know what is right and what is wrong according to the laws of this land and moral (God’s) law, and the accountability for our actions lies with each one of us…and only there. It’s like we are trying to transfer the blame upward, trying to find a final person who must say, “the buck stops here” in the hope of finding some way to make someone pay for this monstrous person’s existence.
So often, we turn first to the parents. How could they not have known of the monster they had created? And perhaps they did, but people are made into what they are by many different factors, and this was, after all a man of 22, not a child, who could be spanked by his parents or sent to his room! Once a child has started school, the complete input control of the parents is over. They meet friends, who might be the type to get into trouble, they listen to the ideas of teachers, politicians, and many others. They watch television, play video games, and see the actions of others, but while most of us see and hear negative things, we still turn out ok. We would never commit the acts we saw in Tucson. So, how can we blame others for the acts of one? I don’t think we can. And to try to blame a statement made 8 months earlier for something that happened now, is simply wrong. We have all heard negative remarks, from both sides, but when we make the choice to commit acts of violence against other people, we alone must carry the blame.
And while I’m at it, I would also like to comment on the way the memorial service was handled. I think most of it was a disgrace. This is not a campaign rally or a great photo opportunity. This wasn’t a great chance to meet the president and his gang. And then to have a big reception line for the president and his gang was ridiculous, you are supposed to be giving condolences to the family, not the speaker!! This was to mourn those lost in this terrible tragedy. Cheering and whistling…really, and we call this killer calloused. There were families whose lives will never be the same and they came to this memorial service expecting to be comforted, not to have everyone around them screaming and cheering, because they got to hear the president speak. It was a disgusting display in my opinion and if I were the family of one of those poor victims, I would have walked out.
I think that they should have held a separate ceremony to honor the heroes of that day, who very much deserved the honor, to be sure, but not at the memorial service. That should have been a solemn service, and if the president wanted to attend, he should have attended in silence, showing his understanding (if he had any) and not his so called “great” speaking ability.
Yesterday, another mass shooting took place in our country. Six people are dead, including a Federal Judge and a nine year old girl, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head and remains in critical condition. No, this is not a news bulletin, but rather, a question. Why? So many of these shootings take place in this country every day, that it hardly seems like news. My question is why? If you want to protest, must you do it violently and why if you want to kill yourself, must you take others with you. Now I know that in today’s shooting, the gunman was not planning to kill himself, just others, but why? Because he didn’t like how he had been treated or to show that he didn’t like God…why?
I know that there are many things that go on in our country that people don’t like, and we each have our own ideas of what is right and wrong, and what is important and not important, but I would think that we can all agree, that…life, is important. And taking a life, is something you can’t ever take back! Why do people do this!
It doesn’t matter what your political views are, and I’m sure that many of you know that I am not a Democrat, but no one deserves to be shot at, except in war, and this isn’t war. I pray for those injured and the families of all those injured or killed in today’s tragedy.