If you ask most Americans, few have any idea why we celebrate Memorial Day. A recent Gallup Poll revealed that only 28 percent of Americans know the true meaning behind this national holiday. To far too many, the last Monday in May is little more than a much-deserved day off, an opportunity to buy a car at a rock-bottom price, grill a burger in the backyard, or catch a few rays at the beach. Memorial Day is a big opportunity for racing enthusiasts, too; the Indianapolis 500 has been held on the holiday since 1911.
Clearly, our modern-day Memorial Day celebration is miles away from the original intent of its founders. Originally called Decoration Day, it was born out of the custom of decorating the graves of loved ones. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic as a day to remember those who had fallen as a result of the Civil War. Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Civil War is responsible for more than 1,030,000 casualties (three percent of the population), including approximately 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease. The war accounted for more casualties than all other US wars combined.
Here are some other sobering US casualty statistics * (as of May 26, 2017):
- Revolutionary War: 4,435
- War of 1812: 2,260
- Mexican War: 13,283
- Spanish-American War: 2,446
- World War I: 116,516
- World War II: 405,399
- Korea: 54,246
- Vietnam: 58,220
- Persian Gulf War: 382
- Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,411
- Operation New Dawn: 73
- Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,216
- Operation Inherent Resolve: 41
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel: 35
* Statistics vary greatly depending upon the source. In most cases, the numbers above reflect those from the US Department of Defense.
Most of us take the freedoms we enjoy for granted, but those freedoms were paid for at a very high cost —brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice so we would have the honor of living in the greatest nation on earth. One only needs to visit a veterans cemetery, and see row after row of white crosses, to grasp the gravity of that sacrifice. Those souls gave their all so we could have the right, and the freedom, to enjoy the American way of life.
This Memorial Day before you bring out the lawn chairs and light the grill, take a moment to contemplate the gift of freedom you have been so unselfishly given. Those who have sacrificed their lives have earned it.
I have long been an animal advocate. At Sunny Hollow Elementary school back in the 60s, my friend Carrie and I performed our own rendition of “Born Free” at the annual talent show, she playing the piano and me positioned on top of said piano. The introduction was especially moving. While she tinkled the ivories, I pled my case to the audience:
There are animals living in zoos and they are living in cages. That’s just not right, because they were here first!
(Or something equally passionate.)
Pictures of beautiful wild animals — from Arctic foxes to zebras — flashed behind us in living color (This was long before Powerpoint, so we either had slides or overheads…my shrinking brain can’t recall.) as I belted out the lyrics. I should have been on Broadway.
My pet cause now is the abolition of puppy mills, but I also find the abuse of animals in zoos and other tourist attractions to be equally loathsome.
If you, too, are an animal lover, check out this list of of where not to visit on your next vacation: Where Not to Visit if You Love Animals
Okay, I have officially stepped off my soapbox.
Until next time…
We adopted our little Fitzgerald a few months ago from Underdog Rescue, a nonprofit pet rescue, rehabilitation, and placement organization. He is one of the best things that ever happened to me (more on that in a subsequent post). We are together pretty much 24×7.
Fitz checking out his new environment
I don’t know what it is about him, but he is a real tick magnet – even with preventative meds from our vet. Maybe it has something to do with him being a stud at a puppy mill for two years… get it… chick magnet…
Anyhoo, last night I was innocently watching “Shark Tank” and petting Mr. Fitz when lo and behold I found a tick stubbornly attached to his cute little nose. I don’t know about you, but blood-sucking insects creep me out. I was too freaked to grab my phone and take a picture of the parasite, but this is what it looked like:
American Dog Tick
My strategy in situations like this is to interrupt my husband and make him do the dirty work. Because he is wonderful and he loves the Fitzenheimer like crazy, he drops everything to help. Last night, however, he was engrossed in an email for work and thought our crisis could wait five minutes. WHAT??? Five minutes was an eternity for this fanatical dog mama, so I had to take matters into my own hands.
I certainly wasn’t going to pry out the bugger, so I had to put on my thinking cap. Then the lightbulb came on. There is an essential oil for everything! I took out my handy dandy Essential Oils Desk Reference, the holy grail for Young Living distributors, and looked up animal care. Among several other “hot” oils or blends (Cinnamon, Thyme, Oregano, Mountain Savory, Abundance, or Exodus II), which I don’t have, the YL experts also suggested Peppermint. B-I-N-G-O, that I could do!
Young Living Peppermint Oil
I took gentle hold of our white fluff ball, put a wee drop of Peppermint Oil on my fingertip, and completely covered the blood-sucking invader’s body. One one thousand … two one thousand … and I lifted said finger. The tick released its head and frantically crawled down Fitzy’s nose. I bravely grabbed it and flicked it into the toilet. I am a machine!
That was it … crisis averted! In a battle between peppermint oil and a wood tick, it was no contest!
Until next time,
The human voice is the organ of the soul
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
On my six-hour drive down to visit my daughter and her family, I listened to a wonderful documentary on Minnesota Public Radio: The Vietnam Tapes: Letters from a Willmar Soldier (http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/04/30/mpr_news_presents).
Dan Kleven and his family from Willmar, Minnesota sent cassette tapes back and forth while he was deployed during the war. He drew vivid word pictures about life in combat and they kept him tuned into daily life on the farm. One of Dan’s best friends also sent him audio letters to stay connected. The documentary was fascinating. Not only did the tapes keep a family sane and connected during wartime, they are also a wonderful legacy for the Kleven family.
Listening to this story got me thinking about how much I wish I had voice recordings of my departed family members. Why hadn’t I taken my digital recorder and asked them about their lives and memories? Why hadn’t I asked what I was like as a child? I would give anything to hear the voices of my parents again. How about my grandparents? Their lives on the North Dakota prairie were remarkable. Why don’t I have recordings of Grandpa Art singing Norwegian songs or Grandma Alvilda sharing precious memories of Mom when she was a little girl? I could just kick myself.
Since they have all passed on, I can’t go back in time and fix this, but it’s not too late for you. Grab a video camera, smart phone, or recorder, sit down around the kitchen table, and start sharing. It needn’t be a Herculean effort, you’re not going for an Oscar after all, so just talk. And while you’re at it, have Mom and Dad share their special talent… everybody has one! If you can, set the recording device in an inconspicuous place so people can be themselves.
You might be young and think you have all the time in the world, but you never know. Besides, you’ll have a lot of laughs in the process. Have fun!
Until next time,
Amy Hammond Hagberg
I don’t want to sound ghoulish, but I have the feeling I’m not going to make it to be a little old lady with a walker and too much perfume. So, that means I’d better hurry up and have some fun. It is no longer enough to wake up, work, watch TV, go to bed, and start the whole thing all over again.
I am bound and determined to have a whole lot more fun in 2015 than I did in 2014. Interestingly, there are scads of other social networkers feeling the same way. So… I am officially throwing out the gauntlet on THE 2015 HAVE MORE FUN CHALLENGE! The goal is to do something fun every single day.
It could be something big like jumping out of a plane, or perhaps a more mundane activity, such as curling up on the coach and watching a movie with your sweetie. Having fun isn’t rocket science. Take a break and treat yourself. Laugh a little each day; sometimes laughter is your most effective weapon. Eat goofy food on your very best dishes. Play a new video or board game. Wear fancy earrings with your pajamas. Take a class that has always intrigued you. Go dancing, take Zumba classes, dance in the rain. DO SOMETHING! Run away from home every once in a while; take a vacation even if it is just for a weekend. Then stay off the computer and tell your friends and family not to contact you unless it is an extreme emergency. Stretch yourself…. really do some of the things on your bucket list. The key is to get out there and enjoy life.
Every few days I will be posting on my blog and social media sights about what I did for fun that day. To get us started, I am going to share some pictures taken last Christmas of the family parasailing. Just so you know, I am absolutely petrified of everything …. really. I have arachnephobia, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, dentophobia, gerascophobia, and meningiphobia to name a few.
My worst fear, however, is my fear of heights. So when my family asked me to go parasailing when we went to Florida, they fully expected me to politely decline. But I thought, I HAVE to do something daring in my life overflowing with Walter Mitty moments, and we were staying on Fort Myers Beach, so I though what the heck.
We were four hundred above the man eating sharks in the ocean and I wasn’t even scared! Well, only that my fear of sliding off the seat! I actually had a better time than did my husband and he is a tough guy. Parasailing is one of my favorite memories!
So, will you accept my challenge? What did you do for fun today?
Until next time,
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