December 15th Bill of Rights Day

On March 4th, 1789 the Constitution was ratified. On September 25, 1789 12 Amendments were proposed to the Constitution. On December 15th, 1791 10 of those Amendments were ratified becoming a part of the Constitution.

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Among those 10 are: 1.) The Freedom of Speech, Press and Religion. 2.) The right to bear arms. 3.) Protection of homeowners from quartering troops, except during war. 4.) The right and protection against unreasonable search and seizure. 5.) The right of due process of law, protection against double jeopardy, self incrimination.

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6.) The right of a speedy trial by jury of peers and rights of the accused. 7.) The right to trail by jury in civil cases. 8.) Protection from cruel and unusual punishment, excessive bail. 9.) Protection of rights not specified in the Bill of Rights. 10.) States rights, power of the States.

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It is amazing how this group of men could write a document that has lasted so long and been right so many times. There have been many additional amendments but these first 10 cover so much of what we honor even today. (By the way, amendment 10 is the real cause of the Civil War and an issue we still deal with today.)

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Oh, and the two that were not adopted… well both had to do with how many Congressmen there would be and what they were to be paid. Had the amendment been accepted there would be over 6,000 Congressmen today!

How to celebrate – Read and understand what the Bill of Rights mean, don’t just assume you know because of what someone else has told you. Name one other country that has a better constitution and bill of rights. Salute the flag that stands for the constitution and bill of rights.

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June 14th Flag Day

It’s sad these days when so many communities find flying the American flag offensive. That it upsets those who have come here from different nations and makes them feel left out. Maybe we should ban Oreos since they didn’t have those either, or how about shoes since they may have gone barefoot or maybe we should get rid of food and voting and freedom and peace since they didn’t have any of that!

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Why is it okay for other countries to fly their flag on our land but we can’t fly it in our own yards!?! It is the symbol of freedom, something every other country in the world strives for but seldom attains. I am not sure when or where it became popular to take down the American flag and replace it with any other flag. The American flag is what gives you the right to fly any flag… lose Old Glory and you lose every other flag you want to fly. Of course they should always fly below the American flag, sort of like you don’t add more gravy and then put mashed potatoes over the gravy.

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The story goes that Betsy Ross made the first flag and presented it to George Washington. We are finding that this is probably a myth. It seems it was the combination of several people including George Washington himself.

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And many have died defending the flag. To ignore the flag is to ignore their efforts. However, if you are brave enough to fly the flag there are a few things you should know. Always put up the flag at sunrise quickly, lowering it at sunset slowly. The flag is never to be flown at night unless there is a light shining on it. It should not be flown in rain or bad weather. If an event happens that causes you to put your flag at half staff, a death or tragic event, it should remain at half staff for 30 days. The flag should never touch the ground. When a flag gets old or tattered it should either be burned or buried, never thrown in a trash can.

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Stop being ashamed of the best country in the world! Fly your flag proudly.

How to celebrate – Fly your flag accordingly. If you don’t have a flag, buy one! Stop listening to those who tell you flying the flag is wrong. It is the symbol of our country, a country to be very, very proud of.

October 10th Columbus Day

So, Columbus was Italian, sailing for Spain, trying to discover the West Indies but instead found America, looking for spices, but finding chocolate… oh, and by the way, he never actually landed in America and if he had, he would have been at best, second, if not later. And Columbus Day wasn’t originally October 1oth, it was October 12th, the day he didn’t land in America in 1492.

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Think we are confused, you should have been Columbus. He still thought he had landed in the West Indies even after returning to Spain in 1493. Someone eventually told him he would be credited with finding an entire new world and I can only imagine his response…”What new world?” Of course that would have been in Spanish, or Italian, or Latin, or… well you get the point.

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The first celebration of Columbus Day that was recorded came in 1792 when the 300th anniversary was honored at Tammy Hall, a forerunner of the Knights of Columbus. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison suggested that all of the US celebrate the date on the 400th anniversary of the date. He stopped short of proclaiming it a National Holiday.

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It was left to FDR to proclaim Columbus Day as a National Holiday in 1937.  He was pressured by the Knights of Columbus and other Catholic organizations in the US. Of course, back then they didn’t know Columbus never actually discovered America. The date was changed to the second Monday in October, to allow for a three day weekend for federal employees.

So in the end, we celebrate someone who didn’t discover America, wasn’t Spanish, and really was… lost. But I am told he was a nice guy otherwise.

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How to celebrate – Reenact the Columbus landing (it really doesn’t matter where you are or where you land). Make some paper boats and float them in a nearby lake. Call them the Pinta, Nina, and Santa Maria. They may be nearly as good as the originals! Honor a great man trying to do great things.

September 27th National Voter Registration Day

Today is a very important day, the day you can register for your right to vote. If you like the way the country is being run, you need to vote to keep that in place. If you don’t like the way things are going, you need to vote to change things. The important thing is, you register to vote so you can help shape the country and therefore, take some responsiblity for who we are and where we go.

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Nearly all of us complain about government. Some of us want government to take care of us, others want the government to stay out of our business. If you don’t vote, you have no right to say anything. Not that anybody should be able to tell you how to vote, you need to decide that for yourself. Not voting ensures that at least for you the wrong person gets elected.

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There are many things you may agree with, many things you may not agree with, but your voice is equal to anyone’s voice if you vote. No, things may not go your way, but at least you did what you could to keep things the same, or change things. Standing by and not voting is letting someone else decide for you what is right and what is wrong.

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We already know all politicians lie to us. They cannot tell us the truth because if they do, we would be panicked. Making guns laws strong will not keep guns out of the hands of those who get them illegally. Not having regulations on where toxic wastes are dumped will ensure that they get dumped whereever a company wants to dump them. Certain truths we can decide for ourselves. The lies we hear from those running for office should all be discounted because none of them ever do what they say they will do. It doesn’t matter what side you are on, that is the truth. The question becomes what comes closest to the values you have? Should illegal aliens be made legal? Should we continue to let the rich get richer? Is it our job to take care of those who wont take care of themselves? Should we go into wars we have no intention of winning? Those are questions you have to ask yourself but it doesn’t mean anything unless you can vote and you can’t vote if you aren’t registered.

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How to celebrate – Stop complaining and get registered to vote. Stop blaming others if you do nothing to stand up for what you believe in. Volunteer to work at a polling place in your area.

June 14th Flag Day

Our flag symbolizes freedom, tolerance, and a chance for a better life. That said, it does not mean those ideals come easy or cheap. The first flag was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on June 14th, 1777.

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This was also the birth of the US Army as well.

The men who fought for this flag knew more than any of us know how fragile that flag was. Any day their fight might come to an end with loss, or victory. They fought in the cold, in swamps, outnumbered and often friendless, to give us all a chance for what we have today.

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The flag had meaning to them. It had soul. It meant a new beginning. It was something special. They flew it proudly announcing their choice to be free.

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The first town to celebrate Flag Day was Fairfield, Washington in 1909. A proclamation was declared by Woodrow Wilson on June 14th, 1916 to celebrate Flag Day, it was slow to catch on.

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Pennsylvania was the first state to actually declare Flag Day as a state holiday in 1937.  Over the years other states joined the celebration and Congress finally declared, by an Act of Congress, a National Flag Day in 1949.

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The first Flag Day parade was held in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1950 earning the town the “Most Patriotic City in America”. If you think about, a lot of people died making sure you have the right to have a flag. It may, or may not, mean a lot to you, opinions have changed over the years, but what it represented to those who made sure it still flew today is worth honoring if nothing else. Or you could be like Three Oaks, Michigan – they fly the largest flag ever made proudly. It must still mean something to them.

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How to celebrate: Fly your flag proudly. Remember those who died so that you could fly your flag. Gather flags from every country that your family tree came from.

June 13th Kitchen Klutzes of America Day

We all have some talent that we can share with the world. We may be really good at sports, or with computers, or maybe at politics, but not all of us shine in the kitchen. In fact some are so bad that in certain households they are banned from the kitchen altogether.

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I have known many like this. They can burn water, bandages are found in every drawer (and some dishes), and that tell-tale hair that seems to pass from one entrée to the next.

Even the very best can make a mistake here or there. A tad bit too much salt, maybe a little too spicy for some, and the steak either too well done or not done well enough. But the true Klutz (a clumsy person) can destroy everything from the appetizer to the desert.  They can make too much of one thing…

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…and not enough of another.

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Give them credit though, they will always do their best to satisfy. It may never quite work out and may at times even be dangerous but you have to admire their tenacity and will to succeed.

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How to celebrate: Enjoy some klutzes meal no matter how bad it is. Try cooking something with your eyes closed. Find something else for that “would-be” klutz to get into, the world will thank you.

April 25th East Meets West Day

There are many reasons given for East Meets West Day, sports teams, political aspiration and cook-offs.  The truth of the matter is this was a very important day in 1945.  It was when American troops, the 1st American Army, and Soviet troops, the 1st Ukrainian Front, met at a small town in Germany on the Elbe River.  It is the effective day that all resistance in Germany came to an end.  The town was Torgau, a provincial capitol in Eastern Germany.  The day was originally named Elbe Day as elements of both armies reached across a bridge and shook hands.

Many proposed that the Americans keep going and take all of Germany, Poland and defeat the Russians and communism before it was too late.  The Americans, moving quickly across Germany, were actually held up so that the Russians could capture as much territory as possible.  This arrangement had been settle by the Yalta Agreement long before the end of the war.  Most of the front line troops knew little of the agreement, nor did they care.  They found friendly faces greeting them instead of an enemy bent on their destruction.

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Thousands of Germans made their way west to surrender to the Americans rather than face the Russians.  The Russians had suffered tremendously over the years of the war and they wanted revenge for their own losses, the Americans were deemed to be a little more lenient.  With the war over and Germany was divided up between the Russians, Americans, French and English, the area where the two armies met fell into the hands of the Russians and became a part of the Iron Curtain.  The Cold War would begin and an entirely different type of fighting would begin.

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But on April 25th, 1945 this was one of the happiest days for those who were there.  For them the war was effectively over and friends stood face to face, both sides having survived the atrocities of war, a real reason to celebrate.

How to celebrate: Just remember them.  They lived and died for all of us and should never be forgotten.  Now that the Elbe is free to visit again, try an attend one of the re-enactments of the event.  Read a book about the Elbe Meeting where the East Met The West.