Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. Our town celebrated with a ceremony at the County Court House. Veterans, their families, and non-veterans, as well as representatives of other community organizations, arrived to participate in the event. Here are some of the scenes:

Local school bands played the national anthem and other songs.

The Commander of the local American Legion Post welcomed visitors.

A chorus from a local elementary school sang patriotic songs.
It was a moving ceremony on a clear, cold day. For those who may not know how we came to commemorate this occasion, here is a brief history. In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect , and the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter combat, the "war to end all wars" was over. The first “Armistice Day” was celebrated Nov 11, 1919, to commemorate the end of war.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly.

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

The poem above was written by World War I Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada 's First Brigade Artillery. It expressed McCrae's grief over the "row on row" of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders' battlefields, located in a region of western Belgium and northern France. The poem presented a striking image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses. Col McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis in 1918 when he was still working in a field hospital. He was 45 years old. Because of this poem, the poppy came to the flower of remembrance for veterans.

The dream of an end to war would not be realized. Only twenty-odd years after the Armistice, World War II would require the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history. In 1954, Congress changed the name of the event from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, to honor all of America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

If you value your freedom, thank a veteran.


(Information above adapted from websites of the US Veterans Administration and of Flanders Museum, Belgium)

Monday, November 3, 2008


As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to vote for the candidates of our choice. Regardless of your political afiliation or preferences, it is important that you go to the polls and cast your vote.

In many countries, the people have no say in their government. These people would welcome the opportunity to vote to select their leaders.

We have that wonderful privilege. Let's use it.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn Colors

This weekend Cliff and I went to Hampton Virginia for a conference. During part of our trip, we drove on the Colonial Parkway. The leaves were at their peak and the colors were spectacular. My photos do not do them justice.

The National Park Service describes the parkway as follows: "An integral part of Colonial National Historical Park, this 24 mile scenic Colonial-style highway connects Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. Its panoramic vistas, gently winding curves, through patches of Pine and Evergreen forest, constantly leaves the visitor with an expectation as to what the next curve may bring forth. "

Of course, it is always good to come back home. Here we get a first glimpse of the mountains that surround our beautiful valley.

This is the view from our family room window, looking out on the deck and the leaves of our two red maples (acer rubrum).

Autumn brings mixed emotions. Today is my mother's birthday and were she alive she'd be 101 today. However, she died suddenly in 1987, just five days shy of her 80th birthday. The leaves were spectacular on the day we buried her, as they are today. I look at the leaves in all their magnificent glory and remember her passing with great sadness. Still, I am so grateful I had such a wonderful mother.