Category Archives: America

Bluegrass Music Sunday at Humpback Rocks Farm

If you’ve not been to Humpback Rocks Farm’s concert series, you may want to plan a visit to western Virginia and get lost in the music of the mountains.

Wander the historic mountain farmstead, hike Humpback Rock trail to a rock outcropping with a view across the Shenandoah Valley to the Appalachians, picnic under the trees, and soak in the beauty of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains as you listen to talented musicians entertain guests in the shade of the big tree near the cabin.

This Sunday, July 16, the Bill Wellington String Band will be on stage at 2:00. All concerts are FREE in the series that continues through October 1.

July 16 – The Bill Wellington String Band
Aug 6 – Harmony Hill
Aug 20 – Grassy Ridge
Sep 3 – The Mutton Busters
Sep 17 – Blue Mountain Sunrise
Oct 1 – Uncle Henry’s Favorites

Humpback Rocks Farm is located at Milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Entertainment for 2017 includes some favorite bands from the past, and several new ones. Power and sound equipment have been upgraded, thanks to Friends of the Blue Ride Parkway’s Humpback Rocks Chapter and the generous donations of friends. Volunteers are always welcomed to help with set-up, table attendants, clean-up, and parking attendants to help with overflow crowds.

Come prepared to have fun. Bring a chair, and don’t be surprised if clogging breaks out!

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The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

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Sunday Memorial Day Ceremony in Churchville To Honor Native Son

World War I Dough Boy tombstone for Russell Snyder, located in Green Hill Cemetery, Churchville, Virginia. Born Aug 30, 1892, died Oct 8, 1918. Pvt, 11 Co CAC, Fort Mott, Salem, NJ. The statue is extremely detailed and must have cost a great deal of money. Here is a better photo of the dough boy tombstone.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Will Bear in Churchville with an invitation to the Memorial Day observance on Sunday, May 28,  at Green Hill Cemetery. It is a local commemoration that is open to the public, and is a reminder of why we remember all fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.

A casualty of World War II, Winfield Liggett is buried in France but a headstone in Churchville is a reminder of this native son.

This year will feature a local family’s contribution to the world’s largest amphibious military operation to liberate World War II France. Winfield Liggett III was assigned to what would often be the lead company (of the lead battalion of the lead regiment) of the 29th Division offensive operations. Wounded in the Normandy invasions, he returned to France and later died in the intense fight for the port city of Brest.

Jimmy Kilbourne,  Executive Director of Staunton’s Stonewall Brigade 116th Infantry Regiment Foundation and Museum, has compiled his research about this Virginian to reveal the fascinating story of sacrifice for freedom.

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Mother’s Day with Barbara and George W. Bush: Then and Now

Happy Mother’s Day to America’s former First Lady.

Barbara Bush with her first-born son, George W. Bush.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush (#Bush41) with son former President George W. Bush (#Bush43).

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Spring Forward … It’s Daylight Savings Time

Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m. we spring forward an hour as Daylight Savings Time comes back into play for the spring and summer months. If you forget to set your clocks forward, you will be late to church in the morning.

Guess I’ll be pulling the instruction book out in my car to spring ahead until we have to fall back to Eastern Standard Time on November 5.

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Groundhog Day 2017

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It’s February 2 … Groundhog Day … and an annual tradition at our home is to watch the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray. It’s comical and fun. But it is also reflective as Murray plays a sullen, arrogant, sarcastic weather forecaster who has to make the annual trek to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for the obligatory live television on-location weather report of the groundhog’s prediction for six more weeks of winter or spring.

It is fun to watch as the pessimist Murray gradually evolves into an optimist who moves beyond thinking of himself and realizes the good of people when he learns to care for others. It’s a comedy with a moral that we can watch with the family.

By the way, the annual event in Pennsylvania high atop Gobblers Knob this morning brought out Punxsutawney Phil who saw his shadow and, therefore, proclaimed six more weeks of winter. Wonder if Mother Nature was listening.

Goundhog Day, anyone? There’s a marathon beginning at 9:00 a.m. on AMC….

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Jenna Bush Hager Tweets Her Dad’s 2001 ‘Islam Is Peace’ Remarks

Pledging his support, President George W. Bush talks via telephone Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001, to New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

In remarks that lasted a total of seven minutes, President George W. Bush calmed an uneasy nation and the world just six days after the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was September 17, 2001, and he was at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C.

In the days following the worst attacks the U.S. had ever experienced on American soil, as the nation mourned the deaths of 3,000 innocent victims, the president knew he had to prevent wide-spread panic. Not far from the White House, he delivered his message, reaching out to the Muslim population as well as America and the global community, with a message of tolerance.

“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” he told those in attendance. “That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

He continued, “America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country.  Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads.  And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.”
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One Child of Immigrants’ Contribution to America

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While reading Facebook today I came across a post on my millennial Memphis friend Rebecca’s page. It was written by her friend Adam Sloan, another millennial. I say that in light of what is currently occurring in the United States and that he is the future of this country. There is hope. He wrote:

For 4 years in Memphis, I volunteered at Target House. That’s a residential facility for long-term patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you probably know, St. Jude families never pay for treatment, travel, housing or food. And that’s amazing. But did you also know that the hospital was created by a Lebanese immigrant as a thank you to the United States? Fact.

Oh, and the charitable organization within the hospital, which exists only to make sure the doors stay open and that children are saved, is called ALSAC – American Lebanese and Syrian Associated Charities. The board is largely of Lebanese and Syrian descent.

Knowledge is power. And immigration is not the enemy.

Who was this child of Lebanese immigrants who began St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, now known worldwide for its pediatric cancer patients?

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Many already know the founder of St. Jude’s was the beloved actor and comedienne Danny Thomas who was known to many baby boomers for “The Danny Thomas Show.” Others have seen his actress daughter, Marlo Thomas aka That Girl, who carried on her dad’s work after his death.

But he started life as Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz.

Read the story of how a young Danny Thomas, unsure of his life’s direction, “sought guidance from St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. If the saint would point to the path he should take, Danny vowed to build a shrine in his name. Success followed Danny’s plea and soon after, the legendary entertainer set about fulfilling his vow to St. Jude. The result was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital” (from St. Jude’s website).

That is but one story out of countless others of how immigrants have come to America and bettered the world. Who will be the next Danny Thomas?

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Challenger 31 Years Later … the Nation Tuned In To See a Teacher In Space

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Has it really been 31 years since the Challenger shuttle exploded in mid-air? Seven lives were lost, the tragedy was caught live on TV, and Americans were shocked at the disaster that had taken place in front of their eyes.

Space launches had become so routine to most people by the time Challenger came around that it rarely caused much excitement. Indeed, on that fateful day of January 28, 1986, it was cold and wintry in rural North Carolina, just as it was cold at the site of the launch in Florida. At home with my one-year-old son, I remembered the NASA launch was taking place that morning so turned on the television to see how it was going.

TV cameras scanned the spectator stands at Cape Kennedy where family and friends of the astronauts watched, full of excitement in anticipation of the launch that included Christa McAuliffe who was there as part of the Teacher in Space project. Millions of children across the nation sat in classrooms watching and waiting for the launch with expectations of experiments and lessons during the journey from the teacher in space. One of those student was Brian Schoeneman who is now my Bearing Drift colleague (see Remembering the Challenger).

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January 2 Is Official Federal New Year Holiday … Government Offices Closed, Schools Open, Bowl Games

rose-parade-1Don’t expect to see the mail today. Or to do any banking transactions. If you’re out of booze, too bad — Virginia’s ABC stores are closed as are federal, state, and local government offices. And the financial markets are closed as well.

Since New Year’s Day fell on Sunday, the official observation is today, Monday, January 2, 2017.

That is, unless you are a public school teacher. Many school systems in Virginia are open today, either fully operational with students, or as in the case of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Staunton, a teacher work day. Their Christmas-winter break is over.

What those teachers and students will miss today is the annual Rose Parade from Pasadena, California, at 11:00 a.m. eastern time.

The parade will be followed with a day of college football on ESPN beginning with the Cotton Bowl at 1:00 from Arlington, Texas, between Western Michigan and Wisconsin; the Rose Bowl at 5:00 from Pasadena between USC and Penn State; and the Sugar Bowl at 8:30 from New Orleans between Auburn and Oklahoma.

Enjoy your holiday! Tomorrow the real world waits.

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Remembering Singer-Songwriter John Denver On His New Year’s Eve birthday

John DenverBy Lynn R. Mitchell

“I would not be the man I am, nor would I sing the way I do, nor would I have written the songs I have written without the influence and inspiration you have been to me. I want you to know that today there are hundreds, if not thousands, who join me in saying, ‘God bless the day that you were born.’ ” – John Denver’s birthday letter to his mother, two months before his death

Today is John Denver’s birthday, born on New Year’s Eve in 1943.  John Denver — forever in our minds as the youthful, blonde-headed, wire-rimmed granny glasses-wearing troubadour — would now be a 73-year-old grandpa if he had lived. His daughter Anna Kate, 40, who lives in New Zealand with her husband Jaime Hutter, gave birth to a daughter, Daisy Eloise, on December 21, 2011.

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Merry Christmas, Stacy … Wherever You Are

Christmas ornament hand-painted by 10-year-old Stacy in 1975.

As I was growing up, a tradition in our family was for my parents to give us ornaments each year from places they had traveled. My husband and I continued the tradition with our children … so we have a number of “special” ornaments that are placed on the tree year after year.

This year was no different. As I carefully unwrapped the tissue paper from around one particular ornament, memories flooded back as I saw the hand-painted ceramic decoration for the tree. It was a jack-in-the-box painted in 1975 by a 10-year-old boy named Stacy. I held the ornament in my hand and remembered back to the days when I worked at Children’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

Stacy touched my heart more than any other child I came in contact with at the hospital because of his devilish sincerity. I loved that child. He was from southwestern Virginia, one of many children from a large, down-on-their-luck Appalachian family. As best I can remember, the accident that changed his life occurred when he was playing with his siblings and they tied him to a tree, piled leaves at the base of the tree, and set the leaves on fire. Stacy was horribly burned, so much so that much of both legs and part of one arm had to be amputated. He came to Children’s Hospital for rehabilitation.

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Astronaut and Former U.S. Senator John Glenn Is Dead at 95

Official U.S. Senate portrait of John Glenn, 1990s.

Official U.S. Senate portrait of John Glenn, 1990s.

John Glenn, the first American astronaut to circle the earth, has died at the age of 95.

The Washington Post, in noting his passing, wrote:

One of the original “Magnificent Seven” astronauts in NASA’s Mercury program, John Glenn captured the nation’s attention in 1962 when he first circumnavigated the globe and returned as a hero who had scaled heights no American had reached before.

In his post-NASA career, Glenn served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. Following his last term in 1998, at age 77, he took a final flight of glory, rocketing back into space as a crew member aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

For Baby Boomers, John Glenn was a familiar name as America became more involved in the space race. Glenn and his fellow space pioneers who made up the Magnificent 7 — Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordo Cooper, Wally Schirra, and Deke Slayton — literally went where no man had gone before. They were the first astronauts … they were the space cowboys.

A Marine pilot who went on to run for public office after retiring from NASA, Glenn outlived them all. His body will lie in state in the Ohio Capitol, and he will be buried at Arlington Cemetery.

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Wreaths Across America … Remembering Fallen Military Heroes at Christmas

Wreaths Across America tractor-trailer trucks will soon leave Maine for the week-long journey to Arlington and other national cemeteries throughout America, each loaded with evergreen wreaths. If you drive by a military cemetery on Saturday, December 17, 2016, and see tombstones decorated with fresh, handmade balsam Christmas wreaths accented with bright red bows, you will have witnessed the generosity of Wreaths Across America.

The tradition was started in 1992 with 4,000 wreaths donated by Morrill Worcester, a tradition that continues each December. This year, thousands of volunteers across the nation and around the world will lay hundreds of thousands of wreaths on military graves as a remembrance of those who sacrificed for our freedom.

Mr. Worcester’s quiet donation all those years ago of 4,000 wreaths for Arlington Cemetery has become an annual gift of love from this Maine wreath maker who recognized that freedom is not free. Because of his generosity and desire to remember those who sacrificed, he started a tradition that was fairly obscure for 12 years until a photo hit the internet in 2005 showing the Christmas wreaths on Arlington’s snow-covered graves.

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Pearl Harbor and 9/11 … Have We Forgotten?

pearl-harbor-1Today is December 7th … Pearl Harbor Day.

December 7, 1941 … 75 years ago America suffered the worst attack ever on our soil at the hands of the Japanese who conducted a sneak attack on the U.S. Naval base in Hawaii. It was, in the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “a date which will live in infamy.”

Or so we thought.

Sixty years later, on September 11, 2001, America came under an even larger attack on our soil and it wasn’t on an island in the South Pacific. It was right here on the mainland. America was attacked in New York City and Pennsylvania and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. More people died that day than in 1941. The big difference was that they were civilians.

Have Americans forgotten Pearl Harbor? Most who are alive to remember are now in their 90s. Many of the survivors have passed away … the rest are increasingly in frail health.

How on God’s green earth do we expect people to remember Pearl Harbor, an event that happened 75 years ago, when many have already forgotten the terror from 9/11 that occurred just a short 15 years ago? Have Americans lost their resolve? Their will? Their courage? Their honor? Their willingness to stand up for the home front?

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