Happy Independence Day! (US)

Happy Independence Day to my readers from the US.  Today is a post day, but as its a National Holiday and busy day for many of us celebrating, I decided to do another simple post, this time random facts about July 4th.

To my non-US readers, I swear this whole month won’t be a FREEEDOOOM month.  While the theme of the Women of History posts will be American, it will otherwise not be US centric like this.  Happy Republic Day to those in the Philippines, and a happy belated Canada Day to those in Canada.

So here we go, some interesting facts about Independance Day

  • – July 4th became a federal holiday in 1870, nearly a hundred years after the country was founded.  It became a paid federal holiday in 1938.
  • The vote on the Declaration of Independence took place on July 2, the publication took place on July 4th (with two signatures including John Hancock’s) and wasn’t completely signed till August of that year.  We also wouldn’t have ‘won our independence’  till 1783.  John Adams reportedly observed Independence Day on July 2nd and considered the 4th to be wrong.
  • Two of the men who worked on the Declaration – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson – would become President.  They also would die on July 4, 1826, 50 years later, just hours apart.  James Monroe, another president, died on July 4, 1831.  Calvin Coolidge was born on Independence day in 1872, only a few short years before the centennial celebration.
  • The Philippines celebrates July 4th as their Republic Day because they were recognized as an independent Nation and no longer a US territory on July 4, 1946.
  • We did not have a written plan for our government till November 1777.  It would not be fully ratified until March 1, 1781.  The Articles of Confederation would be scrapped in favor of the US Constitution in 1787. So the government we are all familar with didn’t exist for 11 years after the Declaration of Independence.  The Constitution was effective just a few months before the US’ 12th birthday in 1789.
  • The first time the 50 state flag was displayed was July 4, 1960. Hawaii and Alaska had become states 10 months earlier, but they waited till the 4th to present the new flag.  It has been 58 years since there was a change made to the Flag.
  • The Freedom of Information Act was signed on July 4, 1966 by President Johnson.
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July 4th Movie Post

Since it’s the week of the Fourth of July, I figured I’d start the month with a post about my favorite US government focused films and TV shows.   I’ve come up with a list of movies and TV shows that I feel are good and also happen to have that theme.  Hopefully you’ll agree with me.   I’m sure there are many films and shows that should be on the list that I don’t include.   Some of this is because I simply haven’t watched them.  So feel free to suggest other films and tv shows in the comments area.  I know I’m missing quite a few of the classics.

West Wing (1999-2006)
West Wing was a liberal slanted TV show that showcased the inner workings of an Administration and written by Aaron Sorkin whose known for fast witty dialogue.  It starred Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet, and included many famous faces over the years including Alan Alada, Jimmy Smits, Ed Begley Jr., Rob Lowe,  and many others.  This is one of the best written shows in my opinion and remains one of my favorites.  While it is liberal slanted (The administration is democrat) I feel they try their best to portray the Republican characters with dignity.  I do feel I should warn you – the finales tend to hit you hard with feels.

Designated Survivor (2016-?)

Designated Survivor is a show that explores the contingency of the Designated Survivor.  When an attack on the capital leaves the President and most of the government dead, Tom Kirkman is sworn in as President as he was the designated survivor for the State of the Union speech.  He must deal with conspiracy and rebuilding his nation after such a severe attack.  IT has an excellent cast led by Kiefer Sutherland  and excellent writing for the most part.  While it has been cancelled by ABC, I still hope it gets renewed by another distribution company.

Independence Day

You can’t have an Independence day theme without mentioning the movie with the day in the title.  This sci-fi thriller has aliens attacking us, and the world meeting the challenge.  It has an amazing Cast (Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch) and a good script.   The sequel is also pretty good, although I prefer the first movie.

The American President

This is more of a romance film then one focused on the US government.  It is also has Aaron Sorkin (who wrote the majority of West Wing) on the writing staff, so maybe that’s why I liked it.  In this film the President (played by Michael Douglas) falls in love with a lobbyist played by Annette Bening.  It’s a cute romance, which brings us to our last selection.  Also features Martin Sheen as the Chief of Staff before he would go become the President himself in Sorkin’s West Wing.

Dave

Dave is a romantic comedy featuring Kevin Kline as Dave, a temp office employee who has a side job as being President X’s double.  This comes in handy when the actual president has a stroke while having an affair.  The Chief of Staff brings in Dave to act as the president for a while so they could hide the president’s condition.  And he manages to convince everyone, including the President’s wife (Sigourney Weaver) for awhile.  But the COS is up to no good, and Dave has to decide whether to go along with the plan or  change things.  Also this movie has Ben Kingsley as the Vice President and Frank A. Langella Jr as Bob Alexander the corrupt Chief of Staff.

Happy St Patrick’s Day

I decided to take a break from my usual friday essay on Women of history this week as tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day.  The Day is celebrated differently in different regions of the world, and by various people within the US.  For some it is a religious holiday, a feast celebrating Saint Patrick, and for others it is simply a day to celebrate Irish culture and heritage.

As an American, I am more familiar with the secular version of the holiday then the religious. The day has become a day known for celebrating Irish/Irish-American history and culture as well as a food and drink holiday.  I have Irish ancestry on both sides of my family, but I don’t think that has much to do with why I like Saint Patrick’s day.  However, it’s a day for family and friends to gather around and share good food (most likely Irish in nature) and each other.  The area I live in has a large amount of people of Irish and German descent, so just about everyone can say “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”

So who was Saint Patrick?  And why was he connected to Ireland and March 17?  Well, that is what today’s post is about.

St Patrick was a Briton born during the Roman occupation.  While his actual time is debated, it is largely agreed that he was active as a missionary and bishop during the late fifth Century.  According to his own writings, he was not christian until his late teens, when he was taken prisoner in Ireland.

His hometown of Bannavem Taberniae has no modern equivalent so it is hard to say where he was from, except that it was from the British Isles or Northern France.  Many believe that it was southwestern Scotland, near the coast facing Ireland.

Patrick, from his own accounts, was born into a Catholic family.  His father Calpurnius was a deacon as well as a member of the local government, and his grandfather a Catholic Priest.  He himself wasn’t a strong believer, that is not untill he was 16.  At that time, he was captured by a crew of Irish raiders and taken to Ireland.

He lived in Ireland for about six years according to his Confession, before escaping back to his native land. He had spent his time on Ireland as a Sheppard, and strengthening his new-found faith in God.  He believed that God had led him to a ship that would take him home to his family.

He then became a cleric, studying christianity and eventually was ordained as a Priest, possibly by another saint, Germanus of Auxerre.  He claimed to have seen a vision of the people of Ireland calling out to him to lead them in their faith.

He came to Ireland as a bishop, replacing the outgoing Bishop Palladius. It is possible that the two men’s stories have intermingled over the centuries, and the legends of Saint Patrick is actually more a melting pot of Palladius (who was known as Patrick by some) and Patrick.

At some point during his ministry, he was put on trial by his fellow Irish Christians, which prompted him to write his declaration.  He, according to legend, banished snakes from the island, as Ireland was not known to have snakes.  It was more likely a naturally occurring absence.

Some of the common imagery on Saint Patrick’s day are legends in themselves.  The Shamrock,  also known as a clover, was credited as part of a parable that Patrick told to explain the holy Trinity.

Most of Patrick’s life is left to be guessed, due to the loss of any contemporary accounts of his activities other than his own writings, and the possibility that accounts that do remain might be confusing Palladius and Patrick together.

However, the legend of the man might be more important.  He has come to represent Ireland, being one of their patron saints, perhaps the most well-known.  His feast day is celebrated on the day he supposedly died, March 17, and at least in the United States its a day to celebrate being Irish (even if it’s just for a day).

It wasn’t always that way, and the United States has a history of prejudice against the Irish.  But it has come along way.  Saint Patrick’s day has taken a life of its own in the United States and Canada.  In Ireland however, it was only in the last twenty years that the day started to be more than just a religious observance.

So whether you celebrate this day as a religious observance or a cultural one, may you have a great St Patrick’s Day.

Further Reading:

Saint Patrick’s Day (US)

Wikipedia: Saint Patrick

Wikipedia: Palladius

Confession of Patrick – Saint Patrick

Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus – St Patrick

History.com: The History of St Patrick’s Day

 

The History of Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentines’ Day to everyone!

For me Valentine’s day is just a day to express love/affection.  I end up getting gifts for my family and close friends if I’m seeing them that day. For many however, its a day for romantically involved couples to express their love for one another in a more formal way.  It’s definately a holiday built upon cards and gifts.  Different cultures treat it differently though.  Continue reading

Happy Veterans Day

Today is Vetran’s day.  While yesterday was the day that most Americans “observed” the holiday, this is one of the holidays that has a particular date set.  November 11 is Veterans day for a particular reason.

Veterans Day is a day to honor all veterans, living or dead, who have fought for their country.  Usually it focuses more on those living, as Memorial Day focuses more on those who died during their service.

It was started in 1919 on the first anniversary of the armistice, or the end of World War 2.  At the time it was called Armistice day.  In 1927, Congress passed a resolution to make it an annual event, and in 1938 it officially became a US holiday. After World War II, however, it was clear that the ‘War to End All Wars’ was unfortunately not the truth. In 1954, Congress passed HR 7786, which renamed it from Armistice Day to Veterans day to honor the veterans of all wars.  The US is not the only country to celebrate a Veterans Day, although in many countries it is still known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

The first world war ended on June 28, 1919 but Veterans day is set upon the armistice between the nations that took place on November 11, 1918.  It did not officially end the war, but it ended the fighting.  The agreement was to end hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Thus, at 11am (Paris time – so 5am in New York) on November 11, 1918 the actual fighting stopped.  It took till June to formulate and sign the Treaty that would formally end the war.

For a brief period of time starting in 1971 Veterans Day was on a Monday to create a 3 day weekend, and would end up at various times depending on who designed the holiday calendar that year.  However, in 1975, Veterans Day returned to its home on November 11, which has historical significance. Still, while the official day is still November 11, regardless of when it falls during the week, the closing of federal offices occurs the friday or Monday closest to the actual observance.  (This year that being Friday the 10th).  This is why you will sometimes see Veterans Day twice on your calendar.  One will say Observed (i.e. The three day weekend) and one will simply say Veterans Day.

I have several veterans in my family.  Both my grandfathers served.  My paternal Grandfather Henry served with the Navy during the last year or so of World War II.  He actually lied to get into service, being only 16 when he enlisted.  He would find out later that he was actually one of the guards doing duty during the transport of the Hydrogen bomb that would be tested.

My other Grandfather served briefly during Korea, and I have an Uncle, Aunt, and several cousins who served or continue to serve in various branches of the Armed Services.  So today I thank them and all other veterans for the time they spent serving our country.

So…Today is Chocolate Day

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Chocolate!  (photo source)

When searching for topics to write about this month, I came across a website that claimed that July 7th is Chocolate Day.  They don’t know who created it, where it was first celebrated, except they suspect that it was candymakers.

I don’t even mind.  I love chocolate, and I know many of you do too. My personal favorite candy bar  is a Reeses, which is chocolate and peanut butter.  I also am a big fan of Nutella (chocolate and hazelnut spread).  There are many ways to eat chocolate, or make use of chocolate.  Sadly I did not eat any today, although my diet is probably happy I refrained.

My second favorite chocolate bar is actually not even a bar, its nuggets.  It’s the Hershey Nuggets with peanut butter or caramel inside.

So if you are up to it, and like chocolate, feel free to eat some today in honor of Chocolate day!  I’m going to go see if I still have some of my chocolate milk left.  That counts.

Memorial Day

The time has come around to celebrate Memorial day, a day set aside to honor those who have died in the armed services of the United States.  Last year I covered some of the history about the holiday on this post. This year I figured I would revisit some of the wars in which the US has participated.  In researching this, I found that we have been in more armed conflicts then I had thought we had.  Whether this was an oversight of my history education in school, or just something I forgot, I don’t know.   I was even going to type up a list, but if the wikipedia list is anything to go by, it would have been too long for a simple blog post.

Some of the conflicts and wars were Americans against ourselves or our neighbors such as the Native Americans, Mexico and once Canada (on behalf of Britain). Others were American forces helping out in other conflicts or outright war with another country.  Either way, Memorial Day is a day to celebrate the Men and Women who put their life on the line for our country and lost it.   We might not remember why they fought or disagreed with the leadership that sent them to fight, but we should remember their sacrifice for our country.

The US of course isn’t the only country to have a day set aside to memorialize those who have died while in the service of their country, as shown in this Time.com Article.  Some take place in spring, like the US holiday, but others take place at other times of the year.  For example, in Great Britain, they celebrate Remembrance Day on November 11, the day World War II ended.

Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day, but they have separate purposes.  Veterans Day in the US is held on November 11, and is there to honor all those who served.  Memorial day is for the sole purpose of honoring the memory of those who served and lost their lives.

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Source: Pixabay