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Memorial Day

A popular military slogan that I heard while serving in it went like this, “All gave some, but some gave all.” This is a fitting dedication to all of those who kept the faith to keep freedom alive, even unto death. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee. Memorial Day is a day to recall all of those who have perished in our nation’s service. The day was originally called Decoration Day. The official birthplace of Memorial Day was named Waterloo N.Y. by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966, yet it is very difficult to say exactly it began. There are many claims as to who and where it first started, there are over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being it’s birthplace. There’s some evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. The claim comes from a hymn published in 1867. The song’s title was “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet. It was dedication was “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.” The most probable scenario is that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in General Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all. Nowadays, Memorial Day is usually about sales, eating and relaxation. Though many Americans have forgotten it’s meanings and message, the fact remains without many who paid the ultimate price during their service time, of which were both men and women, we would most likely be under the control of another government. At the very least, we would be a lesser country, one that that would be without some of it’s many freedoms. I know that many of them have evaporated overnight after September 11, 2001. However, for now until our national deficit overwhelms under dubious conditions and circumstances, we will remain the greatest or last hope for mankind in my opinion. God bless America. Remember, freedom is never free as someone always must pay the price for it. Thank you heroes for your steadfast dedication unto the end!

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Top Gift Ideas for Teenage Girls

Contrary to what most women’s magazines will tell you, not all girls like the same things: fashion, shoes, boybands, film industry celebrities, makeup, and holidays in seaside resorts. Heck, some girls don’t even like boys! This is the 21st century, in which there is no room for gender stereotypes.

This means, when it comes to gift ideas for teenage girls, you can’t just buy a voucher for the local shopping centre or tickets to an upcoming gig without thinking about it first. You’ve got to put a lot more thought into gifts, and actually consider the person’s personal interests as opposed to what media and trends dictate a girl of her age “should” like.

To help get you on the right track to finding that perfect gift, here is a selection of presents received and approved by an array of very different young ladies over the years.

Tina was 14 when she got the gift she remembers best from her teenage years. At the time she was really shy and only just discovering her interests, which were vary varied. Tina highly enjoyed when her mum took her to the ballet, at home she loved nothing more than listening to folk rock music, and over the weekends she spent time pottering around the garden with her gran. It was her father who excelled himself in the gift department. He realised her love for folk music and invested in a violin that Tina still plays to this day. The young lady joined the school orchestra and conquered her shyness by taking part in public performances.

When Jenny turned 16, she’d just gone through her first major break up. It felt like everything she’d previously liked doing (playing computer games, cycling, baking) reminded her of her ex-boyfriend so she was on the lookout for new adventures and hobbies. Her best friend came to the rescue with a voucher for a surfing lesson. Jenny loved her time in the great outdoors and gradually learned to love cycling again too, helping her get over her heartbreak.

Lesley was 19 when she attended her first beautician course, specialising in evening makeup. She had a part time job working as a waitress to fund her studies. When not at college, there was nothing she liked more than practising her newly acquired skills on friends and family. She was also keen on sports with her favourites being swimming and athletics. Lesley’s friends chipped in for her gift: a nail technician’s college kit complete with files, buffers, tweezers, a cuticle knife and nail polish. This meant she could enrol in another course at the college, which she couldn’t otherwise have afforded, and also had the means with which to practice at home.

As you can tell from these examples, the best gifts seem to have a lot to do with timing. Fortunately, birthdays and Christmas don’t come unannounced so in the run up to these occasions, be curious and find out what’s going on in your dearest teenage girl’s life. Get to know what she’s been doing lately, listening to, seeing, visiting and otherwise passing her time with. It’s attention to detail that will make it possible to buy or make that perfect gift she’ll treasure.