Category Archives: America

Happy 4th of July From the Mitchells

For years Mr. Mitchell and I have hosted Fourth of July picnics, some small and some that were larger. One year we had over 100 guests — family, friends, and neighbors — in the back yard celebrating America’s independence. Here’s a look back….


What is the 4th of July without American flags? They were in abundance.


Relaxing and taking photos before guests arrived.

Alex puts up flag over grilling area.

Flags, flags, flags.


The grilling area ready for
100+ guests … three grills, three cooks,
100 hotdogs, 100 hamburgers, 100 Italian sausages.

* “SWAC House” coined by Yankee Phil in his post about the cookout

Previous posts:
SWAC House* 4th of July blast … part 1
SWAC House* 4th of July blast … part 2
SWAC House* 4th of July blast … part 3
SWAC House* 4th of July blast … a Marine in Iraq: “Freedom Isn’t Free”
4th of July = flags, flags, flags
A Look Back at 4th of July Parades, Cookouts at SWAC House

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Former First Lady Barbara Bush’s Health Declining

I gravitated to the bookcase this afternoon and pulled out the 1994 memoir written by former First Lady Barbara Bush, her smiling face on the cover looking back at me as I fanned through the pages of photos from Bush family highlights throughout the years.

On this spring Sunday afternoon, an official statement was issued from the office of former President George H.W. Bush about his wife:

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Barbara Bush. What a lady. Ever gracious even while being a rock who anchored her family to reality amidst their wealth, she wielded a wit that endeared her to the nation.

Her book dedication gives a glimpse of this remarkable wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother: “To faith, family, and friends; and to George Bush who taught me that these are the most important things in life.”

Indeed. Their love story began when they were 16 and 17 … and it continues to this day, as noted in an April 4, 2018, story in USA Today:

It’s been decades, but Barbara Bush is still very much in love with her husband.

The former first lady wrote about former president George H. W. Bush in a note for the spring edition of Smith College’s alumnae magazine.

“I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago,” Barbara Bush wrote in the life updates section for the magazine.

In the Preface of “Barbara Bush: A Memoir,” she wrote:

“George Bush knows how I feel. He is the hero.”

And in an earlier paragraph of the Preface, Mrs. Bush noted:

“I also note that we seem to weep a lot in this book. We are an emotional group and rather like a good tear or two. Please also notice that we cry when we are glad and when we are sad. Love brings a tear. Friends bring a tear. A smile, sweetness, even a kind word brings a tear.”

There are probably some tears today with the sad news of Mrs. Bush’s failing health, even as she is wrapped in prayers and love. Thinking of the entire Bush family at this difficult time….

Challenger 32 Years Later … the Nation Tuned In To See a Teacher In Space

The STS-51L CrewHas it really been 32 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 students was Brian Schoeneman, Bearing Drift Editor-in-Chief Emeritus (see Remembering the Challenger).

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Remembering Singer John Denver on his New Year’s Eve Birthday

John Denver

Two months before his death, singer/songwriter John Denver wrote a letter to his mother on her birthday and told her, “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.’ ”

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 74-year-old grandpa if he had lived. His daughter Anna Kate, 41, 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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10:28 a.m. … 9/11: World Trade Center North Tower Collapses

10:28 a.m. North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers 9/11 … may we never forget.

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10:07 a.m. … 9/11: United Flight 93 goes down

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13

The heroes of United Flight 93 were ordinary Americans who reacted in extraordinary times. On a hijacked airplane heading toward Washington, D.C., possibly targeting the White House or the Capitol building, and with the knowledge of what had already occurred that morning with the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, passengers took matters into their own hands.

Ordinary citizens became heroes in their attempt to overtake the Muslum terrorists who had pirated the plane, and crashed it into the countryside of southwestern Pennsylvania.

I have written before of my special connection to Flight 93. My sister, a member of the George W. Bush administration, was at work in the White House that day. If Flight 93 had hit Washington as had happened in New York City and Arlington’s Pentagon, our family could have been one of the many mourning a lost one.

On the tenth anniversary of that tragic day, the crash site outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, was formally dedicated as a permanent reminder of the courage and spirit of the Flight 93 heroes. President George W. Bush, in office only nine months when 9/11 happened, unexpectedly became a wartime president that day with a determination to protect the American people. He and Mrs. Bush attended the 2011 commemorative events, met with the families, and took part in the ceremony.

Forty extraordinary Americans … my family will forever be grateful to the men and women of Flight 93 and their families for the heroism and sacrifice made that day.

Flight 93 had heroes on board….

Todd Beamer – “Let’s roll!”
The 32-year-old Oracle Corp. account manager from Cranbury, N.J., was believed to have helped lead a passenger attack on Flight 93 hijackers that prevented the jet from reaching its target, possibly the White House. Beamer spoke to a GTE operator on the plane’s phone. His final words — “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll!” — have become a rallying cry for the war against terrorism. Beamer and his wife, Lisa, had two sons. His daughter, Morgan, was born in January of 2002. Beamer played baseball and basketball in college and loved coaching youth sports. President Bush, in an address to the nation, praised Beamer as “an exceptional man.” Today, the Todd M. Beamer Foundation aims to help kids deal with trauma and learn how to make choices.

Thomas E. Burnett Jr.
Burnett called his wife, Deena, to tell her about the Flight 93 hijacking and said he and other passengers were “going to do something about it.” Burnett, 38, of San Ramon, Calif., was senior vice president and chief operating officer of Thoratec Corp., a medical research and development company. His wife and three daughters moved to Arkansas afterwards to be closer to her parents. The new Thomas Burnett Family Foundation plans to provide endowments for children’s bereavement camps and leadership scholarships at selected universities.

Jeremy Glick
Glick called his wife, Lyz, after terrorists took over Flight 93. She patched the call to a 911 dispatcher, who told Glick about earlier attacks in New York. Glick told his wife some passengers had taken a vote, and “We’re going to rush the hijackers.” Glick, 31, of West Milford, N.J., had been a collegiate judo champion at the University of Rochester. His older sister, Jennifer, is president of Jeremy’s Heroes foundation which is devoted to helping people build character through sports. The foundation has supplied sneakers to kids in Chicago and paid for 20 children in Washington to attend a soccer camp.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers … may we

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9:45 a.m. … 9/11: White House Evacuated

9:45 a.m. The World Trade Center had been attacked an hour earlier when airplanes hijacked by terrorists flew into both towers … Pan Am Flight 77 had flown into the Pentagon … and now United Flight 93 was being followed on radar flying toward Washington, D.C. No one was aware of the struggle going on inside that aircraft as passengers, aware of the earlier terrorism attacks, vowed to storm the cockpit and avoid whatever disaster the terrorist pilots had in mind.

The White House was evacuated at 9:45. Employees were urgently directed by Secret Service to leave the building and, as the evacuation was under way, it was stepped up as shouts told them to get away from the White House and Old Executive Office Building as fast as they could. Women took off their shoes and ran in their stocking feet out the White House grounds and onto the street and down the sidewalk. One of them was my sister.

Flight 93 would go down at 10:06 a.m. taking the brave souls with it who prevented further national tragedy.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers … may we never forget the herorism of those on Flight 93.

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9:03 a.m. … 9/11: South Tower hit

9:03 a.m. New Yorkers and television viewers nationwide watched in horror as a second airplane hit the south tower of the World Trade Center.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers 9/11 … may we never forget.

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8:46 a.m. … 9/11: America is under attack as Plane Flies Into World Trade Center

8:46 a.m. It began with first one tower followed by the second of the World Trade Center hit by commercial airliners. America was under attack.

After pilots and crew members of American Airlines Flight 11 were overpowered by terrorists, the plane crashed into the North Tower. It was the first terrorist act of what would become the worst attacks ever on American soil, a day that would continue to see strikes on our nation three more times as the morning unfolded.

LynnRMitchell.com remembers 9/11 … may we never forget!

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Charlottesville’s Street Artists Turn Talent To ‘Talking Wall,’ 4th Street

Emancipation Park at night, Charlottesville.

A street artist’s rendition of Heather Heyer, victim of a hate crime when a speeding car driven by a neo-Nazi plowed into the crowd during the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville.

Charlottesville’s 4th Street where Heather Heyer was killed on August 12.

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How to Watch Today’s Solar Eclipse

Warnings have been heard for weeks to not look at the sun during today’s solar eclipse.

Here is a one-minute video for a safe tool to watch today’s rare event as darkness covers the earth in early afternoon. Happy viewing!

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DNA Identifies 1641st Victim of 9/11 Terror Attack on World Trade Center

DNA testing has identified the 1,641st victim of the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center, according to Melissa Quinn at the Washington Examiner. The identity is being withheld out of respect for the family’s request for privacy.

On September 11, 2001, 2,753 were killed when terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Towers and, 16 years later, there are still 1,112 who remain unidentified.

March 2015 was the last time a victim was identified. As new DNA testing methods are discovered, remains are tested again and again in hopes of bringing closure to families.

The Guardian further explained that the procedure included more sensitive DNA technology used by the medical examiner’s office, with some bone fragments tested over and over, sometimes almost a dozen times, hoping to produce an answer to the identity. Their methods and tenacity are amazing and encouraging, as explained in this expanded description of poring over the remains.

The sixteenth anniversary of the tragic 9/11 attacks is in four weeks, a time when the nation pauses to remember the loss of 3,000 innocent lives on American soil. Never forget.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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Hatteras, Ocracoke Closed Until Further Notice

Hatteras and Ocracoke islands unexpectedly shut down for business Thursday after power went out to everyone at 4:30 a.m.

Construction on the Bonner Bridge appears to have been the cause when a steel casing was driven into the electrical cable.

I guess someone forgot to call Miss Utility.

Damage depends on whether the cable was merely “nicked,” or if it was severed, something the experts will determine over the next few days. Depending on the findings, repairs could take anywhere from a few days to weeks.

Not good for the Outer Banks in July, the height of summer vacation season. Scrolling through Facebook, I saw where folks I knew had been part of this week’s mandatory evacuation and had their vacations cut short by two or three days.

A family I know, good friends from the Valley, are supposed to head to their favorite spot on Hatteras Sunday for their annual family renewal on the sands of the Atlantic. Since their grown children are scattered from New York City down the East Coast and out in two western states, this week of play is a tradition that began while the kids were young. It continues as an opportunity to draw them from their current locations back to the familiar salt water and sea air for R&R and a family reunion all rolled into one on North Carolina’s sandy beaches.

But not this year.

And while it’s sad to think of all the eagerly anticipated vacations that are being disrupted, I was brought back to reality by a high school friend who works as a home health and hospice RN and lives on the unaffected northern end of the Outer Banks around Kill Devil Hills.

“My poor patients on Hatteras,” she wrote. “These are strong people and they will survive cause that is what they do. PS Vacationers can buy insurance and revisit.”

Indeed, there are thousands who make Hatteras and Ocracoke their permanent homes so, instead of a one-week inconvenience, they face an unknown amount of time without electricity in their day-to-day lives.

There are surely to be permanents who earn their livelihood from the tourism industry who are now unemployed because those restaurants, rental homes, hotels, fishing businesses are closed.

Some restaurants that fired up their generators found themselves ready to serve but missing customers who had been forced to leave.

But perhaps saddest of all are the permanent residents dealing with illness who have now found their lives further complicated.

Let’s hope that cable is merely nicked.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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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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