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Will You Decorate a Soldiers Grave on Monday?

May 27th, 2011 by stephanie

I remember as a young girl, my mom would tell me, “You were born on traditional Memorial Day.” She said that due to the fact that Memorial Day used to be May 30. (And that day just so happens to be my birthday.)
But then, the government decided to make it a federal holiday, and employees got a new 3 day weekend to add to their calendar. Thus, the last Monday in May officially became Memorial Day.

Even before that, Memorial Day was known by another name. It was called “Decoration Day”. And if you are over the age of 50, you remember what that day meant.

My grandmother tells me that she grew up observing Decoration Day. And, as her father was a vet of the Spanish American War, and her brothers were vets of WWII, well, it meant something.

So, just what was Decoration Day? Glad you asked:
Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings. Quite a few cities and towns actually claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. But it’s hard to tell the origin.

Women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. And there is actually a hymn (published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet) that was dedicated “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (source see: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920).

While Waterloo N.Y. won the honored position as declared birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove the real origins of the day.

And there you have it.For more info (I know who you folks are!) here’s a source:
Memorial Day

Wishing you a happy Memorial Day. And well, a very happy birthday to me.

Memorial Day: Do you remember?

May 24th, 2011 by stephanie

Not that my friend was trying to do me in, but after 50 minutes of Zumba class, I was beginning to question her motives. My heart pounding and my lungs heaving, I somehow successfully managed to climb into her car for the ride home. Convinced I had just had a near death experience, I tried to remain calm but did not hide my agony. As we wound our way out of the club and onto the main drag, our chatting was suddenly interrupted by the realization that we had turned onto a beautifully flag lined main street that lead us all the way back to the freeway. “The beauty of small towns.” She quietly noted as we rolled past countless banners of waving Stars & Stripes. We knew the homage was due to the fact that it was Memorial Day weekend.

“They used to call it Decoration Day” I responded. “But few people are even aware of that nowadays. But that’s only because few of us have ever been told. You see, Memorial Day used to be a special time set aside for Americans to visit the cemeteries. While there, they decorated the graves of those who had given their lives in service to this country. My workout partner was surprised and saddened that she, too, had not ever been made aware of that fact.

I had been fortunate to learn that information early on. But there’s a reason for that. Memorial Day used to be celebrated only on May 30, and as that is my date of birth, each year my grandmother or mother would remind me of the holiday and it’s meaning. Which of course I loved. They would always say, “You were born on Traditional Memorial Day.” But, as the government is known to do, they powers that be moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May so that federal folks could have a 3-day holiday. Within time, the true meaning was lost

So, I went to Wikipedia to see what they had to say. And here is what I found…

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25 in 2009). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action

I’ll share more about the traditional observance of the day later this week. See you then


What’s a “Mean Girl?”

May 21st, 2011 by stephanie

Men: this one won’t be for you today as much as it will be for the gals. But, hey, you might learn a tip or two, so here goes. [I wrote this a few years ago…but I am amazed how timeless it has become.] Enjoy…

If you’ve heard about or seen the movie by the title, Mean Girls, you will totally get this next few paragraphs. If not, I would still bet it won’t be too foreign of a topic for you. It’s when I see clips from this film or moments in television that play out this evil scenario that I come to relive a memory or two of what went on in junior high and high school. In those brief moments I, too, remember that I had to deal with those “types” of girls growing up.

You know the ones. They just can’t stand to see you succeed. They don’t want to share the limelight if you are in the same room as they are. Or, if you don’t’ dress like they do or live the lifestyle they live, you are deemed inferior. Your jokes just aren’t as funny as theirs. The most popular girl isn’t your friend, it’s their best friend – and you’re not. And that about wraps it up. Bringing back any memories from childhood?

You see, that’s what gets to me. I really thought that you left those mean girls behind once you entered adulthood. Silly me. I thought people actually did just that–Grow up.

But alas. Some do not. A friend of mine was relaying to me recently the abuse she has been personally taking of late. I am amazed at the juvenile behavior that exudes from some women. Yes, I am talking about the “grown-up, mean girls” of our every-day world. You know the ones. They gossip about you and work to make your life miserable. But you can’t seem to figure out why. What I find most interesting, however, is that what they accuse you of, they seem to have mastered as a personal art form. It’s just that they don’t see it that way.

I then began to share with my friend that I could relate. I too had a gal I knew that just couldn’t can’t stand to congratulate, encourage, or compliment me. On the contrary, she had to get little digs in when a simple pat on the back truly was in order. My friend simply had this response after I finished sharing my confusion at the situation: “She’s a bully.” Wow. That brought perspective home. She was right!

Ok, so enough negativity, but what I am attempting to say is this, the next time someone gets their fix or their kicks out of bringing angst to your life, rather than let it ruffle your feathers take this approach: Pity them. Feel sorry for the people that share the same household or office that they do. (Imagine what those folks nearest the offender are actually going through?) It just might ease some of your pain. The point is, if someone is bound and determined to upset you or keep you “humble”, then they are certainly dealing with some major stuff of their own.

So, next time that “mean one” comes at you or me, let’s just take a deep breath. Then let’s remember to sit back, relax and keep all hands and arms inside the car while traveling. Life is a bit of a ride anyway, to be sure, so let’s simply agree together to not let any of these Les Miserables throw us from the train! K? 🙂

Just my thoughts.

You’re in leadership, but are you a leader?

May 10th, 2011 by stephanie

An advertisement that was published in The Saturday Evening Post, January 2, 1915 was not what I was expecting. See if you can guess the product…

The Penalty of LEADERSHIP

In every field of human endeavor he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction. When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone—if he achieve a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging. 

Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass or slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius. Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious continue to cry out that it cannot be done. 

Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by. 

The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy—but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. 

There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as the human passions—envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains—the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live—lives.    [And the company that posted the ad? Cadillac Motor Company.]

Interesting how this lays out the dynamics of leaders and followers. Do you agree?

Mothers to Remember, besides your own.

May 6th, 2011 by stephanie

When I finished the book Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts, I remember saying, “Wow, everyone should know these stories!” What struck me the most was the amazing mothers, not only of our country but of ordinary citizens as well. Moms contribute more to our society than people will ever most likely truly understand or realize.
But on a lighter note, some of these gals were just plain clever, witty and even a bit daring.

Did you know…

Martha Washington had a Tom Cat she named “Hamilton”, yes, after Alexander Hamilton. And for good reason! That guy was married, but “got around” to be sure!

Nathaniel Green’s wife, after his death, lived openly and traveled with her children’s tutor! What most people don’t know is that she helped Eli Whitney invent the Cotton Gin. It was at her plantation when that invention was birthed.

Eliza Pinkney, at the age of 16, was left to run the three family plantations. And in so doing planted a forest that she hoped one day would be used for her new nation’s future naval ships! But there’s more, she was responsible for envisioning and bringing about the American indigo industry.

The book contains many more stories, but I think you can see, moms come is all styles, shapes and sizes. Share some stories about your mom with your friends this weekend. You just might be surprised what you unearth.images
Just my thoughts,

One Year Ago…and then some.

May 3rd, 2011 by stephanie

For those of you that watch the Weather Channel, you were quite aware, no matter what part of the country you live in, that during the first weekend in May 2010, Nashville recieved 3 months of rain in a 48 hour period. DownTown Flood

I will never forget turning on the TV that Sunday afternoon, only to see the subdivision where one of my single gal friends lives. All one could see was the roof tops of her condominiums surrounded by water! Little red islands in a sea of brown. I was horrified. I kept flipping the channels while saying out loud, “This can’t be right.” I placed a few frantic calls to her — but no answer.

When I did finally hear from her the next day, the worst was confirmed. She had fled her condo. Her car was a complete loss, and so was the entire first floor of her home. I was in shock. “It happened so fast!” were the words one heard repeatedly all over Nashville.

It’s a year later, but last week, our southern states were hit–again. This time by horrific tornados. 190 of them in one 24-hour period alone. I hardly know one person who isn’t connected in some way to the tragedy and the loss. It’s been a very odd time when one looks back at last year, and now faces the devastation of this past week too.

Yet, we have to remind ourselves, these situations are not new. Those of us in Nashville are now on the other end of the experience. Yes. It was tough. But we are still here. And we are OK. I believe the same for the folks in the Alabama and the surrounding regions. This is a difficult time. But they will come through this. They will survive. And they will come out of this strong.

Let’s keep them in our prayers at this time.
Just my thoughts,

May Day!

May 1st, 2011 by stephanie

Did you know what today use to be known as? The first day of May was called “May Day”. I asked my grandmother to recall what she could about this particular long lost special day.

“We use to make up little baskets of flowers and run and put them on people’s porches.” This is what she shared with me while recalling the memories of yesteryear. “It was fun when they would open the door and see their flowers but they never knew who brought them. I don’t think they do that anymore.”

She’s right, I don’t think I have ever found a bouquet of flowers on my doorstep at any point in my life. Well, on May 1st, at least. “If you knew another elderly person besides your grandmother, “she chided, “I bet they would remember.”

If you have someone over the age of 75 in your life, ask them what they know about May Day. I would love to hear what you learn.

Happy May Day to you!

Just my thoughts.


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