The Thanks of a Grateful Nation


General Orders No. 11, Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters.

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and com­rades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

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Those They Leave Behind


It is the one and only photo that makes me cry each time I see it. What brings the tears to my eyes is not just the bereaved young woman, but the Marine who stands behind her. In an earlier photo in the series, we see him building her a little nest of blankets on the air mattress. Sweet Lord, I cry just typing the words, the matter-of-fact tenderness is so overwhelming. So soldierly. But in this photo — the one that lives on and on online — he merely stands next to the coffin, watching over her.

It is impossible to be unmoved by the juxtaposition of the eternal stone-faced warrior and the disheveled modern military wife-turned-widow, him rigid in his dress uniform, her on the floor in her blanket nest, wearing glasses and a baggy T-shirt, him nearly concealed by shadow while the pale blue light from the computer screen illuminates her like God’s own grace.

I can’t say it any better than this writer did, so I will link it here – THIS is what Memorial Day is all about; honoring those who gave their lives so that we may sleep under the blanket of security.

I believe that the civilian-military gap isn’t always born of indifference, but rather, at times, a sense of helplessness on the civilian side. What can I do? If you do nothing else, you can remember those who have given their lives for their country. Our country.

Remembrance, which may seem a modest contribution in the moment, is a sacred act with long-term payoff — a singularly human gift that keeps on giving, year after war-fatigued year. I don’t need to remind you that America’s sons and daughters are still dying in combat. I don’t want to browbeat you into feeling guilty for not doing more.

Instead, I want to tell you that as the wife of a veteran, it is tremendously meaningful to know that on this Memorial Day, civilians will be bearing witness and remembering in their own way — that those who are gone are not forgotten. I also want to say that as you remember them, we remember you.

Thank you.

May we never forget their sacrifice.


(For more on the powerful story of this picture, you can read the text of the original article from 2005, “Final Salute” by Jim Sheeler, as well as the photos which were used in the story, taken by Todd Heiler.

This article and the photos used in it were later incorporated into the book, Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives, by Jim Sheeler.

Sheeler and Heiler both won Pulitzer Prizes for this work.)

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The Day That All Moms Dread…..

Well, I knew this day had to come – it comes around every year. The day that all kids look forward to. and all mothers dread.

That’s right, folks – the Last Day of School is here…..

Oh, well – September will be here before you know it…..

(One of my all-time favorite commercials – Alice Cooper is such a hoot!)

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Happy Mother’s Day!

My mother passed away on March 15th, 2020; this is my third Mother’s Day without her.
I miss her very much.

I got brave a few years ago, and made a photo book online for my Mom.

(Click on the picture to take you to the Shutterfly site, where you can view it for yourself.
Once there, click on “View Photo Book”, then “View Full Screen” – hope you enjoy it!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
I loved you so much, and miss you every day ♥♥♥

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A Classical Birthday “Two-fer”

Brahms and Tchaikovsky.

What are the chances?

On this date in history, not one, but TWO classical composers were bornJohannes Brahms (1833) and Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (1840).

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tequila Cat

Today is Cinco de Mayo – a day when a lot of people drink a lot of beer and/or tequila.

So what better YouTube clip to show than Jim Breuer’s classic “Party in Your Stomach”? If you haven’t seen it before, be prepared to laugh:

Have a great day!

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Remembering Charlie


The classic film “Shenandoah” inspired my father-in-law’s “Grandpa” name

Way back in 1979, I had the honor of meeting a man who came to mean a lot to me over the next 34 years.  I had just started seeing a fella who very quickly asked me to spend the rest of his life with him (I said “Yes” before he could change his mind); not long after that, he took me home to introduce me to his parents.

And that’s when I met Charles Henry Koch.

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Good Friday – “Were You There?”


Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.

And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.

And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 27:27-31 KJV


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Many years ago, when the girls were much younger, I ran across a wonderful book called “Many Moons” by James Thurber.  It is the story of a young princess who falls ill one day after a “surfeit of raspberry tarts”.  The Royal Physician sends for her father the King, who tells her that he will get her anything that her heart desires.  The princess tells the King that if she can have the moon, “I will be well again”.

The King sends for his Wisest Men, and he asks each of them how he can get the moon for his daughter.  Each of them in turn tells the King of the many things that they have gotten for the King in the past, and then each of them tells the King that the moon is very large and much too far away (and each time it gets larger and further away), and simply cannot be gotten.

Despondent, the King sends for his Jester to cheer him up.  The Jester asks him why he is so sad, so he tells him what has happened.

“How big do they say the moon is….and how far away?”

“The Lord High Chamberlain says it is 35,000 miles away and bigger than Princess Lenore’s room…The Royal Wizard says it is 150,000 miles away and twice as big as the palace….The Royal Mathematician says it is 300,000 miles away and half the size of the kingdom…”

The Court Jester strummed on his lute for a little while.  “They are all wise men,” he said, “and so they must all be right.  If they are all right, then the moon must be just as large and as far away as each person thinks it is.  The thing to do is to find out how big the Princess Lenore thinks it is, and how far away.”

The Court Jester goes into the Princess’ room and asks her how big she thinks the moon is (just a little smaller than her thumbnail), how far away it is (not quite as high as the big tree outside her window), and what it is made of (gold, of course, silly!).

So the Court Jester goes to the Royal Goldsmith and has him make a tiny round moon just a little smaller than a thumbnail, and he has him string it on a golden chain.  The Princess is overjoyed, and is able to play again, for now the moon can always be with her.

There is more to the story – it’s really quite sweet – but one lesson always stuck with me:  If you are trying to solve a problem, you need to find out what a person THINKS first.

It’s all about perceptions.

(I’m not gonna lie – we were able to get off cheap when it came time for the Tooth Fairy to pay a visit; instead of trying to figure out what the “going rate” was, we asked Rachel what she thought the Tooth Fairy was supposed to bring her.  “A coin,” she said.  And she was very happy with “a coin”.)

Well, years have gone by since we read that story to our girls – the oldest 3 are all adults now.  And I had forgotten all about that story until one day a couple of years ago, when Sarah was watching a movie on her computer.

From out of the blue, she asked me, “What do you think about abortion?” (it was a topic in the movie she was watching).

Now, I’m going to be honest with you – we never talked about that subject all that much in our household; it didn’t exactly come up over dinner.  But it was obvious that she wanted to know what I thought about it.

I wasn’t quite sure what to say, as my views have changed significantly over the years (each time I come across more and more information).  So, I decided to use the “Many Moons” approach, and asked her what SHE thought about it.

It turns out that she is very much like I was before my eyes were opened; there are grey areas for her – the very “grey areas” that the abortion industry trots out all the time to scare everyone about an over-reaching State (rape, incest, life of the mother is in danger).

And that’s when I thought about perceptions.

So I asked her how many abortions she thought were performed each year.  I didn’t have a clue what her idea might be, and I was genuinely interested to hear what she thought.  Her answer was very enlightening – and also a clue as to why the abortion industry is able to keep fooling people year after year:

“I guess around 500-1,000 each year.”

And all of a sudden, there was the “teachable moment”.  For in all of the information that is being spoon-fed to our society about “women’s reproductive rights”, a key piece of information is deliberately being left out.

Our kids grow up thinking that abortion is a rare thing – they don’t know the reality of it, and the people who are telling them that they should think of it as a “right” don’t WANT them to know the reality of it.

So I explained that to Sarah – I told her what the Guttmacher Institute – 2008 Report and Statistics cites as statistics for abortions per year (~1,200,000 – see Table 1 on p.3), and how many have been “officially” performed since 1973 (more than 50 million).  I told her how I had been fooled, just like her, into believing that abortion was a rare thing (the reality is that 22 out of every 100 pregnancies are aborted) – and how my views had changed since I saw those numbers.

I told her many more things that I had learned, about pictures that I have seen, and the way that abortion has become an industry that is only concerned with making more money (which necessarily translates into killing more babies) each year.

I’d like to think that she came away from that conversation with a lot of stuff to think about – she had started to see things from a different perspective than she did a few years earlier, now that she was older and out in the world.

And that’s when it hit me – if we are ever going to change the perception of abortion in this country, we first have to understand what each individual THINKS it is.  Without that, we cannot go any further.  And we won’t go anywhere if we tell them that what they think is wrong – but we MIGHT be able to give them something to think about.

And, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words:

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