freedom

As we head into Independence Day 2020, many of us have begun to realize that this year, it’s different. Everything is different. The year, Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning for me and so many others. For the first time in our nations history, almost everything was shut down. People were quarantined…leaving only the essential workers going to work, and the rest of us staying home, except for food, medicine, and doctor visits. Covid 19 had changed everything.

Spring Break for the schools brought the quarantine, and even if we had no children in school, we felt that change deeply. Everything just…stopped. Restaurants were closed, movies were out, bowling leagues ended early, as did all sports. Once the warmer weather hit, it felt like summer, but it was only May. This would prove to be the longest summer ever…I’m not complaining, mind you. Summer is my favorite time of year. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been, if the quarantine had happened in the Winter, when I wouldn’t have been able to get outside and walk on the trail near my home…especially since I am not into winter sports, and those places would have been closed anyway.

Finally after more than three months of quarantine, the states were allowed to begin reopening. Still, we did not know what the summer would look like. Sports were up in the air, contemplating a shortened season, or as in the case of some, cancelling the 2020 season altogether. Graduations, funerals, birthday gatherings, and holidays were uncertain. Finally, as campgrounds and hotels began to reopen, it looked like summer might be salvaged. Still, several fairs and some 4th of July fireworks thought about, or did cancel. My husband, Bob and I usually go to the Black Hills over the 4th of July, to do some hiking, so this was a concern to us. Finally, word came down that the fireworks display we loved would indeed be held, and that after a 9 year span without fireworks at Mount Rushmore, that display would also take place this year. We were so happy, and booked our motel right away.

As we prepare to watch the fireworks on Independence Day 2020, it comes to mind that Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning. For a time, we lost our independence, and now we have it back. The feeling reminds me of how the early settlers felt, when England finally gave up and we had won our independence from them. Yes, we still have a ways to go before we will have our country back to normal. During the lock-down, some bad things happened and some people are in an outraged state, but I believe that we will be able to get back to normal through the love of God being shown in our nation. There are those who want to change the root of our nation, but they will not succeed. We are and always will be “One Nation, Under God” and we will have victory over the anarchists. Today, we celebrate the birth of our great nation, the United States of America. It is with a whole new meaning…Freedom Again!! Happy Independence Day everyone, God bless you all, and God bless America!!

I think that over the years, we have all become used to men going off to war, and leaving their families safely at home, while they fight for the freedom and safety of people all over the world who are unknown to them. It’s a common part of war, and one that most of the time, the average person doesn’t even think about. It’s war after all, sacrifices have to be made. What we don’t always think about…until someone points out the obvious to us…is the families, and especially the children who are waiting for their parent to come home.

For any of us who have been away from family for an extended period of time, it’s easy to understand just how badly you can miss someone you love, but war is different. When your child moves away, you miss them, but you know you can go see them soon. When you loved one goes off to war in a country where the fighting is heavy, and bombs are dropping everywhere…not only can you not go visit them whenever you want to, but you live with the knowledge that at any moment, they could be killed in action. And they are living with that knowledge too. It makes the time and distance seem much longer and much further than it really is.

While we might be able to fathom the pain of missing a family member, I think we find it even harder to grasp the complete and utter shocked sense of relief that these family members feel when they are reunited with their loved one again. The children are especially heart wrenching…or is it heart warming. It doesn’t really matter which it is, because no one watching it does so without tears. It’s just impossible. When a German World War II prisoner, was released by the Soviet Union, and is reunited with his daughter, she cannot control her emotions. She had not seen her father since she was one year old, and she is about 5 years old. A mom who spent 7 months in Iraq, cannot contain herself when she sees her daughter again. An officer’s son breaks down because he wasn’t sure he would ever see his daddy again. These are the moments most of us never got to see, but now with the internet,we have the chance to look into the lives of those who serve our nation, fight our battles, and protect our world. It is in those moments that we realize what really happens when those who serve are reunited with their loved ones again.

On this day, January 22, 1879, American soldiers were in pursuit of Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife and his people, who were making a desperate bid for freedom. The ensuing battle was a horrific defeat for Chief Dull Knife and his band. The soldiers effectively crushed the so-called Dull Knife Outbreak.

Dull Knife was a leading chief of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, and was sometimes called Morning Star. He had long urged peace with the powerful Anglo-Americans invading his homeland in the Powder River country of modern-day Wyoming and Montana. However, the 1864 massacre of more than 200 peaceful Cheyenne Indians by Colorado militiamen at Sand Creek, Colorado, led Dull Knife to question whether the Anglo-Americans could ever be trusted. He reluctantly led his people into a war he suspected they could never win. In 1876, many of Dull Knife’s people fought along side Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull at their victorious battle at Little Bighorn, but Chief Dull Knife did not participate.

During the winter after Little Bighorn, Dull Knife and his people camped along the headwaters of the Powder River in Wyoming. It was here that they fell victim to the army’s winter campaign for revenge. In November, General Ranald Mackenzie’s expeditionary force discovered the village and attacked. Dull Knife lost many of his people, and along with several other Indian leaders, reluctantly surrendered the following spring. In 1877, the military relocated Dull Knife and his followers far away from their Wyoming homeland to the large Indian Territory on the southern plains, in what is now Kansas and Oklahoma. They were not allowed to practice their traditional hunts, the band was largely dependent on meager government provisions. Beset by hunger, homesickness, and disease, Dull Knife and his people rebelled after one year. In September 1878, they joined another band to make an epic march back to their Wyoming homeland. Although Dull Knife publicly announced his peaceful intentions, the government regarded the fleeing Indians as renegades, and soldiers from bases scattered throughout the Plains attacked the Indians in an unsuccessful effort to turn them back.

Arriving at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, near their Wyoming homeland, Dull Knife and his people surrendered to the government in the hopes they would be allowed to stay in the territory, but that was not to be an option. Administrators instead threatened to hold the band captive at Fort Robinson until they would agree to return south to the Indian Territory. Unwilling to give up when his goal was so close, in early January, Dull Knife led about 100 of his people in one final desperate break for freedom. Soldiers from Fort Robinson chased after the already weak and starving band of men, women, and children, and on January 22, they attacked and killed at least 30 people, including several in the immediate family of Dull Knife.

Badly bloodied, most of the survivors returned to Fort Robinson and accepted their fate. Dull Knife managed to escape, and he eventually found shelter with Chief Red Cloud on the Sioux reservation in Nebraska. Permitted to remain on the reservation, Dull Knife died four years later, deeply bitter towards the White Man he had once hoped to live with peacefully. The same year, the government finally allowed the Northern Cheyenne to move to a permanent reservation on the Tongue River in Montana near their traditional homeland. At last, Dull Knife’s people had come home, but their great chief didn’t live to join them.

Donald TrumpTrump Oath of OfficeAs I watched the “peaceful transition of power” from on president to the next today, I was quite moved by the prayers, the oath of office, and of course, the amazing speech given by President Donald J Trump. For those who chose Donald Trump, it was a joyous day. For those who didn’t choose him, I hope that his speech gave you some hope that the future can be bright, and less scary than you had expected it to be. Change is always something met with anticipation. It is different for everyone. Those who don’t like the change, meet it with concern, and those who like the change, meet it with joy. For me, the speech gave hope…hope of unity, prosperity, freedom, safety, and thanksgiving, but mostly of bringing God back into our country. You see, I am a patriot. I believe that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and I want God back in this country.

I have watched many inaugurations in my lifetime, and maybe I missed it, but I was disappointed by the outgoing side’s continual attempts to plug their message…a message that contained one very large mistake in my mind. Everyone kept calling our country a democracy. It is not. We are a Constitutional Republic…and not a Democracy as some would have you believe. A Constitutional Republic has a Constitution that limits the powers of the government. It also spells out how the government is structured, creating checks on its power and balancing power between the different branches. Our founding fathers knew very well the meaning of the word “democracy,” and the history of democracies. They were deliberately doing everything in their power to prevent the United States from being a democracy. The people in a Constitutional Republic have no obligation to the government, but rather, the government is a servant of the people, and obliged to its owner, We the People. Many politicians have lost sight of that fact, and that has been a major flaw in the outgoing administration. A Democracy, on the other hand, is a government of the masses, where authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of “direct” expression. It often results in mobocracy, where mobs, the offended, and protestors try to change how things run…sound familiar. Our current administration has done it’s best to incite these kinds of changes, and it is harming our country. It is my prayer that We the People, will begin to remove the idea of democracy from this nation, once and for all. I don’t say this to create a stir, but rather, in the hope that Inauguration Day 2017people will educate themselves on these two ideas, so that they can see how much better it is to be a Constitutional Republic.

As the United States begins a new era, with a new president, vice president, and congress, it is my hope that we can now set aside the protesting, the hatred and racism, and the lawlessness, and become a nation that is proud and honorable…a nation that exhibits respect for one another. Congratulations to President Donald J Trump, Vice President Michael R Pence, their families, and this great nation. Happy Inauguration Day, and God bless America!!

Mount RushmoreFor 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 American Flagsman 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.
Fireworks
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!!

Duty, Sacrifice, and Honor1There 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.

Young Carl SchumacherMany people, myself included, believe that our country was founded and populated in an effort to escape religious persecution. Looking back on several branches of my family tree, as well as that of my husband, I see the personal accounts of a number of people who dealt with persecution first hand. People such as my Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, who makes not of it in her journals when she speaks of her father, my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher’s return trip to Germany to visit family members who were still living there. During that time, the German government was doing it’s very best to force people to deny the very existence of God on any level, and their lack of any need for a god to lean and rely on. So often, I think of religious persecution, such as we have in the United States today, as being a problem of the current times. I suppose that is because it feel very personal to me at this time in history, but in reality, I suppose it is nothing new. In fact, the Bible says that there is no new thing under the sun.

When my great grandfather made the trip back to his homeland, he had plenty of time. His visit was extended for several months. It was most likely during that time that he became more and more convinced that his move to the United States was the right one for him. While he was free, or at least relatively so, to practice his faith imagein his own way, there was, nevertheless, a number of incidences whereby doing so could be frowned upon to say the very least. That fact would not be something that would deter my grandfather from standing on his faith, and it would renew his love for his new country, and his reasons for coming here to it.

I have run across many other ancestors, particularly on the Knox side of the family who suffered persecution from people in their homeland over their choice of religious beliefs. It’s strange to think that when someone receives a revelation concerning God’s word, that they are immediately looked upon as severely brain damaged. Why is it that people would assume that we humans, with our small minds would somehow have the capacity to know everything God intended for us to know…that there couldn’t possibly be anything else for us to learn from His word. And yet, that is exactly what we do. That is why our forefathers left the old world, and came to America in the first place. The churches they were forced to be a part of, or the removal of any kind of religion from their lives had left them with no choice but to leave the country they have called home all their lives, and move to an unknown world.image

I don’t know how many immigrants arrived here as a result of religious persecution, but I do know that our nation has somehow lost sight of why we first began to exist. There are so many religions in the world today…especially Christians and Jews who are bring brutally persecuted right now.  I still believe in freedom of religion. I may not agree with some of the religions in the world, but each person should have the right to believe as they choose. And no one should ever have to pay for their beliefs with their lives. I know that this world will probably not change that until Jesus returns, and I think that is very sad.

The moment beforeYou never know what babies have on their minds. They sit and watch as the world goes by around them.  While others get in on all the fun, babies are just stuck, sitting in a high chair, stroller, or in their mommy’s arms. Always held onto, and very seldom free to run with the rest of the crowd.

My grand niece, Aleesia is one of just such a baby. At a little over 1 year in age, she still gets carried much of the time, and she doesn’t find that a bad thing…usually. There are times when she wants to get down and do her own thing, but when she is not at the house, there are fewer opportunities for her to have that freedom she wants. And with 3 brothers and her mom and dad, she gets held a lot even at home…as it should be. Still, her brothers get to go and do so many things that she does not, and that fact does not go un-noticed by our little Aleesia.

Sometimes, when her brothers are goofing off together, she begins to feel left out, and And then...sister mischiefthat…is totally unacceptable. After watching her brothers talking, playing and laughing for a while, Aleesia decides that it is time for them to remember that she is there as well, and they just need to pay attention to her too. In a recent picture shoot, while the family was on an outing, my niece Liz, Aleesia’s aunt, was taking pictures of just Jenny and the kids. They were doing a group pose, and the boys were having a good time joking and laughing amongst themselves, when Aleesia decided that they had ignored her long enough.

Jenny was holding Aleesia in the picture, and Liz…who must have seen what was about to happen…just kept shooting. Aleesia decided that the best way to get her brothers’ attention and get in on the fun, was to reach down and grab Isaac’s hair. I had to wonder how she even managed to get a hold of it at all, because it isn’t very long, but she did. Now, her other brothers thought the whole thing Saving Isaacwas hilarious, and Isaac wasn’t upset by it either, because those boys think their sister is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it was a bit if a shock to Isaac, nevertheless. And, a person can only take so much hair pulling, so Isaac had to defend his hair, and disengage his little sister’s fingers from it, but since Liz was still snapping those pictures, I was able to see the whole thing play out almost like a movie. And since I’m sure Isaac got to keep his hair in the end, I got to see the totally humorous side of the situation, when little sister got into mischief.

Dad's military daysMemorial Day…a day for remembering the fallen soldiers, began after the Civil War, which has laid claim to the most war dead in any war in history. Most people don’t know that. When you think about the fact that so many of the fallen soldiers in the Civil War died gruesome deaths, torn to pieces by cannon balls or musket guns. Medical care was minimal, at best and nonexistent in many cases. There were no dog tags or DNA testing, so many of the soldiers killed were never identified. They died without dignity, after giving their live so nobly in the fight for freedom.

Ours was a nation in mourning, with no way to fully express the depth of its feelings. Originally called Decoration Day, this day was set aside as a day to decorate the graves of war dead, giving them the honor and dignity they did not have at the time of their death.

Since its inception on May 5, 1867, Memorial Day, as it is now called, has changed in many ways. Many people simply think of it as a day off from work…a good day to party or gather for picnics with friends and family. They forget that since the Civil War, our nation has been Dad Schulenberginvolved in many wars and police actions, as they have been called since World War II. People notoriously try to block out those things that make them feel uncomfortable. Sad…that we could so easily forget the sacrifices that have been made to give them the freedom to choose not to honor the men who fought to give them that freedom. Sad that we could be so quick to forget.

Today, those of us who celebrate Memorial Day as Decoration Day have also added our loved ones who are not veterans, and I believe that is fitting too. So, for me, I honor my dad, my father-in-law, nieces, aunt, uncles, grandparents, and cousins who have gone before me. I love you all.

So much has changed in the area of aviation over the years. I’m quite sure that the Wright brothers would be amazed. One thing that hasn’t changed since those first airplanes, however, is our interest, or in some cases obsession with flight. Many places around the country have displays of actual planes that are low enough to the ground to get you up close and most of these are displayed right beside entrances to memorials or other sights that are about flight. Planes, perched on a pole, give us the ability to stop and take pictures that we can use as a memory of our visit to the site.

Bob and I have made several of these stops to get pictures with an airplane of one type or another, and now looking back, I see that my parents and grandparents liked to do the same thing. There is just something about flight…the feeling of freedom, that draws us to it, but what really fascinates me is the changes in the planes over the years. If the Wright brothers were here, and a helicopter or a Harrier Jet took off, I’m sure they would stand there staring with their mouth wide open. The speed it took just to get their plane in the air for a few minutes compared to the lack of speed to get these in the air would be shocking.

When you compare the fighter planes of the past to those of today…well, just imagine if America had today’s planes in World War II. The war would have been over after one battle. No other nation would have been able to hold us off. The passage of time has brought new technology to the levels of being very dangerous in the wrong hands. I suppose it is a good thing that it came about slowly, so we could adjust our way of thinking. Still, craziness knows no generation, and there are always those who would start a war. And just a side note, be sure to take a good look at the cars in the first and last picture. Much has changed in the auto industry too…but, that is another story.

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