It’s That Time of Year To Take Inventory . . .


In the Headlines

Not ready yet to leave the Christmas celebrations that honored the birth of Christ?  Me, too!  Yet, I am being rudely pushed to look back on the major stories and the deaths around the world in the headlines of 2016 before bidding it farewell–as if living through them wasn’t enough already!  This isn’t to say that I won’t welcome 2017 with open arms, because I will.  But, we can’t possibly know (or choose not to foretell) what is in store next for humankind.  And this is where I choose prayer over worry or anticipation, and to poke fun when and where I can.

Acknowledging Deaths of Notables

So let’s just chat a little about the counts and categorizations of these notable deaths of those humans who were better known than most of us because of their occupations and their lives in the limelight.  Yet for them, like many of our family, friends and neighbors, they were chosen–regardless of their age, gender, race or ethnicity, DNA heritage, wealth, or reason for notability to end their journey and stay here on planet earth.  Now this is what I call an equalizer!   Most of these notables were widely known in Hollywood and were comfortable in the various social circles in which these people congregate to celebrate life and their successes, and various media worldwide annually count and pay homage to them.

Interestingly enough though, these counts and categorizations vary depending upon the source who provides them.    For example, TV Guide’s web article sites 60; Legacy.com’s slideshow includes 93; CBS News’ slideshow has 151 as of December 28; and, one of my favorite genealogical resources findagrave.com has a comprehensive “Necrology” Page that lists people and links to individual biographies and memorial pages for those who have died during a specific time period.  Findagrave states that it lists only 75 of the most famous people who died during the year–it starts in the year 1900 and maintains famous deaths by year and occupation through the present day.  And my count of the photos totals 75.  In contrast, however, Findagrave’s comprehensive list classifies notables and spans them across a variety of 31 categories.  One would quite naturally think then that one wouldn’t find counts of as many as 76 names within a single category. Yet six of the 31 categories have 70+  deaths listed. In fact, Findagrave’s sum of their categorized listings for 2016 totaled  566 !!!  I guess I’m just being picky, or maybe Findagrave chose not to rank individual notables or their talents and skills for which they might be best known so they cross-classified them.

Below is my raw table of the 31 categories and counts of deceased with links to Findagrave’s categorized lists and associated pictures and biographies–followed by my admittedly quirky comments.

Click on any category within this table to go directly to findagrave.com’s page. choose thumbnails or list view, then click on any individual to see their full biography and memorial page.

Actors 76
Actresses 73
Animals 1
Artists & Architects 7
Authors and Writers 54
Business Magnates 3
Crime Fighters & Lawyers 1
Criminals, Eccentrics, & Oddities 1
Educators 1
Entertainers 75
Explorers & Adventurers 4
Magicians 0
Medal of Honor Recipients 3
Military Figures 5
Miscellaneous 9
Musicians & Composers 75
Native Americans 1
Organized Crime Figures 0
Philanthropists 0
Politicians 75
Relatives of Notables 0
Religious Figures 10
Royalty 6
Scientists & Inventors 9
Social Reformers 0
Sports Figures 75
Suffragists 0
U.S. First Ladies 1
U.S. Presidents & Vice Presidents 0
U.S. Supreme Court Justices 1
Victims of Crime & Disaster 0

Quirky Commentary

Let’s start with the obvious:

  • Take a look first at those table categories that were empty. These would be: Magicians–maybe there is more to this thing they call “magic,” than I realized; Organized Crime Figures–Ah ha–does crime really pay?; Philanthropists–did their gifts to charities and helping the needy buy them more time?; In the Relatives of Notables category, did Notables save their relatives just because they could?; Has society just given up and there are no more Social Reformers or Suffragists?; U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents–now there are a few who are getting up there and we all know the tolls of  being Commander In Chief;  Victims of Crime and Disasters–were there none this year, well that would be a wonder, if it were true.
  • Separate categories for Actors and Actresses?  After 1660 in England, women first started to appear on stage, the terms actor or actress was initially used interchangeably for female performers; in the 1950’s and 1960’s post-World War II period, contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed and occupational titles were being updated to become unisex and universally applied to men and women.  With all the attention recently to transgenders–doesn’t a single category just make more sense?
  • Well, here’s a category that is seldom seen or heard about within notable deaths: Animals.  Let’s see, that reduces my 566 total down to 565.  In this instance, the inclusion was the 18-year-old 2001 Kentucky Derby Winner “Monarchos.”
  • Nancy Reagan’s fame became more universal when she was wife of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan and this country’s First Lady.  (But she was First Lady #39 because President James Buchanan never married!)  Nancy  Reagan was a professional actress from 1949-1956 and appeared in 11 movies and a music video.  She was also a social reformer for her “Just Say No” anti-drug abuse message.  So, Nancy’s fame was cross-classified among 3 categories:  Actress, Authors and Writers, and First Lady–But shouldn’t she also have been included within  the categories “relative of a notable,”  and “Politician?” After all, most of us know she was the woman behind the man–especially in the latter years of Reagan’s administration, during his catnaps.  So, I’ll subtract another 2 from my running count of 565 to make it 563 notable deaths of humans!
  • Now, what comes to your minds when you think “Artists and Architects?”I’m open to suggestions for one or more categories to improve upon Findagrave’s overarching category; but among the 7 notables listed, only 1 was a fine arts and sculpture artist–Marcel Barbeau; two were architects–Gertrude Kerbis and  Zaha Hadid; the remaining four notables:  1 was a cartoon films animator, another was a cartoonist and illustrator, and finally the last two included an entertainer’s costume designer, and a Paris-born fashion designer!
  • But wait, what about the 75 entertainers and 75 musicians and composers? Were the actors and actresses not entertainers, or were the entertainers who among them were Screen, TV, and music producers or directors, comedians, singers, not entertaining?
  • And finally, there also were 75 politicians listed–well, we all have heard far too much about politics and politicians this year–I will just leave this one alone.

Truly, 2016 was a year among years to be remembered–not because it was great in so many ways.  But rather, because it was so painfully hurtful and outright unbelievable in far too many categories–You know, all lives matter! We all should conduct ourselves mannerly and respectfully.  We also should ask ourselves today what legacies do we think we will leave behind, and what will we be remembered for by others when its time for our names to be listed?

Happy 2017 Everyone!

A Christmas Pause During “The Great War” (1914 – 1919)


“No Man’s Land” is the term used by soldiers to describe the ground between the two opposing trenches. Its width along the Western Front could vary a great deal. The average distance in most sectors was about 250 yards (230 metres). However, at Guillemont it was only 50 yards (46 metres) whereas at Cambrai it was over 500 yards (460 metres). The narrowest gap was at Zonnebeke where British and German soldiers were only about seven yards apart.

No Man’s Land contained a considerable amount of barbed wire. In the areas most likely to be attacked, there were ten belts of barbed wire just before the front-line trenches. In some places the wire was more than a 100 feet (30 metres) deep.

The group “Celtic Thunder” sings the story of this World War truce. The German soldiers take a spontaneous pause to sing Christmas Carols and from across “No Man’s Land the allied troops joined in before returning to their fighting in the morn . . . This heart-wrenching music video tells that story.

Christmas Traditions in Our Nation’s Capital


One of my former colleagues posted this article from a pamphlet he picked up at the Mary Surratt House Museum titled, “Christmas of Yesterday: A History of Our Treasured Traditions and Holiday Customs.” (If you recall, Mary Surratt was an alleged member of the Abraham Lincoln assassination conspiracy, and holds the dubious distinction of being the first woman executed by the U.S. government. She was hung for treason in July 1865.)

Some of us who are natives or have lived in and around Washington, D.C. (Congress on July 16, 1790, declared the “District of Columbia” as our nation’s capital). may already be familiar with some stories about Christmas traditions just because of our close proximity to The White House.  Others, maybe not so much.  So this post is intended especially for those of you who may be interested in Christmas traditions  in our nation’s capital during the Georgian (1714-1837) and Victorian (1837-1901) Eras.  I added parenthetical and bracketed information to further clarify the times covered within the quotes from the Surratt Museum pamphlet.

[Our second president {1797-1801} and first vice president {1789-1797}], John Adams, inaugurated the custom of holiday parties at the White House. The Oval Room was decorated with greens, and the tables were laden with cakes, punch, and other refreshments, while the children sang, danced, and played with the Adams’ grandchildren.

“Under Thomas Jefferson [President from 1801-1809],  Christmas parties became adult affairs where his guests feasted on imported cheeses, preserved fruits, and other delicacies and where vintage wines accompanied the meal. His six grandchildren wandered among the dignitaries, Congressmen, and Ambassadors, an informality which shocked many in Washington society.

“When Andrew Jackson came to the White House in 1829, he was in mourning for his wife; but his family put up a stocking on a White House mantel and the morning found it stuffed with small presents – including a corncob pipe. His nieces and nephews also had stockings filled with cakes, candles, nuts, and fruits.

“Because President Jackson had been raised as an orphan, he threw a party for other orphans. Among the treats were ices shaped like apples and pears to eat, and snowballs made of starch-powdered cotton to throw.”

“The first Christmas Tree entered the White House in the 1850s during the administration of Franklin Pierce (1853-1857). This official presidential sanction helped to popularize the custom in America.”

Our 16th president’s young son, Tad, reportedly rounded up street waifs during his father’s administration (1861-1865), and brought them home for turkey dinners.”

“By 1885,  President Grover Cleveland (1885-1889) had added new-fangled electric lights to the White House tree.”

“The tradition of Christmas season receptions spread throughout the area into homes not so grand as the White House.”

“On New Year’s Day, our early Presidents generally held an open house in the best democratic tradition. It was open to all, no matter the political and social differences.”

Even the simplest of homes in nearby Southern Maryland (where I grew up and still reside), could be simply decorated with pine, cedar, crowsfoot, running cedar, laurel, bay and holly from the nearby woods. Ivy and rosemary were, surprisingly, the most prized Christmas decorations of the Victorian era. Fresh fruits from the Washington Markets, abundant osage oranges, and pine cones and pods could all be added to the arrangements. Some accounts of the period refer to cedar boughs being dusted with flour to achieve the ‘snow’ effect that we spray on today.

“Mistletoe, shot from trees, abounded. New Englanders had to pay for mistletoe for it grows only in warmer climes, but Marylanders found it abundant in neighboring woods.”

“The proper Victorian was not too staid to enjoy a stolen kiss! And there was a proper way to kiss under the mistletoe. As the man kissed the lady, he was obligated to pluck a berry from the branch and present it to the lady. This practice continued until the berries were gone. The mistletoe then lost its power of love, and no more kisses could be had.”

Huh. That seems to be the Victorian version of the expression, “if you snooze, you lose.”

“Many a Christmas romance started under the mistletoe and led to a Christmas wedding the next year. The season was a popular time for weddings because family and friends traditionally gathered at Christmas and it was easier to get everyone together. The night before the wedding, a party was held at the bride’s house. The next morning the wedding procession began. The days following the wedding were filled with parties, for the bride and groom of the early and mid-19th century did not take honeymoon trips.”

“But, back to our customs…In the nearby hearth burned the traditional Yule log – or Christmas log as it was called in the south. This had been an English custom, and the Southerners stuck with their English ties.” [The Yule Log was believed to bring beneficial magic and was kept burning for at least twelve hours and sometimes as long as twelve days, warming both the house and those who resided within. When the fire of the Yule Log was finally quenched, a small fragment of the wood would be saved and used to light the next year’s log. It was also believed that as long as the Yule Log burned, the house would be protected from witchcraft. The ashes that remained from the sacred Yule Log were scattered over fields to bring fertility, or cast into wells to purify and sweeten the water. Sometimes, the ashes were used in the creation of various charms…to free cattle from vermin, for example, or to ward off hailstorms.]

“One practice on the plantations called for the Master to allow a Christmas rest for the slaves. The holiday lasted as long as the Christmas log burned, so slaves were often caught sprinkling water on it to keep it burning slowly.”

“A Victorian Christmas was bright and cheerful, and the decorations and parties were as simple or as elaborate as the people cared to make them.”

But, no matter the year, where you live, or how you and yours celebrate this season, let us all not forget, the true meaning and its reason!

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas!

Animated Map Shows Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration: 1820-2013


Emigration and immigrants have been a worldwide political hotbed issue in recent years, (especially in the United States during the 2016 Presidential Campaigns), because millions of people have migrated from their homes to other countries. Some migrants have moved voluntarily, seeking economic opportunities. Others have been forced from their homes by political or religious turmoil, persecution or war and have left their countries to seek asylum elsewhere.  Does this scenario sound familiar to those of us who have studied our ancestry?  Sure it does.

Fifteen years ago, on February 28, 2001, the United Nations General Assembly adopted December 18th as International Migrants Day, so I reached out to a couple of credible fact finders to provide us some key findings on the topic.  Hopefully, the information that follows will clarify at least some of the issues in and around the topic of immigration, emigration, and international migrants.

Max Galka graduated from The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology at the University of Pennsylvania:

This millennial entrepreneur from New York City, is fascinated by data visualization and the ways that data are transforming our understanding of the world–past, present, and future (like me).  I first got into data visualizations about 5 years ago but never went as far with them as I would have liked. Max’s accomplishments in this arena quickly made him one of my idols and I keep up with him primarily on social media.

Max’s map below animates the numbers who emigrated to the United States since 1820–just 30 years after the first Census of the United States which recorded about 4 million people.  Max has the following to say about his animated map:

“Since 1820, a total of 79 million people from around the world have emigrated to the United States and become lawful permanent residents. The animated map below displays them all. The brightness of a country corresponds to its total migration to the U.S. during the time periods shown.”

  • Today’s population according to the U.S. Census Bureau is estimated at over 325,000,000. In 1820, the year the animated map begins, the population of the United States was less than 10 million. It goes to show, we are all immigrants.
  • Initially, the bulk of immigration comes from Western Europe (Ireland, Germany, and the U.K.).  And, over time, the largest source of immigration follows a clear trend through the world.
  • 1880 starts the next wave from further east in Europe (Italy, Russia, and Hungary).
  • Throughout the 20th Century, most of the Immigration arrives from the Americas (Canada and Mexico).
  • And finally, the last few decades have seen a rise in immigration from Asia (China and the Philippines).

You also may be interested in Mr. Galka’s latest project Blueshift.  Blueshift delivers a tool for designing dynamic maps, like the one that he created, above. (I’m hoping this is my opportunity to take my data visualizations further, too.)  And Max also runs FOIA Mapper, which aims to open up “hidden” government databases using the Freedom of Information Act.

From Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank Reports:

Fact Tank is Pew Research Center’s real-time platform dedicated to finding news in the numbers. Launched in mid-2013, Fact Tank is written by experts who combine the rigorous research and quality storytelling for which the center is known to help readers understand the trends shaping the nation and the globe.

5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.–according to Pew Research Center’s December 15, 2016 Fact Tank Report:

How many international migrants are there? Where are they from? Where do they live?
If all of the world’s international migrants (people living in a country that is different from their country or territory of birth) lived in a single country, it would be the world’s fifth largest, with around 244 million people. Overall, international migrants make up 3.3% of the world’s population today.

 

International migrants are dispersed from across the world, with most having moved from middle-income to high-income countries. Top origins of international migrants include India (15.6 million), Mexico (12.3 million), Russia (10.6 million), China (9.5 million) and Bangladesh (7.2 million).  See: International Migrants by Country

Among destination countries, the U.S. has more international migrants than any other country. It is home to about one-in-five international migrants (46.6 million). Other top destinations of migrants include Germany (12.0 million), Russia (11.6 million), Saudi Arabia (10.2 million) and the United Kingdom (8.5 million).

But absolute numbers don’t tell the whole migration story. For example, while the U.S. has the most immigrants in the world, only 14% of the country’s population is foreign born. This immigrant share is considerably lower than that in several Persian Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, where three-in-four or more people are international migrants. Moreover, top destination countries like Australia (28% foreign born) and Canada (22% foreign born) have much larger immigrant shares of their total population than the U.S.

Interactive: Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, 1990-2015.Interactive: Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, 1990-2015.

Is international migration increasing?
It has increased substantially in terms of absolute numbers, but less so as a share of the world’s current population. The absolute number of international migrants has grown considerably over the past 50 years, from about 79 million in 1960 to nearly 250 million in 2015, a 200% increase. So by population size, there are far more international migrants today.

But the world’s population has also grown during that time, rising nearly 150% from about 3 billion to 7.3 billion. As a result, the share of the world’s population living outside their countries of birth has increased some during the past 50 or so years. In 1960, 2.6% of the world’s population did not live in their birth countries. In 2015, that share was 3.3%. As a share of the world’s population, the 0.7-percentage-point increase in the world’s migrant share is hardly insignificant. Nonetheless, the vast majority (nearly 97%) of the world’s population has not moved across international borders.

What have been some of the major pathways for international migration?
The impact of migration has been large for counties that are part of some of the world’s most-used migrant corridors, particularly when it comes to pathways between a single origin country and a single destination country.

For example, the Mexico-U.S. migration corridor has been one of the world’s most heavily traveled in recent decades. Today, about 12 million people born in Mexico are living in the U.S. This number has declined in recent years as net flows have reversed, with more Mexican immigrants leaving the U.S. than entering it. Also, the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants in the U.S. has declined by 1 million between 2007 and 2014, even as the total number of unauthorized immigrants has stabilized at about 11.1 million.

While migration of Mexicans to the U.S. has been decreasing, Mexico is an important transit country for other U.S.-bound Latin Americans. U.S. border apprehensions of families and unaccompanied children have more than doubled between fiscal years 2015 and 2016, with most coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. A rising number of Cubans have also entered the U.S. via Mexico.

As of 2015, nearly 3.5 million Indians lived in the UAE, the world’s second-largest migration corridor. Unlike the Mexico-U.S. corridor, the number of Indians living in the UAE and other Persian Gulf countries has increased substantially during the past decade, from 2 million in 1990 to more than 8 million in 2015. Most have migrated for economic opportunities in these oil-rich countries.

The Middle East has the fastest-growing migrant population. When counting both international migrants and displaced migrants within their own countries (internally displaced persons), the number of migrants in the Middle East doubled during the past decade, from 25 million in 2005 to 54 million in 2015.

How many among the world’s migrants are refugees? Are they increasing in number?

Refugees are persons who cross international borders to seek protection from persecution, war and violence. Their total number has also increased from 50 years ago. Not including Palestinian refugees, there were about 1.7 million refugees worldwide in 1960, and about 16 million in 2015, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The number of refugees in 2015, however, is slightly less than the early 1990s following the fall of the Berlin Wall. As of 2015, refugees account for only about 8% of all international migrants.

Refugees are a subset of displaced persons worldwide. The latest UN estimates suggest that more than 60 million, or nearly 1 in 100 people worldwide, are forcibly displaced from their homes, the highest number and share of the world’s population since World War II. As of 2015, nearly two-thirds (63%) of the world’s displaced population still lived in their birth countries.

The Syrian conflict has dramatically increased the number of displaced people since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. About one-fifth of the world’s displaced, or 12.5 million, were born in Syria. Colombia, meanwhile, has more displaced people than any other country: nearly 7 million, most of whom are internally displaced because of the country’s decades-long conflict.

5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.–according to Pew Research Center’s November 3, 2016 Fact Tank Report:

There were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2014, a total unchanged from 2009 and accounting for 3.5% of the nation’s population. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.

The U.S. civilian workforce included 8 million unauthorized immigrants in 2014, accounting for 5% of those who were working or were unemployed and looking for work, according to new Pew Research Center estimates. The number was unchanged from 2009 and down slightly from 8.2 million in 2007. The share of unauthorized immigrants in the civilian labor force was down slightly from 2009 (5.2%) and 2007 (5.4%). Compared with their 5% share of the civilian workforce overall, unauthorized immigrants are overrepresented in farming occupations (26%) and construction occupations (15%). In all industries and occupations, though, they are outnumbered by U.S.-born workers.

Mexicans made up 52% of all unauthorized immigrants in 2014, though their numbers had been declining in recent years. There were 5.8 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. that year, down from 6.4 million in 2009, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates. Meanwhile, the number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico grew by 325,000 since 2009, to an estimated 5.3 million in 2014. Populations went up most for unauthorized immigrants from Asia and Central America, but the number also ticked up for those from sub-Saharan Africa. Increases in the number of unauthorized immigrants from other countries mostly offset the decline in the number from Mexico.

Six states accounted for 59% of unauthorized immigrants in 2014: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. But some state populations had changed since 2009, despite the stable trend at the national level. From 2009 to 2014, the unauthorized immigrant population decreased in seven states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina. In all of them, the decline was due to a decrease in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico. In six states, the unauthorized immigrant population rose over the same time period: Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. In all of these but Louisiana, the increases were due to growth in unauthorized immigrant populations from nations other than Mexico. In Louisiana, it was an increase in Mexican unauthorized immigrants that drove the overall increase in the number of unauthorized immigrants.

A rising share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for at least a decade. About two-thirds (66%) of adults in 2014 had been in the U.S. at least that long, compared with 41% in 2005. A declining share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for less than five years – 14% of adults in 2014, compared with 31% in 2005. In 2014, unauthorized immigrant adults had lived in the U.S. for a median of 13.6 years, meaning that half had been in the country at least that long. Only 7% of Mexican unauthorized immigrants had been in the U.S. for less than five years in 2014, compared with 22% of those from all other countries.

 

 

 

Witnesses to Great Commotions Over Religion, Politics, and Money


politics-religion-t-shirtYes, this post may be a game changer–where I dare to speak of religion, politics, and money–Growing up it was drilled into me to never talk about these topics in public and open conversation. But why?  Was this always an American position, or when did this begin?

From the history of my 15th century> ancestors primarily from England, France, Scotland and Wales, I learned that when people upheld their beliefs in conversation or practice, they were persecuted, imprisoned, condemned to death and mutilated, banished, or forced to flee their lands and families.

Persecution of Huguenots by Catholics

huguenots driven out of france

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

The slaughter of Huguenots (French Protestants) by Catholics at Sens, Burgundy in 1562 occurred at the beginning of more than thirty years of religious strife between French Protestants and Catholics. These wars produced numerous atrocities. The worst was the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris, August 24, 1572. Thousands of Huguenots were butchered by Roman Catholic mobs. Although an accommodation between the two sides was sealed in 1598 by the Edict of Nantes, religious privileges of Huguenots eroded during the seventeenth century and were extinguished in 1685 by the revocation of the Edict. As many as 400,000 French Protestants emigrated to various parts of the world, including the British North American colonies.

 “Souled Out” – European Persecution

America has long been a land where people have reserved the right to say, “I disagree.” Many early settlers left England in the first place because they disagreed with English practice. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were two brave puritan souls who reminded everyone at their own great peril of that most sacred right.The dominance of the concept, denounced by Roger Williams as “enforced uniformity of religion,” meant majority religious groups who controlled political power punished dissenters in their midst.  It was this religious conviction and persecution that drove Protestants and Catholics alike from Europe to the British North American.  Nonconformists were shown no mercy and many were executed as heretics.

In some areas Catholics persecuted Protestants, in others Protestants persecuted Catholics, and in still others Catholics and Protestants persecuted wayward coreligionists. Although England renounced religious persecution in 1689, it persisted on the European continent. Religious persecution, as observers in every century have commented, was often bloody and implacable and is remembered and resented for generations.

Religion and the American Civil War

Three of our nation’s leading Protestant denominations—Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists—were all divided over slavery or related issues. These church divisions fractured political parties, and ultimately helped to divide the nation.

Christians who opposed the war on religious grounds were often persecuted. The Brethren eventually were allowed to be exempted from military service if they paid $500, but most suffered for their stance. For example, John Kline, moderator of the Brethren Annual Meeting, became distrusted because he provided medical aid to soldiers from both armies. Once he was jailed for two weeks, without cause, and in June 1864 he was ambushed and murdered.

Many preachers, especially in the North, felt that through the war the final glorious reign of God would begin. Both sides thought the war would be over in three months. Instead, it lasted four years, until 364,511 Union and approximately 260,000 Confederate soldiers lay dead from bullets and disease. More Americans died in the Civil War than died in all other American wars combined.

Many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century by men and women, who, in the face of European persecution, who stood up for and refused to compromise their passionately held religious convictions.

Matthew Brady's picture of a sermon given to the "Fighting 69th" Infantry in 1861.

Matthew Brady’s 1861 picture of a sermon given to the “Fighting 69th” Infantry of the New York State Militia.

The New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established “as plantations of religion.” Some settlers who arrived in these areas came for secular motives–“to catch fish” as one New Englander put it–but the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct. They enthusiastically supported the efforts of their leaders to create “a city on a hill” or a “holy experiment,” whose success would prove that God’s plan for his churches could be successfully realized in the American wilderness. Even colonies like Virginia, which were planned as commercial ventures, were led by entrepreneurs who considered themselves “militant Protestants” and who worked diligently to promote the prosperity of the church.  Many of my ancestors, in fact, were quaker, baptist, and methodist ministers.

May 25 – September 17,1787:  The Philadelphia Convention

George Washington Is Elected President of and Presides Over the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia (now referred to as the Constitutional Convention)

George Washington Is Elected President of and Presides Over the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia (now referred to as the Constitutional Convention)

After nearly four months in session, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed by 38 of 41 delegates present at the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (“The Philadelphia Convention”). Supporters of the document waged a hard-won battle to win ratification by the necessary nine out of 13 U.S. states.  The Constitution and other laws attempted to draw lines separating certain official government functions from the nation’s religious life. But these same laws have largely steered clear of regulating religion in the political sphere. And indeed, religion has long been entangled in the nation’s politics and its political campaigns.

The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries and “Political Correctness”

Not much has changed over the past 2 to 3 centuries. Except that we Americans have been hammered with new terms to maintain our “political correctness.”  Who determines what is politically correct, anyway?  Is it the media? Leftists? Rightists? Academics? The public, in general? Somewhere between political correctness and bald-faced bigotry is our Constitution’s First Amendment that protects our rights to believe and say whatever we want.  political-correctness-and-merry-christmas
And yes, I acknowledge that this same first amendment also protects the rights of those who don’t agree with us so they can say whatever they want!  I’m starting to see that we as a human race still haven’t learned how to appropriately communicate with each other, to openly express and discuss our opinions, and to mitigate any discourse that comes as a result of our rights to this freedom of speech–this definitely is not to say that I am a proponent for the many derogatory and defaming words that some people choose to pummel at others because there are differences in race, sexual orientation, religion, politick, or other convictions.
Skipping Ahead to 2016 and the Presidential Election
is-politics-nothing-other-than-the-art-of-deliberately-lying-voltaire
October 15-18 2016: The Economist/YouGov.com conducted a web-based poll of 1,300 Internet Opt-in general population participants to get a handle on political views and the role of religion in their lives.   Its random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, and region) was selected from the 2014 American Community Study. Voter registration was imputed from the November 2014 Current Population Survey Registration and Voting Supplement.  The survey has an error margin of +/- 3.9%. Below is a snip it of its raw top line results for both politics and religion, but let me bottom line just a few sentiments collected as a result of this poll:
  • 2/3’s of respondents reported that religion was somewhat to very important in their lives
  • 3 out of 5 respondents said they prayed outside of religious services from several times a day to at least once a week
  • 55 percent of respondents reported their religion as either protestant (37 percent) or catholic (18 percent)
  • Just under one-third of respondents reported themselves as born-again Christians
  • Just under 2/3’s said this country today is: “off on the wrong track”
  • 80 percent said they would vote for either Clinton (42 percent) or Trump (38 percent)
  • 83 percent when asked the voting question a little differently, “whether they had a good idea of who they would vote for;” said:  “I have no idea”
1. Would you say things in this country today are?
Generally headed in the right direction  28%
Off on the wrong track                           63%
Not sure                                                   9%
2. Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the following people?
Hillary Clinton:
20%  Very favorable
20%  Somewhat favorable
12%  Somewhat unfavorable
45%  Very unfavorable
3%  Don’t know
Donald Trump: 15% 19% 10% 51% 4%
15%  Very favorable
19%  Somewhat favorable
10%  Somewhat unfavorable
51%  Very unfavorable
4%  Don’t know
3. Do you have a good idea of which candidate you’ll vote for in the presidential election in November, or are you still making up your mind? Asked of registered voters who will definitely/probably/maybe vote or have already voted
I have already voted                             5%
I have a good idea of who I’ll vote for 83%
I’m still making up my mind                  9%
Not sure                                                3%
4. Who will you vote for in the election for President in November? Asked of registered voters who will definitely/probably/maybe vote or have already voted – excludes registered voters who will definitely not vote
Hillary Clinton (Democrat)                  42%
Donald Trump (Republican)               38%
Gary Johnson (Libertarian)                  6%
Jill Stein (Green)                                  1%
Other                                                    3%
Not sure                                                8%
Probably won’t vote                              2%
  1. How important is religion in your life?

Very important                               37%
Somewhat important                     29%
Not too important                          16%
Not at all important                        17%

 144. Aside from weddings and funerals, how often do you attend religious services?

More than once a week                10%
Once a week                                15%
Once or twice a month                 10%
A few times a year                        14%
Seldom                                          23%
Never                                             26%
Don’t know                                       2%

145.  Would you describe yourself as a “born-again” or evangelical Christian, or not?

Yes                                                    31%
No                                                     69%

 146.  People practice their religion in different ways. Outside of attending religious services, how often do you pray?

Several times a day                         29%
Once a day                                      16%
A few times a week                         13%
Once a week                                     3%
A few times a month                         6%
Seldom                                            15%
Never                                               16%
Don’t know                                         2%

147.  What is your present religion, if any?

Protestant                                         37%
Roman Catholic                               18%
Mormon                                              2%
Eastern or Greek Orthodox                1%
Jewish                                                2%
Muslim                                                2%
Buddhist                                             1%
Hindu                                                  0%
Atheist                                                4%
Agnostic                                             5%
Nothing in particular                         21%
Something else                                  5%

Abraham Lincoln’s Perspective

Whether choosing to talk politics, who’s side you’re on, who you voted for and why, or comparing the laws of man to God’s laws, Abraham Lincoln probably said it best when he said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Sources:

Christianity and the Civil War
History.com’s This Day In History:  September 17, 1787
Library of Congress:  Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
Pew Research Fact Tank:  Key Findings About Faith and Politics in the 2016 Presidential Campaign
The Economist/YouGov Poll:  October 2016
The Journal of Southern Religion: The Politics of Faith During the Civil War
USHistory.org:  Dissent in Massachusetts Bay

 

 

3 Generations Exploring and Reflecting in the Big Apple


On Thursday, November 10, my daughter Jen, her son Aaron, and I departed Maryland. We hopped aboard Amtrak’s Northeast Regional Train and set our sights for The Big Apple. My youngest grandchild, Aaron, soon to be 14, had never been there or even traveled on a train.  It’s Fall, the trees were in their full Fall array of colors, and temperatures mild.  It was also Veteran’s Day Weekend, the 15th Anniversary Year of the horrific 9/11 terrorists attacks on America, and just a day or so after the close of possibly the most controversial presidential campaigns that we’ve ever experienced.  And, to boot,  we had just learned the results of what strategists are now calling the greatest presidential upset in U.S. History–native New Yorker, and wealthy real estate mogul, Donald Trump, wins the race!  Young people in NYC and across the country are peacefully protesting.  All in all, we’re thinking our choice for this extended weekend trip is perfectly timed.

Thanks to Aaron, “Buggy,” we also captured pictures of many of the sites we took in. Overall it was a fantastic weekend.  My desire, beyond adding this post to our family’s history, is that you will be encouraged, if you already haven’t been, to go visit NYC.  You know, besides these sites, New York has an energy like no other city–one that you must visit and experience for yourself!

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Election Eve 2016: Imagining Life Without Political Campaigns, Politicians, and the News Without a Profit Motive!


It’s  November 7, 2016, presidential election eve.  This is the 18th presidential election since my birth.  And, looking back over the histories of campaigns and presidencies, we can see that the winning political parties will be split 50/50 if a Democrat wins this election.  So, I spent all day today culling over various facts and citations to pull together a synopsis. So, I hope you enjoy reflecting back on them to see if life, politics, politicians, and the media’s involvement with them have really dramatically changed.  And, I apologize in advance for the length of this post–probably my longest post to date, but writing this one actually brought me some focus and a small amount of satisfaction before Election Day when we’re expected to muster up enough strength and sanity to endure one more day of this craziness, before taking that leap of faith into our future for these next four years.

presidential-elections-1948-2012

The 1948 Campaign

truman-dewey-and-thurmond-election-1948The 1948 presidential election was a great political revolution in American history in its day. These are some of the words used to describe this memorable U.S. presidential election in which the Democratic incumbent Harry S. Truman defeated the Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey: “the 1948 miracle,” “the biggest political upset in American history,” “a victory by an underdog who everyone said had no chance to win”, “one of the three most significant American elections of the twentieth century.” Indeed, the Chief Executive, who during his campaign made a famous whistle-stop tour of the country aboard a special train, outpolled his main opponent by over two million votes. This electoral contest was the closest presidential election since 1916, Truman receiving 49.5 % of the popular vote as compared to 45.1% for New York’s Governor Dewey. In the electoral college, Truman’s margin was 303-189, with 39 votes going to third-party candidate J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina (the second longest seated Senator in Congress [November 7, 1956 – January 3, 2003: 48 years]).  Truman’s triumph astonished the American nation, to say the least, since most pollsters and influential newspapers had picked Dewey as the winner.  In fact, the Chicago Tribune’s banner headline of November 3, 1948 on its front page read: “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

1952

eisenhower-stevenson-election-1952

The 42nd quadrennial presidential election was held on Tuesday, November 4, 1952.  One of the more famous quotes during the campaign made by Adlai Stevenson:  “I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.”

Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was the landslide winner, ending a string of Democratic wins that stretched back to 1932. During this time, Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was at a high level, as was fear of communism in the US, epitomized by the campaign of McCarthyism. Foreign policy was a main issue in the race for the Republican nomination. The stalemated Korean War polarized our nation and implied corruption in the federal government was a major issue, too. The economy was prosperous, so economic and social issues played little roles in the campaign.

1956

eisenhower-stevenson-election-1956

This election was a re-match of 1952, as Eisenhower’s opponent in 1956 was the same Adlai Stevenson, a former Illinois governor, whom he defeated in his run for president in 1952.

Eisenhower was popular, although his health had become a quiet issue and he largely ignored the subject of civil rights. Our country was thriving and enjoying peace – Eisenhower ended the Korean War – and supporters acknowledged his charismatic presence.

1960

A few firsts:

  • The 44th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 8, 1960, was one of the closest elections in American history and the first election where, regardless of the winner, the United States would have a leader who was born in the 20th century.
  • This was the first presidential election in which voters in Alaska and Hawaii were able to participate, as both had become states in 1959.
  • It also was the first election where the Twenty-second Amendment was enforced, making all former presidents who had held two terms as President ineligible for re-election.

kennedy-nixon-election-1960

The Republican insider was Richard Nixon of California, who had served as Vice-President for eight years under Dwight Eisenhower. JOHN F. KENNEDY, a senator from Massachusetts, was the Democratic newcomer who at the age of 43 became the youngest person ever to be elected President.

Kennedy as young, a newcomer, and a Roman Catholic and no Catholic had ever been elected President before. (AL SMITH, a Catholic, suffered a crushing defeat to HERBERT HOOVER in 1928.) This raised serious questions about the electability of a Catholic candidate, particularly in the Bible Belt South. Questions were raised about Kennedy’s ability to place national interests above the wishes of his Pope.

Courage and character became the major themes of Kennedy’s campaign once the press reported stories about Kennedy’s World War II heroism. While he was serving in the South Pacific aboard the PT109, a Japanese destroyer rammed his ship and snapped it in two. Kennedy rescued several of his crewmates from certain death. Then he swam from island to island until he found a group of friendly natives who delivered a distress message that Kennedy had carved into a coconut to an American naval base.

John F. Kennedy won the popular vote by a slim margin of approximately 100,000 votes. Richard Nixon won more individual states than Kennedy, but it was Kennedy who prevailed by winning key states with many electoral votes.

And then there was that horrific day, November 22, 1963, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX,  by Lee Harvey Oswald, and his then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, assuming his role as President of the United States.  Watch former President Truman’s reaction when interviewed about this news:

1964

john-goldwater-election-1964

Democratic candidate and incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor John F. Kennedy. Johnson’s campaign advocated a series of anti-poverty programs collectively known as the Great Society, and successfully portrayed Goldwater as being a dangerous extremist. He also had successfully associated himself with Kennedy’s popularity, and won 61.1% of the popular vote, the highest win by a candidate since James Monroe‘s re-election in 1820.   Johnson easily won the Presidency, carrying 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

1968

nixon-humphrey-wallace-election-1968

1968 was another election year that we could label as “tumultuous”. It was marked by the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., subsequent race riots across the nation, the assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and widespread opposition to the Vietnam War across university campuses. Incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, had declined to seek election amid growing discontent over the Vietnam War and his worse-than-expected showing in the New Hampshire primary. The 1968 Democratic National Convention was a scene of violent confrontations between police and anti-war protesters as Democrats split into multiple factions. But even my wildest memories and comparisons of 1968 to 2016 still put this year’s politicians characters, lack of knowledge, introspection, honesty, coherency, integrity, decency, compassion, and sensitivities at the bottom of barrel–and I say this knowing the memories that are yet to come in this post!

1972

nixon-mcgovern-election-1972

Nixon won this election in a landslide over George McGovern by emphasizing a good economy and his successes in nearing the end of American involvement in the Vietnam War and establishing relations with China. Overall, Nixon won 60.7% of the popular vote, the fourth largest in presidential election history. Nixon garnered 18 million more popular votes than McGovern–the widest margin of any United States presidential election.

This election term stands out among others because Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, former Governor of Maryland, resigned less than a year after the election over allegations that he had accepted bribes as Governor;  Agnew was replaced by Gerald Ford under the terms of the 25th Amendment; and, Nixon would resign due to the Watergate Scandal in August 1974. Ultimately, this term included two different presidents and three different vice presidents!

1976

carter-ford-election-1976

President Nixon resigned in 1974 in the wake of the infamous Watergate scandal and his Vice President Spiro Agnew’s resignation in light of a scandal that implicated him in receiving illegal bribes as Governor of Maryland.  Using authorization from the 25th Amendment of 1967, Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as his successor. Gerald Ford then became the only sitting President who had never been elected to a national office. But Ford inherited a legacy of a poor economy, the fall of South Vietnam, and paid a heavy political price for his pardon of Nixon.  Like the 2016 election, Ford first faced serious opposition from within his own party, when he was challenged for the Republican Party’s nomination by former California governor and future President Ronald Reagan. The race was so close that Ford was unable to secure the nomination until the Party Convention.

Democrat Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, was less well known, ran as a Washington outsider and reformer. He narrowly won the election, becoming the first president elected from the Deep South since Zachary Taylor in 1848.

1980

reagan-carter-election-1980

reagan-quoteThe 1980 election was considered by some to debate a dramatic change in the government’s influence and authority over the people and economy, reaching a climate of confrontation practically not seen since 1932.  One of Ronald Reagan’s more famous quotes of the day:

Supporters of Republican Ronald Reagan, former Hollywood Actor and now Governor of California, praised him for running a campaign of upbeat optimism.

Carter emphasized his record as a peacemaker, and said Reagan’s election would threaten civil rights and social programs that stretched back to the New Deal. Reagan’s platform also emphasized the importance of peace, as well as a prepared self-defense.

Carter’s supporters defended the president as a decent, well-intentioned man being unfairly criticized for problems that had been building for years.

His critics saw him as an inept leader who had failed to solve the worsening economic problems at home. And, following a failed rescue attempt, Jimmy Carter was overwhelmingly blamed for the Iran hostage crisis where 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days (November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981) by a group of Muslim Iranian students who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. These Ayatollah Khomeini followers burned American flags, chanted anti-American slogans, paraded captured American hostages in public, and burned effigies of Carter.

David Frum, political commentator claimed that Jimmy Carter ran an attack-based campaign revolving around “despair and pessimism,”  and this is what “cost him the election.”   (Any of this sound familiar?)

1984

reagan-mondale-election-1984

Mondale ran a liberal campaign, supporting a nuclear freeze and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). He spoke against what he considered to be unfairness in Reagan’s economic policies and the need to reduce federal budget deficits.

The Reagan campaign was very skilled at producing effective television advertising. Two of the more memorable ads it produced were commonly known as “Bear in the woods” and “Morning in America”.

Deemed by experts as highly effective, the first video is a legendary Cold War political advertisement from Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign. Pretty basic metaphor the bear is The Soviets.

The next acclaimed video is “Morning in America,” where Reagan narrates about the positive changes in America under his leadership as President.  (If only the 2016 political ads had not been R or X rated, but, instead were produced for all audiences and about American’s real issues like these 32 year old videos!)

Reagan was re-elected in the November 6 election in an electoral and popular vote landslide, winning 49 states. Mondale’s defeat was also the worst for any Democratic Party candidate in American history in the Electoral College (and his 13 electoral votes the fewest any Democrat has won since Stephen A. Douglas claimed 12 in the 1860 election, when the Democratic vote was divided).

1988

george-hw-bush-dukakis-election-1988

This election marked the third consecutive presidential victory for the Republican Party, and the first time that a party had won more than two consecutive presidential elections since the Democrats won all five elections from 1932 to 1948. Bush was the first sitting Vice President to be elected President since Martin Van Buren in 1836, and the first successor to be elected from the same party since Herbert Hoover in 1928.

Running an aggressive campaign, Bush capitalized on a good economy and Reagan’s popularity. Meanwhile, Dukakis’ campaign suffered from several miscues, including failure to defend against Bush’s attacks. This allowed Bush to win with a substantial margin of the popular vote, while winning the Electoral College by a landslide. Since the 1988 election, no candidate has managed to equal or surpass Bush’s number of electoral votes won or popular vote percentage.

During the course of the campaign, Dukakis fired his deputy field director Donna Brazile after she spread rumors that Bush had an affair with his assistant Jennifer Fitzgerald.[48] The relationship of George H.W. Bush and Jennifer Fitzgerald would be briefly rehashed during the 1992 campaign.[49][50]

Dukakis was badly hurt by the Republican “Willie Horton”, “Revolving Door”, and “Boston Harbor” campaign ads, the latter of which attacked the governor’s failure to clean up environmental pollution in the harbor. Dukakis was a supporter of a state prison furlough program, which had begun before he was governor. The program resulted in the release of convicted murderer Willie Horton, who then committed a rape and assault in Maryland. As Governor, Dukakis had vetoed a 1976 plan to bar inmates convicted of first-degree murder from the furlough program. The program was abolished by the state legislature in April 1988 after public outcry over the Willie Horton case.

A number of false rumors about Dukakis were reported in the media, including the claim by Idaho Republican Senator Steve Symms that Dukakis’s wife Kitty had burned an American flag to protest the Vietnam War, as well as the claim that Dukakis himself had been treated for a mental illness. (I had forgotten about some of these events–sometimes brain cramps can be small blessings in disguise!)

1992

clinton-bush-perot-election-1992

After the successful performance by U.S. and coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush’s approval ratings were 89%. His re-election was considered very likely. As a result, several high-profile candidates refused to seek the Democratic nomination.

The public’s concern about the federal budget deficit and fears of professional politicians allowed the independent candidacy of billionaire Texan Ross Perot to explode on the scene in dramatic fashion—at one point Perot was leading the major party candidates in the polls. Perot crusaded against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), internal and external national debt, tapping into voters’ potential fear of the deficit.

But as the economy continued to grow sour and the President’s approval rating continued to slide, the Democrats began to rally around their nominee, Bill Clinton.

Many character issues also were raised during this campaign, including allegations that Clinton had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, and had used marijuana, which Clinton claimed he had pretended to smoke, but “didn’t inhale.” Bush also accused Clinton of meeting with communists on a trip to Russia he took as a student. Clinton was often accused of being a philanderer by political opponents.

Allegations were also made that Bill Clinton had engaged in a long-term extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers. Clinton denied ever having an affair with Flowers.  (Still sounding familiar and perhaps some copycatting going on?)

1996

clinton-dole-perot-election-1996

Initially, President Clinton’s chances of winning were considered slim in the middle of his term as his party had lost both the House and the Senate in 1994 for the first time in decades; he had reneged on promises to cut taxes and to reduce the deficit, enacted a Federal assault weapons ban, and had a failed healthcare reform initiative. He was able to regain ground as the economy began to recover from the early 1990s recession with a relatively stable world stage. He went on to win re-election with a substantial margin in the popular vote and electoral college. Despite Dole’s defeat, the Republican Party was able to maintain a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Dole chose to focus on Clinton as being “part of the spoiled baby boomer generation” and stating, “My generation won World War II, and we may need to be called to service one last time.” Although his message won appeal with older voters, surveys found that his age was widely held as a liability and his frequent allusions to WWII and the Great Depression in speeches and campaign ads “unappealing” to younger voters. To prove that he was still healthy and active, Dole released all of his medical records to the public and published photographs of himself running on a treadmill. After the falling incident off a stage in California, he joked that he “was trying to do that new Democratic dance, the Macarena“.

The Clinton campaign avoided mentioning Dole’s age directly, instead choosing to confront it in more subtle ways with the campaign slogan “Building Bridges to the Future” in contrast to the Republican candidate’s frequent remarks that he was a “bridge to the past”, before the social upheavals of the 1960s. Clinton, without actually calling Dole “old”, questioned the age of his ideas.

On election day, President Clinton won a decisive victory over Dole, becoming the first Democrat to win two consecutive presidential elections since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, 1940, and 1944.

2000

bush-gore-election-2000

Foreign policy was often an issue, although overall this presidential campaign focused mainly on domestic issues, like the projected budget surplus, proposed reforms of Social Security and Medicare, health care, and competing plans for tax relief.

Bush criticized the Clinton administration policies in Somalia, where 18 Americans died in 1993 trying to sort out warring factions, and in the Balkans, where United States peacekeeping troops performed a variety of functions. “I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building.”  Bush also pledged to bridge partisan gaps in the nation’s capital, claiming the atmosphere in Washington stood in the way of progress on necessary reforms.

Gore, meanwhile, questioned Bush’s fitness for the job, pointing to gaffes made by Bush in interviews and speeches and suggesting the Texas governor lacked the necessary experience to be president.

Bill Clinton’s impeachment and the sex scandal that led up to it, cast a shadow on the campaign, particularly on his vice president’s run to replace him. Republicans strongly denounced the Clinton scandals, particularly Bush, who made his repeated promise to restore “honor and dignity” to the White House.

Gore studiously avoided the Clinton scandals. In fact, some media observers theorized that Gore actually chose Lieberman in an attempt to separate himself from Clinton’s past misdeeds, and help blunt the GOP’s attempts to link him to his boss. Others pointed to the passionate kiss Gore gave his wife during the Democratic Convention, as a signal that despite the allegations against Clinton, Gore himself was a faithful husband. Gore avoided appearing with Clinton, who was shunted to low visibility appearances only in areas where he was popular. Experts have argued that this cost Gore votes from some of Clinton’s core supporters.

2004

bush-kerry-election-2004

Bush focused his campaign on national security, presenting himself as a decisive leader and contrasted Kerry as a “flip-flopper.” This strategy was designed to convey to American voters the idea that Bush could be trusted to be tough on terrorism while Kerry would be “uncertain in the face of danger.” Bush (just as his father did with Dukakis in the 1988 election) also sought to portray Kerry as a “Massachusetts liberal,” who was out of touch with mainstream Americans. One of Kerry’s slogans was “Stronger at home, respected in the world.” This advanced the suggestion that Kerry would pay more attention to domestic concerns; it also encapsulated Kerry’s contention that Bush had alienated American allies by his foreign policy.

According to one exit poll, people who voted for Bush cited the issues of terrorism and traditional values as the most important factors in their decision. Kerry supporters cited the war in Iraq, the economy and jobs, and health care.

 Over the course of Bush’s first term in office, his extremely high approval ratings following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks steadily dwindled, peaking only during combat operations in Iraq in spring 2003, and again following the capture of Saddam Hussein in December that same year. Those who supported Kerry attempted to capitalize on the dwindling popularity to rally anti-war sentiment.

In March 2004, the Bush/Cheney campaign was criticized by 2004 Racism Watch. The organization took offense to a campaign ad, which showed a man who was possibly Middle Eastern in a negative light. 2004 Racism Watch issued a press release calling on the campaign to pull the ad, calling it “disturbing and offensive.”

Between August and September 2004, there was an intense focus on events that occurred in the late-1960s and early-1970s where Bush was accused of failing to fulfill his required service in the Texas Air National Guard. However, the focus quickly shifted to the conduct of CBS News after they aired a segment on 60 Minutes Wednesday, introducing what became known as the Killian documents. Serious doubts about the documents’ authenticity quickly emerged, leading CBS to appoint a review panel that eventually resulted in the firing of the news producer and other significant staffing changes.

2008

 

obama-mccain-election-2008

On August 28, 2008, when Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination for President, he became the first African American to be nominated for President by a major political party. The television audiences for both McCain’s and Obama’s acceptance speeches broke records, according to Nielsen ratings.

The unpopular war in Iraq was a key issue during the campaign before the economic crisis. John McCain supported the war while Barack Obama opposed it (Obama’s early and strong opposition to the war helped him stand out against the other Democratic candidates during the primaries, as well as stand out to a war-weary electorate during the general campaign). Though McCain meant it as a peacetime presence like the United States maintained in Germany and Japan after World War II, his statement that the United States could be in Iraq for as much as the next 50 to 100 years would prove costly. Obama used it against him as part of his strategy to tie him to the unpopular President Bush.

Obama promised “universal health care, full employment, a green America, and an America respected instead of feared by its enemies”.

Obama used new media to “form a bond with his supporters” which helped him “appeal to the youth audience’s need to feel special, in-the-know, empowered and special”. This was best displayed in his text message announcement of Joe Biden as the vice-presidential candidate. He has also declared, in his book The Audacity of Hope, that he did not experience a religious upbringing. Rather he developed his faith due to the church’s ability to motivate social change. The 2008 presidential election saw a large youth turn out, up to 51%.”

Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama created a broad popular movement and a new method of campaigning by courting and mobilizing activists, donations, and voters through the Internet. It was part of a campaign that mobilized grassroots workers in every state.

Polls taken in the last few months of the presidential campaign and exit polls conducted on Election Day showed the economy as the top concern for voters. In the fall of 2008, many news sources were reporting that the economy was suffering its most serious downturn since the Great Depression. During this period, John McCain’s election prospects fell with several politically costly comments about the economy.  In fact, many pundits and analysts say that the actual financial crisis and economic conditions caused McCain’s large drop in support and severely damaged his campaign.

2012

obama-romney-election-2012

It was held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. The Democratic nominee, incumbent President Barack Obama, and his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, were elected to a second term, easily defeating the Republican nominee, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney and his running mate, Representative and eventual House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Foreign leaders reacted with both positive and mixed messages. Most world leaders congratulated and praised Barack Obama on his re-election victory. However, Venezuela and some other states had tempered reactions. Pakistan commented that Romney’s defeat had made Pakistan-United States relations safer. Stock markets fell noticeably after Obama’s re-election, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, and the S&P 500 each declining over two percent the day after the election. By his inauguration, however, the markets had gained back all the losses and a bull run began that culminated in 2015 when the Dow closed at an all-time high of 18,312, the NASDAQ reached the milestone of 5,210, and the S&P 500 peaked at a record 2,130. 

2016

clinton-trump-election-2016

I found the following chart to be very impressive.  The blue highlighted cells show opinion polls in favor of Hillary Clinton as becoming president; those in pink (only Russia) show opinion polls in favor of Donald Trump.  There’s not too much more to be said about this campaign.  Americans have been stressed out enough already! Prayers to all of us.

international-2016-presidental-winner-projections

She’s Still Mom–Even With Alzheimer’s


In December 2010 after a fall on the sidewalk and a hit to her head and face, doctors ordered a CT (computerized tomography), scan of mom’s brain. This CT scan was the first confirmation that mom had mild Alzheimer’s disease.

alzheimers-awareness-brain-scan

This was also about the time that mom had driven herself to church (just three miles away and only a couple of turns) and got lost trying to drive home.  And, about the time when mom and I had our first ever argument–and it was over next to nothing.

In fact, we have since learned that Alzheimer’s begins with changes in the brain that are happening while people are still cognitively normal, decades before any signs of memory or thinking problems. A person diagnosed with any one of the 10 types of Alzheimer’s and dementia goes through 7 stages that affect the quality of their lives and the lives of their loved ones. People with Alzheimer’s live four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on their other health factors.

So here we are, entering our seventh year after mom’s diagnosis.  But the real reason I sat down to write this post was to give thanks for the good day that mom and I spent together yesterday.  It began as a typical Thursday.  Helping her select clothes and get dressed, combing her hair, and giving her time to apply makeup and, of course, waiting on her repeated visits to the bathroom before leaving and switching her home oxygen to her portable oxygen and then helping her walk to the car.  And, of course, observing the “goodbye kiss” ritual that she and dad never fail to forego before leaving home without the other.

Bob had taken mom to and from her 10 a.m. hair appointment as he always does and we had eaten lunch together as a family as we usually do.  Next, it was off to mom’s hematologist  appointment to check the status of her iron (she suffers from iron deficiency anemia, too, and has been receiving treatment for this for about 15 years).  On our 20-minute ride to her appointment, mom and I typically chat about the beautiful or sometimes rainy days.  She teared up over seeing a deer that had been hit and killed by a car and was laying just off the side of the road.  Once inside the reception area she became very socialable and we enjoyed a philosophical conversation with another patient while they waited their turns to see the doctor.

Several nurses came and went while we were inside the examination room.  Nurse Chris escorted us into the room and weighed and measured mom.  They struck up a lively conversation and we all had a few laughs over just little things that came up; e.g., how mom has gone from 5’2″ to just 5′ and 1/2.”  We sang a few lyrics from the song “5’2″ eyes of blue, could she love, could she woo,” has anybody seen my gal?”

Mom also played a guessing game with Nurse Janice about their ages and similar life events when they each had attended elementary school.  (Neither of us would have guessed that Janice was the age she revealed.) When asked, mom also told Nurse Chris that she didn’t know if I thought of her as my best friend, but I was hers and that she could always count on me–a very special moment. I reassured her that she was my best friend, too.  And, as a mother always does, she added that, in fact, she has three grown children and she loves and is proud of them all.

Also in keeping with her norm (pun intended–short for Norma), when we’re leaving the examining area, mom always says goodbye to all of the nurses.  They told her how cute she is and to take good care of her “feisty” self.  She told them that she would and added:  “My husband and I go dancing every Saturday night at the Knights of Columbus.  We just love to dance.  And as long as we both can still breathe, we’re going to keep on dancing.”

Although they used to attend regular dances at the Knights of Columbus, they haven’t been able to dance in years.  But, on their granddaughter’s wedding day they put down their canes and walkers to dance this dance on February 21, 2016.

On our return trip home mom was looking at all her wrinkles and the bruises on her arms and hands (she bruises easily from her blood thinning medicines).  She said if she didn’t know better she would think that she had punched my father–and then she giggled and went on to say:  “You know,” your dad and I have been together since we were young teenagers and met when we started our part-time summer jobs at ages 14 and 15.”  “We have lived a very long life together, have had many great times and some difficult times but sometimes he can be just so irritable and cranky–we even used to call him “Cranky Frankie,” but, “I love that man!”

Yes, I am thankful for all the years that the Lord has allowed me to spend with my parents–the great times and the difficult times, and pray that when their time comes to an end here on earth that He will take them swiftly to end their daily suffering by being debilitated by Alzheimer’s.

I leave you with the following for those readers who have been fortunate enough not to have Alzheimer’s affect their lives or the lives of their loved ones.

Some Facts about Alzheimer’s

Ob La Di, Ob La Da . . . Life Goes On!


It’s been over a month since I last posted–an unusually long time for me to step away from family history and happenings. If you read my September 19th post, you will recall that I wrote about recent “Tumultuous, Terrific, Tragic, and Treasured Times . . .” Life still is going on, often out of my control, but God still is in charge, and in Him I trust.

Roy, Joanne, and Mam-ma's Boston Bull - About 1949

Roy, Joanne, an Mam-ma’s Boston Bull – About 1949

Today brings back a couple memories–a dichotomy of memories if you will. You see, 61 years ago today, October 24, 1955, my maternal grandfather Robert Gideon Ford, “Roy,” as most called him passed away in our living room while we weren’t at home. I was just about 60 days shy of my ninth birthday and in third grade. Roy called us at my aunt’s where we were visiting, just about half an hour away from our home. He and his son, Johnny, had traveled from upstate New York to pick up the remaining items following their move from Glenndale, MD, to Beaver’s Dam, Elmira, New York–just a few short weeks before. He told dad he had indigestion and was thinking about “stealing” one of his last beer’s from the refrigerator. Only minutes later my uncle called us back to say that Roy had taken a swallow of beer and then fell off of our couch. Turns out his indigestion was a heart attack and he passed on, on our living room floor. Roy and I were very close. I’m told as an infant, that Roy called me “pudd’n” and “pumpkin head.” I was born six weeks premature and I had no hair on my head, eyebrows, or eyelashes on my eyelids. I spent most weekends with my grandparents on their farm and enjoyed every minute of time together with them and my uncle Johnny and his house filled with five other children. We helped plant vegetables, climbed and pulled fruit from the trees, dug up potatoes, pulled vegetables from the garden just before meals, walked around barefoot, including into the chicken coop, to get eggs that the hens had laid, got chased by a bull while we were bent over picking strawberries, played hide ‘n’ seek in the dark, and sat outside on the screened-in porch and counted the number of cars on the trains as they passed by just outside the yard. Yes, it was difficult for me to understand and to cope with Roy’s absence, but he and my grandmother enter my thoughts nearly every day. They suffered and survived many difficulties and hardships together–about 30 years, I’d say. Roy was only 57 years old at the time of his death. I still love and miss him, and hold onto to so many fine memories of this man who didn’t attend church, but paraphrased 1 Peter 3:10 “If you can’t say anything nice about people, don’t say anything at all.”

Now, let’s fast forward about nine years and a happier time in my life. It’s October 24, 1964, and I’m approaching my 18th birthday in early January. I started working part-time in my senior year of high school and I’m dating a 20-year-old marine who I met at work. When we were first introduced I could feel my skin melting, my knees shaking, and my stomach quivering. I just knew my parents wouldn’t approve and the chances would be slim that we would ever date. I was wrong, but they weren’t all that eager about it either. It was a whirlwind love affair that began at first sight. With me still attending school and him stationed at Quantico, our dating was confined to weekends–mostly with friends after the store closed on Friday nights at the home of the more mature workers. And, it was in North Forestville, among our friends, when we sat off to the sideline and became engaged. I was so stunned by the proposal, that nothing could bring me down off of “cloud nine.” Not even my mom. In 1964, October 24th was the night the clocks were turned back from daylight savings time to eastern standard time. My curfew was set at 1:00 a.m. Well, we pulled up to the curb outside my home and we were talking about this being the anniversary of my grandfather’s death and our plans for our future, and when and how we would break the news to my family.

March 27, 1965

March 27, 1965

Suddenly, my petite mom comes out from inside our house to the car and yanks the door open, grabs me out, and says in a very angry and stern voice, “Good Night, Mr. Dickinson!” As she’s pulling me by my arm into the house, I’m being asked if I knew what time it was, and what do I think the neighbors will be talking about tomorrow. Turns out, we had been outside my home in the car at the curb for an hour–but the clocks had been turned back, so it was still 1 o’clock. She wasn’t buying it, thought I was being smart, and she wanted to do battle. She went so far as to tell me that “You think you’re being smart not talking to me when I’m talking to you. Well, young lady, you haven’t heard the last of this!” Unlike other boyfriends Bob wasn’t scared off by my parents. I’m not sure why, but he returned the next day and he talked (hiding behind a newspaper) about marrying me. All my dad had to say was “Well, Good Luck, cause you’re going to need it!” My mom said, “Frank! Is that all you have to say!” And, that was it. Of course, mom interrogated me after every date, and if the facts be known, we married sooner than we had planned because the tension was just too much for me to deal with. And, here we are 52 years later, loving each other and life more than ever, and still chuckling over our engagement night. Our eldest son will celebrate his 50th birthday in December and his eldest son, just shy of 30, is a first-time father of a newborn son and posting about “cleaning up puke, poopy bottoms, and getting peed on,” by both his infant and his 8-week-old shepherd pup! Ob la di, ob la da, and life goes on . . .

Tumultuous, Terrific, Tragic, and Treasured Times . . .


The word “tumultuous” best describes my personal little world over these past 30 or so days. I know my family’s events pale in comparison to the tragic and horrific events precipitated mostly by mean-spirited, greedy, and angry people of our world at large. To maintain my sanity and not be overwhelmed or sickened inside by these larger tragedies I choose to focus on my biological and spiritual family and how we love and support each other through the good and sometimes challenging times.

chesapeak-beachSo, let’s start with the obvious, that is the “tumultuous” August weather along the Delmarva coast.   We experienced severe periods of record setting weather – from the very high temperatures, to threats of tornadoes and hurricanes, high winds, and unusual flooding conditions due to heavy downpours of rain in very short periods of time. Roads were closed, trees were toppled, electricity came and went, but together, we “weathered” these days.

Among the Dickinson and Boling extended family we celebrated still having five living generations – a rarity in today’s world.  And, on this rare occasion we gathered everyone available from down the east coast and across the world from among our family total of 42 members.  In fact, we celebrated five of them on a single day in August at our daughter Jen and her husband, Brian’s, beautiful and spacious new home. The birthday celebrants ages were 16, 24, 25, 48, and 89 – a broad mix of personalities and generations that range from the millennials, (16-34), to generation X (ages 35-50), to me, (the only baby boomer), and then the silent generation (ages 72-93).  From a gender split perspective, only 2 out of every 5 family members are female.  The youngest and the oldest of those being celebrated were females; three were born under the sign of Leo, the Lion (the earlier mentioned two females and one male); two of the guys birthdays fell under the Virgo sign (a father and son).  And, when all of us converged, it made for more fun times, great memories, and interesting, often amusing, conversations.

fr-worch-in-heartsOn the day of the big birthday party, we learned of the death of a very near and dear family friend, (he passed on our son’s actual birthday). Father Don pastored to our family during some challenging times in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  He was the man in our lives that most closely followed in Jesus’ footsteps and lived his life as Jesus would have wanted him to.  So now,  just four short days after spending good times with family, it was time to switch our attention and emotional gears from celebrating birthdays to attending our friend’s very large and sobering funeral in Potomac, MD.

Following the funeral, God came to me.   He said to me in but a whisper;  “I’m adding an item to your bucket list.  You are to get up on your church’s stage and publicly share my word among your biblical community.” Next, Satan tried to steal me by infusing great FEAR into me. But, God was there as He always is. He said “I am calling you to do this!” And, the next week, at the meeting of our EDGE drama ministry, it appeared that most everyone would be off doing end of summer vacations or had other business and family commitments.  The EDGE was one actor short of completing its cast for next week’s message.  So there it was, God’s plan for me once again put in place.

So, this weekend, at my age, I took to the stage for my very first time.  The experience was well worth it.  I’m told that not only am I now an “actor,” but that I should ignore all those who have told me that I can’t sing – or, that I should sing “solo,” i.e., so low no one else can hear me. – I think I might possibly return to that stage at some point in the far distant future, but I probably will forego the singing, (because I think someone fibbed to me about my singing talents).

jackson-dickinsonAnd, on the evening of my first acting experience, our family got some fantastic news. Our eldest grandson, Joe, and his lovely wife Corrie had become a family of three, with the birth of their first child, Jackson.  This means I’ll have to add a trip South to my bucket list so we can meet  face to face with our fifth great grandchild.

Although I married very young, and am no longer a spring chicken, this baby boomer’s count of grandchildren and great grandchildren has already exceeded my wildest dreams at 14!   chelsea-six-monthsAnd by thanksgiving, we’ll likely add one to this number, making it 15. That’s when our second oldest grandson, Justin, and his wife, Chelsea’s, little boy is due, making them a family of five.

And, despite my attempts to end this post on a happy note, we have just contacted the FBI to report that we have been scammed out of half of our property tax savings for this year.

BEWARE:   If you are in search of a part time job and come across an offer to be a mystery shopper for “Applied Research Masters Center,” it’s a new scam out there.  They will send you a check for $1,850 which you are to deposit in your savings account; keeping $350 as your commission.  You are then go to a store that sells iTunes Gift Cards and purchase $1,500 worth among three cards, to ready yourself for your next assignment.  Here’s the crux of the scam:  you send them photos of the newly purchased cards with the serial numbers on them and the place of purchase.  Needless to say, after the bank returned the check  to us this morning and we called iTunes, we found that the cards had already been redeemed.  We can only pray that this is where the scam ends.  My husband is at our bank now as I share this post with you. I guess this final event, puts the capital “T’s” on “tumultuous” and “tragic.”  And, a big “L” on “Lessons Learned.”