Category Archives: History

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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Welcome 2017 … a Look Back at 2016

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It’s New Year’s Eve and we’ve decided on a quiet evening after weeks of activities with friends and family. Freshly back in town, I’m content to sit in the light of the Christmas tree on this dark and cold December night with a fire in the woodstove and the outdoor holiday lights turned on to brighten the darkness.

Looking back on 2016, I’m grateful on many levels. In January I happily rejoined Bearing Drift after a 1.5-year hiatus. In February I celebrated 10 years in the Virginia conservative blogosphere. Writing is my passion and politics is my hobby. This year they both took a hit with the crazed primaries and election that left some with many questions. I still continue my LynnRMitchell.com blog with postings about my back road ramblings, sights along the way, and photographs of where I’ve been.

Politics continues to be a swamp with back-stabbers who follow power and change sides on a whim. Those who are truly loyal are a tiny number, not just in politics but life in general.

A few highlights from the year….

It was a happy day in June when former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was exonerated when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously threw out his corruption conviction with an 8-0 decision. It left the former governor free but in debt for millions of dollars after his defense against an overzealous federal government.

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2016 started with a blizzard in mid-January that dumped 18 inches of snow on the Valley with three-to-four foot drifts. The storm also affected most of the Commonwealth including Northern Virginia and Richmond.

The Republican presidential primaries and debates dominated the year. The GOP began with 18 candidates and whittled it down to one. The Super Bowl saw the Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers. In March Virginians were saddened at the passing of Nelson County native Earl Hamner, author and co-creator of “The Waltons” TV show, and mourned the death of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, wife of President Ronald Reagan.

The Republican Party of Virginia held its state convention in Harrisonburg on the campus of James Madison University. Nelson County’s Devil’s Backbone Brewery was acquired by beer giant Anheuser-Busch. In Bedford, the 72nd anniversary of D-Day was commemorated with a ceremony held at the Memorial and attended by people from around the world. 2016 also marked the 30th anniversary of Hands Across America.

In July Democrats made history by nominating Hillary Clinton as the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party, and she chose Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. In November Americans elected Donald Trump as president.

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A devastating flood hit West Virginia during the summer. A National Park warning went out about black bears; at Humpback Rock along the Blue Ridge Parkway a bear broke into a vehicle while at the northern end of Skyline Drive a bear killed a hiker’s dog.

In September, Natural Bridge became Virginia’s newest state park. In April, Shenandoah National Park had the second-largest forest fire in its history, consuming more than 10,000 acres. 2016 was the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism attacks on America, and the tenth anniversary of the death of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

There were many celebrity deaths during the year as well as notable names of those who are not as familiar but who made a mark on the world. The list of names is almost staggering, leading many to curse the fact that 2016 had taken so many, but blogosphere colleague Doug Mantaconis explains why there seemed to be so many:

… the reason that it appears that more celebrities are dying is a combination of several factors. First, many of the people who have died in the past year became celebrities during one of the biggest population increases in the history of the United States and other nations in the West, which means that there are more people to take notice of their passing and, likely, that there are more “famous” people than there used to be in the past.

Second, the rise of new technologies and new genres of music and other forms of entertainment means that there is more of a likelihood that any particular day, week, or month, will include the death of someone that some significant group of people consider famous for some reason.

Additionally, as I already noted, the existence of online social media and the Internet means that people are more likely to be exposed to things they otherwise might have missed in the past and that the news of someone passing away spreads more easily, and more rapidly than it ever has before. These phenomena also serve as a sort of shared community where people can share their grief over the passing of a favorite actor or singer.

To many 2016 was a good year. Others are glad to see it go. In a few hours, 2017 will roll in and we begin anew.

Happy New Year!

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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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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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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November 22, 1963 … the Day America Wept

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“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
–President John F. Kennedy

It’s one of those dates that you always remember where you were and what you were doing when the news broke that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas. November 22, 1963.

In America, everyone wept — Democrats, Republicans, Protestants, Catholics — all felt the violent loss of a well-liked president who was assassinated. Schools were out, a state funeral was broadcast on television, a nation mourned.

Could it really be 53 years since that fateful day….

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The 9/11 Sound Sculpture … a Virginian Designs a Voice For the Silent

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Xaver Wilhelmy
Master Craftsman of Pianos and Organs
Geshenke as Glas Studio, Harrisonburg, Va

A work of art emerged from the sorrow of 9/11, a vision insired by the loss of 2,996 souls, and intended to “speak” for each of the perished. Staunton master craftsman Xaver Wilhelmy envisioned this one-of-a-kind pipe-organ featuring glass pipes, a medium he was the first in the world to use, emblazond with the American flag. There would be one pipe to represent each of the 2,996 so their voices would not be permanetly silenced, and so he enlisted the help of Staunton artist Bob Kirchman to design and bring the dream to life.

“I thought, one ought to remember the life. One ought to remember the interaction, the voices of people,” Wilhelmy would later say.

The dream slowly became reality as Wilhemy and Kirchman worked together while Kirchman listened and sketced out Wilelmy’s vision. The design was entered as a contender for the 9/11 Memorial in New York City and though another design was chosen, the Sound Sculpture is a melodic reminder of a dark day in America’s history.

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9/11 remembered at Bearing Drift

9-11-11-flight-93Please join me at BearingDrift.com today as we remember 9/11 with memories of that day from colleagues and friends, and with live-time timeline of the events that unfolded that day.

I will never forget that day. I don’t want to forget that day. #NeverForget

9/11 Memories, 15 Septembers Later

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American flags in front of our house every 9/11. We will never forget.

When the White House was evacuated on that fateful day in 2001, my sister, part of President George W. Bush’s administration, was among those working at the White House. Instructed by Secret Service to evacuate and then to flee as fast as possible from the White House, women removed their heels as staffers in the White House and Old Executive Office Building ran for their lives, fully aware that United Flight 93 was approaching the nation’s capital. My sister has barely talked about that day … the rawness is still real … but I am forever grateful to the heroes of Flight 93 who prevented a tragedy at the Capitol or White House.

I will never forget September 11, 2001 … and I don’t want to forget. Fifteen Septembers have passed, and I am still easily overcome with emotion.

That week my husband and I were vacationing in Colonial Williamsburg with our two teenage children. The morning of September 11 we had just arrived in the Colonial area, freshly-purchased annual passes in hand, when a Colonial interpreter told us of the World Trade Center attacks. I immediately quickly walked off to the side to call my mom in Richmond to see if she had heard from my sister in D.C. Amazingly, perhaps because her Austin cell phone was still routing through Texas, my sister was able to call and reassure our mom that she was okay even as tens of thousands of others in Washington encountered jammed phone lines.

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15 Years Later … Remembering 9/11 and the Attack on America

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“We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.”
-President George W. Bush (after 9/11 terrorist attacks)

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

Everyone remembers the beautiful clear blue cloudless sky and sunny conditions of that September day.  Most remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that planes had plowed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania … and the realization that the United States had been attacked by terrorists.

American flags were pulled out of storage to be displayed on houses, businesses, vehicles. Stores sold out of everything red, white, and blue. There was a sense of unity unknown in my lifetime. We were no longer Democrat or Republican or black or white — we were Americans.

My 90-year-old stepdad was 15 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, a day set in his memory. He was 75 when 9/11 occurred. He worries that younger generations have forgotten Pearl Harbor, and that 9/11 is quickly fading from memory.

Here we have shared some memories from friends and colleagues who wrote their thoughts from September 11, 2001….

Brian Schoeneman, Bearing Drift Editor, Centreville

There are two events in my lifetime that I will always remember exactly where I was – when Challenger exploded and 9/11. Today is the 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth. Each anniversary, I like to take a few moments to reflect on where I was, what I was doing, and how I felt.  It was an exceptional time – one of those events that can never be recreated and which we will all struggle to explain to our children and grandchildren.  But, regardless of the difficulty, I try my best to recreate those memories each anniversary, to help ensure that I never forget them. Where were you?  Here’s my story.

I was still in graduate school. I was working my way through my master’s degree at GW in downtown Washington, DC, at the time, and as part of my benefits package, we were given free classes. I was an administrator in the campus housing department, and one of my primary responsibilities was as the fire safety officer for our branch of the student services division. Once every semester we had full fledged fire evacuation drills that were unannounced to the students, and we would observe the results and see where we needed to make improvements. This was a big deal, requiring cooperation with the University Police, our Risk Management staff, the local fire department (to make sure they knew the alarms were a drill), as well as my staff of student employees. We had just gotten to the first dorm we were going to drill and we had gotten everyone staged when people started gathering around the big-screen TV in the lobby. At the time, we were on the far edge of campus – less than three blocks from the White House. We saw the results of the first plane hitting the towers, but time was pressing and we needed to get the drills going.
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George W. Bush, 9/11, and First Pitch at 2001 World Series

George W. Bush said nothing to the crowd the night he took the mound at Yankee Stadium, only a few miles from where he had shouted through a bullhorn to people digging through the wreckage of the World Trade Center less than two months earlier.

Wearing a bulletproof vest, the president flashed a thumbs-up to the crowd, then threw a perfect strike before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a signal to the country that the healing could begin.

“It was so moving, so powerful, that it lifted our nation,” sportscaster Jim Gray said Sunday night at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. “What President Bush told us without uttering a single word, was that we could once again attempt to carry on our lives. … What an amazing symbol it was.”

Watch the four-minute video from Game 3 of the World Series on October 30, 2001. The crowd roared and waved American flags and patriotic signs. It will make your heart swell with pride for America.

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The 9/11 Bullhorn Speech From President George W. Bush

A president who had barely taken office was faced with the worst attack ever on American soil, and he rose to the occasion. It can never be said enough … we cannot forget the terrorism attacks of 9/11 and the 3,000 innocent souls who perished that day. I hope those who were too young to be impacted by the events of that day will listen to those who were there.

Spontaneous chants roared from the crowd of rescue workers on September 14, 2001, three days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as President George W. Bush stood at Ground Zero and, with bullhorn in hand, said the words that were heard around the world:

President Bush: Thank you all. I want you all to know — it can’t go any louder (referring to the bullhorn) — I want you all to know that America today is on bended knee, in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn. The nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens.

Rescue Worker: I can’t hear you!

President Bush: I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

Rescue Workers: (Roar from the crowd) USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

President Bush: The nation sends its love and compassion …

Rescue Worker: God bless America!

President Bush: … to everybody who is here. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for making the nation proud, and may God bless America.

Rescue Workers: (Chanting) USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

It was a moment that uplifted the nation and brought American solidarity. May we never forget.

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Where Were You On 9/11?

9-11-1Most people can tell you exactly where they were or what they were doing when news was heard of the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001.

Where were you?

Sunday marks fifteen years since that somber Tuesday in September when almost 3,000 people lost their lives on American soil. There are many stories. Some lost loved ones. Others knew someone affected in some way. If you are willing to share you story to be published Sunday, please email to LynnFromVa@aol.com so that we can compile them to be shared with our readers.

We would like to include your name if possible, and something to identify you — “teacher,” “attorney,” “grocery clerk,” “auto mechanic,” “secretary,” “campaign manager,” “doctor/nurse/EMT,” etc.

Deadline is Saturday at noon. We’ll slide in late ones if possible, and together we’ll remember the events and people of that day.

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Saturday’s National Parks Centennial celebration at Humpback Rocks Farm

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The one-room log cabin anchors the mountain farm, an outdoor museum of cabin and outbuildings like those found all along the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains in the 1890s.

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Humpback Rock is visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Located 0.25 mile from Humpback Rocks Farm, it is a very popular hike with expansive scenic views from the top that overlook the Shenandoah Valley.

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Humpback Rock Visitor Center, adjacent to Humpback Rocks Farm, has a small gift shop to purchase trail maps and informational books and restrooms.

If your family is looking for something to do this weekend, take a drive to the Blue Ride Mountains and help the Park Service celebrate the Centennial of America’s National Parks. This free event will take place Saturday, August 20, 2016, from 11am until 4pm, at Humpback Rocks Farm, located just six miles south of I-64 and Afton Mountain.

We have visited this historical farm in all seasons — the barn, various outbuildings, fences, rock walls, garden, and everything else that made up a way to survive in the isolation of these mountains. It’s a beautiful location in all seasons inclding spring, fall, winter, and summer — and even foggy days.

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Historic Moment As Hillary Becomes First Woman Presidential Candidate

On Thursday night history will be made when Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman of any major political party to accept her party’s nomination for President of the United States of America.

Her nomination became official during Tuesday’s roll call at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia when Hillary topped the required number of votes, and her dogged opponent Bernie Sanders took the microphone and proclaimed to a cheering crowd, “I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules. I move that all votes, all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record, and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States.”

At that moment, the sound heard across the land was shards of glass crashing to the ground from the shattered glass ceiling. Whether you are Republican or Democrat, it was a major step for women.
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Longing for the days of civil political discourse

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In these days when there is so much animosity and vitriol in politics, I am reminded of a story told about former Republican President George H.W. Bush — the dad, #41 — and former Democratic President Lyndon Johnson:

The Bush and Johnson families share a long history and friendship, beginning in the 1950s when Lyndon Johnson served in the U. S. Senate with Prescott Bush, George H. W. Bush’s father. Although from different political parties, the two men enjoyed a productive working relationship steeped in mutual respect. In a letter to Prescott Bush, George H. W. Bush wrote about first meeting Johnson in Midland, Texas, in 1953. When Senator Johnson complimented his father, Bush replied that he was glad to hear such praise from a staunch Democrat. Johnson responded, “Your father and I don’t like to be thought of as Republican or Democrat, rather as good Americans!”

Bush embraced the spirit of bipartisanship when he was elected to Congress as the first Republican representing the Houston area. Although it hurt him politically, he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was passed by President Johnson. In a speech in Houston, shortly after he cast the vote, Bush explained the motivation behind his decision. “I voted…because of a feeling deep down in my heart that this was the right thing for me to do. That this was the right thing for America.”

A year later, when President Johnson’s term ended, Congressman Bush left the Inaugural festivities for Johnson’s successor, Richard Nixon, to bid farewell to the former President and First Lady at Andrews Air Force Base among a crowd of Democrats. Mrs. Johnson later recalled, “I remember the warm glow Lyndon and I felt when we learned that a young Republican Congressman, George Bush, had been in that assemblage, rather than at the Inaugural activities of the President of his own party.”

In that same spirit, when President Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton in 1992, Bush smoothed the transition for the new president. Famous for his hand-written notes and letters, he left a letter on the new president’s desk in the Oval Office welcoming him to the White House. That letter, seen above, is now making the rounds on the internet.

Civility. May it some day finds its way back into the political discourse.

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