My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens has been a part of our family since he married my sister, Alena (Spencer) Stevens on July 21, 1984. Their marriage has been blessed with many years, three children, Michelle (Matt) Miller, Garrett (Kayla) Stevens, and Lacey (Chris Killinger) Stevens. They also have two granddaughters, Elliott and Maya Stevens, and two bonus grandchildren, Brooklyn and Jaxon Killinger. These days, Mike and Alena have a little more time to enjoy their beautiful family, because on July 1, 2022, Mike retired. Alena had retired a couple of years ago, and now they are free to go and do as they please. I know that finally having the freedom to go without thinking about having to work is an awesome feeling. It’s the reward for all those years of hard work.
Mike worked in the Salt Creek Oil Field for 39 years, starting with Amoco in 1983. The company changed hands and names several times, and at the time Mike retired, it was Contango Energy. Mike worked his way up in the oil field business, and by the time he retired, he was the Compression Foreman. As I recall his job as Compression Foreman required that he be available pretty much 24/7. He was a vital part of the project, and they depended on him. He also Mike was well liked and much respected.
That is all behind Mike now. He and Alena have new plans now. They love to go camping and fishing, and Mike also hunts. Mike also has a green thumb, and he loves growing things. Since his last day on the job, Mike has been able to meet that newest little granddaughter, Maya, who was born June 24th, just days before her grandpa retired. Such a blessing…almost like a retirement present. Now that they are both retired, so many fun things are ahead of them. Mostly though, they can relax, and not rush to work all the time. They are free to do the things they want do, when they want to.
Today we are going to celebrate the wonderful man, husband, dad, grandpa, brother, and son that Mike is. He has been a blessing to those around him all his life. He was a hard worker and is a thoughtful man. He has helped with projects for our parents, and that endeared him to them too. I’m so glad that he and my sister got together. Mike is a great addition to our family. Have a wonderful retirement, Mike!! We love you!!
My grand-nephew, Matt Masterson is the only son of his parents, Rob and Dustie Masterson, and rather sees himself as the second “man of the house” and the protector of all who are in it. Matt especially like to be helpful to his mom, so he’s been going places with her and has been trying to do things to take care of himself so she doesn’t have to worry about him. Most kids of just 16 years don’t think much about putting the minds of their parents at ease, much less doing things to help their parents around the house and on errands, but I suppose Matt isn’t your typical 16-year-old kid. His parents work very hard, and he wants to show them just how much he appreciates all they do for the family.
Matt has decided to go to Roosevelt High School in Casper, along with his sister, Raelynn Masterson, a move that will make things easier on his parents, because they won’t have to take kids to two high schools. Not that they will have to drive for very long, because I think that Matt will decide to get his driver’s license very soon, rather than wait a while like his older sisters, Christina and Raelynn, did. Guys want to get behind the wheel pretty quickly it seems, while girls don’t always see the urgency…at least some of the girls don’t. I couldn’t wait to get my license. That thing means freedom, and that’s important!!
One of the best parts about the summer for Matt is that his best friend is moving back to Casper, after years of living in Laramie, Wyoming. Laramie isn’t so far away, but it is too far to hang out on any kind of a regular basis, so the return to his best friend is something Matt is really excited about. Matt is such a protective brother and his sister, Raelynn tells me that he is really growing into a wonderful person. He might pick on Raelynn and their younger sister, Anna, but nobody else better do so, because he is their protector. Matt doesn’t like when the girls don’t tell him about things that upset them. He will do everything he can to fix whatever is going wrong. Last year when Raelynn went to camp, there were those who were not nice, so Matt tried to convince her not to go this year. In the end, he respected her decision, knowing that she would be ok on her own. It’s hard for him not to be the protector, and he didn’t want Raelynn to deal with stuff when he couldn’t be there to help. He’s got a big heart even if he doesn’t show it. Still, I think I would hate to be the person who picked on Matt Masterson’s sisters. Love is a strong emotion, and he loves his sisters. Today is Matt’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
This year, mostly because of the year of the Covid-19 lockdowns, Americans are so ready to get out there. Whether we choose to wear a mask or not, we are done with staying home, small groups, missed holidays, and mostly…Covid-19!! Bob and I were blessed in that we were able to travel to the Black Hills for the Independence Day holiday last year, but many states didn’t allow it. Now…suddenly, many states are open. Of course, there are those who want us to keep things to small groups, or better yet, just stay home and don’t celebrate at all. Our answer to that, “No!! We are done with giving up our freedom!!” This nation, “One Nation Under God,” was founded on the principles of “liberty and justice for all” and “let freedom ring.” Our soldiers died to make sure that we continued to have that freedom. And we are not giving it up now!!
The Covid-19 lockdowns were never designed to make us healthier, but rather to take our freedoms, and we aren’t going to take it anymore. They still want us to stay home, but everyone I know of has opted to go out and celebrate or have people in to celebrate. We all agree that our forefathers never intended for the people of this nation to give up their rights to “kowtow” to the government!! Especially when the disease has a 97% survival rate!! And believe me when I say that no one is saying that it didn’t kill people, but that many of the people in lockdown would not have become sick, much less died. The Lockdown did nothing but hurt our economy, and rob us if our freedom.
This year is a “new year” for this nation. We are ready to take back our country and our freedom. We know who stole it, and we know who didn’t. We are excited about getting back out there and celebrating our nation’s birthday again!! This is a great nation, and we will not allow it to be stolen from us. We are ready to fight for our freedom again, and we refuse to be pushed back.
From the brave men and women who fought for the freedom of this nation in the Revolutionary War, to the brave men and women who will fight for it again, I honor you!! You are the epitome of greatness!! You don’t give up. This is our nation and this is our Independence Day!! I pray that each of you has a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Let’s get out there and be independent again!! God bless you all and God bless America!!
The London Zoo housed a male golden eagle in the 1960s that they named Goldie. As we know, eagles love to fly high and be free. I don’t think they take well to being fenced in, at least Goldie certainly didn’t take well to it. On February 28, 1965, Goldie decided to take back his freedom. Goldie’s escape caused a nationwide sensation for the 12 days of his freedom. Then they caught him again. I feel sad for Goldie after he was caught, because being free was all he really wanted.
Goldie first flew away from his keepers, while his cage was being cleaned. He saw his chance and he took it. Enjoying his newfound freedom, Goldie avoided being recaptured for nearly two weeks, despite a massive effort using equipment borrowed from the Royal Navy and Civil Defense Corps. He didn’t seem to have a desire to stray too far, and spent most of the time in Regent’s Park, which is the area surrounding the zoo. He also made a few excursions into the nearby neighborhoods of Camden Town, Tottenham Court Road, and Euston. Those excursions brought him into the British public eye, and people were excited about this bit of celebrity. The zoo began receiving phone calls and letters in the thousands. Regent’s Park was the site of large crowds gathered to watch the bird’s keepers trying to catch Goldie. Drivers circled the park to watch Goldie in flight, causing severe traffic jams in the area. Of course, the media had a field day with the whole thing. There is nothing more interesting that watching the spectacle of a bunch of trainers trying to chase down an eagle…like they would have an easy success there. In fact the opposite was true, because Goldie spent two weeks roaming free before they finally caught him. Goldie was pretty resourceful too, because he managed to kill a duck in the garden of Winfield House, official residence of the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, within Regent’s Park. Goldie also attacked two terriers in the park, but was driven off by their owner. Of course, nobody likes to think about that part, but it is normal for a predatory bird. In fact, it was food that finally caught Goldie. He was finally caught on 11 March after the zoo’s deputy head keeper tempted him to earth with a dead rabbit. He was in good health after his experience and was reunited with his mate, Regina, which may have been the reason Goldie stayed in the area. The zoo’s attendance nearly doubled in the days after his return. That wasn’t the end of Goldie’s story however. Goldie escaped once again on December 15, 1965, and was recaptured December 19, 1965. I think that while Goldie loved his mate, Regina, he didn’t want to be fenced in. Golden eagles are monogamous, staying with their mate for years or even life. On March 8, 1985, Goldie was sent to the Falconry Centre in Newent, and died there about March 23, 1986.
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.
As 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 people 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!!
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!!
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.