“America Will Never Forget Their Sacrifices”

memorial-day1The following is taken from The American Patriot’s Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb

Memorial Day, the last Monday of May, is the day we honor Americans who gave their lives in military service.

This holiday was originally called Decoration Day and honored soldiers who had died during the Civil War. Immediately after the way, various towns in the North and South began to set aside days to decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers and flags. Those earliest memorial observances occurred in Waterloo, New York; Columbus, Mississippi; Richmond, Virginia; Carbondale, Illinois; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, and several other places.

The first widespread observance of Decoration Day came on May 30, 1868, which Maj. Gen. John A. Logan proclaimed as a day to honor the dead. General James Garfield (later the twentieth U.S. president) gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery in remembrance of doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” Afterward, 5,000 people helped decorate the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

Over the years the day became an occasion to remember the dead in all American wars, and came to be known as Memorial Day.

On the Thursday before Memorial Day, in a tradition known as “Flags-in,” the soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small flags before more than a quarter million gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol twenty-four hours a day to make sure each flag remains standing throughout the weekend. On Memorial Day the president or vice president lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the cemetery.

According to the U.S. flag code, American flags should be flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the pole. At 3:00 p.m. local time, all Americans are asked to pause for a moment of remembrance.

On May 29, 2004, America dedicated the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C., which pays tribute to all Americans who served in history’s most terrible war. Inscribed near a wall honoring those who gave their lives in World War II is a simple statement from Harry S. Truman: “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”

At this time of year, when Americans kick off their summers with holiday weekend vacations and barbecues, it is good to pause and remember our countrymen who have answered the call to serve, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifices.

Conflict                                                U.S. Military Deaths

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)            25,000

War of 1812 (1812-1815)                         20,000

Mexican War (1846-1848)                      13,300

Civil War (1861-1865)

Union                                                           360,000

Confederate                                                260,000

Spanish-American War (1898)            2,500

World War I (1917-1918)                        116,500

World War II (1941-1945)                      405,400

Korean War (1964-1973)                        36,600

Vietnam War (1964-1973)                      58,200

Persian Gulf War (1990-1991)               380

Afghanistan (2001-present)                   500+

Iraq War (2003-2011)                               4,700

This Summer’s Reading List

Summer’s approaching and that means… book fever! Yes, it’s time to dust off those books you’ve been meaning to read for so long, pull out those books you received for Christmas last year, open them up and start reading. I always say that no one is too busy to read. If you’re saying that, then stop *reading* this blog (or tweet), and stick your nose in a book. (And not a book that’s most likely going to be made into the next steamy movie – that doesn’t count… that’s just watching a silly movie in slow motion.)

So as you’ve probably figured out by now, every Tuesday is Book Rec day here on Adopting James. I’m just tingling with excitement over the next several books I’m going to read  this summer. Here’s a sneak peak at my bookshelf I’ll be making my way through in the next few months, so if you have any of these books, you can read along, or maybe this post will inspire you to get out there and treat yourself to some useful purchases. Be looking for my reviews in the next few months. And remember, I’m open to suggestions, so email them to me or comment. Happy reading!

This will be my first official baseball book, as I’ve just recently developed a love for the sport. I’m more interested in the history of baseball than taking it up as something I currently follow. Anytime you mix history in with something, my attention is taken captive. And heck, reading about the world’s longest ball game could be a good way to begin my baseball reading endeavor. Anyone have any other baseball book suggestions?

 

 

I am indebted to this man, like many of you, in so many ways. No so much because of the products he’s invented (Sarabeth and I still only have a MacBook, but would like others), but because of certain investments he’s made. Many people don’t know this, but it was Steve Jobs who gave Pixar Animation Studios their start by funding them back in the late ’80’s. In so many ways, it’s because of Steve Jobs that we have movies like Toy Story, Up, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and others, thus ultimately saving the Disney Studios. And, I’ve been told that it was Jobs himself who suggested Woody be a good guy rather than antagonistic when Lassetter, Stanton and their team were creating the first Toy Story . Why is that such a big deal, you ask? Let’s just say I’ve got a small collection of Woody figurines on my desk, including a real pull-string Woody doll on my bookshelf… with my name (Andy) written on the bottom of his right boot.

 

This is one of my favorite books, written by one of my favorite classic authors. If you haven’t read it, or Around the World in 80 Days, you finally need to do so. Plus, I hear Disney is making a movie about Captain Nemo, so… gots to be prepared for that.

 

 

 

I’ve heard nothing but outstanding things about author Erik Larson, and especially this book of American history. It’s set in Chicago, 1893, and centers around an architect, who was behind the idea of the 1893 World’s Fair, and a serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. This sounds like it has all the makings of a classic. Why didn’t they teach us this sort of stuff in school?

 

 

This book came highly recommended by Dr. Albert Mohler, and quite frankly, after reading a couple of his recommendations, I just keep going back to his list for more. And, after seeing The Conspirator last year, I’m very excited to get the story inside the story. I mean, other than hunting down Nazis or terrorist, what else could be more exciting than searching and capturing John Wilkes Booth? Plus, this will be great preparation for Spielberg’s Lincoln coming out this summer – And no, he does not go around hacking zombies to death with an axe.

Additional books: The Universe Next Door, Sire; The History of Israel, Kaiser; To Try Men’s Souls, Gingrich; America: The Last Best Hope, Vol. 2, Bennett; God’s Passion for His Glory – Piper

Image credits: Bottom of the 33rd, Steve Jobs, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Devil in the White City, Manhunt

George and Walt

There are two historical figures that I have great admiration for, but for different reasons. Reading their biographies over the past year has been a wonderful eye-opener to me. The first one I want to share with you is Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow.

Chernow does a superb job at bringing this dusty historical hero to life. He doesn’t linger long on the president’s ancestry or childhood, which has proven to be quite sluggish in other biographies. The majority of the book centers around Washington’s generalship in the Revolutionary War. With the way Washington constantly carried himself, it’s no wonder people thought of him as a god. He struck fear and admiration in the hearts of men, sort of like an 18th century William Wallace. Having a deep-rooted admiration for the man, I was glad that the author points out his flaws, one of them being that he was overly flirtation with the opposite sex throughout his married life. This prevents me from worshiping the man in my heart, which I’m prone to do. This flaw proves that he may have been an honorable war hero, a trustworthy statesman and sound president, but he was not a model husband. It is referenced over and over that he and Martha shared a deep friendship but not much more.

Washington was a much generous man than I ever would have known. He gladly adopted Martha’s children, and then helped raise their children. He paid for his son’s tuition, and even his nephew’s, even though they both proved to be sluggards and disappointed Washington in the ways of work ethic. He constantly had the door of his home open to guests and admirers. He repeatedly served his country in any way he was called to, though he was deeply reluctant to accept the presidency and much abhorred the idea of postponing retirement to his beloved Mount Vernon home.

As with the issue of slavery, Washington straddled the fence to say the best. It was as though in his heart he knew the practice was a deep evil, but he fooled himself (as had most other plantation owners), that it was an economic necessity. Even though he wasn’t as brutal as other slave owners, nor did he ever consent to breaking up slave families or condone selling them to other slave holders (though he had to resort to doing that in his later years due to a poor economic standing), no one can refute the fact that he didn’t better make known his abolitionist mindset. Instead, he put it off for future generations to deal with.

To stick with the darker side of much revered world-shakers, Neal Gabler handles Walt Disney’s life with complete bluntness in Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. In this book, Gabler discards the fairy-tale myths that often accompany the image of Walt Disney. To say the least, he was not an easy many to get along with, nor work for. He was self-motivated, hard-driven, and always had his nose to the grindstone, often forfeiting time with his family. The business of cartooning and moviemaking was air to him. Later on, his passions dramatically changed to amusement park building.

Talk about building a kingdom for yourself. In stark contrast to Washington, Disney sought only self-perseverance. He lived on his Mount Vernon his whole life, constantly devising ways to build his kingdom higher and bigger than anyone else’s. But the one thing no one can hold against Disney is his steadfast faithfulness to his wife. Unlike Washington, he was never bellow reproach on that subject, even though he once claimed that women were of no interest to him (and he certainly didn’t view them as the delicate flowers Washington had because he almost always cast women as the antagonists in his earliest films).

Washington died on December 14, 1799 and Disney died on December 15, 1966. Washington gave his life up in service to his country, and he welcomed death, never fearing it in the least throughout his life. Disney kept his life to himself, serving only his namesake, and he viewed death with much trepidation. One founded the greatest country in all the world, and the other founded the greatest entertainment industry Hollywood has ever known. One set humble goals for himself, but was swept away by his generous heart to serve his fellow countrymen, and he was happy to let go of the obligations to his country when he died. The other set lofty goals for himself and achieved those, but in the end, he did not get to take his kingdom with him when he died.

Though both America and the Disney Kingdom still stand strong today, it is fair to say that Washington did not lose nearly as much as Disney did at his death because he did not value his own life as much as Disney had. When you value yourself too much (at the expense of valuing others more), then in the end, you will most certainly lose the one thing you love the most. Death is eminent. Will you leave behind a legacy of servitude toward others, or will you grudgingly have to be torn away from the precious kingdoms you’ve built for yourself on this earth?

You can order Washington: A Life on the right side of this page.