Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kidnapped! ...

It had been quite some time since I last spoke with Henry Beefeater, but I received a call from my ol' friend early this morning ... during the course of our somewhat evocative bout of shameless gossipmongering, Henry reminded me of a regrettable event which occurred a while back involving his only son Lamar Beefeater, along with Lamar's close pal and partner in juvenile rascality Luther DooLittle.

Seems Lamar and Luther had departed on foot on their way to the Mini-Mart in town to pick up a six pack of cold RC Cola, a chunk of longhorn cheese and a biggie bag of plain, salted potater chips ... nearly two hours had passed sans their return, and Henry had begun to get a bit concerned, for the store was barely half a mile away.

Henry was about to go looking for the pair when the phone rang ... on the other end was a frantic Luther DooLittle ... he had called from his new cell phone, and was sobbing, and whining and begging Henry to send help ... Luther explained that he and Lamar were walking down the street when suddenly a dozen or so masked gunmen had kidnapped them, had bound their hands and were holding them against their will in the backseat of a strange vehicle directly in front of the Mini-Mart ... Luther said he feared the men would soon return and whisk them away never to be seen again ... "please, please send help ... and quick!"  was Luther's urgent plea.

Henry immediately put Luther on hold and wisely dialed 911 ... the 911 operator patiently listened to Henry's dilemma, at which time he also gave them Luther's cell number in case it should be needed ... the 911 operator in turn relayed the information to the local police dispatcher so officers could be sent to the location ... the dispatcher informed the 911 operator that officers were already in that specific area on another call, so she would divert them forthwith to the Mini-Mart ... the police dispatcher put out the call to any officers in the vicinity to straightaway respond to a "kidnapping in progress" at the Mini-Mart ... luckily a police sergeant happened to be sitting in his patrol car just in front of the mart ... the sergeant requested that the dispatcher relay all pertinent particulars concerning the kidnapping call ... she repeated the information taken moments earlier in which two boys were allegedly kidnapped by masked gunmen, who had bound their hands and were possibly holding them against their will in the backseat of a strange vehicle right in front of the Mini-Mart, the boys were requesting help because they feared the armed men would return at any moment and whisk them away never to be seen again ... the sergeant asked the dispatcher to call the victim's cell number for a possible update on the situation ... a few seconds later the bewildered officer heard the ringing of a phone emanating from his backseat ... after a long pause, the sergeant advised the dispatcher that there had been no kidnapping ... the situation was well  under control ... the boys in question were safe ... both nabbed by masked and armed members of the police S.W.A.T. team ... hands bound with cuffs ... sitting in the backseat of his patrol car the entire time ... right in front of the Mini-Mart!

It was later determined that the clueless boys fit the description of two unsavory bandits who had just robbed the liquor store at gun point right around the corner from the Mini-Mart ... overcautious, "masked" S.W.A.T. team members had mistakenly assumed that Luther and Lamar were the obvious larcenists, thus taking them both into custody right on the spot ... the real felons were later caught with loot in hand ... the hapless boys were cleared of all charges, then apologetically released to an extremely angry and exceedingly embarrassed Maude and Henry Beefeater ... however, there definitely was a bit of "home confinement" in store for Lamar Beefeater and his pal Luther DooLittle.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday! ...

It's crazy ... folks gettin' up outta bed long before the chickens rise ... goin' out in the often windy and cold darkness just to stand in some long, endless line waitin' for some store to open its doors so they can trample each other in the frenzied stampede to rush inside and spend their hard-earned money on all those two-dollar, discount gadgets that they would never consider buying at any other time of the year ... it's crazy ... it's the dreaded "BLACK FRIDAY" ... oh I've been there and done that ... and if you must, may I suggest full body armor or riot gear as your attire of choice!

Long before it was called Black Friday, some folks were behaving themselves as if it were ... there was this big sale of momentous implications down at the General Store ... the advertised, featured draws were "purchase 2 cans of Odens Classic Original Snuff, get 1 can free" and "30% off each poke of 'Treat Yourself To The Best' Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco" ... well, quite a few shoppers eager to take advantage of this "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" had already begun to gather at the door in anticipation of the unusually early store opening time of 9:00 AM ...and just like the Black Fridays of today, everybody wanted to get through that door first before supplies vanished from the shelves ... particularly Lester DooLittle what was there for the Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco, while Grandma DooLittle what was there for the Odens Classic Snuff, both of whom had arrived at the store at essentially the same time ... Lester actually stepped up onto the porch first with Grandma right at his heels, however he immediately ambled over to where Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt and Grandpa DooLittle were engaged in a heated game of checkers and began to watch as Grandma hurried directly to the door so as to be the first inside.

Now I don't believe that I've ever mentioned this here feller by name before, but when the storekeeper, Miry Clay was his name, began to turn the key in that rusty doorlock, everybody straightaway rushed forward so as to get inside when the door swung open ... along with Lester DooLittle, who forthwith came flyin' over and rudely cut right in front of Grandma DooLittle ... well Grandma wasn't havin' none of that ... she grabbed Lester by the earlobe and painfully yanked the execrable juvenile out of her way, at which he whirled around and demanded that she immediately release his suddenly smarting auditory receptor ... "you better git outta my way Lester DooLittle, I was here first ... I need to git in there and git my snuff 'fore it's all gone!" Grandma DooLittle determinedly demanded ... "I was first on the porch ... and I need to git in there and git my Mail Pouch Chewin' Tobacco!" Lester defiantly declared, he then again attempted to proceed through the door ahead of Grandma ... this time however, Grandma DooLittle hooked the crook of her hickory walking cane around Lester's neck and jerked so hard that it nearly turned his Adam's apple into applesauce as he landed firmly on his behind on the wooden porch ... with a look of startled disbelief on his scruffy face Lester sprung to his feet, and began an obnoxious line of verbal sass a mile long toward Grandma DooLittle "and furthermore, you're my kin and all, I do respect that, along with the fact that you're old as the hills ... but I'm a gonna go through that there doorway first ... one way, or the other!" he spewed, as he once again stepped in front of Grandma, at which she again utilized her trusty cane, only this time she brought it down squarely on top Lester's head with a loud crack! ... ol' Lester went down like a sack o' taters, knocked out colder than a late November cucumber ... as Grandma started to step over Lester's sprawled carcass Miry Clay the storekeeper blocked her path "hold on there folks, I need to git this here feller inside and make sure he's okay before I can let anybody else in" at which Miry Clay drug Lester DooLittle's apparently exanimate body inside the store and broke a vial of smellin' salts underneath his gaping nostrils ... Lester stirred a bit, shook his head then opened his squinty, crossed eyes "where am I ... what happened?" he begged ... Miry Clay informed the dizzy boy that he'd been struck in the head with a hickory stick, and that he was now inside the General Store ... Lester rolled over onto all fours, grabbed hold of the store's wooden counter and slowly pulled himself to his feet as Miry Clay again unlocked the door to allow the waiting customers to enter, especially Grandma DooLittle ... Lester reached over the counter and retrieved about half-a-dozen boxes of the 30% off Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco just as Grandma DooLittle passed by with a smirk on her wrinkled face and a glare in her gleaming eyes he proudly exclaimed "see there ol' woman ... I told you I was gonna go through that there doorway first ... one way, or the other!"

--sja Share/Bookmark

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pardon Me -- Please? ...

Thomas T. "Tommy" Turkey here ... I'm gonna cut right to the chase ... a while back, that whinin' complainer Jack O' Lantern was cryin' the blues about how punkins are murdered and mistreated in the precedin' days leadin' up to and includin' Halloween ... well Jack ought to try livin' the life and dyin' the death of an American turkey ... then Jack would have somethin' to complain about ... we turkeys endure mistreatment and mayhem year round, not just durin' the holidays ... we get no respect even though we been around as long as those punkins have ... we was livin' here in America long before Columbus and them Pilgrims landed on that rock and discovered America ... that's when the trouble began ... when them Pilgrims showed them Native Indians how to prepare us turkeys, along with some dressin' and gravy in exchange for some sweet taters and corn, life was never again the same for the American turkey ... I reckon that feast was necessary to prevent those Indians from scalpin' those Pilgrims, and to prevent those Pilgrims from shootin' those Indians, I ain't really sure ... but us turkeys got the short end of that stick!

Are you aware that at one time us turkeys and those bald eagles was both considered as America's national symbols? ... back then, Benjamin Franklin was really pullin' for us turkeys ... he thought even though we was silly and vain, we was a better choice for the national symbol than those "cowardly" bald eagles ... well I think so too ... them Pilgrims and them Native Indians could just as easily have had roasted bald eagle for that Thanksgivin' feast, along with bald eagle dressin' and bald eagle gravy ... and so should you people ... besides, those bald eagles are much better lookin' than us turkeys ... not as dry and probably tastier too ... each year durin' Thanksgiven' alone, nearly 50 million of us birds are murdered, cooked and consumed ... and another 250 million of us meet with the very same fate durin' the rest of the year ... a travesty indeed!

Each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board have given one of us turkeys to the President of the United States at a White House ceremony ... since then, presidents have been more likely to eat us rather than grant a reprieve ... one notable exception occurred in 1963, when President Kennedy, referring to the turkey given to him, said, "Let's just keep him" ... it wasn't until the first Thanksgivin' of President George H.W. Bush, in 1989, that a turkey was officially pardoned for the first time.

Presidents Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton and George "Dubya" Bush have continued the turkey pardons begun under the first ol' Bush ... some confusion about the true origin of this practice has crept into recent presidential speeches ... one story claims that Harry Truman pardoned a turkey called "Veep" given to him in 1947, but the Truman Library has been unable to find any evidence of this ... another story claims the tradition dates back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son Tad's pet turkey "Hannibal" ... what's certain is that since 1989 a turkey -- and its alternate -- have been pardoned each year ... an alternate is chosen just in case the first bird is unable to perform its duties, as if that's going to happen! ... for fifteen years through 2004, the pardoned turkeys were given to Kidwell Farm, a petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia ... those fortunate turkeys would receive a last minute pardon before arriving, and were then led to their new home at the Turkey Barn after enduring a turkey "roast" full of poultry humor and history ... in 2005 and 2006, however, the turkeys were flown to Disneyland in California where they served as honorary grand marshals for Disneyland's Thanksgivin' Day parade ... after that, they spent the rest of their lives at a Disneyland ranch ... a spot in sunny Disneyland seems immensely preferable to a place called Frying Pan Park if you happen to be one of us turkeys who has just escaped from becoming the main course of somebody's Thanksgivin' feast.

Last year, 2009, my cousins "Courage" and "Carolina" avoided the fryer ... in 2008, President Bush gave two of my cousins, "Pumpkin" and "Pecan," a last-minute reprieve ... they both hailed from Ellsworth, Iowa, and were raised under the most pleasant of environments ... back then, the American public was allowed to vote for their favorite turkeys on the White House web site ... durin' 2007, my uncle "May" and aunt "Flower" were both spared ... in 2006, grandpa "Flyer" and grandma "Fryer" escaped the roasting pot ... back in 2005 my sister "Marshmallow" and my brother "Yam" were permitted to see many more sunrises ... and way back durin' 2004, both of my parents, "Biscuit" and "Gravy" were sent back to the roost ... we sure have been a lucky family!

So, Mister President, durin' this upcomin' Thanksgivin' season ... don't you think it's about time for some real "Change!?" ... let my people go! ... grant a presidential pardon to of us turkeys!! ... and especially -- pardon me -- please?? ... gobble! - gobble! ... gobble! - gobble!! - gobble!!!

UPDATE: 2010 marks the 63rd anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation ... unfortunately, Tommy Turkey lost his bid for a last-minute Thanksgiving pardon ... his cousins "Apple" and "Cider" were mercifully selected by President Obama instead ... however, because of the sour economy, neither bird will be going to Disney Land, rather both will live out their remaining days on the grounds of George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate ... a much better fate than that of Tommy ... may he baste in peace!

--sja Share/Bookmark

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation Of Thanksgiving ...

According to most historical records, the first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 to commemorate the bountiful autumn harvest gathered by the Plymouth Colony after an extremely harsh winter ... in that same year, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving ... the colonists celebrated this day as a traditional English feast, to which they invited the local Wampanoag Indians ... days of thanksgiving were celebrated throughout the colonies after fall harvests ... all thirteen colonies did not, however, observe Thanksgiving at the same time until October 1777 ... George Washington was the first president to declare the holiday in 1789.

We are all familiar with the Thanksgiving holiday as being a time for family, friends and feasts -- but we can easily forget the meaning of this national holiday as it was first established by President George Washington on October 3, 1789, and reaffirmed as we know it today by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863, exactly 74 years later ... a mere glance at their Thanksgiving proclamations reminds us of the noblest purposes of government ... moreover, the simplest meaning of Thanksgiving reminds us - contrary to secularist courts and professors - that these presidents were proclaiming a holy day, a day for prayer and recognition of Almighty God's authority over man ... a day for acknowledgment of our many transgressions ... a day of praise and thanksgiving to our Creator for His gracious gifts of mercy, forgiveness and abundance of blessings toward all mankind ... please read carefully President Lincoln's following proclamation, for within this historic text lies the true essence of Thanksgiving ...

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards it's close , has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of such extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict, while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverences and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hands to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eight.

By the President Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

The above is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving ... during his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders such as this ... for example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln in 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union festival" ... she wrote, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution" -- this document sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting ... on October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work ... a year later, the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

*Proclamation text and other information taken from Abraham Lincoln Online --sjaShare/Bookmark

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

End Of Innocence ...

"I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple blossoms fill the air---
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring comes back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath---
It may be I shall pass him still
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear... 
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town, 
When Spring trips north again this year,  
And I to my pledged word am true, 
I shall not fail that rendezvous." --Alan Seeger 1888-1916

Unpredictable winds of change were swirling that sunny November day in 1963 as America's most glimmering flame of promise and hope was suddenly and unexpectedly extinguished ... sounds of gunshots echoed across Dealey Plaza, then round the world sending waves of shock and sorrow throughout the hearts of a stunned nation ... those who witnessed the terrible events of that day will never forget the moment they heard the unthinkable ... "President Kennedy is dead!" ... words forever seared into our national consciousness ... President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) was killed by an assassin's bullet as his motorcade wound through the streets of Dallas, Texas - he had barely completed his first one thousand days in office ... our noble hero was gone ... our hope became uncertainty ... our joy turned to sadness and grief ... our hearts forever broken ... it was the end of innocence.

John Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected President of the United States ... he was also the youngest to die ... of Irish descent, he was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, May 29, 1917 ... after graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the U.S. Navy ... in 1943, while commanding a PT boat (PT-109) in the Pacific Theater during World War II, his boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer ... Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety ... for his bravery, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

Back from the war, John Kennedy became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate ... he married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on September 12, 1953 ... in 1955, while recuperating from back surgery, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history ... in 1956, Kennedy nearly gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President, winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic to become President of the United States.

Kennedy's Inaugural Address offered this memorable injunction -- "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" -- as President, he took vigorous action in the cause of equal rights, calling for new civil rights legislation ... his vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society ... he wished America to resume it's old mission as the first nation dedicated to the revolution of human rights ... with the Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, he brought American idealism to the aid of developing nations ... before his untimely death, he laid plans for a massive assault on persisting pockets of privation and poverty.

As with any great leader, John Kennedy also had flaws and failures ... his most glaring occurring in April 1961 ... known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Kennedy permitted a group of armed and trained Cuban exiles to invade their homeland in an attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro ... this event became a disaster and an embarrassment for the young President ... soon thereafter, the Soviet Union renewed it's campaign against West Berlin ... however, Kennedy also displayed unfaltering creativity, courage and resolve, and decisively responded to the Soviets by reinforcing the Berlin garrison, and increased American military strength, including new efforts in outer space ... confronted by this reaction, Moscow, after the erection of the Berlin Wall, relaxed it's pressure in central Europe.

President Kennedy's most shining hour came in October 1962 ... discovered by air reconnaissance, the Russians were seeking to install nuclear missiles in Cuba just 90 miles from the coast of Florida ... enforced by a naval blockade, Kennedy imposed a quarantine on all offensive weapons bound for Cuba ... while the world trembled on the brink of nuclear war, the Soviets, under the direction of Nikita Khrushchev, backed down and agreed to take the missiles away, total global annihilation of all humankind had been averted ... Kennedy then contended that both sides had a vital interest in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons and slowing the arms race - a contention which led to the test ban treaty of 1963 ... the months that followed the Cuban Missile Crisis showed significant progress toward his goal of "a world of law and free choice, banishing the world of war and coercion" ... his administration saw the beginning of new hope for both equal rights of Americans and the peace of the entire world, but dark days lurked just beyond the horizon.

I will always remember the moment when Walter Cronkite "the most trusted man in America" announced that President Kennedy had been shot while in Dallas, Texas ... then minutes later, Cronkite, his familiar voice breaking, delivered the dreadful news to the anxious throngs that our President was dead ... the entire country languished in stunned silence and disbelief ... the President of the United States of America ... the most powerful nation on earth ... the leader of the free world ... gunned down in broad daylight ... like an animal ... in the middle of a public street before the gaping eyes of the entire world.

During the ensuing days, as America sat in a state of darkness and mourning, and as our slain prince was carried to his final resting place, many images and impressions were indelibly etched into my young psyche ... images of the President being struck by the assassin's bullets ... Jacqueline climbing onto the trunk of the presidential limousine in an effort to retrieve bits and pieces of her husband's skull which had been blown away by the gunshot ... her pink dress drenched with his blood from her attempts to protect him from further harm and conceal his grave injuries ... Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson being hurriedly sworn in as thirty-sixth President of the United States while standing beside Jacqueline Kennedy aboard Air Force One - which also contained her husband's body ... Jack Ruby gunning down Kennedy's alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV as he was being led from Dallas Police Headquarters en route to the county jail ... and a host of others.

Finally, the seemingly endless days involving the pageantry surrounding the fallen President's state funeral, which was patterned after that of Abraham Lincoln, came to a close ... the entire procession from the White House, to the Capitol, to St. Matthew's Cathedral, to Arlington National Cemetery was six miles ... an estimated one million people lined the route ... diplomats and heads of state from around the globe were in attendance, along with Kennedy's family members and close friends, all of whom stood with blank and empty expressions on their haggard faces ... the clopping of the horses' hooves striking the pavement as they proudly drew the caisson bearing the President's bier, haunting cries of bagpipes wailing in the distance and the steady cadence of muffled drum rolls which accompanied the cortege were particularly poignant and memorable ... perhaps the most heartrending moment took place on the steps outside St. Matthew's Cathedral as Jackie leaned over and whispered to little John-John ... who then smart and crisp ... proudly saluted his father's departing coffin ... the President was finally laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, and at the end of the burial service, a soldier handed Jacqueline a lighted taper with which she lit the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame ... the presidential memorial was inspired by the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which she and her husband had seen during a visit to France in 1961, and/or took inspiration from The Candle in the Wind of Arthurian legend and the Broadway play "Camelot."

Scarce are befitting words as to this tragic and unspeakable act that graved a deep and painful scar on the furrowed brow of American history ... it matters not whether you agreed with Kennedy's political philosophies or religious beliefs ... it matters not whether you personally liked the man or the Kennedy family ... John Fitzgerald Kennedy was first and foremost a human being ... no human being deserves to be openly ambushed and slaughtered in such an inhuman manner ... John Kennedy, along with his brother Robert Francis (Bobby) Kennedy (1925-1968), who was also killed by an assassin's bullet on June 5, 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President, both gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country ... it matters not whether you loved them or hated them, both deserve the utmost in honor and respect ... I often wonder what great accomplishments could have been made had Joseph and Rose's ennoble son - Jackie's beloved husband - Arabella, Caroline, John Jr. and Patrick's dear father - and America's most shining ray of hope and promise for a brighter future had not been swiftly robbed of his life ... other equally abominable and immoral acts have taken place since the disgraceful, public execution of our young prince - sadly, these acts are now often looked upon as being commonplace ... but the killing of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the beginning of the end of innocence.

"He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights .... it had to be some silly little Communist" --Jacqueline Kennedy, on hearing that a leftist had been arrested for her husband's murder.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it,
nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him --Ecclesiastes

*Biographical information suplied by the U.S. National Archives --sja Share/Bookmark

Friday, November 12, 2010

Heads Nor Tails! ...

They was these two good ol' boys ... neither of which were adequately sophisticated nor distinctly overladen with savoir-faire ... if they was knives and you opened the knife drawer, it would become immediately evident that neither were sharp enough to trim the fat from off a chilled ham ... however, one of them boys was a might keener than the other ... more precisely, Lamar Beefeater, well-known, backyard inventor and amateur, time traveler ... he sported a couple more functional brain cells than his close friend Luther DooLittle ... thus Lamar was able to "get over" on Luther almost at will ... and one of Lamar's favorite, time-tested ways of accomplishing that elementary feat was by the use of his lucky, three-legged Buffalo, Indian Head nickel ... nearly every time Lamar and Luther had a dispute or difference of opinion, or needed to decide a matter in a civil and dignified manner, it was achieved through a coin toss ... and since Luther DooLittle had been habitually penniless since birth, anytime an issue required settling, Lamar Beefeater would conveniently produce his three-legged Buffalo, Indian Head nickel that he always carried in his front britches pocket ... and them there boys would execute a coin toss ... of course, considering the unfortunate fact that it was always Lamar what furnished the coin and done the flippin' ... he would give Luther the honor of "callin' it in the air" ... Lamar would take that worn down nickel, skillfully flip it high into the air then scandalously proclaim "heads I win, tails you lose Luther DooLittle!" ... Luther DooLittle was none the wiser ... losing each time ... he figured it to be nothing more than a relentless curse of indigenous hard luck.

One clement afternoon, Lamar and Luther was lazily walkin' up the street with no particular purpose or destination in mind ... as they shuffled around the corner the aimless pair encountered the ever-lovely Miss Millie MayWeather approaching from the opposite direction ... and smellin' like a honeysuckle thicket on a breezy, summer morn ... now Miss Millie MayWeather was hands-down the most beauteous and desirable young lady ever to grace those parts for as long as even ancient folk such as Grandpa DooLittle or the renowned centenarian Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt could reasonably remember ... so ravishingly gorgeous that if she happened to appear outside on a dreary day, the sun would straightaway burst forth through the clouds and countless rainbows seemingly filled the sky ... Miss Millie politely and graciously greeted the boys as they were about to pass her by on the walkway "well hello there fellows, how y'all doin' this fine day?" ... awestruck with her dazzling comeliness, and with the fact that Millie had actually spoken to "common folk" such as they, Lamar and Luther just stood there speechless ... Miss Millie then smiled as she began to sashay on up the lane while teasingly suggesting over her shoulder "one of y'all should walk me to my door ... if you had half a mind to ... but only one of you ... it wouldn't be proper to be seen with both ... you just might end up becoming my steady beau!" ... Lamar's first thought--coin toss! ... but when he reached into his britches pocket to fetch out his lucky, three-legged Buffalo, Indian Head nickel, all he found was a few lint balls and a ragged hole in the bottom of that pocket "I cain't find ma lucky nickel Luther" announced a devastated Lamar Beefeater "they's a big ol' hole wore in ma pocket" he woefully added ... a huge grin slowly crept across Luther DooLittle's scraggy face as he enthusiastically dug around in his own pants pocket, produced a bran-new, shiny half-dollar and proudly exclaimed "that's OK Lamar, we'll just use this here fifty-cent-piece that I earned yisterdee a whiteworshin' Virgil Hunnicutt's picket fence" ... before Lamar could offer up any logical protestations Luther flipped that big coin up in the air "Kerpling!" as he declared "call it in the air Lamar Beefeater--heads I win, tails you lose!"

--sja Share/Bookmark

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Forgotten Days ...

A young man strolling along a garbage-strewn street one cold and windy day came upon a homeless man sitting in a wheelchair near the entrance to a crowded cafe ... a tattered American flag crudely attached to his chair and a plastic bucket with the words "homeless veteran - help please!" wedged between his crippled knees compelled the passerby to drop a few dollars inside ... "God bless you young man" said the grateful veteran with forced smile, ragged clothes, unkempt beard and hair, and tired, empty eyes ... the curious lad unsure of a proper reply then exclaimed "Sir, I bet you've experienced some horrible things in your day" ... deep furrows tightened on the veteran soldier's leathery brow as he hesitantly replied "Yes, I certainly have ... but nobody wants to hear that stuff ... nobody really cares" ... feeling obligated to listen, the young man urged him go ahead ... so the man cleared his throat and began:

"Well I've seen men, women and children die in the cruelest of ways
... shot, stabbed, butchered, lynched and burned alive ... others blown apart, tortured or raped--innocent babies too ... I've heard screams in the night as they suffered and died ... I've seen scores lank and frail from hunger and thirst, having no shelter or place to hide, naked and shivering from cold and from fright ... I've seen dead bodies discarded beneath bridges and alongside of the road ... helpless children abused by the heartless ... the aged, the sick and the powerless sitting abandoned, hopeless and alone ... and I too have experienced pain, hunger and cold while enduring countless nights outside, lonely, sad and afraid ... I've seen hatred, indifference and wickedness swelling in the hearts of man ... yes, I reckon I've seen many shameful and inhuman things" ... then asked the young man, now speechless and dismayed "that's terrible Sir, on what faraway battlefield did you see all those horrible things?" ... the old warrior slowly shook his head then said, "oh no son ... you don't understand ... most of it happened right here on our own homeland!"

One day a year on Veteran's Day, we honor those distinguished souls who have bravely and selflessly served our country ... let us not forget about them during the other 364 days ... according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, an estimated 130,000 to 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in this great country, with twice that many experiencing homelessness over the course of a year, comprising 25% of all homeless people in America ... many factors affect all homelessness such as shortages of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care ... veterans are impacted to a further degree from lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks ... the Department of Veterans Affairs has made some progress in helping our veterans, but it is far from being enough ... there are steps we can all take to make sure veterans are adequately taken care of -- determine the needs in your community -- involve others -- participate in local homeless coalitions -- send a financial donation -- and contact your elected officials.

By all means, if you encounter a homeless veteran who needs a helping hand, please give it ... do whatever is necessary within your means to assist these precious people ... express your appreciation for their sacrifice and dedicated service, let them know that you are genuinely concerned about their welfare, and that you respect and support them ... if there were but one needy or homeless veteran left on our streets without adequate shelter, food, clothing or medical care... that is one too many ... it's a shame and a disgrace for any loyal veteran to endure such demeaning treatment from the nation they helped to protect and preserve ... we hear this plea nearly every day ... "God bless America" ... well God has blessed America ... I wonder what goes through the mind of God when he sees a homeless veteran, young or old sitting near a busy thoroughfare ... flag proudly waving in the chilly air ... ragged clothes ... unkempt beard and hair ... forced smile and tired, empty stare ... with no place to go ... asking passersby for help ... hungry, tired and confused ... in the midst of a land as blessed as America?

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" --Matthew 5:9

It's genuinely disgraceful that America would handily fork over billions of dollars to greedy, rich sponges on Wall Street while her brave and honorable war veterans line Main Street begging for a piece of bread! ... --sja Share/Bookmark

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time Honored ...

Veterans Day, usually observed on November 11, is a federal holiday on which we honor those who have served in the armed forces of the United States ... the observation was originally designated in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson as Armistice Day ... Wilson selected November 11 because the Armistice ending World War I had been signed on this date in 1918 ... Wilson wanted to make sure that Americans did not forget the tragedies of the war ... in 1938, Congress passed legislation which designated Armistice Day as a legal, federal holiday ... the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 so that all veterans would be honored ... for a brief period (1971-1977), the holiday was celebrated on the fourth Monday in October ... each Veterans Day, special services take place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and all across the United States.

Of those deserving of honor on this day, one man in particular merits special recognition ... 109-year-old Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last known living, American-born veteran of World War I ... born in Harrison County, Missouri in 1901, and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States entered the "war to end all wars" in April 1917 ... an underage but eager recruit, he was rejected by the Marines and by the Navy, but after eventually persuading an Army captain that he was 18-years-of-age, and that Missouri did not keep public records of birth, he was permitted to enlist ... Buckles subsequently sailed for England in 1917 aboard the Carpathia, which is known for it's rescue of Titanic survivors, and spent his tour of duty working mainly as a diver and a warehouse clerk in Germany and France ... he rose to rank of corporal, and after Armistice Day he helped return prisoners of war to Germany ... he drove motorcycles, cars, and ambulances in England and France, and during the Occupation, he guarded German prisoners ... Buckles eventually went to work for the White Star steamship line and was in Manila on business in December 1941 when the Japanese invaded ... he spent over three years as a prisoner of war at the city's University of Santo Tomas.

Frank Buckles, who now resides in Charles Town, West Virginia, has been an invited guest at the Pentagon, met with President Bush in Washington, D.C. and rode in the annual Armed Forces Day Parade in his home state since his status as one of the last living from the "Great War" was discovered ... in 2008, his photograph was hung in the main hallway of the National World War I Museum, which he toured for the first time, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States presented him with the Gold Medal of Merit ... federal officials have also arranged for his eventual burial at Arlington National Cemetery ... "I had a feeling of longevity and that I might be among those who survived, but I didn't know I'd be the No. 1" ... Frank Buckles

A word from Frank Buckles ...

Dear Fellow Patriot: Thank-you for your interest in my story as America's last World War One Survivor ... I appreciate your thoughts and prayers and am humbled to be the representative of nearly 5 million Americans who served with me ... 93 years ago I was stationed in France to serve the United States of America when I heard the news that the war had ended. 93 years have passed and there is still not a memorial to our service in our nations capitol- Washington, DC. ... 4,734,991 Americans served and 116,561 Americans died during WWI ... it is my last hope and my desire that there will be a monument in Washington DC so that our sacrifice will not be forgotten ... if you wish to thank me please write your congressmen and ask them to support HR 482 ... for more information and to sign the petition, please visit www.wwimemorial.org

Patriotically yours, Frank Woodruff Buckles

--sja Share/Bookmark

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Those Who Wait ...

His austere cries had been emanating from somewhere among the greenbrier thickets for nearly a week ... "churr-churr-churr" ... the unmistakable call of a red-bellied woodpecker ... most leaves had faded from their brilliant fall colors to a dingy brown and were yielding to chilly, autumn winds as they swirled and tumbled onto the cold ground ... a sure sign that it was time to treat this vociferous, redheaded visitor to one of my homemade suet cakes, which consisted of almonds, peanuts, cracked corn, peanut butter, black oil sunflower seeds and a few sunflower hearts ... I placed the avian delicacy in one of those vinyl-coated, wire feeders and hung it atop a wooden pole at the edge of the garden ... it wasn't long until it was being ravenously devoured ... not by any woodpecker ... a half-dozen or so loud, rambunctious bluejays had boldly swooped down and were swallowing huge pieces as they mercilessly picked it apart chunk by chunk ... in less than an hour there wasn't as much as a crumb remaining ... so I decided to wait until a woodpecker actually approached the empty feeder in search of food before daring to put out another suet cake.

A day or so later a beautiful red-bellied woodpecker alit just beneath the empty feeder and began haughtily tilting his head from side to side as he quizzically searched for any edible morsel ... as soon as the magnificent bird took flight I hurriedly placed a fresh suet cake in the wire feeder and came back inside to watch ... it wasn't but a minute or so until an audacious bluejay descended from the sky and pounced on my farinaceous offering ... however this time the bodacious jay's dinner guest wasn't a fellow bluejay ... an obviously irate and overtly conceited red-bellied woodpecker dove in like a gliding dive-bomber and came to rest right beside the blue-feathered glutton ... a staring contest at once ensued ... after about a minute of motionless eyeballing I noticed the woodpecker slowly cocking his head back ever so slightly, like a gunslinger easing back the hammer on a well-oiled six-shooter ... without warning he drilled that nearly hypnotized bluejay smack dab on the top of its tussock head with his sharp, chisel-like beak and sent it sailing headlong into a pile a dried leaves below ... the semi-conscious jay fluttered around for a bit, then eventually regained some composure and flew away.

From then on the woodpecker had the suet cakes all to himself ... he knew it, and those bluejays knew it ... as he sat atop that wooden pole tauntingly swallowing large chunks of suet while the jays hungrily watched from distant perches ... I wondered why ... there was no way any one bluejay could overpower that stout-hearted woodpecker and claim that suet for its own ... and those awestruck jays certainly weren't intellectually capable of banding together and collectively attacking that woodpecker as a group ... but yet they seemed to be patiently waiting for something ... well it wasn't long before I got my answer ... I had placed yet another suet in the feeder early that morning, and the ungenerous Picidae had already commenced to proudly feast as the jays watched from beneath the eaves of the barn roof ... suddenly I caught a glimpse of something flashing by out of the corner of my eye and heard a rushing swoosh ... the woodpecker was no longer clinging to the side of the wooden pole enjoying a leisurely breakfast, he was now in the deadly, viselike clutches of a hungry red-tailed hawk as it quickly soared over the hill and out of sight ... moments later those bluejays converged and once again began swallowing huge pieces of suet ... mercilessly picking it apart chunk by chunk ... I suppose good things really do come to those who wait!

"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." --Ecclesiastes 7:8.

--sja Share/Bookmark

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ghandi's Seven Blunders Of The World ...

I featured this piece a while back ... it turned out to be one of my most "read" posts ... it's relevance is timeless, so I feel it apropos that I feature it again at this time ... 

1. Wealth without work ...

2. Pleasure without conscience ...

3. Knowledge without character ...

4. Commerce without morality ...

5. Science without humanity ...

6. Worship without sacrifice ...

7. Politics without principle!

* Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, India. He led India's movement for independence from British rule and is one of the most respected spiritual and political leaders of the 20th century. In 1948 he was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic who opposed his tolerance for all creeds and religions. Gandhi is honoured by his people as the father of the Indian nation and is called 'Mahatma', which means Great Soul...Museum of the Mind.

--sja  Share/Bookmark